Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Greetings for 2015

Marking the New year 
is a little like drawing a line in the sand of the beach.

The great ocean of time washes over it
 and we realise it was
just a mark of our own making.

The moment of a New Year breaking
helps us take stock perhaps;
in truth every moment of life offers us new opportunities.

How great is that?!

May You and Yours Know the Richest Blessings
 In the Year Ahead.

May Not the Least of These Be

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Winter Afternoon in Kenilworth

 We walked the paths of Abbey Fields today as the winter sun sank over the frozen water.

If we had come across monks from the long disappeared abbey,
or the Virgin Queen's courtiers making their way to the ruined castle, 
it would have been no surprise.

Why does dusk have this magic sense of timelessness
and edge of mystery I wonder?

I only know,
 even as we await the beginning of a New Year tomorrow,
there was a sense of seamless eternity in the chill air today.

Be Blessed

Monday, 29 December 2014

Twixtmas - Again.

Frankie off for a Walk   photo:- Kate Bendon

At this time last year, following the custom of receiving a word for the year ahead,
 the word that came to me for 2014 was

It throbbed with promise as well as challenge;
after all who does not want to be free?

Knowing there are many definitions of freedom,
I need to tell you my definition in this instance is
 the freedom to love.

Love alone can soar beyond the fear which keeps me shackled by my circumstances
and fastened in the narrow confines of my self absorption.
I have always coveted the idea of that sort of freedom to love.

I sensed fear would be the guardian that would march along in step with
 any movement into freedom I might gain, and
I have certainly been forced to face many fears,
some of which I thought had been laid to rest.

The freedom has come
as I have seen myself no better and no worse for my continued weakness,
and learning yet again,
 fear does not have the power to destroy me. 
 Only my avoidance of fear,
 (refusing to face the issues it shows me)
 can do that.

Whether I have grown in love I cannot say, but ending this year,
 and taking stock of the freedom I have gained,
 I am left with one giant challenge.

If love is ultimate freedom from fear as I have claimed,
how is it
 I so often fear for those I love?


It is comparatively easy to see loved ones take their first independent steps away,
 learning the coping skills they will need to face a strange, and often alien, world.

We usually learn the right moment to release the supporting hand;
when to wave goodbye,
even turning to look away when the time is right,
 and learning our proper place on  the sidelines of their lives..

Still, I admit to ongoing work on the journey into freedom to love,
 because it's the letting go of the heart I find so hard.


Hubby reminds me how Mary,
 pondered things in her heart".(Lk. 2:19),
and yes, it is often the way of women, (though not exclusively so),
to take things in, and to, heart.
For myself, I know I am not sufficient for what I tend to hold,
or for what can pierce my soul. (Lk 2:35).

The power I do have is in allowing my own human, even anxious, love,
to release loved ones to God.

It is a constant discipline;
a continual movement of trust.
Not a permission to worry in God's presence,
but a giving up of all I am, and all I carry.

It may be incremental
but it is part of a commitment to know the freedom I have been promised.

So, the "word" for 2014 will travel on with me.

Will there be one for 2015 I wonder?

How about you?

Be Blessed

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The bright Christmas wrappings are fading into a quieter hue at last...

The bright Christmas wrappings are fading into a quieter hue at last.

The moment to truly consider
 the gift of God's unguarded offering of Himself ,
made real again this Christmas,
 has arrived.

May  you and yours know the blessings of peace, love, and joy,
and may Christ,
beyond all division of creed,
 be born afresh in all our hearts.


I hope the haunting Wexford Carol helps us reflect,
and the joyful Calypso Carol
helps us dance our response.

Nothing like a dance around the kitchen to help the cooking along!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Send Out Your Light! - An Advent Cry

Light breaking through winter clouds by emmwah-d5kyskq

I have been attempting to keep as deep an interior silence as I can this Advent season, 
  so I have cut out as much unnecessary exterior "noise" as I can to help me
 in my waiting for the new light of Christ to break in on me.

Blogging and facebook were the first to go,
 driven by my longing to see more clearly,
and to make an inner space for the coming of the light.

 Well more accurately my longing is
 to be ignited by a greater light of compassion and love.

