Advent Diary – 22nd December 2015

IMG_20160104_172839Foundation.

We all need a solid and strong base in which to launch ourselves into each new day, into our lives. I am not sure that any of us know the end game, what GOD really has planned for us. Yet, he sets our corner stones and foundation focus to set about building our own structure though every now and then He comes to help repoint our stonework and realign our setting. It is no easy task to find our path reset as our ego wants to go on a different alignment to suit our purposes yet we do not appreciate GOD’s long term goal for us because we cannot see it and have no faith.

When I followed Malcolm’s last reflections, “The Word in the Wilderness”, I realised in a significant and profound moment that even though GOD put me back together after the most darkest period of my life, He would do it again and again each time I broke and fell apart. All I would need to do is to go before Him and hand Him my broken pieces and He would make me whole again, smooth over my cracks and forge a stronger bond to make me stronger, not only in myself but in my faith also.

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Despite the tape not sticking down the sixth great O, here is the Potter’s Hands remoulding me and putting me back together again. This process of understanding began when I attended Portsmouth Diocese’s “Inspire” year long course at the Cathedral. This came to me at the darkest period of my life, in Dante’s cave with no way out, at the door of the darkest place in the Universe and GOD gave me a hand, showed me a path and people who would help me. Here, on this course during the accompanied prayer week, I experienced the most profound of dreams as part of a conversation that I had with Christ every night during that week. And here, before I even knew about the Potter, I experienced my broken pieces in a pool of water and then, weeks later, my pot was whole and it has remained a positive image in quiet moments when I need to see it again.

2013-06-24 23.40.45 My original drawing, in oil pastels.

Malcolm’s word can be found here.

 

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Advent Diary – 21st December 2015

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My Morning Star

I’ve been writing about my Morning Star all year. There is a modern song that has the repeated line, ‘He is like …’ and words full of wonder follow. Malcolm writes in the wonderful “O Oriens” reflection that the idea of Christ as ‘a rising light in the east’ as deeply moving and oh, I find this too!

To follow this thought after the darkness of despair is filling my heart to the brim. I would like Him to do this every day in order to beam away the sadness that sometimes grips too tightly and then I will reflect His joy more so. To know that He is always there awaiting me and then to fully acknowledge His presence, gives me comfort.

Malcolm speaks of the Dawn Treader and the translation of ‘Oriens’ to be ‘DaySpring’ I find equally beautiful. This mention of the Dawn Treader took me to my Coracle in which I often see myself adrift and I reflected upon this during Lent. The next time I see my Coracle adrift I will remember that my Morning Star, as DaySpring, surrounds me with His everlasting Water and I will remember that He always sustains me, like the Hart at the water’s edge. The everlasting Light, the eternal Spring, DaySpring, my Morning Star.

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My drawing, using my retreat painting, symbolises my Morning Star blazing through the darkness, His everlasting Spring flowing through the centre and into the seas upon which my Coracle rests. Set within the fifth great O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 20th December 2015

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Lock and Key.

I did not want to visit memories of Dante’s darkness in Advent yet here I am reminded of it within the lines of Malcolm’s sonnet … “Even in the darkness where I sit, And huddle in the midst of misery …” but I know now that every chasm of darkness, every corner of the cave, Light will shine through and in ‘O Clavis’ it is the key that brings forth this Light. A light to make the blind see, the thread in the centaur’s maze, the breadcrumbs in the dark.

Even though depression and sadness bites in me every day, its as if the teeth leave holes for the Light to shine in and illuminate hope of a new moment within. There is beauty in knowing this dark because now I know that something glorious awaits me in the day. This propels me forward and changes my mindset but to get to this point I had to experience the depths of Dante’s cave in order to truly appreciate the Light and the hope in Christ it brings.

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My drawing partly reflects on the reflection the day before with the glint of light on the blade’s edge but on it’s guard hangs the key. This is the fourth great O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 18th December 2015

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Adoring.

How can I possibly manifest today’s reading into a drawing? All the sacred word hoard expressed in ‘O Adonai’. The touch of GOD, His presence in our life span, a Light so pure, so bright and so radiant that I cannot look or dare to engage in the sacred gaze.

But, we can engage with Him, our Almighty Creator and Father by gazing upon His signs in our life; the whisp of a feather suddenly at our feet, the glimpse of light from the depth of our gloom and depression – it is there – a sudden sparkle of birdsong in my ear, the detail of the shiniest, bright red ladybird in  stark contrast to the green leaf and a sudden fresh breeze on my face coming from nowhere but Him, the sort of breeze that momentarily and briskly blows away the cobwebs that cling in my mind.

It is such things, such signs, as these that make me say, “O!” and then “Adonai” when I realise that His presence is all around me. This brings a tear to the eye and a momentary lump in the throat. GOD is with us.

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Today’s image is based upon a photograph I took whilst on retreat at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. This was taken in a side chapel, a simple adornment of stone and a cloth but the light coming through the narrow window was perfect and brought “O Adonai” to my mind and me to His presence. The second O.

Malcolm’s spoken sonnet can be found here.

