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

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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

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

New life…

God of spring time

as the frost melts

and the trees bud

may I cross over

from darkness to light

from grumbling to appreciation

from hesitating to striding

from boredom to creativity

from looking down to gazing up

from indifference to your Passion

from chill to warmth and love

in this world and the next.

(found here on beautyfromchaos)

Picture is ‘new life’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

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.

… the intimacy of things

“In the early evening we see the stars begin to appear as the sun disappears over the horizon. The light of day gives way to the darkness of night. A stillness, a healing quiet comes over the landscape. It’s a moment when some other world makes itself known, a numinous presence beyond human understanding. We experience the vast realms of space overwhelming the limitations of our human minds. As the sky turns golden and the clouds reflect the blazing colors of evening, we participate for a moment in the forgiveness, the peace, the intimacy of things with each other.” (Thomas Berry)

Picture is ‘sunset from grizzly peak’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr