One of my favourite childhood memories is going for a walk near home and picking up acorns and seeing the wonderful little cups that held them. Perhaps even more fun was seeing squirrels pick them up – storing food for later. The phrase ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ seems apt for summer where little acorns can be seen as memories that are planted and which can grow and nurture us over the years. Memory making is a key element of what youthworkers and families do and if we look back, there are things which have shaped us and changed us and which have helped make us who we are. Sadly, not all memories are good and some of us have experienced things which have made life more difficult for us and the same little acorns can grow into oaks which overshadow our lives and which we need help to chop down.
This poster was on the wall as I was leading a focus group of siblings who had a sick brother or sister. Two of them jumped up and took one of the little strips of paper. We were in the spiritual care room at Uffculme, it was one of several resources available for whoever came in.
What do you need today?
You can just spot Paul’s arm at the edge of this photograph – he was pointing out seals. They were amazing as we gathered for communion on Cuthbert’s island – some of them looking more like dolphins and them seeming to respond to our singing of gather around and be thou my vision. One of the precious things about being on retreat with a group was the shared noticing. In our times of walking, reflecting the insights of others helped me to see God more clearly. We paused on our pilgrims’ way walk, we shared each evening with wine and nibbles and in times of prayer, over meals… Seeing God through the eyes of others helps me to see God in a fuller, more rounded way. I am very grateful for each person who was with us on the retreat, I have come back a richer person.
I took this picture on Sunday morning walking along a coastal path. I loved the fragility of the flowers but their capacity to grow through stones on a barren artificial concrete wall. There are so many people who I know and see display such enormous strength
despite their personal or circumstantial fragility – they are an encouragement and inspiration to me.
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.