Advent Diary – 10th December 2015

IMG_20151226_201750 Kindling

It is very easy, when the nights draw in early and the Winter storms weather our faces and our souls, that we soak in the gloom about us and withdraw inwards. We protect our inner light and protect it under a bushel, we do not set it up high for others to see.

It is this time of year when memorial lists at Church grow longer, more wretched and desperately lonely souls walk in front of moving trains and we, the commuters, who also want the safety and warmth of our own destinations are struck by the sadness upon hearing of another fatality on the line; we never know who they are but can only pass on a solitary prayer from our seats and not see the real gut wrenching pain felt by a mother or father, spouse or child, in loss. It is this reason that we must not shrink away and hide our light but expose His radiance through ourselves.

I admit to finding it a struggle to share His joy for all through my own sadness, sometimes only having the strength to be strong for our own loved ones but we dig deep and rekindle our light time and time again through momentary prayers. And then, I see an illuminated window in a church and know that someone is keeping a vigil. For this I am thankful for it is a breadcrumb left by Christ for me to follow and rekindle my own self.

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Malcolm’s spoken word can be found here.

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Advent Diary – 5th December 2015

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Giving Thanks.

To go from the newness of an early morning dawn and the innocence that is always around us, to the change of atmosphere, feeling and somewhat ugliness of a truthful life with all its hurts and challenges. It is like not wanting to get up from our warmth, wrapped safely in our bed and the security of home to meet the difficult world outside; to encounter the compartmentalised lives of others, to share a train carriage and an overheard and awkward conversation, and to be nudged and bumped by people discarding coats and bags to sit down. In a brief moment, I am thankful for what I have, the richness of having food to share and a house to return to at the end of the day; hanging on to the sense of a family that my Mum, as a single parent, worked so hard to keep together.

To where we are now, working to exist with all that life and struggles throw at us. The life I had glimpsed on the fells as a life I would love is held in start contrast to the life I lead now. But I am grateful for those precious glimpses of another reality. I am blessed to have been granted these.

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My drawing shows me being wrapped up in the warmth that is His, a nurturing shawl of healing, love and prayer. Oh how I long for this on some days, when my umbilical cord is out of sync with the Divine.

Malcolm’s spoken word is here.

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https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com

Ordinary Times – a thought before Advent

Concrete Heart logo Concrete Hearts (C) TAW 2015

The atrocities of the world lay heavy on the heart. And so they should. We are powerless on a global level but we can be so much more on an individual basis by promoting peace and reconciliation within ourselves first, then our families, then our communities.

Christ taught us to love one another, one of three instructions he gave to us. Peace and reconciliation must first begin within before it will naturally radiate out and begin to touch our families and our neighbours; albeit for some this is almost an impossibility but it is a start nonetheless. Forgive yourself first and ask for Christ’s intercession in your healing. That’s how I try to do it.

Sadly, I find myself misunderstood, not always being the good communicator, Then I think, ‘I must be okay’ because I managed to communicate okay within academia, having recently graduated. We are all our own worst critics, our minds become our battlefield both mentally and spiritually; it is a learned behaviour somehow but one we must try and train ourselves away from. We receive our teaching from the world outside ourselves and it can be such a cruel place. It does hold beauty and it takes a lot sometimes to see that beauty.

And yet, the biggest brick wall I face is my own church. This is a place where the foundations must be built upon love. I am at odds at time with the church, I listen to some upcoming ordinands in my diocese and shudder at the image some portray to their social media audiences; one recently so blatantly misogynistic that they did not understand why I challenged a recent posting of a picture they thought best represented temptation… a woman in red holding out a red apple. The insinuations in one so small an image were huge, monumental. He only responded to the question why did he use the image … “because I liked it”.

If we do not overcome such attitudes within the church now (and for goodness sake, it is the 21st century) it will fail. This I do not want to see in my lifetime. Christ has endured so much abuse these past two thousand years and still he is abused and misunderstood even by a small number of those chosen to represent him. HOWEVER, there are those ordained out there that DO represent love and humility and peace and acceptance and I have met ones that have shone (and still shine) very brightly, true representatives of Christ. They cannot be replaced by those who do not look deeper to within themselves, to ask themselves, ‘do I honestly represent Him?’

I am criticised by my own parishes in a way that does not embrace Christ’s love. I am representative of the lamb that is left under a thorny bush to weather the storm whilst the others are herded into the barn. Those barn doors are shut firmly and the lamb left unnoticed until one bravely cries for its presence, if at all.

Please, for the sake of the children of today, let not your concrete hearts be a wall built up of false images and misguidance. If you display a cold heart, reveal the one that beats inside and for some of us, we hide our beating hearts, we hide the Christ within. Let Him Out. Let Him Shine. I’m still dusting down the cracks and letting the light out, albeit not enough in some peoples’ eyes but I am trying to be more like Him even though I still fail.

Put your lamps up on the wall and open the barn doors. Crack open the concrete hearts. Live the love in the Gospels.

Concrete Hearts The story of this image of mine is that, the night before I had scrubbed the conservatory concrete floor and this morning the one patch that had not dried was this single concrete heart shape. I took a picture and overlaid different filters – I guess in a way these represent the veils we hide under, too frightened to reveal our hearts. Then I photographed the photograph over and over and ended up with a wall of hearts. Here it is.