Don’t let go of the thread…

Follow the Path (detail) (3)There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

(William Stafford, The Way It Is)

I found this while blog hopping and it appealed to me.

What is your thread? What runs through your life, your relationships? Does your thread  encourage and motivate you? Does it keep you grounded no matter what life throws at you?

We all need something to hold on to, something eternal and timeless.

Three things last for eternity: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13)

(Image is ‘follow the path’ found here)

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.

letting go…

Some prayerful thoughts for Wednesday about letting go of our most human failings:

Lord – let our memory
provide no shelter
for grievance
against another.
Lord – let our heart
provide no harbour
for hatred of another.
Lord – let our tongue
be no accomplice
in the judgement of a brother.

Amen

(Northumbrian Office)

Photo is ‘desert waterfall’ by Joshua Cripps found here. If you subscribe to this wonderful site they send you a photo every day with its story.

Stripped down

A reflection as Sunday approaches…  from Roddy at Listening to the stones.

It seemed appropriate for a week which saw the resignation of an Archbishop and in which some personal priorities are being examined and reassessed.

What pads your faith?

What will draw you to worship?

What needs laid aside?

………………………………………………………

Lord Jesus

when you strip our faith down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails

all the glamour of robes
all the wealth of the church
all the comfort of cathedrals
is worth nothing

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

all the great ministers of the church
the cascade of church history
and mighty holy empires
and reformations

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

and the many theology books written
and the great universities of divinity
and the councils that fashioned creeds
and the world wide web of religion

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

Here is our corrective
our moment to lay aside
that which pads our faith
and affirm that which draws us here

for when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

May we let go
and be held instead.

Image is ‘wood and nails’ found here at deviantart.com

Do it anyway…

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

A Lenten reflection attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. A reminder that serving God should be our primary motivation in life. Pleasing people is so often a fruitless exercise.

Picture is ‘keep calm and carry on’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Anxious activity

A prayer for Monday and a challenge for those of us who fill our days with anxious activity.

Lord Almighty, we say we want to serve you, we say we want to help others less fortunate than ourselves, we say we want justice. But the truth is, we want power and status because we so desperately need to be loved. Free us from our self-fascination and the anxious activity it breeds, so that we might be what we say we want to be – loved by you and thus capable of unselfish service. Amen.

Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 49 (found here)

Photo is ‘escalator’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Heart matters…

Today a Lenten Prayer by St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397) with Echoes of Ezekiel 36: 26-7:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.


O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore Thee,
a heart to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee,
for Christ’s sake,
Amen

Picture found here when blog hopping

… this is all it takes?

A wonderful reflection from Cheryl at holdthisspace for Christmas in the prison where she works. She notes that “  it’s still a bit rough, but you get the idea…”.

Rough or not, it is certainly worth sharing as we make our way on to Bethlehem… as we wait “for love to be born”.

The story (Luke 2: 1-20) tells us that this is all it takes for love to be born:

you listen to the voice of improbable angels
you dare to believe you might have a part to play in their story

you say yes to the idea of the impossible
you give up the future you thought was inevitable

you defy the protocols and social mores of the day
when they get in the way of what you know is true

you dare to say to those who would deny your value and your role
that you just might have what’s needed, in this moment

you search for your allies and trust them with your dream
you devour the moments of joy when they come

you demand truth from yourself and those around you
you give up the things you are comfortable with

you travel long journeys in inhospitable conditions
you stand up to be counted

you take whatever shelter you can get
you aren’t afraid of darkness or dirt

you do whatever it takes, even if you’re lonely, scared,
a laughing stock, intimidated, overwhelmed, lost, uncomfortable

you accept gifts of wisdom from strangers
you honour those who put their gifts of love, however small, alongside yours

you risk everything, even your life, to give it breath
that’s all it takes for love to be born.

Picture is: Henry Ossawa Tanner – The Annunciation