Ordinary Times – Awakenings

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Holding On.

Malcolm Guite recently reflected (actually I re-read recently) his awakening in his sonnet for Colmcille (St Columba) and this lead to my own reflection on mine. Before I get to my story I have to write down today’s deep thoughts forming within my heartstrings.

I am sat here re-listening to Ólafur Arnald’s new project, ‘Island Songs’ and his stirring recording of Icelandic poet Einar Georg reciting his poem about a river from his childhood. To listen to an indigenous language of nature is like listening to his heart whisper. It gives you, the listener, that deepest ache in your heart, a stirring that you cannot explain; your own heart whispers back from it’s source and an internal creation relives and is reborn every moment. Christ whispers to us in this way.

I wondered how Jesus would have sounded, speaking in his own language but I understand and know the Word is eternal and ingrained within our very spark at our core. Christ whispered to me through my deep love of my own human roots, in our fair Isles’ Celtic heritage and ancestry and He set my spark, re-ignited my indigenous eternal voice on the threads of my weaving. He trembled my warp and my weft and set His Golden Thread amongst my raw and rustic whisperings that was once lost and unattached. Christ loves my wildness and He keeps my sett beating to our heartbeat’s whisper. What is beautiful about the introduction to Ólafur’s composition is that he says that, after consideration with his translators, some of Einar’s Icelandic words cannot be translated but merely that we should enjoy the beauty it reflects in its sound. This is so with Christ’s words … they need no explanation as the beauty is in the way it conveys a single thought through a vibration of love for a place, for a moment, for people. Whatever the situation, outcome or action. Love and the knowledge that God hangs on to me whatever the situation, the outcome or the action, He has my thread in His hand.

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In my sketch, GOD has a handful of my wild threads ready to set my warp and weft and highlight His Golden Thread that has always been in me.

Malcolm’s sonnet for Columba can be found here, https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/columba-and-my-calling-4/

Ólafur Arnald’s wonderful composition can be found here,

Malcolm sent me his Weaving Song … this should be part of my life’s soundtrack. Found here.

Weaving One of my shawls, handmade by me, TAW.

An Addendum: my own awakening? Many years ago during the last Millenium, I attended a Church service at my parish church on the spur of the moment. The title caught my eye, “A Celtic Evening Liturgy” (c) Iona Community. I went in and when I heard and read the line, “We believe, O God of all the peoples, that you created our souls and set their warp..” I was finished, in a heap. I spent the rest of the evening service in tears. This was the moment Christ picked up my warp and weft and re-trembled the fibres, setting God’s Golden Thread within mine in all my wildness and yearning. I had something to grasp, to hold on to, to cherish and to love always. Upon looking back on my intermittent diaries and written down dreams, the thread and the warp has been a theme running through the Living Water within me. As poetic or full of nonsense this may sound, this is my truth and I do not need to justify it. It has happened amongst a treasured handful of spiritual moments and encounters that keeps me on His path when times are incredibly tough. I relive this joy in times of need. This is my warp within Christ and it is a strong warp. TAW 2016.

FB_IMG_1449012249739 My own shawl, made by me, that I wear xXx.

Ascension Day in Ordinary Times, Easter Season

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Thalassa.

My parish church used to observe such feast days on the actual day with beautiful but simple evening services. My parish is now victim to convenience and these services have been unceremoniously cut from my community’s calendar. It is so wrong to do this. Church is not a Sunday observance which it has fast become. For some people, church during the week in a quiet service was the only way they could attend for a variety of reasons from forced work commitments to hidden persecution, of which persecution on a Sunday still happens today for a Christian. The only church door open for me at the moment is the local Roman Catholic church and that is only because it is now run by a strict patriarchal order of monks – better than nothing? They might not share  Communion with me but they give me much needed spiritual space within a sanctuary.

Malcolm’s sonnet for today from his book, ‘Sounding the Seasons’, has me reflecting on the line, ‘whilst we ourselves become his clouds of witness’ and I wonder if we really are that any more if the church only observes feast days through convenience on the nearest Sunday? Even the smallest attendance on the right day warrants being a cloud of witness, two or three attending would suffice and by being a presence and by opening the parish church door today we become a witness.

How can we ‘wane darkness into light’ when our own church puts its light under the bushel and hides it behind a closed door? Are we so used to grey days now that we no longer lift our heads to see the sun peeking through the cloud for that brief moment? Does that not make you smile any more, to know that His presence is always there? Do we let the sea overcome us and the waves swell that we no longer understand the right response?