Of course what has happened has been a deafening rise in my inner confusion,
 and own dark voice,
with a couple of winter bugs for me and hubby as a back ground accompaniment.


I am a seasoned traveller on the faith journey,
 so why,  when I set my face to go deeper
 am I always so surprised and seemingly overwhelmed?

Each descent into my own darkness, each waiting out the dark tide, feels so new.

 Even well known paths become uncharted wilderness seen, as they are,
from a new vantage point of time, grace, and experience.

In the outer winter darkness of the world,
other destructive forces have raged and sobbed,
 too terrible to contemplate.

Each news brings appalling facts
 that I can only wish with all my heart did not exist,
 wreaking havoc as they do.
And this news is not new to me,
but familiar echoes of the dark state within which I wait
 for the new light to break within my own heart.

Yet in my waiting gloom something shimmers.

There is the memory of my own story.
The story I have begun to tell, and faltered over,
 leaving it as yet not fully told, (though promising I will),
when going over old suffering proved too much to encompass in the time I have had. 

Can I merely short circuit the full telling of it now by saying,
 at a time when I was desperately sick
a physical and spiritual light broke in on me
 that healed me all the way from the outside in.

The thing I need to say right now is I was no more
nor "righteous",
no more "deserving",
then than I am now,
 and yet the light came.

So I have every reason to believe, and to hope,
 for that same light to come for others.
Unholy, unrighteous, undeserving like me.

And that is the Advent hope,
and the Advent promise.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." 
 Matt 4:16

Out of these last days of Advent waiting I offer you the glorious promise that
the darkness of death and evil do not have the last word.

He who is light comes,
even to you and me.

Be Blessed

P.S.  One thing I have maintained in my Advent silence is my faith companion at Ennis Blue
 For more glory than you can handle why don't you do the same?

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Joy of Algebra - At Last!

Cartoon from:-

The above cartoon says it all really.

When I was at school, all those decades ago,
 I managed to get a pass in all the branches of mathematics we were taught,
 but it was merely for the purpose of passing the relevant exams.

I never understood the why, what, or wherefore of any of it,
or it's relevance to real life.

What I did do was live in constant terror of the subject and the teachers.
I scraped by, trying to solve the problems we were set in uncomprehending panic.

I was perfectly able to get many different answers to those same problems, 
 never properly knowing how I arrived at any of them
My "workings out" were guess work and luck,
of which the latter must have been in plentiful supply,
as I managed to keep afloat.

Needless to say, once the need to perform at school was over
 an iron curtain descended over my struggles with maths,
as, like an extinct language,
 the very subject became a distant memory.

The only vibrant memory in connection with the subject
was the picture of our maths teacher in grammar school,
beating his head against the blackboard,
 whilst his faced turned a deep puce whenever one of us
so much as hesitated when called upon to stand and solve an example,
or answer a question put to us.

I was terrified enough at presenting my ignorance to the whole class,
let alone the added fear that he would succumb to apoplexy because of me.

Ever since, I have shied away from anything containing figures, declaring,
as my mind went blank,
"I don't do maths."

Then about a week ago I watched this video, culled from the glorious posts on
Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Well I hope you check out both the site I'm recommending,
and the video below.
The video is a little long but well worth it as it moves into the unexpected.

Now the mathematics Frenkl finally talks about is one I thoroughly understand;
holding no terrors for me.

What did challenge me was in his introduction he says
 how exciting, elegant, and beautiful, the world of mathematics is.
It reminded me I had been envious of a friend 
who said the same kind of thing to me years before.

They both obviously saw maths like this,

image :-

whilst to me that book was definitely closed.

I hated the thought of what I was missing,
so I set about finding a basic maths site to cater for my depth of incomprehension, 
and made a start.

At first my brain rebelled.

I stared at the work sheets in panic.
Even the explanations and examples
 left me baffled.

Perhaps I was past it,
 and the ancient grey cells would refuse to play ball.

Then, just like that moment
 the optician drops the final lens into your prescription frames,
and the symbols on the wall chart pop into clarity,
I saw!

In the great scheme of things nothing huge has happened.
 The algebra I have revised is the most basic.
Absolute beginners steps.

Nevertheless what truly thrilled me was,
for the first time I understood what I was doing!

I saw the symmetry and reciprocity of the numbers,
in their trueness to themselves within the motif unfolding
 as I added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided.
This was me, understanding equations!

Unbelievably,  I began actually enjoying the problems to the extent
I was skipping through the worksheets,
checking my answers, and with one eye on the clock,
wondering how many more I could fit in
 before I had to begin to prepare the evening meal.
Then, once things had been set to cook, sneaking back for a few more.

Of course one swallow doesn't make a summer,
the leopard hasn't changed it's spots,
and the mouse hasn't got all the cheese!

In other words
I know I haven't turned into a mathematician in one fell swoop,
 and never will.

I will doubtless be just as baffled by new problems again very soon, 
and my achievement threshold might well turn out to be quite low.

Heck!  Even in my euphoric state of discovery I was still making careless mistakes,
and my multiplication tables were decidedly rusty.

I know it will take work.
That's why I persevered
 until I had three worksheets in a row with no mistakes.

The wonder is,
the place in my brain I had shut down in fear and incomprehension
has been re-opened to new understanding.

Embryonic, life giving, delightful, understanding.

Seventy three isn't too old to learn after all!

Be Blessed

P.S. If there is something you have struggled with, maybe for a long time, 
why don't you give it a go again? 
 If you have already done so, or when you do,
 why don't you let me know in the comment box below?
  I would so love to share your joy, and mutual encouragement.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Bonfire Night Sunset

We had a horribly wet day last Saturday.

Guy Fawkes Day had fallen in the week,
 so many of the celebratory bonfire parties and firework displays
 were planned for that weekend evening.

It looked as though they were going to be washed out before they got started.

For wont of something to do in the rain we decided to pay a visit to a local retail centre, 
and as we drove there they rain gradually stopped.

By  the time we got there the sun had come from behind the leaden curtain of clouds
just in time to set.

We don't get the spectacularly technicoloured sunsets here 
that you do in other parts of the world,
but they are still beautiful;
especially coming so unexpectedly, out of a dark day.

It brought to mind a radio programme I'd heard the day before.
I had only caught the last fifteen minutes
 so hadn't got the name of the American serviceman it was about.
I heard enough to know during WW11 he had spent forty odd days adrift in an open boat 
with some of his comrades in arms;
and that in the strafing they endured at least one life was lost.
Then they were picked up by the Japanese.

Believing they were in possession of important information,
 the Japanese interned them in a camp 
where our protagonist was brutally, and repeatedly tortured
 until he lost consciousness, then revived in order for the process to be continued.

His outstanding bravery boosted the morale of his fellow prisoners,
 most of whom died before he was at last liberated.

After the war he sort out those who had been his guards and torturers in the camp
in order to meet, and sincerely forgive them,
 and work for reconciliation.

Though his health was broken by his experiences
 he had survived. 

Many of his comrades of similar age and fitness had succumbed in the camps,
yet he went on to live to a ripe old age.

His widow said, when she had asked him how he accounted for his survival 
his explanation was simply that he had never lost hope;.
adding that his faith had given him this strength.

Beyond this he said,
 it was sight of the sky at dawn, or sunset,
 which continually lifted his spirit.

As I listened to the story I marveled that he should name something so ephemeral, 
as being memorable to sustaining his crucial inner strength.

Watching the moments of sunset change over the rain drenched car park
 and remembering that story
 made me realise anew
 we are surely made for beauty.
And if we are made for beauty,
 surely it may be found.
Even in the most unlikely places.

 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Be Blessed 
By Unexpected Beauty

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Day - Will We Remember?

Photograph: Massimo Crisafi/GuardianWitness

This is the iconic art installation
 where each ceramic poppy planted at the Tower of London 
honours a life lost by service men and women
 of Britain and the Commonwealth during WW1.

Huge as it is,
 it is a drop in the ocean of all lives lost fighting in conflicts since;
and this only under one flag.

Remember the dead of every nation,
then and now,
and those who had not signed up for war,
too vast to count.

As we left the chutch this morning
 the opening words of the dismissal from the Eucharist
held deeper meaning, hope, and direction, for each of us today
as they tell us,
Go in Peace...

