It’s not the first time that lone trees have caught my attention. This fine specimen was captured a couple of years ago; pre-pandemic. The more observant will notice that in fact, the tree is not alone completely, and that there are other trees available on a further hill!
During the season of Lent, which we are now passing through, we are encouraged to take moments to reflect on our faith. It’s not a particularly grand ‘shouty’ word, but it sits on its own, like the tree above. Alone, but connected by the landscape.
Your understanding of your faith is utterly unique. There is no blueprint to follow, because we are all coming at it from our own perspective. This changes and moves as we travel through life. In those moments of being alone, which are part of our mental and spiritual landscape, strangely we can become aware of the ‘still small voice’. Alone, but not alone!
God does not shout for our attention, But there are times when I have shouted at God, wondering where I am and questioning what is occuring. Alone, but sustained by the breath of God’s Spirit, reaching both high and low; just like the lone tree. Drawing sustenance from the ground and breathing in the atmosphere. Living, in the given moment.
It loooks like a bridge or a quay to nowhere; well in my mind it does! I love the photograph because it has so many elements. It holds the attention of the observer, as we try to pull together our individual understanding of its meaning.
We have an inbuilt need to make sense of what we observe, hear, touch, Faith comes into the mix too! Whether it is religious faith or any other type of faith you would wish to describe. We may trust our own judgement or others, but still we can have that nagging doubt…..it walks hand in hand with faith.
How we each observe the scene above, is entirely unique to us. There are elements that will resonate with all of us, but other elements which indicate our own quirkyness. That is one of the joys of being human.
Belief in God has as many manifestations as there are people. There are common understandings which bring belief together and differences, which can create misunderstanding. The title of this blog describes how I see faith. Taking that step every moment; sometimes with confidence, other times with uncertainty. God always honours our hesitant steps and our bolder vision.
‘You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.’ Psalm 63, verse 1
Powerful words from the pen of the Psalmist. What is conjoured up in your mind as you read? I think that words cannot even begin to express what is in the heart of the writer of the Psalm; but he tries to express what is deep in his soul. How does it make you feel as you read his cry of longing?
Nothing is held back. Faith and trust in a seemingly impossible situation is what drives his heart and soul to have such assurance, which almost seems a little over the top.
The parched land is no barrier, not even if it feels a little like that in our own hearts. Water in the desert…refreshment for the soul, poured out, running over, even in the seemingly most difficult moments.
Steal a moment or moments today to read the words of the Psalmist and be prepared for the answer you might not expect!
How would you define ‘Serenity’? For me, it speaks of calm in the midst of storm, or a sense of peace that touches our spirit and transforms our thinking. The line of trees gives a sense of what I’m searching for, along with the road disappearing into mist. The trees act as simple signposts, defining the edge of the road.
Here is a dictionary definition of Serenity; ‘A state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.’ I wish! Proclaims my inner voice. But lets not be too harsh on ourselves! Here are some no doubt familiar words written by Reinhold Niebuhr (an American theologian): ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’ Got it in one Reinhold!!! It’s easier said than done, I agree, but what a great starting point as we step out on our own journey, leading ever onward to Easter
As we walk the road of Lent, leading us ever closer to Easter, lets try and take moments to remind ourselves of Reinhold’s wisdom and allow Serenity to seep into our hearts and souls…even for a minute!
We have entered the season of Lent; a period of time for self reflection, and also looking ahead to the events of Easter week.
Time moves on apace. This photograph was taken in May last year. The juxtaposition of the signpost and the small bird, with its head cocked to one side, seemingly listening for something, just captured my attention.
It somehow speaks of the need for us to ‘listen’, during this season leading up to Easter. Listening is not easy. There are so many voices, externally; through the media and our phones. How do we sift these calls on our attention?
What about the deeper and quieter voices which aren’t loud and demanding, but call to us from a different place. Here are some words from the Book of Jeremiah; ‘ You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.‘ The words of God through the prophet Jeremiah.
These words simply talk about ‘turning’, and ‘trusting’; attitudes of the heart and mind. There for all of us, not a ‘chosen few’. Not for ‘religious people’, but honest people. God is truly closer to each of us than we are to ourselves.
May the Lord bless your journey in all its twists and turns. May your honesty open your heart and mind in your moment of listening.
The word that resonates in my heart and soul as I sit down to write today’s blog. Held. It describes how I feel in the ups and downs of life.
Held by the love and grace of God every moment, But to be honest there are plenty of times when I feel adrift and uncertain. Unable to see the way ahead. Darkness instead of light. But just in that space, impercetibly there is the faint glimmer of a lone light, pushing back the darkness.
The light of Jesus Christ, gently rising in the darkness, pushing back fear and offering hope and illuminating the steps to be taken. Often in suprising ways!
As I write these words, I reflect upon the moments of struggle and uncertainty. When I lose my way and give in to fear. That word, ‘Held’, speaks gently into my soul, and I can sense the love of God.
The days are lengthening and despite the rain, snow and hail, followed by double digit temperatures, we are heading towards spring! This photograph was taken last year as spring took hold. There is a real sense of optimism as the leaves raise themselves to the light. a palpable pulse of renewed energy.
But I’m jumping ahead a little! The leaves are not quite ready to burst forth as I write this, but the snow drops and daffodils are moving from darkness into the light. The waiting time is becoming transforming time. This is reflected in our own lives over hours, days, months and years. Times of waiting, growth, flowering, bearing fruit. Our lives are woven into the fabric of creation.
Sometimes we just need to ‘give ourselves a break’, allowing our seeing, hearing and sensing to guide our moments, Here are some words of Jesus, recorded by St. Luke, in his Gospel; ‘Consider how the lilies grow. They don’t work or spin yarn, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was clothed like one of them.’
Take a moment to reflect on these words of Jesus. In the waiting time that you give yourself, hear the voice of the Creator, which comes to you in its uniqueness. Enjoy the suprise!
We will all have our own thoughts and definitions of the word, Wisdom. It doesn’t seem to be in common usage these days, perhaps because it has gone out of fashion or lost the power it once carried.
Libraries are repositories of collective human wisdom. The internet also has become a further place to discover wisdom, and much else beside! I am not going to define wisdom, because I feel inadequate to the task.
The word that goes with it is ‘understanding’, but even then we never quite reach the definition of Wisdom. Simply, wisdom seems to come from the heart of God, which makes it seemingly even more complex!.
Perhaps the answer is much more simple. We can look, and look and look, outside of ourselves, but wisdom actually might reside in our hearts and souls, which are held by God’s grace. Using a library can add to our undertanding of something, but wisdom seems to be of a different order; the thread that could potentially bind everything together.
I feel as though I’ve made things more confusing, but I simply offer you these words, in the hope that the wisdom of God would resound in your heart.
Words seem like an interruption, faced with the photograph I’ve used for this moment. It speaks about the tenaciousness of life; the ability of living things to adapt and change and find the elements for growth in the most unlikely of places or moments.
New life and growth is a wonderous thing to behold; each of us will have our own stories to offer. Those moments when we have felt that we cannot see the way ahead, but then impercertively the ‘green shoots’ break through the darkness, and draw us to the light.
God’s spirit is the universal ‘planter’; the grower of new possibilities, when the ground looks less than fertile! Think about those moments in your life when there has seemed to be no way forward. The possibilities look limited. Yet out of these times spring ideas which we could never have imagined previously. Changes which we may regard as fantasy., suddenly begin to grow; small shoots but with untold potential.
Take a moment to spot the small shoots; and expect God’s love to encouage the growth!
I love the look of this foggy photograph. It adequately describes my thinking as I set to writing today’s blog! The picture is not foggy enough to obliterate the scene, but there is that sense of a ‘tipping point’ as the fog rolls in. But it may dissipate, and the scene would be transformed….take from it what you will!!
But truly, I do feel a tad ‘foggy’ as I write. It’s snowing outside, the waves are crashing as they roll into the bay, and the island is shrouded in mist. Reality connecting with mood!
It’s part of being human; succumbing to fogginess as we try to understand all that is unfolding! We want to live with certainty, but that is not always possible. So we end up in a state of ‘flux’. Sometimes, it is hard to stay in this state, because we want certainty in order to anchor us. My experience is that God walks with us ‘in the flow’, where there is no anchor readily available. This is OK. We are not left alone.
After Jesus’ resurrection the disciples ended up on a mountain top in Galilee, where Jesus met them in their confusion and ‘lostness’. His response to this moment is to reassure them; ‘Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age’
Be prepared to meet God in the uncertain, foggy times!!!