What if Adam and Eve had not been tempted by the serpent to eat fruit
if humanity had not got so self-obsessed that there was a huge flood
a flood to end all floods followed by a rainbow promise of never again
yet again and again we got it wrong so much so the Son came along
not only to show us how it should all be done but also to die in a way
which would bring life eternal to all who believed and repented
What if the ‘never again’ had been adhered to by all of humanity too
if we had not created our ‘in’ groups and ‘out’ groups for the sake of
safety in numbers and battled brutally and bitterly one against another
with no sign of the beauty of selfless loving mercy grace or forgiveness
previously shown through the rays of the rainbow promise shining bright
yet we prove again and again that our propensity for hate not love reigns
What if our default first thought or factory settings were love not hate
if we could look at the other standing before us and see their beauty
bursting out of them not in the way the world judges beauty but real
unavoidable beauty of the soul not seen but known intuitively whole
celebrated by being recognised acknowledged and held rather than
punished with jealousy envy and disdainfully offering a look of dislike
What if we were patient and kind with one another and did not need
to record each others’ wrongs for protection and self preservation
if suspicion were not one of the first feelings to be roused following
acts of random kindness from those whom we do not know or know
but know we do not like or know but know they do not could not like us
it seems impossible to merely accept the act with grace and move on
What if we could move on and take people’s words and actions at
face value rather than forcing everything through our own unique
filtering system a system shaped by experiences of actions and words
of others others who fall into similar categories to those who stand
before us now others who have influenced our long held stereotypes
formed from one persons cruel act now the act of the whole out group
What if we could really say and stick to never again
Would it be an instant end to dictatorship
The use of nuclear weapons
The rise and rule of Donald Trump
Stomping over all that is good and wholesome
This Flame of Peace is a fire of hope for eternal world peace at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
For our patronal festival I preached about letting the eyes of our hearts be a guide to the need within our community – a need which we can meet in a simple way, yet which feels huge to the person on the receiving end!
If we let the eyes of our heart guide, what do we actually see? I have been reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. He writes about trees as social beings with a sense of community and has literally brought trees to life for me! I was incredibly struck by the apparent echoes there are in creation as so much life was created to be in community…and yet it feels like we don’t do community as well as we could. How often do we help for no other reason than for the good of someone else? How often do we forget looking out for ourselves and bettering our own ends? How often do we see need and respond to it?
This led me to think about the film Pay it Forward where a young boy responds to his Social Sciences project of ‘Think of a way to make the world a better place and put it into action’ with the idea of doing something for three people that they would not be able to do for themselves, and asking only that they similarly do something for three other people. The exchange of help becomes about hundreds of people rather than just between a few individuals.
What if we lived more like this? What if we gave for the love of giving and loved as Jesus loves? What if we seek love not war? Would it make a difference? #actofrandomkindness
Have you ever been frustrated by a disruption to your day? Your plans fail not because of your actions, but because of something completely outside of your control. Many of us would see this as a negative thing, I’m sure, but what about positive disruption? My ministerial training was centred around a benedictine pattern of prayer; in practice this often meant that just when I was getting somewhere with my latest essay, I needed to stop to go and pray.
This took some getting used to and, initially at least, I failed to see the positives of this pattern of prayer. Slowly though I began to see that, when I did return to my work, I had a fresh perspective. I had benefitted from taking time away, and was developing a greater anticipation for prayer, thus what I had first seen as an unwelcome disruption had become a welcome one.
I began this week with a Lectio Poetica Quiet Day at Launde Abbey. Whilst I was looking forward to this, I was concerned about how little space there was for ‘work’ in my diary. During the Quiet Day we were invited to ‘walk out’ a poem, or recite it whilst walking to find it’s rhythm and the disruptions within that rhythm. I focused on the following poem, and found myself disrupted by it!
Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.
Who would know Sin? Let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.
Who knows not love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I as wine.
Part of the disruption was that I had got completely engrossed in the poem that I forgot to pay attention to where I was walking and found myself lost in the middle of a forest, with no idea of how to get out and no phone reception to find out which direction I should be headed in!
There was much more to this disruption however; as the last two lines heavily imprinted on my heart I became aware of all of the ideas I had wanted to bring to my churches, and watched them slowly float away!
Fundamentally I saw that ministry is about two things, Sin (or Good News) and Love, and I was in danger of making it about so much more! The disruption here was incredibly liberating!
The next day I had my first curates training day – another reason to be concerned about the ‘work’ that I could not do. I laughed therefore when the person introducing the day said that the intention was to disrupt the routines that we were inevitably already building! What if it were not only routines that were disrupted, but also attitudes, stereotypes and preconceptions? My weekly poem, The Dolls House Day, explores this notion in a little more depth.
I love my diary, and organising my time in order to not miss anything and ensure that I have enough time put aside for all that I need to do – but I wonder whether it is possible to be too organised? Am I still leaving time for God to guide, for opportunistic encounters, and to just be present in parish?
Equally no matter how organised I am, mistakes still happen, and things are still miscommunicated at times causing some sort of disruption. This happened before my training day with an interment of ashes service which had not been booked in. It did all still happen though, and all was well.
A regular form of disruption are road works, preventing people from getting where they need to be in the time that they need to get there. Whilst at times such delays could be avoided, is there something important about being made to slow down from the fast pace of our world? Might we see something that would otherwise pass us by?
One final disruption this week has affected gardening plans – I cannot control the rain! I have become aware of a refreshing, pleasing feeling which comes after the rain. Perhaps it doesn’t matter so much if the grass doesn’t get cut for another few days, and I can use the extra space to be attentive to the beauty and refreshment around me!
Many live in wardrobes afraid to come out,
to wear their hearts on their sleeves
and let the world see the real ‘them’ inside.
They are ever aware of the need to hide,
to curtail and rail, all that is perceived
as those garishly clashly cast off items.
The wardrobe life is tiring and troublesome,
this existence remains ever part of them.
It’s like Grannie’s 1970s knitted tank top – odd
when paired with a beautiful new pencil skirt!
These clashing styles affront the fashionistas,
yet tank tops draw together to make their own love.
Once that clash becomes clear, their presence
in this chic fashion sphere is far from near!
There they represent rejects and has-beens,
old knee-length boots long since free of fancy.
Incognito tank tops venturing from other wardrobes,
spot pencil skirts and swiftly climb back inside.
The clerical collar is a rarity for the fashionistas.
Few long after that which attracts disdain,
provoking wearers to be prophetically political.
Dare I wear the tank top with the pencil skirt?
Have I the courage to take up the collar and leave
the closeted wardrobe in this unlikely mix of styles?
What if I were accepted by fashionistas,
able to preach love and affirmation?
Might this mean acceptance for all creation?
Would I still be able to hang with has-beens?
Could they see how the collar and skirt enhance
that tank top long since worn and part of me?
#698 #ohashi translates as #chopsticks and #bridge in #Japanese. I began the day listening to #bridgeovertroubledwater #forgrenfell and was thinking about what and who might act as a bridge in troubled times. This beautiful song encourages #hope and #solidarity and felt to me like an #actoflove – a #bridge in more ways than one!