Friday, 7 November 2014

It s not yet three in the afternoon,
but it's so dark a day
I am sitting snug in a pool of lamplight.

Rain rattles against the window.
Car tyres hiss through puddling water,
and the wind buffets down the chimney, 
 sending whatever is in it's way banging down the street.

There is always an extra coziness in 
being sheltered, safe, and warm,
 and listening to a storm going on outside
don't you think?

Sometimes the storm isn't just outside of course,
but very much raging around inside us
with a crashing tide of anxiety, 
or a quiet depth of despair that we alone feel we know.

If you know how that feels, this song, based on a verse from Psalm 32
may just speak to you
about a place of peace within the storm.

Weekend Blessings.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sleeping Like a Dormouse , - Or Not... P.S.

I admit I sometimes click to "publish" too quickly,
and this was one of these times.

A song was going through my mind as I woke to the thoughts I described in the blog
Sleeping Like a Dormouse , - Or Not.

It was the chorus of a simple children's chorus we sing in church sometimes.
After each verse describing the grandeur of creation the chorus goes,
"Your love for me stretches farther than far.
I can't imagine just how great your are.
Just how great you are!"

So the background for this sense of confident relaxing into safe, refreshing sleep.
 was this knowledge of being loved farther than we can ever imagine;
held in, and by a love,
 infinite, and infinitely knowing.

Now, I know sleep, and the dark of night, can hold a seeming infinitey of it's own.

Perhaps sleep will not come,
or we waken again and again.
 Too soon for our busy lives.
Too soon for our fizzing thoughts to settle.

Maybe it is the content of our dreams which disturbs us.
We wake trying to fight ourselvers awake and away from them.

Sometimes we can wrest a meaning out of them.
 Another time they simply leave us baffled and disturbed.

If you are in that place there are many sources on the wonderful world wide web
where meanings to your dreams are offered.
Maybe you can seek them out for help.

There are ancient prayers to settle us for sleep,
or calm us on our waking.
(Tap in night prayers to find prayers of many faith traditions,)

But, goodness you know how to use the net!

I come just to offer you those child- like words,
you are loved "farther than far",
and to pray you the grace to trust in that each night,
in sleep or wakefulness.

Take them to bed with you and roll them round your mind.

Your love For Me Stretches
Farther than far.
I can't imagine just how great you are,
Just how great you are.

Be Blessed

P.p.s.  They aren't bad words for the day time either!

Sleeping Like a Dormouse. - Or Not...

All my life I've slept in the foetal position.

Curled up defensively like a dormouse on it's side,
my body curved around itself,
my arms cuddling me to sleep,
 sealing the package.

This morning I woke to a strange thought forming 
as I swam up out of sleep.

How much better would it be to sleep,
body stretching to it's length in the bed,
recumbent, yet poised.
A diver launching into the mystery of dreams,
there to play like an otter,
twisting and turning with the flow;
Looking, learning, playing,
to emerge at morning's shore line
 refreshed and full of hope. 

Rolling over,
 I skated my pointed toes down along the warm sheets
to curl around an imaginary board's edge.
 and lifted my arms in the classic diver's pose above my head.
Body open, extended, expectant.

 photo;- sg

No, of course it didn't work.
The bed too short.
The wall too close.
But something lingered
 to challenge me in my fully wakened state.

Was my dormouse body telling me
 I enter sleep more guardedly than I spend my days.

Perhaps I need to learn to be
vulnerable, and open, and trusting
  in these night hours when
 my consciousness slips,
 free to dream,
 in that deeper stream away from my own direction.

I can't help feeling there is a sweet promise in the waking whisper
strange as it seems.

Be Blessed

Friday, 31 October 2014

A Halloween Kind of Moment

I had a busy day yesterday and I was pretty tired by the time
I remembered I had some letters I needed to get posted.

I just had time to get them to the post box before the last mail collection of the day,
so I huffed my way up to the top of the hill where the post box sits,
 and thankfully sent my little bundle of  envelopes safely on their way.

