Sunday, 30 December 2012

Here we are again.
Poised at the beginning of a New Year;
probably taking stock of the waning year,
and wondering,
 for the coming one.

At the end of 2011 I first came across the notion of looking for a word, 
(or words), with which to look towards the New Year.

The words which seemed to choose me,
(I understood I wasn't to try and choose the word (s), 
but to wait for them to choose me),
were based on the greeting of the angel Gabriel to Mary,
" have found favour with God." (Lk.1:30)
This resonated with the eternal truth that
 now  "is the year of the Lord's favour"  (Is 61:2,  Lk4:19)
and I gladly accepted it.

This year has certainly been eventful for me,
and there have been, as ever, ups and downs,
 but throughout I have been tremendously aware of God's favour.

Of course this may have been because I had been more than usually
 on the lookout for favour,
but if so,
 that in itself has done me a favour.

The year 2013 seems to resonate with the word
for me.

I can't think of a more beautiful word to approach the future can you?

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in 
we can look for those touches of God's glory that are all around us that
I believe Gerard Manley Hopkins called

 God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;       
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;       
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 I don't know if you have a word or two in mind for 2013
but I wish you all the Blessings that God's Grandeur,
His touches of Glory,
may bring you throughout this
New Year.



Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Nestling amongst the artificial branches of our Christmas tree is this little wooden crib.

Perfectionist that I am I was going to discard this scrappy photo
 when the thought struck me
 how ready God is to accept the imperfect,
not to say the down right shoddy.

 I wonder what or who,
 I may well think worth no notice at all
yet will set the angels carolling this Christmas.

How wonderful that love came down at Christmas
from the heart of God ,
who rejoices over us with singing.

Be Blessed at Christmas.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Soul Food

I had to give in to my residual loner,
 forgo the company of my playmates, 
and swap a rehearsal room in the Belgrade for my beloved park, 
with it's diamond frost,
 cornflake crunchy underfoot leaves, 
and friends the trees, 
(some unashamedly naked),
 reaching many branched arms up into the glorious winter sunshine.

 It was cold alright, 
with an icy wind  
keeping even the dog walkers to a minimum.

In the walled garden it was,
as my mother would have said,
another country.

The sun reflected off the warmed red brick,
 and played on the benches set out of the wind
 in the lea of the walls.

What bliss to sit for some five minutes or more, 
(well it wasn't that cosy), 
and in the quiet listen to the trees murmur,
 and the bird's song.

Typically, I felt a flicker of guilt.
Should I have skipped my workshop for this?

I didn't need to bat the thought away 
as my spirit reached up with the trees
to give thanks for the beauty of the morning,
and the healing few moments of solitude.

 Be Blessed

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Advent Doors - Facing the Future

Clipart by Fotosearch

I imagine there are Advent calendars everywhere 
with the first doors now standing open.

Whilst some will reveal scripture verses,
one of my grown up granddaughters
 is working her way through a
Minnie Mouse one. 

It has the added attraction 
of laying a daily chocolate trail right up to Christmas.
I don't know how can she resist opening all the doors at once!

I keep away from chocolate temptation 
(at least calendar -wise),
and follow an 
Advent Retreat.

If this is something you have never thought to do,
you can find the one I follow click on

When the page opens simply click on
Advent Retreat
and you will not be transported to a monastic cell for a week,
 but will be gently led to exploring 
Ignatian meditation
 in a way that enables you
 to use however much or little time you have
 to deepen and strengthen your inner life.

In my initial time with the meditation on 
the Annunciation narrative
I found myself again engaging with the notion of doors,
which has stayed with me since my post
 Opportunity Knocks.

There are a succession of doors,
real and metaphorical,
which mark our progress through life as surely
 as the hands of the clock.

From the earliest doors which lead us inexorably away
 from the innocence and vulnerability of childhood,
on to the doors we need to pass through
in our search for meaning and identity
right to the end of our lives, 
we are always moving.

Wherever we are on the journey 
there are doors ahead of us 
standing ajar waiting, 
though we may be totally unaware of them.