As an addendum, Christ makes me feel uncomfortable in challenging me to respond in the way that I do because I want to feel His joy and not my sorrow. Having said that, if I do not feel uncomfortable then I become stagnant and my growth stops, it is not an easy process. Being a Christian woman is not an easy path, not for me anyway because I am spurned to feel so passionate about particular things and I have to challenge myself why I feel the way I do in order to make sense of my world and Christ within it, and Christ within me. Some days leave me empty.

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My idea stuck for today’s reflection before I read Malcolm’s sonnet but after finding out we had no service tonight for Ascension. Christ as the Light coming through the clouds. I am going to add a veil to the drawing so that we have the invitation to lift it up if we wish to seek Christ. This might not be important for me now at this moment but could be in months to come when I revisit my diaries. The Greek word “Thalassa” is one that has been much misinterpreted and one used as an example in highlighting the importance of the right translation. The tale we had as NT Greek students was that the NIV translated it to ‘waves’ in the passage when Christ tamed the storm (Mark 4:35-41), to the point where it could have been understood that Christ could only command the waves and not the entirety of the seas. Are we then, as witnesses, to behave like waves or to respond collectively like the seas?

Malcolm’s wonderful sonnet can be found here.

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Easter Tides -Sunday 17th April 2016

IMG_20160423_230921The Gatherer.

What is it about these last three days that has compelled me to write more? Reading Malcolm’s sonnets have certainly triggered a response, especially today’s profound blog entry and sonnet for ‘Vocation Sunday’ (no longer called this). Whilst Malcolm writes and reflects on a wounded Church, I do think about those ‘bad shepherds’ who lead not for Christ but for their own ego and for their idea of Christ’s message without perhaps returning to the primary source (which all good theologians should do!) of the Gospels themselves and in particular, the Gospel of John.

For those few who read my Lenten Diary from last year (2015) might have picked up upon my internal battle with the Church and my own Parish. I’ve been away more than attended because of my leg injury recently and I feel less like belonging now more than ever but I did make it to the main service today. I became aware of our beloved female ordinand’s struggle (I did not ask what) however the Psalm response was about a cornerstone and I looked up and I recognised her as the cornerstone of the Church but as one much hidden (like a gemstone in the streambed); but I had this overwhelming image of my Grandma’s hands holding up her apron to gather in the fallen breadcrumbs, the ones Christ entrusts to us.

It is for us once more to gather in His breadcrumbs into our aprons and to keep them safe, guard them safely for Him until this latest storm passes overhead. Philip Newell talked of the falling away of the institution of the Church but not of Christ. It is for us women once again to go unnoticed in the background whilst doing the most crucial task of all and men who have the eyes to see and hears to listen will join in with our silent activity until He is ready for us once more.

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Malcolm’s wonderful blog and sonnet can be found here.

 

Easter Tides – 14th April 2016

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Fragrant Tears

Wanting to write and not being able to write are moments that I now accept. It’s a void space of knowing not which way to go, I’m without direction and without prayer. What has been on my mind I do feel compelled to write about and this has been spurned on by reading one of Malcolm’s poems from ‘The Singing Bowl’ about the old altar, “Communion Table, St Edward’s, Cambridge”.

Sat here in my little garden, in a rare and longed for moment of sunshine, Malcolm’s poem stuck with me and here, on my old and weather worn garden table I had already placed a small bowl of water, a candle, a terracotta bowl of burning incense and a dried red rose. ‘Here’s the old forgotten altar’ I thought and I set about drawing the image in my mind – the rose of Mary Magdalene, the Living Water and our prayers offered in incense on an old altar that has not been forgotten and often honoured and remembered by the women down the ages whilst the men raged on in theological battles.

We have one today in my own Diocese … ‘new expressions’, ‘pioneer ministers’ or whatever they want to call it, in a bid to get young blood in the door at a huge sacrifice to the already attending faithful. It is not the change but the way it has been done, at the expense of others’ spirituality (already a delicate thing in today’s society). Liturgy has survived for over one thousand years and will do so for a lot longer. I remember the words of John Philip Newell in his new book, “The Rebirthing of God”, that the Church will fall away but it is our duty to ensure Christ continues whatever the latest fad or finance pushes onto us.

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DSC_2674 Diary entry and painting on the old table.

The link to Malcolm’s sonnet, here it is called “This Table”, and is the fourth sonnet on this page.

DSC_0016 John Philip’s website can be found here.

Ash Wednesday – Lenten Times 2016

IMG_20160212_212632 Ashes and Sand.