Having got myself up the hill,
tired as I was,
 and even though the day had reached that strange pre-dusk light we get in this country,
 I couldn't resist dipping down the other side of the hill into the park for a visit.

It made me smile that, it being half term,
  there were still parents and children, and the usual dog walkers
enjoying this lovely space as much as I do,
though there were signs most were heading off home.

I found a bench to sit a moment and rest my legs,
 realising I was more tired than I thought.

Of course the moment stretched.
 I let the peace of the quiet green sink into me.

Rousing myself at last I followed a favourite path to loop back to my starting point
and towards home.

A niggling thought suggested this wasn't the wisest move
 as the light had faded quickly and a heavier dusk lay on the quiet path.

Recent reports of happenings in the park which I'd disregarded came to mind,
and I found myself hastening my steps.

Lifting my eyes to strain ahead to where the entrance of the park would appear,
I saw that as the details of my unlit path were being swallowed up by the receding light,
 the golden trees on each side were assuming a flaming incandescence.

In the gathering gloom they flamed like beacons
lit by some deep inner fire.
Strangely, the dying light made them stand out more boldly.

How can they glow so brightly in such fading light?

However it happens,
 their beauty stood sentinel over my path homewards, lifting my heart.


This evening there will be lots of halloween parties,
and trick or treating.
 Lots of ghost stories and fun.

It being the beautiful season of All Hallows, or All Saints Eve,
I will be concentrating on the light of the season rather than the darkness,
and would like to encourage you,
 as the trees encouraged me,
 to be more aware of the light within,
than the fear of darkness.

I make no apology for posting this video again.
I just love to sing it!
Hope you will join in the chorus too.

It's Luka  Bloom singing Don't Be Afraid of the Light Within You

The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.
John 1:5

However you spend the weekend

Be Blessed

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sweet Prunings

Such a beautiful day today.

Time slows to a standstill as I prune the shrubs and roses,
the sun warm on my back as an early summer's day
whilst I ready the garden for the winter.

The stems I trace back to buds where I will make a cut
 are glossy with life.

I visualise the new growth that will burst forth;
tender new leaves, and eventually blossom.

Fat flower buds from the camellias fall around me
as we cut the branches to keep the trees in good shape.

I hate seeing this sweet potential lying underfoot
 but with an eye to the long term it has to be done. 

The metaphor is too obvious to be missed.

I think of the many paintings I haven't been able to finish
 because I have held on to some juicy patch of colour,
 or delicious swirl of brush work.
 Only when I have painted out this favourite, pride inducing, portion,
 has the work found new balance and perspective,
 and a resolution become possible. 

It's hard to let the darling things in life go though isn't it?
Even, or perhaps especially,
 when we know it's the sensible thing to do.

I salvage a few blossoms from the prunings of the Winter Sweet
so the scent will fill the room we sit in when we at last retreat indoors.

Now, our clocks having gone back an hour,
 the early dark has fallen
 and their fragrance pervades the warm room.

Another metaphor then.

The things we can bring ourselves to let go when we need to,
hard as they may be to part with,
open the way for a restoration,
 fresh, sweet, and new.

Yes, to move on, we need to let go.

Be Blessed

Monday, 27 October 2014

Glory! Glory! Glory! - REALLY?

Well I've blown it again today.

Promised hubby I would give him a lift this morning,
 then I woke tired and cranky.

To cut a long story short I was getting ready,
and he was making chivying noises,
 which culminated in the question,
" Are you ready?"
 when clearly I wasn't ...

Well I'll draw a veil over the rest.

It wasn't pretty.
In fact it was mean, and cruel, bad tempered, and unnecessary.

I don't lose it very often but when I do, I really do,
and this was one of those times.
Not much glory there then!

I was still in a huff when I dropped him off and drove home.

 Now I face the reality of who and what I am,
and whilst not diminishing the truth of it,
or excusing myself,
I gently forgive myself.

And that there,
right there,
is the glory.

Slowly, oh so slowly,
I, who have always been so hard on myself,
I, who have always been better at accusing myself,
 rather than excusing myself,
am learning to forgive myself,
just as I have been forgiven.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Ephesians 4:32 tells us.

After all, how else can I hope to treat others differently than I do myself?