 Mary could not have been
expecting an angel
 the day Gabriel brought the stupendous news 
the Holy Spirit was to come upon her
 to implant 
 a new and holy life within her.

 In her apparent ordinariness,
  the fullness of who she was meant
she held nothing back.

Beyond her initial fear and unpreparedness,
young as she was,
lay the ripeness of an open heart
which could say
even to the dark unknown beyond the door 
which was about 
to fully open before her.

The extraordinary trust which enabled her
 to let go of all control of her future 
with the words
"Let it be to me according to your word"
have resonated with me all through this past year 
since last Advent.

If we feel the doors of life haven't opened to us

as we need,
or as we feel they should;
or that we have become trapped
 in a place where no doors will open to us,
Let it be...
 If we are convinced 
there are no more doors for us,
that we have traveled as far as we are able,
or come as far as we will ever be allowed to go,
Let it be...

When we have come at last to a place of shelter,
where we have sojourned safe,
and cannot think to leave,
or when we long to return to some sweet remembered thing 
rather than press on,

Let it be... 
Even if we don't want more doors to lie ahead
because we no longer feel we have the strength
 or the desire to go on,
even then we can put our trust in the future 
 by releasing the weight of our expectations
from our own shoulders.
Let it be ...
Who knew The Beatles were such good theologians!

 However we feel about it,
until our last breath
there will always be one more threshold  

Be Blessed

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Run Up to Christmas and All That

Today finds me a bit under the weather with a cough 
and general feeling of slight mallaise.
It's that time of year.

It's also the time of year when we are winding up to Christmas, 
or at least if you are like me,
 beginning to think about winding up to Christmas.

I am not the sort who can buy Christmas presents in the sales 
just after Christmas so that I'm in pocket, 
as well as organised and ready for the next one. 

I am the sort who is still hoping that the whole thing will go away and give me time to get organized
 a week or two before the actual event.

This is particularly true now 
we are no longer the hosts for the main event.
I don't have the same pressure of meeting dead lines now you see.
In those days I was the one who made the family Christmas cake, (with two granddaughters in tow 
enthusiastically sprinking flour all over the working tops),
 and planning the decorations,
 trimming the tree,
 ordering and cooking the bird, 
and generally preparing the house
 so that it was as welcoming and fragrant with Christmas 
as I could make it.

The moment that really began the count down in earnest 
was when I opened the door to my parents 
who travelled up from Wales each year 
to be with this part of the family 
that had somehow got sent to Coventry. 

I poured all the love I had for them into the little things
 like making the beds with their favourite flanelette sheets,
 and making space for their clothes
 by emptying hangers,
 and drawers.
Putting a few fresh berries and leaves in a little vase 
on the chest in their room.
Having the things they liked to eat and drink on hand,
 and above all ensuring 
they were toasty warm and comfortable.

Just the ordinary things you do for guests really, 
but done in the knowledge of how little they had had in life 
and longing to cosset them whilst I had the chance.

Though Mam and Dad died years ago,
 for some reason this year I find myself 
especially longing for those days again.

I am surprised at the depth of my longing,
 and  realise there is still some saying "Good bye" I have not done.
Some letting go I still need to do. 

Tomorrow is the beginning of Advent.
This is the season signifying the end of the liturgical year, 
the beginning of Church's new year,
 and the true run up to Christmas for Christians.
Like many others I am much more in tune
 with keeping this,
than I am with the world's whirlygig way 
of counting down the days. 

This year as I enter this Advent season
 I will be attending to letting go 
some remaining grief for my parents, 
and perhaps for my own younger days too. 

The lighting of the first Advent candle
 will be part of that letting go for me.

Only as we fully let go the past
 can we begin to enter into the promise of the new thing. 

 Advent offers us the chance to
 look towards the most wonder-filled New Thing.

 Be Blessed 
this weekend by giving yourself the little treat of a few minutes 
out of the world's whirlygig way.

To understand the run up to Christmas we call Advent, you can check out this little video.