Gitter in the Sand.

On my Grandmothers mantle piece sat a glass bottle containing layers of multi coloured sand. This little bottle was a souvenir gift from the Isle of wight (Alum bay). The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica. In their pure state these minerals are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals.
As a child I would repeatedly ask my grandmother if I could remove the cork from the bottle of layered sand. I wanted to mix the coloured layers, to move them from order into a place of multicoloured chaos.
To pour the layered colours into a shallow bowl. Creating and uncovering unsymmetrical patterns in the coloured sand. To run the textured colours of history through my hands.
Somewhere in my loft wrapped in newspaper this little glass bottle of coloured sand is waiting to be rediscovered.
A static hour glass sitting out time. The separated colours  never changing.  The sand holds firmly to the stories of the past, tells of traditions and cultures of our ancestors.
We look to the past to discover lessons for the present.
What happens when we change the lens which we see the sand. When we see it’s true uncontaminated colours.

I don’t feel any desire to rummage into the depths of my loft to find the bottle of sand and mix it.
I am learning to see beyond the coloured layers to look at the individual grains, to the true colours/ true self.
During this past year I have started to learn how to see these true colours. To see the sparkle and glitter in each treasured grain ( person ). I’ve learnt the remarkable power of story. The value of spending time just listening.  Discerning the gifts of the spirit working in each of us .
I’ve come to realise and acknowledge that I have gifts too. To not underestimate the gift of being myself. The importance understanding my true colours . I’ve discovered how these gifts are working within me, how they relate to my context .

The gifts of the Spirit are being poured out upon us . I’m beginning to understand that these gifts don’t come in coloured uniformed patterns. We don’t have to comprehend them, but we do need to see them as actual, making them real.
I’m learning to see that it takes bravely and courage to mix the coloured grains of sand. Learning how essential it is to hold onto my true colours. I’m becoming more robust in my thinking and actions. Discovering how exhausting life can be when the landscape try’s to fade and erode my colours.

The colourful bottle of sand holds thousands of years of heritage and history. Its colours and traditions alone are not enough to hold the our future foundations.
God pours out the gift of the Spirit upon us, not as the historic re-enactment of static sand trapped in a bottle, but as the lived reality of the revelation of God, who is ever present and ever new.
It is our joy and privilege, not simply to share in those gifts, but to realise them, to see them sparkle, making them real in our lives, and for our time.
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A salty unity.

Simone Weil was a French Jew who died of hunger during World War Two.
Simone was extremely well educated and came from a wealthy family.
She worked in the factories and lived on tinned rations. Simone was so affected by what was happening to others she decided to live as they lived.
Simone was drawn strongly to the sacramental life of the church . Her desire to be baptised became overwhelming to her.
Yet she declined, and spent the rest of her short life regarding the bread and wine of holy communion without ever eating them.
Regarding them was enough for her, determination to stay hungry gave her strength.

During this time of lockdown I’ve been hungry too.
Experiencing those familiar unsettled feelings often felt during the first few weeks of a new diet. The longing to find chocolate and cheese in the fridge . Only to find precooked jacket potatoes and a withered salad .
After a while you start to understand the answer to satisfying your hunger cannot be found in the fridge.
It’s about a change of attitude.
As the world endures the worst imaginable suffering . The hunger I feel pierces a bright light in this dark storm.
It’s from these pains of hunger that I take a new fresh bearing. Discovering worship in a different timeless dimension. Worship that does not start at 9.15 on a Sunday morning. Nor does it end after 45 minutes.
Worship is barren of rules, no dress code, no words. A sacred intimate place of mystery. Time stands still as struggle with the pain and sorrow . Tears roll uncontrollably as I find joy in this creative hunger.
An empty glass move my thoughts from hunger to freedom. I become more aware of my own personal rhythms of prayer. Awareness of the frailness and pain of the earth.
It’s taken me back to the story of Simone Weil. I am reminded that is important and ok to be deeply affected by what’s happening around us.
To weep each day does little to ease the pain. The tears have an energy of their own. A salty unity that partners with a overflowing love for each other.
During lockdown we have literately fed each other. Prepared meals for neighbours and friends.

Our combined hunger is woven and twisted into a strong soft blanket. A blanket that hugs me into Gods waiting arms, sharing sorrows of the world.

The alters maybe naked, the candles extinguished and the church doors locked. My spiritual diet has changed.
I’m hungry; the hunger pains are real essential and fruitful.
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Involucrata nutlet of hope

Our bracts of mystic dove wings weep deeply.
Stirred by the beauty of nature.
An earthly unquestioning belief.
Of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

We believe in the involucrata nutlet of hope.
Stratification of music, poetry and love.
Dormancy broken by a whispered Bible verse.
That sudden pain of love sparking germination.
A new hope, new growth.
An awakening.

Augustine Henry saw handkerchiefs.
Wang Zhaojun saw doves.
when we leave the heard and seen.
Slip out into the garden of grace.
Our heart shaped leaves become evergreen.
No decay, no sound, no colour.
But only a tearful essence .
It’s in this moment we see God
God who weeps with us.

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Question 6 – The silent Wow – part 1

When I discover beautiful views, walk behind a waterfall, when I sit in the stillness of the garden the vastness and hugeness that comes from God is beyond words. It’s the moment when you just stop and feel that wow factor.
I’ve tried to blog about that wow moment, take the wow beyond three simple letters, give that silence space some meaning so that others can understand, but nothing comes close to sharing how I feel inside.
Exploring my vocation is very much in that vastness moment. It’s that wow with no words. Stopping in that wow to write what I feel I just find tears and no words.
This has been frustrating as during this discerning process of exploring my vocation I need to talk to others about what I am feeling in these wow moments.
Praying about it is great, it’s easy and natural to do. After all these are Gods plans not mine. God also knows what going on in my wordless silent wow moments. But for the past year these wows have manly stayed just between me and God.
Last month the frustrations of not being able to find the words all got too much. I wanted to run away from the whole process. Go and hide somewhere where the words Priest, Deacon, ordination, vocation and discernment do not exist. But obviously you can’t run from God, this too has also been very frustrating.
Where ever I go this hugeness comes with me. It’s like a nagging little earworm that whispers and keeps whispering. When I am completely quite its whispers are sometimes the only thing I hear.
It’s no longer avoidable, I need to think about the bigger picture. I am required to answer question 6 on the BAP registration form (Bishops advisory panel form )
Which ministry are you a candidate? 1. Deacon ( distinctive) 2. Priest
All I need to do is tick one box . Deep down and for a long time I have known which box to tick. Ticking and acknowledging this is harder than I thought.
It seems wrong to give the answer to something so big by simply putting biro tick in a box. It’s so huge, one little tick in a box and then onto question 7 !!
I felt the question was not mine to answer. It felt presumptuous giving so much certainty to such a question. It’s a not promised path, It’s another step on the journey of exploring my vocation. Another step along an unknowing path trusting God.
I am sure many have filled out this huge form and boldly ticked the box. Feeling confident in their calling. But for me these two little boxes have been consuming my thoughts.
It feels such a huge relief to have faced this, to no longer feel quite so scared of what I am feeling. The last few months I have been nudged, loved, prayed for and gently coaxed to find the words that are etched in my heart.

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Acts 6 The Message (MSG)

6 1-4 During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—“Hellenists”—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we’ll assign them this task. Meanwhile, we’ll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God’s Word.”

Seeing The Bigger Picture.

The church I attend has been running a stewardship campaign. Asking us to look at our giving to review the money we give to the church.
It’s left me feeling that I have very little to give and what I do give is not enough to make a difference.
Church for the last few weeks has been personally for me focusing on what I don’t have. It’s been a focus on my lack of income and my failure to give. It’s left me feeling guilty about the money I spend on ourselves. Wondering what else can I cut out of my life to give more to God.
I have associated stewardship with the sermons I have heard and the letters I have received about church budgets and lack of funds.
I have since come to understand that the fundamental principle of biblical stewardship is God owns everything, we are simply managers or administrators acting on his behalf.
Stewardships heart is deep in creation. Creation that God has entrusted to us with the understanding of God’s ownership of all.
I needed to see and hear the bigger picture look beyond the budgets to the way God connects everything we do with what God is doing in the world.

Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
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Love the medium in which we grow – God is love.

The world in which we live in is a oversized self sufficient garden full of rockeries, ( mountains ) water features, ( seas and lakes ) ,beautiful lawns and vegetable patches that stretch for miles.

Personally my garden is a living part of me that I need to share. Its harvest of fruits, flowers and vegetables, the joy it gives me must be shared with others.
My garden is just as much a part of creation as the whole earth. It’s just a little bit of a whole in the oversized garden that is creation.

I want others to be able to take joy from creation. To be able to smile at a leaf, get excited by a flower not only see creation but feel and connect with creation and in turn God. The gift of creation from God to us is stunning. From sunsets to a tiny ant; it’s Perfect and beautiful.

When you have something wonderful it must be shared, sharing with others brings joy to us and to God. Opening eyes and hearts to the Christian world.

