to help you discover the God you already know

Month: January 2021

Retreat Day: Lent in lockdown

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday V

In lockdown, we are not allowed to go ‘out’: how may we allow ourselves to go ‘in’?

How can lockdown be an opportunity to enter more deeply into Lent?

How may we hear the silent Word at the centre of our unstilled world?

I am offering a day of prayer and reflection as we enter the journey of Lent.

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Stimulating Questions

Last summer I was reminded that the autumn would mark the 50th Anniversary of my ordination, and that prodded me to think about whether I should mark it and if so how.  A personal review seemed like an obvious thing to do, but I reckoned that might benefit from some outside questioning. So I wrote to people who’ve known me over the years in a variety of different contexts, explaining what I hoped to do, and asking if they’d “be willing to help me by offering a thought provoking question? Any question they liked.”  I ended up with a very stimulating set of questions. I mulled them through the autumn, wrote a considered response in early December, and shared it with all who’d helped me. Their reactions encouraged me to then publish what I’d written on this web-site. That in turn has led to quite a few comments, either posted on the web-site, or expressed to me personally. Some people have found that particular things that I wrote resonated with them, others have been prompted to consider a similar review of their own callings.  With the latter particularly in mind it seemed that it might be useful if I published the questions, hoping they might stimulate others as they did me.. So here they are, in the order in which I received them. Please bear in mind that they were offered with respect to my ordination, so if your calling is other, you’ll probably need to adapt them.

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LETTER TO A PASSING YEAR

After William Shakespeare, John Mason
and John Cage’s musical composition 4’33”

I loved your silence, your sun;
as birdsong bathed the stillness
I dreamt that blazing star could
purge by fire unimaginable pain
seared by your reign of terror
pulsating through
every tribe and caste.

I loved your silence


your air that was good to breathe more freely
disguised too thinly your murderous
poison sliming through flesh and soul
stifling livelihoods,
masking truth, demeaning hope,
stealing touch from human kin
and dislocated lovers;
a smoke raised with the fumes of sighs.

I loved your silence



it made a home in me; a nest
where I could curl and brood
the warmth of human love
enriching shadowed lives.
A sea nourished with loving tears.
Farewell dear year,
a madness most discreet,
a choking gall,
yet a preserving sweet
has marked your almanac.
Let dust in dust and silence lie

I loved your silence




I loved your silence


Journey into priesthood

When I first sensed a call to ordination, I naively thought it would mean that ‘I shall have paid time to walk in the woods to wonder about the big questions of the existence of God and the meaning of life, and that I will find myself in conversation with others about these questions.’   Being brought up as an Anglican in a Christian culture, priesthood seemed the obvious means of exploring this vocation. Had I been born into a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist or atheist culture then the means of exploration would have been different but I assume that the exploration would have been similar.

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Praying together

a review and an invitation

Stand of trees
Photo by Annette Kaye

Breakup

In September 2010, I started on an 8-week, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) class. My father had died on Easter Day, I was struggling to hold it together as a hospital chaplain, and, though I was blind to it then, my marriage was about to end. I had long wanted to do one of these courses since dipping into Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living, but when I signed up for it two months earlier, I had not anticipated that this course would frame the nexus of disintegration that brought 2010 to an end.

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