… words for today

It takes two things for prayer to come to pass – a person and a word. Prayer involves right relationship between those two things. But we have lost that relationship. Involved as we are in many relationships, our relationship to words has become totally obscured. We do not think about words, although few things are as important for the life of the spirit as the right relationship to words. Words have become cliches, objects of absolute abuse.  They have ceased to be commitments.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (from inward/outward)

This quote really made me think. Is Heschel right? Almost certainly if you read the newspapers (in print or worse online where people can leave vitriolic comments on the stories of the day) or look at the ‘wealth’ of celebrity or fashion based magazines on the shelves of any newsagents.

We no longer craft letters, we rush off slipshod emails or make throw away comments on social networking sites, not worrying about grammar or spelling.

And in our personal relationships – do we actually talk to one another or are our conversations really ‘a dialogue of the deaf’?

We live in a world where words are cheap and plentiful.

Do we treat the words we speak to God – and the words we speak about God – in the same way?

Answers on a postcard!!

(The Wordle contains the most commonly used words in English proverbs :))

Challenge of our times…

I thought I would post this picture again. It challenges me on so many different levels.

None of us want to be responsible for emptying a church! But it is not enough just to keep it open either… simply to maintain what is for as long as we can. The challenge is to move forward.

I don’t like the “change” word much and I try to avoid telling my congregation that things have to change. I prefer to talk about transition… about moving from one thing to another.

We cannot go backwards and standing still is not a sustainable option because if we are just “keeping it open” we are effectively “keeping it empty” albeit not this week or even this year.

Your church may still be open and on the surface thriving, but  given the current rate of decline in church attendance, and the age profile of your congregation, it will eventually be empty!

There is no quick fix solution, no easy answer (if you have one please let me know!) But it is a question of focus. Where is your focus? On maintenance ministry? Or on moving forward with the God who seeks to do a new thing with his Church and with his people?

Faith is…

“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises….

Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat.

Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch.

Faith is waiting.”

(Frederick Buechner )

(Picture is Coldingham Bay)


Continuing on a poetry theme… I came across this by Brian Turner while I was blog hopping:

Once in a while
you may come across a place
where everything
seems as close to perfection
as you will ever need.
And striving to be faultless
the air on its knees
holds the trees apart,
yet nothing is categorically
thus, or that, and before the dusk
mellows and fails
the light is like honey
on the stems of tussock grass,
and the shadows are mauve birthmarks
on the hills.

These pictures were taken in the Lake District last October…  a holiday when the weather was perfect all week 🙂


… the light that fills the world.

Today we head home from holiday suitably chilled. So – to mark the end – another poem and some more pictures:

I think over again my small adventures
my fears
those small ones that seemed so big

For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach

And yet there is only one great thing
the only thing

To live to see the great day that dawns
and the light that fills the world.

(Old Inuit Song quoted by inward/outward)

this amazing day…

The weather is not quite right for this beautiful hymn of gratitude by e.e. cummings, but it lets me post some more holiday pictures from one of the two sunny days of the week 🙂

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Some of our holiday pictures… from the one day of sunshine which we spent in St Abbs and Coldingham Bay – beautiful places which brought to mind this poem by Mary Oliver:

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?