Ash Wednesday arrived. I made it to the 10am service and I didn’t realise or think ahead to the solemnness or pilgrimage that it marks the start of. A pilgrimage without a physical walk in the sandstorm that rages within; not so much unknown this time, I am looking to seek out those transgressions that need to be smoothed by the sandstorm. There is no visible way through a sandstorm, all the references for guidance are gone, like in hillfog where the cairns are silent sentinels waiting to be discovered and marking our arrival on the summit to offer shelter.

In this internal sandstorm I know I will have GOD’s cloak to comfort me in times of need and I know that this time I will not be alone even though there will be moments that it will feel that way, I won’t feel totally abandoned and desolate; this time I know that I have to stop and ask Him for His presence and He will be there. Christ will sit by my side to give me strength and courage to move on. Even though I can only offer that moment, one day at a time, He already knows that I will battle with that thought each day and yet, He waits.

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My drawing reflects a momentary glimpse of an image in my mind that trys to depict the precipice of the sandstorm that awaits me or that I am already in. The circular / spiral motif is one that I seem to unconsciously draw time and time again and so I stick with it. In my linear timeframe, Christ gave me a grain of sand and in this was all what He is (long before I was aware of Julian of Norwich’s hazelnut!) and the circular motif was how I tried to convey and share my experience with my prayer guide at the time. It is an image that is significant to me.

I am not following Malcolm Guite’s “The Word in the Wilderness” for Lent this year but I will dive into the poems as his work is always a treasure trove of rich references to theology and literature, thought, poems and reflections that needs our attention because we need it. However, I wholeheartedly recommend that you try it out and bathe in its lavish resources to explore Lent this season x

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Gosh, we had sunshine and warm days last Easter!

https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/blog/

Candlemas

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I always feel in awe of this day, quietly standing in the stark cold. I do not enjoy the church celebrating Candlemas on the nearest Sunday because it is important to honour it on its proper day. I feel churches are doing a great disservice by not observing at the right time when many used to hold a wonderful evening service. Malcolm’s sonnet expresses and reveals the vulnerability of a new baby, the vulnerability of a new mother and the absolute sacredness in a new life. A new Light of Christ. So quickly in these modern times that innocent light of a child is suppressed or extinguished way before time; they have no chance to experience the goodness and beauty in life and in people. Instead, they are exposed to the guttural horrors of society and the meanness expressed through social media and the news reports.

The hardest challenge is to recognise and acknowledge the Christ Light in everyone and every living thing. Only then will we realise how absolutely beautiful our earth is and give proper respect to the vulnerability of life and our part in others’ lives. We must honour the child Christ Light and encourage it to flourish at every opportunity.

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My drawing represents three children which has ended up in a trinitarian suggestion, with their Christ Light above them. I wanted to reflect the Light that is in them but instead it ends up above them.

Candlemas by Malcolm Guite in “Sounding the Seasons”.

There is a new gallery page for people’s responses to Malcolm’s work which can be found here.

 

Advent Diary – 23rd December 2015

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Culmination

Today is the culmination of all things, the preparation coming together so that we can move forward from a place of great spiritual strength, even if it only lasts for one moment it does not matter. I love Malcolm’s wonderful reflection on the hidden names of Christ in the incredible O Antiphons, the play on words in its simplest form, on the references in “O Emmanuel” to items that reminded me of a Pilgrim’s bag.

A chap called Steven Payne has spent part of Advent walking as a medieval Pilgrim from Southampton to Canterbury, sleeping under hedgerows as a Pilgrim would have done, in anticipation of the destination the only hope to keep them on track. I thought of Steven’s blog in the single phrase of, “..O quickened little wick so tightly curled..” (from Malcolm’s sonnet, “O Emmanuel”) as a reference to a precious little candle stub to light on Christmas Eve to herald in the coming of Christ. This is the wonder of Advent and Christmas. All are waiting for this arrival with us – in us – as a new life and this new life is reborn within – in – us. Advent is the culmination of preparation of not only our home but our home within – our soul and our spirit; within we nurture that precious little candle stub with its curled wick.

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I had an idea or two for a drawing, a Pilgrim’s bag, the little candle stub, but I kept coming back to a photograph I took when on retreat at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. It was a moment of pure bliss when the Sun just poured in through the gap in the curtain and lit up the atmosphere with a ray of light. This chair in the photograph is a representation of waiting, the anticipation of the next step on retreat, a moment of awakening in creation and the Cosmos of Christ’s Light. The final great O of Advent. O Come, maranatha, GOD with Us.

Steven’s Pilgrims Progress blog can be found here.

Malcolm’s word can be heard here.

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