Friday photo – evening light

Evening light
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…

Wondering Wednesdays – living with loss

I love reading all the different inscriptions on memorial benches as we come across them in all sorts of places. We saw this one on a walk this week. It reminded me of something I read in my Lent book….
I have heard it said that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was among the last Americans who wore the black armband publicy after his mother died. In many cultures, people who grieve wear black for a period of time, often a yaer. … So many of us at any given time are limping around silently grieving a devastating loss and all the while trying to keep up appearances of normalcy. But what if there were this subtle symbol, cluing us into the painful reality of a fellow human being. We might be a little more patient… it would force us to stop pretending that everything is okay and evoke the compassion that naturally comes when we realize that many of us are dealing with much more than meets the eye.
p154 Broken Hallelujahs Beth Ann Slevcove IVP 2016.

We talk in paediatric chaplaincy of finding a new normal – that often doesn’t come quickly, compassion for ourselves or others is important – perhaps we have lost something in privatising mourning…

Go the distance – recharging my spirit

We have just had a few days holiday and I noted that very quickly I was gaining a more healthy perspective on some of the things that have been getting to me. One of the questions I ask at the hospital to help facilitate reflections on spiritual care is ‘what lifts your spirit?’ When I began to feel better after some walks by the sea and in some beautiful countryside, I noticed not only was my spirit lifted it was also recharged. I felt less drained, less discouraged, more optimistic.

As we look forward to Easter, Palm Sunday, Holy week, we reflect on the sacrificial giving of Jesus the drain upon his spirit, I wonder what he had to recharge him? It cannot have been easy being betrayed and feeling abandoned not only by his followers but also his father. Jesus must have had a substantial inner belief, a steadfast trust in his father and an overwhelming commitment to the wellbeing of humanity.

Sounds like a rechargeable Easter plan

Friday photo – blossom time


Blossom time is so fleeting, even as I took this picture petals were on the ground like confetti. But blossom time comes along every year, life has its seasons and when the blossom is gone and the tree is all green it can look a little dull! But with some blossom it is a precursor of the fruit which is to come.

I got to talk about faith and hope and God this week with a friend and reflected on how some of these things have changed over time and trees are such a good metaphor for this helping me to understand that there are seasons and to rejoice in what happens in each one of them and that I will never be a sapling again!

Wondering Wednesdays – new voices

open days

A lovely friend has edited a book on teaching – one I read with eager anticipation, this is one of the passages that stood out for me and I think resonated because this is what we try to do at MCYM:

If’ we as Christian leaders do not allow for space to be made for new voices and new ways of thinking and believing, then education can become merely the transfer of raw data, or, even worse the silencing of new insights from the students by which the teacher and other students can grow p16.

Yesterday I was able to sit in on part of one of our professional and ministerial development days.  Len Kageler from Nyack College did two sessions, one on mistakes youth workers make and the other on soul care.  He was really clear that while he hoped we would learn from his input it was equally important that we learn from one another.  I heard new voices and new insights today and have come away with much to think about.  One of the greatest privileges in my job is to be part of a community of practice and to learn from others with fresh perspectives and other experiences.


From Jeff Keuss Developing a Theology of Education in Terry Linhart ed Teaching the Next Generations  Grand Rapids Baker Academic 2016 14-21

Honest Christianity – we need an advocate – mine was Mum

One of my teenage memories of my mum is a strong one. This is some of the history, the back story that you need to know. Because my birthday is bang on the first of September, when I was at junior school it was realised I had started school a year early. The education systems solution to this was to insist I did an extra year at junior school or secondary school. I chose to do the extra year at the end of secondary school, my reasons I vaguely recall was that I did not want all my friends to leave me behind and more powerfully, they might forget or change their minds in 5 years time. They did not!

So after I was half way through year 5 (11 in today’s money) again, I applied to catering College. Even though I knew this is what I wanted to do the year before, I was told I could not apply until the year I would start. So when I applied the next year I was told the course was full and there was no room for me! I was very upset as cooking was the only thing I enjoyed and had done poorly academically at everything else (my dyslexia had not even been considered and I was just perceived as being not that bright naturally or the consequences of a council estate one parent family) . My mum had a different response, she went loopy, hit the ceiling, came down and then went up again. She went straight on the phone to the college and demanded that I had an interview . I think she must have frightened the course director and I was offered an interview, to which my mum came. The outcome was that I was exactly the type of student the course wanted and they offered me a place!

Two years later I was awarded top student of my course, runner up top student for the whole college and had been offered a job as a chef at the Savoy Hotel in London. Where and how might I have ended up had my mum not done that for me? To have intervened, advocated in the light of unfortunate circumstances or unfairness? Who knows? So let’s be thankful to all those people in our lives who have offered this type of support and intervention. Maybe it has been a parent , youth worker, pastor, partner, friend, professional… And let’s continue to model and imitate this advocacy for those who need a voice, an intervention, it’s what my mum would do!

Friday photo – play at all times


An apt picture for a week like this one. I took this last Saturday at IKEA struck by the importance of it. Yesterday I was doing a bit of teaching on human development with Chaplains at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and we looked at how an understanding of theory informed the work we did with them. We talked about the importance of play as a way of processing so much of the experience, of how interventions might enable children to work towards the positive element of Erickson’s conflicts and how action, image and symbol can be significant at different stages of development. A high 5 is more than just a bit of fun…