budding glory

The weather is unseasonably warm and the welcome sunshine is bringing the garden back to life after winter. Bushes and trees are bursting with buds and the daffodils are opening at last.

So for a sunny March Monday a poem called ‘Trees’ by Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Eternal perspective…

My previous blog was called “Rumours of Angels”  and it carried the strap line “all is in flux turn, but a stone and an angel moves” taken from this prayer (Man is made to rise) written by the Very Rev Dr George Fielden MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary (founder of the Iona Community).

It is about seeing the world through the eyes of faith, seeing beyond the earthly to the eternal:

 Invisible we see You, Christ above us.
With earthy eyes we see above us, clouds or sunshine, grey or bright.
But with the eye of faith we know you reign:
instinct in the sun ray
speaking in the storm,
warming and moving all creation, Christ above us.

We do not see all things subject unto You.
But we know that man is made to rise.
Already exalted, already honoured, even now our
citizenship is in heaven
Christ above us, invisible we see You.

Invisible we see You, Christ beneath us.
With earthly eyes we see beneath us stones and dust and dross,
fit subjects for the analyst’s table.
But with the eye of faith, we know You uphold.
In You all things consist and hang together:
the very atom is light energy
the grass is vibrant,
the rock pulsate.

All is in flux, turn but a stone and an angel moves.
Underneath are the everlasting arms.
Unknowable we know you, Christ beneath us.

If you have never read any of George MacLeod’s prayers then I commend them to you – a great place to start is this book Daily Readings with George MacLeod.

(Photo is of pebbles on Chesil Beach from davesdistrictblog)

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

Moving on…

I found this picture with the CS Lewis quote here when I was blog hopping the other day. It sums up quite neatly where I am at the moment.

As regular readers will know, the future for my congregation is very uncertain. Uncertainty increased this week when I received the surveyor’s report on our halls complex with attendant costings.

The rest of the month holds meetings and discussions about the future. I have spent the past few days organising reports and paperwork, writing letters and addressing envelopes (as you do when you are off sick!!).

Please pray for us, for strength and wisdom, for patience and grace as we consider our options.

But mostly pray that we will hold on to the hope that there are indeed “far far better things ahead than any we leave behind”.

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,

Picture found here when blog hopping

The Sun on Sunday…

Today was gloriously sunny 🙂

So in the hope that this is a sign of days to come, I thought I would post this poem by Mary Oliver:

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone –
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance –
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love –
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a world billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed –
or have you too
turned from this world-

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

(picture is the sun setting over Troon Harbour… an everyday miracle)

Ordinary miracles

Ok, so I have now been signed off work until 13th March! It feels as if Lent is rushing by in a blur of coughing and sleepless nights, so I am hanging on to my Lenten discipline of posting every day. It is giving some much needed focus and structure to my days – days which, at the moment, are completely devoid of either.

On a cheerier note here is a poem for Saturday – The Bright Field by the wonderful RS Thomas.

Here we are reminded how very precious are the moments of our days – all those ordinary every day miracles which so often pass us by as we rush on through our lives.

In Lent we need to slow down and ponder these ordinary miracles – like sunlight on a small field – which give us glimpses of the eternity that awaits us. Ordinary miracles which put into the perspective the regrets of the past and the pressures of the future.

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receeding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Picture is ‘frosty morning’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr