Light, Life, Complexity

There’s a complexity in life that is profound and energising. The presence of light wherever it’s origin, is creative and life giving.

Read again these opening words of Genesis;

‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated light from darkness…..and there was evening and morning-the first day.’

It’s worth just reading those words in odd moments and turning them over in your thinking, allowing them to drip through your consciousness. Science can add so many other details to our understanding. I spent a happy half hour trying to understand the origin of the first light! Confused but excited and energised. Thankful for a resonance between faith and science.

But for a moment let’s just look at the photograph above. Taken yesterday evening as the sun was going down. Flowers from the garden and in the background a fused glass cross, made for us by an amazing couple who had a studio at Kirkharle , in Northumberland. The interplay of flowers and light is profound. I just have overwhelming sense of thankfulness, even in the middle of these dark days which we are living through.

Light, life and complexity are the building blocks of what we see and explore, every moment of our lives. The Creator is present in each of these elements, in every moment; nothing is lost or forgotten.

Perspective

I think that today’s blog will be short. This photograph was taken last might as the sun was setting. We will each interpret it in our own way.

Setting sun, fading light, brokeness, connection, hope, fear, expectancy.

A poem and/or a prayer:

Grace filled moments, darkness touched by light.

Cradled with hope, to see beyond this space

Thankfulness in movement, imperceptible but fulfilling.

Hold the passing day in memory and prayer and rest.

Giving thanks for all that is and was and might be.

Amen

Breathe

Just give yourself a moment to reflect on this scene.

I see it with the experience of having walked the path. The baked and cracked earth; single, solitary hawthorn bush, left when the rest of the hedging was taken away. The gradual slope, drawing our attention to the coppice on the crest of the ridge. The tenacious grasses trying to survive as they compete to draw water from the parched land.

What resonates in your own thought processes as you observe and read?

There have been moments over the past few weeks when I’ve found myself slipping into the ‘slough of despond’; you will have come across the latter if you’ve ever read John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress. Basically I find it to be a very annoying place and not terrifically positive!

Turning the negative to positive is a task for some of us; it may be for you, or you may be blessed with eternal optimism!! But whatever our temprement we have to try to make sense of our natural external environment, and our internal thought processes. The moment we inhabit is given as a space to learn.

I remember a publication that I received each week, when I was around 9 years old, called Look & Learn. It was wonderful, because it took me to other places and opened my thinking to new concepts. Now I would ‘Google’ it….not quite the same!

Anyway, the point is that in these moments we inhabit we need to breathe in ‘good stuff’. Trying to fill our consciousness with those things that energise, even if it may be the slightest thing, which almost seems incidental or even a tad negative, like parched land; solitary hawthorn bushes…..

These moments we give ourselves allow us to see differently and hear the voice of the Creator.

Blessings & Peace; Always

Rock of Ages

You will no doubt know the hymn , ‘Rock of Ages’. It’s a classic! I reckon it appeals to the geologist in me! I simply mention this because Helen and I came across an amazing range of rock formations on a hill in the Danby Forest in North Yorshire. The evidence is before you!

It was a fairly bleak day and a long walk to get to the top of the hill, crowned with these crazy remnants of the power of eroding ice, from the last Ice Age. It was cold too, as Helen’s attire witnesses!

I remember hearing the hymn playing in my head as I observed the scene on cresting the ridge. Here are the opening words; ‘Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee……’ ,Written in the mid 18th century, by the delightfully named, Augustus Montague Toplady!

Just let those opening words resound in your consciousness for a space. Savour the words, let them speak into your situation as you read. You’ll find that if you try doing this at different times of the day, you will sense and feel different emotions or images. Anything that pops into your consciousness, write it down, or draw a simple image even if it seems ridiculous!

If you get a moment over the days ahead, try and turn your scribblings into your own offering to God, or as a reflection on how you are feeling in the moment you write. Don’t be afraid of words…let them speak from you and for you.

Grey & Yellow

I saw this the other day and took the photograph to use in a blog post. So here it is. What your interpretation is of this scene, will be probably quite different to mine. I should just leave you to your own reflection.

But here are some of my thoughts. There is the juxtaposition of the yellow rape flower with the foreboding grey of the storm clouds. Hope and menace. A visual representation of the days we live in and through. The apostle Paul wasn’t noted for snappy writing, but he wrote something in a letter to a group of believers in Corinth, which reads like this; ‘now these three remain, faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. Done. Finito. There it is.

Three elements for living well, however that happens for you and I. Guide posts on our journey, wherever it leads. Somehow we have to work out the balance between these three, with love being the hinge point. That almost seems too big an ask. When all around us we find uncertainty, isn’t this all just ‘pie in the sky’? Wishful thinking? Probably! But we don’t stop there do we? Give up?

Faith and hope undergird love, they exist as a whole. Each needs the others and we need balance in our lives in these difficult times.

I cannot rustle up answers for my own questioning, never mind anyone else’s. But I pray for you in this moment. Our connection is the humanity we share. The assurance of the unending love of God for all, in the sometimes chaotic mix of our lives.

I think I’ve given myself more questions than answers, but that is the way life is. Faith, hope and love…..allow those words to permeate your thinking, even in the moments of uncertainty.

The Moment

‘Give me a moment’. A simple phrase with profound consequences. I guess we all utter the phrase sometime during the week; subliminally to ourselves, or to another.

It’s about having ‘space’, however you wish to define that. ‘Living in the moment’ is a phrase we might use. I am really poor at doing what seems like a simple thing, so I miss the moments that are given.

But there is a sense that time is given to us to have those moments. We have time on our hands in this present moment, so perhaps we can try to ‘be’ rather than to ‘do’. I’m sounding a little pretentious, even to myself, so to put it simply, it’s about connecting with something deeper than the usual chatter that resounds around our minds!

There is constant chatter in our minds and it drowns the stillness. There’s that well known but beautiful phrase from Psalm 46, verse 10; ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

So today, let’s give ourselves a moment and let’s hear something in the stillmess of the moment.

Tunnel

Being a native of the Wirral, a peninsula, sitting across the River Mersey from Liverpool, tunnels are important! There is the Mersey Railway Tunnel, opened in 1886, and two road tunnels; The Queensway, opened in 1934 and the Kingway opened in 1971. So, there’s some trivia for a rainy day!

This photograph is simply capturing a tunnel created naturally out of overhanging branches, woven together quite by chance. Helen encouraged me to take it, because of the play of light and darkness.

Scenes like this resonate with us on all kinds of levels. Light in darkness, hope in the midst of fear, the still small voice calling imperceptively into our consciousness.

You have your own unique struggles, and I offer my prayers for you. Quite simply we are not left alone, in anything we are going through at the moment. Very early in my journey of faith I was about to drift off into sleep and I found myself in a dark tunnel. Feeling massively fearful and anxious I could sense panic rising. At the moment of despair I saw an illuminated figure extending an outstreched arm and beconing me. Intuitively I knew it was Jesus Christ, saying nothing, but beckoning me to follow.

I’ve had massive ups and downs in life since then, but the beckoning never ends and the following carries on.

Bless you

Let it shine!

I remember reading Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, 26 years ago, in my first year as a Prison Chaplain. It had a profound effect on me. The story of a man who spent 27 years in prison, for daring to stand up to injustice on a industrial scale.

The title is simple but profound, refelecting an internal and external journey, and an indomitable spirit. He was a grace filled human being. I’ve chosen the quote above, because it encapsulates something of his own motivation and drive to help others discover their own grace.

One of the most difficult things we have to do on our life journey is to understand what grace is and how to share it. Please believe me I am no expert, simply an observer and seeker after grace. But what is grace? I don’t know is the answer, because there is no one definition; it is many things, and I think as unique to each of us, as we are.

For Nelson Mandela (see the quote above), it was something about ‘light’. Not defined, but something intangilble, that becomes real to others. This is grace, because is helps others find their own light and is not possessive or coercive. As I was ruminating on all this, I came across a translation (Contemporary English Version) of John’s Gospel, Chapter 1 verse 14; ‘The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only son of the Father. From him, all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.’ God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ; offerd humbly.

Humility is a sign of the reality of God’s grace offered initially to us, but also through us to others in kindness and truth. Graceful moments…Jesus Christ, the Word become human and living with us, moment by moment. Mandela witnessed to this in his own unique way, as each of us do, in our particular manifestation in this time.

Thank you for who you are and the grace that has been given to you. You will ‘shine’ in your own way and as a result, ‘will give other other people permission to do the same.’

Here is a prayer you might like to use:

Creator of life and grace,

Giver of hope in fear and love in anxiety.

Help me to find your grace in everyday moments,

And calm in the storm.

Peace in the challenges

And the knowledge of your love.

Quite simply your gracefulness to share

With others. Amen

Dimming of the day..

I feel slightly awkward writing today’s blog. It’s 10.47 in the morning on 29th April…no where near the dimming of the day. But this photograph chose me and I’m led to write on the theme!!!

Helen and I are great fans of the singer, Alison Krauss. She sings a very evocative version of the Bonny Rait song; ‘Dimming of the day’. It’s a song that speaks of the trials of human love. The first verse ends with these words; ‘When all my will is gone you hold me sway, and I need you at the dimming of the day.’ These words resonate on lots of levels. Juxtapose them with the photograph above.

Perhaps I should stop here and you can write your own response. But just before you do, just an observation, if I may? The words I’ve noted above can be equally applied to the love of God for you and I. In the darkest moments, of which we have had or are having, or might have, these words speak of relationship with another even in those ‘dimming of the day’ experiences.

I don’t want to make any further comment, at the risk of saying too much, so here are some familiar words from the opening words of John’s Gospel (Chapter 1, verse 5) as the writer tries to descibe the indescribable; ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’