I will rest up, then go and fetch hubby.

I have rung him and asked forgiveness for hurting him,
and  he has been understanding and forgiving,
 and we are again good to go.

I will make what reparation I can,
then we will travel on together,
 in our frailty, and humanity,
as we have done for the last 52 years
doing the best we can for one another
with a best that often falls short.

I am mightily blessed to have a companion
 who can mirror the love of God to me at times like this,
 and I am so grateful.

I certainly still have a long way to go as you see,
but to know that that is o.k.;
that I'm forgiven and loved,
and to believe it...
That is glory enough for anybody I think.

Be Blessed

Friday, 24 October 2014

Piercing the Gloom

It is one of those dark, dull, dank days here in Coventry.
A greyness settled over everything, and lowering skies.

Even so there is enough light from somewhere
 to shine through some of the leaves in the garden 
and my eyes are drawn to them.

They stand out against the gloom,
 illumined splashes of colour and light.

Watching the news from all over the world our eyes and hearts can become loaded,
over- loaded even ,
with the darkness of fear and sorrow.

At the same time as we are
 moved to feel the burden of our common humanity
we can discern, and give thanks for the acts of heroism
also being played out before our eyes.

Yesterday there was the ambulance teams in Liberia, 
 who are daily putting themselves at risk,
 shown collecting a comatose Ebola victim from her home.

The Sergeant at Arms in Ottawa who acted with un-thinking bravery
on a day he probably never expected to draw his gun.

The social worker who repeatedly
 drew attention to the abuse of children until her voice was heard . . .

In day to day life  this side of the television screen I see mothers,
 (so often on their own),
struggling against all the odds to give their children a good foundation in life.

Dads working long hours in difficult work situations to provide as best they can.

Elderly couples supporting each other with tender fastidiousness
 through mental or physical sickness
until the very last of their own strength is spent.

At the other end of the scale,
young people  are caring for sick or struggling parents
as their own childhoods slip away.

So much light being poured into dark places
it's a wonder we are not dazzled,
but strangely it is the darkness that often blinds us to the good, 
but not the light that helps us see.

This weekend
 may we be granted the grace not only to be more aware of the light all around us, 
but to discover,
and celebrate,
the light within ourselves,

Be Blessed

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Dressed to Impress?

 I love it when the autumn leaves which have fallen on the paving,
leave these delicious impressions of themselves behind when they get blown away.

They are mere traces of the real thing yet have a beauty all their own.

This morning they led me to think again about the impressions we make
 as we pass through life.

I wonder am I more interested
 in the impression I make than I ought to be?

Though I know I'll never make any best dressed list,
 I am always aware of that twinge of disappointment when I see myself in a photo.

Surely I looked better than that?

I really thought I did when I stood in front of the mirror before going out.
Admittedly I was probably holding my stomach in and standing at just the right angle then, 
but even so the reality comes as a bit of a shock.

Vanity, vanity, all  is vanity.

Lets face it, as long as all the necessary areas are decently covered
 nobody else cares a jot what I look like.

Even if I had an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction
 I'm sure others wouldn't notice it as much, or remember it as long as I would.

I say this because I have just remembered the time
 I had made a complete circuit of the room at a wedding party
 before some kind soul took me to one side
 and un-tucked the back of my dress from my knickers!

I'd put that outfit together with care,and had really felt good until then,
but even I could see the funny side of it, and the irony of feeling good whilst
walking around unknowingly showing my nether regions was not lost on me.

What else are we unknowingly showing when we are out there trying to impress I wonder?

The lines,
Let holy charity mine outward vesture be
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
come to mind.

The words from the old hymn fall strangely on the ear, 
 and I guess we would call holy charity,
holy or chaste love, these days.

 Being clad with holy love
would find me more interested 
in enabling others to feel good about themselves than about me.

It wouldn't leave me fretting about what impression folks had of me, but
 would leave
 whoever I met feeling
 more valued, accepted,
and loved,
than before.

Now that is an impression I would be only too happy to leave behind me.

Be Blessed

If you are unfamiliar with  the hymn "Come Down O Love Divine", from which the quote above is taken, you can hear it here, sung by Fernando Ortega