Saturday

Today’s photo is the sea wall in Saltcoats, by Dylan Walker. 
I wanted a still bleak Image for the day between cross and resurrection.
  
“As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.”

Of Mice and Men  (John Steinbeck)

Lost things

Today’s photographic is called “lost spirituality” (by Jonny Baker on Flickr). 

It seemed appropriate for today when the significance of Good Friday, other than being a day off from school and work (for some anyway), is largely lost or ignored. 

  

In keeping with the bleakness of my mood on this Good Friday, here is a favourite poem from a beautifully bleak poet:

In Church (RS Thomas)

Often I try 

To analyse the quality 

Of its silences. Is this where God hides

From my searching? I have stopped to listen,

After the people have gone,

to the air recomposing itself

For vigil. It has waited like this

Since the stones grouped themselves about it.

These are the hard ribs

Of a body that our prayers have failed

To animate. Shadows advance

From their corners to take possession

Of places the light held

For an hour. The bats resume

Their business. The uneasiness of the pews

Ceases. There is no other sound

In the darkness but the sound of a man

Breathing, testing his faith

On emptiness, nailing his questions

One by one to an untenanted cross

(From Collected Poems, 1945-1990. P180.)

Easter blessings

If you were not risen,
Lord Christ, to whom would we go
to discover a radiance
of the face of God?

If you were not risen,
we would not be together
seeking your communion.
We would not find in your presence
forgiveness,
wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,
where would we draw the energy
for following you
right to the end of our existence,
for choosing you again and anew?

Brother Roger of Taize

A prayer for Tuesday after Holy Week and Easter, for all those who now draw breath and seek rest and renewal.

Those of you following the blog will know that Lent, Holy Week and Easter have happened without me this year. It has been strange observing rather than participating in worship.

It has been a virtual journey through the season for me, following Lenten blogs and observing how others have prepared and participated through their postings on social networking sites.

I have especially enjoyed the posts and comments on Revgalblogpals blogspot and on their Facebook page. And I have stored away some ideas for next Easter. Thanks ladies (and gents too) for creating sacred space in the blogsphere.

After nearly three months of coughing – day and night –  it seems to have eased off at last over the past week or so and I am beginning to feel human again! My residual worry is the effect all this coughing has had on my voice which is still rather hoarse, so your prayers for this are appreciated – for obvious reasons!

A belated happy Easter to all, especially the bloggers and posters who have shared the journey with me – without even knowing it 🙂

(Photo taken in the Lake District by the Husband)

The Musician

A memory of Kreisler once:
At some recital in this same city,
The seats all taken, I found myself pushed
On to the stage with a few others,
So near that I could see the toil
Of his face muscles, a pulse like a moth
Fluttering under the fine skin,
And the indelible veins of his smooth brow.

I could see, too, the twitching of the fingers,
Caught temporarily in art’s neurosis,
As we sat there or warmly applauded
This player who so beautifully suffered
For each of us upon his instrument.

So it must have been on Calvary
In the fiercer light of the thorns’ halo:
The men standing by and that one figure,
The hands bleeding, the mind bruised but calm,
Making such music as lives still.
And no one daring to interrupt
Because it was himself that he played
And closer than all of them the God listened.

~ R.S. Thomas

A wonderful poem for Good Friday with thanks to Robin

Photo is ‘thin place’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

He will walk

Palm Sunday… Lent ends and Holy Week Begins.

And to take us through this week, a wonderful meditation from The Wild Goose Resource Group . I adapted it slightly a couple of years back for my voice and spit it into parts.

This is my Holy Week post as I am away and the internet access is painfully slow,

He will walk
A little in front of us
Towards Jerusalem.

He will not be scared
Though we are apprehensive.

If we try to discourage Him
He will recognise the Devil in our voice.
And He will tell us as much
In no uncertain terms.

Then He will go on again,
In faith,
Towards Jerusalem.

He will walk
A little in front of us,
Into controversy.

He will be scared
Though we are apprehensive.
He will argue with the intelligent,
Stop the self-assured in their tracks

He will touch the scabby.
He will upset bank balances by his outlandish behaviour in the sanctuary,
He will weep in public.

Then He will go on again,
In faith
Towards Jerusalem.

He will walk
A little way in front of us
Into Gethsemane

He will not hold back
Though we are apprehensive.

He will sweat blood
He will ask God if there is another way.

And when God says no,

He will take the traitor’s kiss,
The soldiers’ spit
The vile and venom from the princes of religion.

Then He will go on again,
In faith,
Towards the cross.

He will walk
A little in front of us
Towards Calvary.

He will not turn back
No, he will not turn back
He will feel the pain
Of wood and nails;

But more than this He will feel the weight
Of all the evil,
All the malice,
All the pettiness,
All the sin of the world
Heaped upon His shoulders.

He will not throw off the weight,
Though he could.

He will not give back evil for evil.
He will not return malice for malice.
He will not take revenge on the petty-minded
Or spew out hate on all who have despised or rejected Him.

He will not give back the sin of the world,
He will take it away…
Into death, into hell,
So that He can lead us to heaven.

Then He will go on again,
In faith,
Towards the resurrection.

He will walk
A little behind us,
Through the graveyard.

And he will wait
Until we realise that He has died
Until we admit our complicity in His life’s ending.

Then He will come up behind us,

He will say our name,
So that we can be His,
Forever.

Being nice is not enough

This wonderful picture from Jonny Baker on Flickr reminded me of this piece by Alan Jones called “Being nice and other barriers to love” (Inward Outward):

“One of the most damaging things about the popular view of love is that it requires being nice all the time. I don’t think that I am a particularly nice person. In fact, one of the reasons that I count myself among the believers is that I cannot rely on my being nice to pull me through.

Being nice is closely allied, of course, to being liked. The two go together. If I’m not nice you won’t like me, and if you don’t like me then there is no chance of love springing up between us. This kind of reasoning breeds dishonesty because it means that “love” becomes a code word for avoiding confrontation or disagreement.

True love requires a strict and accurate regard for truth. We live in an age that would prefer the smooth lie to the hard truth. The result is that we are very poor at honouring genuine feelings and hard-won convictions. In the name of caring for each other we often do everything we can to diffuse one another’s passion. We are embarrassed by strong expressions of emotion… Love is reduced to niceness and the passion and the grief are driven underground….”

We cannot be ‘nice’ all the time and I know for sure that niceness isn’t going to get me through. I can’t sustain it. And anyway being nice does not necessarily = love!

Being nice is on the bland side of love. Niceness is the easy route – saying things that other people want to hear. Sliding over the truth.

Niceness is superficial. But love is something way beyond superficial. Love has depth, conviction and passion. Yet the passion is something we want to ignore, especially when it comes to faith.

Christians should not just be nice people (although it is a start :)). We should also love with passion the God who first loved us, the God who revealed the depths of his passion for us in Christ and on the cross.

And then we should share this love with those around us.

Sacred space?

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky…
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth
Is spread with the same.

Walt Whitman

“Every cubic inch of space a miracle?  Jesus, God Incarnate, made the whole world that sort of Sacred Space.  Holy Week reveals to us again that even the dark and bloody places of the world are sanctified by his life, death and resurrection.  The journey we make with him in retelling and experiencing his Passion through symbolic worship in Holy Week draws us into that sanctifying mystery.  We enter the darkness that we might see the light more clearly.”

(Whitman quote and reflection pinched wholesale from this Lenten blog which is well worth a look.)

Photo is ’57th‘ by Jonny Baker on Flickr