Hope revisited

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Kent Nerburn also finds hope in the everyday… in the quiet corners of the ordinary.

Like Chittister (yesterday) he finds hope lies in the small actions we perform everyday which have the power to transform not only our own lives, but the lives of other people.

“We are not saints, we are not heroes.

Our lives are lived in the quiet corners of the ordinary.

We build tiny hearth fires, sometimes barely strong enough to give off warmth. But to the person lost in the darkness, our tiny flame may be the road to safety, the path to salvation.

“It is not given us to know who is lost in the darkness that surrounds us or even if our light is seen. We can only know that against even the smallest of lights, darkness cannot stand.

“A sailor lost at sea can be guided home by a single candle.

A person lost in a wood can be led to safety by a flickering flame.

It is not an issue of quality or intensity or purity.

It is simply an issue of the presence of light.”

Picture is‘candlesanctuary2’ byJonny Baker

 

The Untried Melody

I will sing a new song.
I must learn the new song for the new needs
I must fashion new words born of all the new growth in my life – of my mind – of my spirit.
I must prepare for new melodies that have never been mine before,
That all that is within me may lift my voice unto God.

How I love the old familiarity of the wearied melody,
How I shrink from the harsh discords of the new untried harmonies.

Teach me, my Father, that I might learn with the abandonment and enthusiasm of Jesus,
The fresh new accent, the untried melody,
to meet the need of the untried morrow.

 (Howard Thurman)

This is a favourite prayer of mine (because I love to sing and the imagery appeals). Also it reflects my experiences of ministry so far. There have been so many transitions to live through with my congregation in such a short time and I have learned new songs for the new needs.

Sometimes I long for a period of stability – to have time for a melody to get wearied! But maybe it is better to be kept on my toes, to expect the unexpected in the dawn of the untried morrow?

Picture is ‘st cuthbert’s cross’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

One bead at a time…


Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness. I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten—happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.(Brenda Ueland)

I came across this quote on my old blog while I was looking for something completely different!

I love this description of inspiration – especially the image of writing being like putting beads on a string one after another because that is how it works for me. I have a magpie mind and am always collecting and filing things away for use later. Today I was frustrated because I remembered snippets of a story I wanted for a sermon but just could not track it down – maybe I will just use what I can remember and make up the rest 🙂

I also like the assertion that we need a little solitude and idleness as a primer for writing and creativity. I know I need this but I still get twinges of guilt about time spent quietly in the garden or elsewhere. Especially as in ministry there is always something more concrete and tangible needing to be done.

Being off sick for such a long period of time has shown me that the majority of the concrete and tangible things can wait; they will still be there tomorrow and tomorrow. But we need to catch those moments of solitude and idleness as not only will our writing benefit but also they will help us to live a more balanced and fruitful life.

Picture is ‘prayer beads’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Trading Joy

The trading of joy comes naturally because it is of the nature of joy to proclaim and share itself. Joy cannot contain itself, as we say. It overflows.

Frederick Buechner

This was this morning’s thought from inward/outward, and it came through just as I was thinking about the worship theme for this coming Sunday (yes I am starting back to work at last).

I was thinking about recognition and how we all need to be recognised, appreciated and loved. And I was reminded of this wonderful short film, part of which I am hoping to show on Sunday morning.

So if you have a dose of the Monday morning blues – then grab a coffee, put your feet up and watch this – I guarantee it will make you smile 🙂

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)

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.

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