Gardens don’t grow on their own, they need freewill and careful guidance. Gardens left to totally alone often become overgrown a tangled mess. The joy from the overgrown garden can quickly disappear, restoring that garden to its beauty can seem an impossible task and often something you cannot do alone.

We are all gardeners of creation.

We all have a gift to give to the garden , we are all equal when we garden from our hearts lead by the Holy Spirit.
Some of us are born green fingered others need help to see what’s in font of us.
We are are capable gardeners tending and loving creation, with the gifts given to us from the Holy Spirit. Working the soil to its full potential seeing that creation exists not for humankind but for the glory of God and a joy to both.

God created the garden for joy. Through human sin and disobedience the garden was spoilt. We keep messing it up, we are human and get things wrong when we follow our freewill and fail to listen to God.
God created the garden: he is the only one that knows its true purpose ,It’s history, it’s inner beauty and the joy that it should give to its people and the joy it’s people should give back to the God the creator.

God sent his son to be our head gardener. Only though Jesus can we grow our gardens to maturity . Through prayer we learn, we are guided by the head gardener through the creator. We Listen, learn and grow in a Christ like way.
Even than we still get it wrong we are human and not the head gardener or the creator. God sacrificed his only son for the sins of the world. So we can live free and continue to garden creation.
The head gardener Jesus cannot garden alone. A fruitful garden takes love and labour to shape ,grow and form. Letting humanity to feel it’s joys and harvest its flowers and fruits that grow it to maturity.
We need to allow others to make paths , plant their own plants in their own style and way. But always under the guidance of the head gardener and creator.
Constant chatter( prayer) between the gardeners and the head gardener are essential for fruitfulness.
Those that know the joy of gardening open their hearts and there gardens for people to wander in encouraging them to stop and rest ; for them to nurture and form a closer relationship with Jesus. Gardeners form communities to share what they have with each other and than with the wider communities.

I see the church as the garden shed. The place where all the tools and the gardening books are kept and given out.
The priests are the gardeners too, as are we all. They garden from a calling to help others see the joy of the garden. They work not only for their own gardens but sow fruit and scatter seeds in the gardens of others.
Gardening along side and with them. weeding, planting fresh seed, loving , nurturing creation . The priests are gardeners that not only pull up weeds and sow seeds but also a have understanding of why and how to garden. They get it wrong too but their gift to the garden is to grow Gods word.
From the garden sheds they mow out paths, if possible build more sheds and gardens under the guidance of the head gardener.
They reach out to communities that are broken and have no gardening skills, they mend broken branches. Bash down weeds and brambles often getting scratched and stung on the way.
Deep inside they want others to smile as they walk past a flower and feel that deep joy of living alongside the head gardener.

The weed that the priest gardener pulls up is the same weed that any person pull ups. It has the same effect , if it’s done for the same purpose.
Equally the rose the planted by the priest gardener has just as much chance of flowering as the rose any of us can plant, as long as it’s planted with love nurtured and cared for.
We are all equal when it comes to tending the garden.

Humanity has become the problem we surround ourselves with gardens that have become overgrown with weeds. The sheds for some are distance memories at the bottom of their gardens overgrown with brambles.
The gardeners in the sheds work at clearing the brambles , they work quietly and patiently cutting one branch at a time, clearing paths. Making the sheds and the communities inside them available to as many as possible.
It’s not the sheds that we build or the people that garden inside them that give joy , it’s the flowers and fruits they plant and sow that bring us and God joy .

We cannot do this without love.

God blesses the whole garden each part makes a whole, each part has different job within the garden.
Every time someone new wonders into the garden it’s up the the gardeners to great them. It’s up to visitor which path they take and even if they don’t stop or even lift their eyes up from the floor it does not matter.
Next time they visit the garden they might just sit on the bench or even open the door to the community inside the shed.
It’s the encounter with the love of Christ through the gardeners in their sheds, it’s that love that we find forgiveness and a new purpose.
The church’s calling is to bless the world in Christ, remind and tell people why we garden . For the love and joy of creation and the creator God.
Gardeners from their sheds provide conditions for growth, placing people and sheds in the right places – God does the rest. We pray and trust in God to guide us .

My personal reflection on Gods widening Circle by Graham Tomlin.
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Hebrews 10:9Good News Translation (GNT)
9 Then he said, “Here I am, O God, to do your will.” So God does away with all the old sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their place.

Biblical hope has its foundational roots in love.

