It takes around an hour for me to drive to work in Nottingham and with my body getting older and creakier I go for a brief walk on arrival to ease the stiffness. One day this week I came across these two cones. One was in the middle of the road – one of may squashed by the cars that come up and down the road. The other was underneath the tree. I did a show and tell with the two cones as part of a prayer/reflection at the beginning of a meeting. I reflected that there have been times recently when I could identify with the squashed cone but that I believe in a restorative God who shows me the other cone and that in the ebb and flow of life both are part of our experience.
I have written this yesterday believing that I will need more time to reflect on wherever we are this morning before commenting on that. This is a picture from Sunday where people were picking up the stones we had used throughout Lent and Easter and taking them out into the community. We built a cairn in lent adding one word a week on stones and in the Easter season we built a path from the Easter Garden with them. So messages of hope, compassion, trust, generosity, love, friendship have been taken by members of Hodge Hill Church into their communities. Whatever we are looking at this morning these messages will still be relevant.
This has been a holiday week and one of the things we often do on holiday is kayak. It is with a little bit of fear and trepidation we put the kayak on top of the car on Wednesday and off we drove to the river Fowey. The person in the shop made attaching a kayak to the roof bars look amazingly simple – we have never been able to replicate that simplicity but managed to get there without mishap.
I would never have wanted to train to be a serious kayaker but pottering up and down bits of Cornish rivers is so relaxing and I never fail to be charmed by the sight of a little egret flying or just standing so still somewhere along the river bank. The water near Fowey was an amazing dark green but clear and clean and it was just so regenerative to be out there – away from crowds and able to go along at our own pace – no rushing, just savouring the scenery. A proper holiday activity.
These pilgrims’ steps are not an easy walk, uphill, uneven… They are on St Michael’s Mount, one of my favourite places and I imagine the Benedictine monks who may have walked this way before me. To be a pilgrim is one of the hymns that is stuck in my mind from my primary school, each day I take pilgrim’s steps but not every day am I so mindful as when I see the sign and climb knowing that the end of the journey will bring joy and wonder.
This teddy was living in the chaplaincy office at Birmingham Children’s Hospital when I took this picture. I don’t know if it is still there or if it has been given away. The MU make knitted teddies for the team to give to patients and they were asked to create some which were different. As you can see, this one has no hand on one of the arms – imagine how exciting it would be for a child who didn’t have a hand to see this teddy. Images are influential, when we see or don’t see us in different media it can shape our self-perception and our understandings of who or what we can be.
Last night Adia washed my feet. She helped me wash and dry the feet of the first person to come forward and then by herself washed and dried mine and the ones you can see in this picture as well as helping with others. We laughed at the way the bubbles seemed to find their way to the back of people’s feet so you had to dry them very carefully!
One of my friends, Keith White, encourages us to do theology with a child in the midst. Last night it was not an imaginary or notional child, it was a real child (Keith always emphasises the importance of picturing a real child). Adia served as Jesus did, with joy, in an unselfconscious way and blessed me so much. We have so much to learn from each other, and given what I do for a day job, learn from children and young people. Last night was a great intergenerational event where old, young and in between all contributed in different ways as we remembered, ate, shared, served and waited. I am so grateful to be in a church which creatively helps us to enter into the Lent and Easter story.
I did ask Mum if it was okay to post a picture!
I took this picture yesterday evening, it does not do justice to the quality of the light. The shadows had lengthened, the temperature had dropped, the river began to take on a yellowish tone as the sun was sinking. I have no idea how I know this is evening light when I look at the picture but I do.
Less than an hour later it was dark and in a village with no street lights that really does mean dark. If you read this blog regularly you will know that I have been reading about loss this lent and as I look towards Holy Week I am hoping I can live more in the present and follow the story as it unfolds day by day. Evening light helps me prepare for the darkness, it isn’t an immediate switch off, there is a gradual process, I am drawn into night time with the hope of sunrise and morning light. However, I need to learn to live more comfortably with the growing shadows, with the darkening sky and learn to watch and pray…