Day 38 – Lent Challenge – Hope

Blogging about the word hope has not been as straight forward as I thought. I have struggled with this simple 4 letter word. Of course I hope but on it’s own the word “hope” just seemed so week.
I really wanted to try and work out my thinking behind this. Spending time outside walking and praying my reasons started to become slightly clearer.
Walking and praying personally works for me. Being outside the man-made barriers that can distract me from prayer are removed and overpowered by the beauty of creation.
While walking the silent conversations of prayer are echoed in the rhythm of my footsteps. In that silent space the Holy Spirit listens and talks to my heart. I find myself questioning my questions and in some spiritual bizarre way I start to answer my own questions myself.
But it’s almost as if God makes me work for the answers as a teacher would. Encouraging me to use the knowledge I already have. To look and deeper within myself to gain more knowledge to join up my thinking.
At the moment is my heart is full of words that my head is not quiet ready to yet join up.
I am sure in time God will help me find the wisdom to form these connections. But Gods time is not considering my need to finish and publish this blog today,
So I am going to try and explain why I feel hope on it’s own is just not enough.
I’ve always had hope in my life, I’ve hoped and dreamed for myself and others.
It’s only when hope and faith meet Gods love did my life transform,.

Faith is my firm belief and trust in God. Through the Holy Spirit my faith grows.I get to know God better. Hope is the possibilities that come from experiencing Gods love. It’s a love that inspires me by my actions to see the potential of my faith. My faith is never still, it grows and changes as God challenges and changes me. Faith gives hope and that hope strengthens my love for Jesus, so my faith grows. Love empowers hope, You can’t have hope without faith, or faith without hope. Without faith, hope is just a powerless wish.

During my walk and prayers I felt that this blog should be a thank you midwife that delivered our daughter. Childbirth, love, faith and hope are so intertwined.( That’s another blog for another day).

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Jeremiah 29:11-13 Good News Translation (GNT)
11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.[a] 12 Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. 13 You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.

Pushed to my limits

God knows what we need to grow in faith if we open our hearts and minds we will see gods love working around us , our prayers may not be answered in the way we would like or within the time scale that would be convenient to us .
My conversations with god might at times seem one sided but I know god listens and hears my prayers , the way god shows he is listening always amazes me and just gives me a WOW warm feeling, how great is god that he loves me as he loves all his children , he loves me so much he feels my pain and gives me all I need to live a Christian life and follow Jesus , The Holy Spirit will lead me and guide me and help me use the beautiful gifts given to me by god.
James chapter 1 verse 2 has been pooping up all week, on blogs I read, twitter feeds and when I randomly open my bible it’s in James.
This week has been tough and I am so tired both physically and emotionally, every step forward I seem to take two back.
My prayers give me strength and the energy to keep going and trust god .
The next steps in my life are potentially very cruel and will try and take away from me the things I am passionate about and will test me to my limits.
For the first time during all this I am scared , very scared I will encounter people that I cannot trust and those that will help us, not sure how I tell the two apart, I have a very trusting nature and trusting in god is the only way forward .
Can I really consider myself fortunate for this trail that’s heading my way, truthfully and honestly I feel very fortunate that I have a life with Jesus , and without these trails that keep being placed in front of me , I would have never allowed god into my heart , never felt his presence in my life .
I am truly grateful that I can pray and know that every step I take I will not fall,
Each trail put before me will strengthen my faith hold me on the right path , when I am exhausted I can rest in gods love , prayer will rebuild my strength I may fall again and again, but god will help pick me back up and set me back on the path.

James 1 : 2 My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, 3 for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 4 Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all. 6 But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. 7-8 If you are like that, unable to make up your mind and undecided in all you do, you must not think that you will receive anything from the Lord.

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20 Short Minutes .

 

 

Today has left me feeling confused and upset. I got to say my goodbyes to my special little person. Twenty short minutes to say everything I needed to say, and said none it.
It was a staged managed process, felt as it was just done to tick boxes.
I said what was expected of me and I got the answers I wanted to hear.
I did not listen to my heart I was grateful for the time but unsure what it achieved or if it done either of us any good. I prayed for the strength to get through today. I need to learn listen to the voice inside me and be stronger and not follow the crowd and say what I feel.
I am normally good at this but today I became a week little mouse and feel disappointed in myself.
This time I did not turn my back on this person, but never got to tell them how much I love and care for them no that I had no choice in any of the life changing decisions made for them.
I wanted to hold them, never let go, pray with them. That was never going to happen. We where watched a closely supervised for 20 short minutes .
I am so tired and exhausted being positive all the time. Fighting the negative, Smiling when it’s hurting, looking deep inside myself every day to find beauty something however small that might be.
I hold my tears just below the surface. The pain is so deep in my heart I don’t think it will ever go away .
The holy spirt a part of me and a gift from God. It’s is stronger than the pain and hurt ( most of the time )
I need to learn to listen to the holy spirit and not to my own desires

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”

Psalms 73:26 NLT

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