Friday photo – dawn breaking

Dawn is breaking as I write. This picture is dawn on the last day of our holiday. A clearing sky, a star shining brightly.

The light this morning is that the constituency where I live has elected Birmingham’s first black MP, a woman, Paulette Hamilton, that is something to celebrate.

But so much more is darkness hearing of a fire at a nuclear power station in Ukraine and many more horrors. I continue to pray, to give but hope is a tiny flicker, not a bright light.

I am also aware of the immense privilege of dawn breaking on a day off where I am choosing where to go to plan some writing and do some reading. So there are shards of joy as I anticipate that.

What does dawn bring for you today? How are you preparing for the day ahead? I am sitting, praying, reflecting, reading, journaling, finding equilibrium for the day ahead.

Friday photo – imagine the sound

Reeds in the wind

What do you hear when you look at this picture?

If you know me in real life you might be able to guess! The sound reminds me of one of my favourite films. But I don’t expect baseball players to emerge this time!

Sound evokes memories and the sound of the reeds reminded me of Field of Dreams. That then triggers thoughts of vocation, dreams, redemption, risk, following the voices!

Most of us don’t get the sort of resolution that is presented in the film but need sometimes to pursue a greater wholeness and find our peace. This may be a hard and slow process but is a journey we may need to make.

Friday photo – I never tire of such views

Tree from stump

New life is coming out of a chopped down tree, it evokes such a sense of hope those of us who feel like we have had a part of us chopped off.

This was one of the sights that spoke to me at the retreat centre where I have been this week but every time I look out into our garden I see a seemingly indestructible bay tree!

Images of hope are so important and nature is abundant with them.

What has spoken to you of hope this week?

Friday photo – what’s round the corner?

Leaf strewn path

As we draw to the end of 2021 I am wondering what 2022 holds!

What will be possible, what will not?

Christmas plans changed last minute with Covid diagnoses.  A pronouncement today making me wonder if January journeys will turn to zooms.

I have grown in my capacity to be flexible and creative and to try and hold more lightly to plans.

But it has been hard to keep being disappointed over a series of what might seem like small losses but cumulatively feel quite large.

Sacrificing for the common good is something I largely willingly do but grieve when I see people abusing this. And sacrifice is not without cost and we keep being told that round the corner are better times but the timelines keeps extending.

I keep walking this path hoping for the glimpses of joy I feel when I turn the real life corner and see a lake full of swans, their beauty and elegance lifting my spirits.

Wondering Wednesdays – Theology as hope

Today for many reasons I am thinking about hope. I am grateful that I have a faith that cultivates hope and know the truth of the first line of the quotation below – theology is an expression of the hope that a few people can make a difference. Today I will meet and hear stories of people making a difference. My hope is that what has been sown over many years will continue to bear fruit.

Clemens Sedmak says this:

Theology is an expression of the hope that a few people can make a difference. Theology cultivates the art of hoping. There are at least seven important features of hope: Hope rises in the darkness of a crisis; hope can give reasons to keep believing; hope paradoxically both requires and engenders patience and endurance; hope means wideness and openness and also risk and the willingness to change; hope is stubborn and endures long periods of delayed fulfillment; hope admits small beginnings; and the message of hope is the promise of life.

From Doing Local Theology, Markyknoll: Orbis, p168.

Wondering Wednesdays – the nameless, faceless ones

Photo by Hernan Pauccara on

I read this yesterday, another Joyce Rupp reflection that speaks to me, here she is drawing on the story of Elijah in the Bible in 1 Kings 19. I have both experienced the unkown angels and also tried to be one. I am not at the place this reflection describes at the moment but as I read it so many thoughts flooded my mind of such acts of compassion and kindness at a time when I was desolate.

Who are the unknown angels, the nameless,

faceless ones, who come to us unsought,

who arrive to ease our agonizing journey 

through the desert of lost hope and dashed joy?

What are the hearth cakes, the jugs of water,

left there to revive our desolate spirit—

those brief encounters that only afterward

we realize the balm they have been for us?

These angels travel not with silver wings

but with compassionate, human hearts,

moved by a guided nudge from far inside,

to speak a word, leave a smile, send a message.

We are gifted with restored hope and purpose

to carry us through another day of desert,

perhaps far beyond that one precious deed

into a longed-for freedom, away what spiraled us

downward into thinking there was no reviving.

I love the phrase ‘guided nudge from far inside’ as that is what I experience at times although I wonder if I am always as aware of them as I might be. Sometimes the nudge encourages me to post something somewhere on social media, other times it would be something I actually physically post – there is always such joy in getting an unexpected letter, card or parcel.

Who can you be an angel for today?

Friday photo – autumn garden

Four scenes from our garden but the pictures do not do the colours justice. Autumn colours are my favourite in the city, our garden has a warm glow as the temperatures plummet.

Each day there is a little more loss to see, leaves on the ground, remnants of fruit from the apple tree. But the loss happens in the light of knowing that new life is coming in spring, and I just have to wait to see it.

Waiting is active not passive. Looking in expectation, in anticipation, in hope. Waiting can be down time too, a slower, more peaceful phase of the year. I love the changing rhythms of seasons, the realisation that there is change, that nothing ever stands still. That is a hopeful thought.

#seasons #wait

Wondering Wednesdays – music in the dawn

In this in-between Christmas and New Year time ai make no apologies for sharing another Joyce Rupp reflection.  Her writing is speaking very powerfully to me at the moment.  I get up before dawn most days (at this time of year anyway) and enjoy the odd bits of bird song I hear.  I don’t have the sort of interior darkness and sorrow she talks about here most days but glimpse it occasionally and know others who would say it is a daily experience.

Out of the shadowy, lingering abyss
wispy hints of the approaching dawn
gather mutely before the coming brilliance.  Songs of creation’s glory stir in warm nests, giving voice to the ancient joy residing where darkness has get to give way.

Robins warble melodies of hope                  full of possibility and instinctual trust, confident sunlight will follow                          a steady course beyond the long silence          of past opaque hours.

Their clear-throated unbroken songs       resound with declarations of freedom, encouraging strong wings to set forth    for bushes, meadow, forest and stream.

Melodies continue to lift from darkened nests,                                                                       a clear timbre unburdened by the complexities                                               humans construct in mind and heart.

These songs before the sun rises                  call me to step away from the futile attempt to control life.

They urge a release of my doubt,                put an end to my disbelief of ever shedding this desolation.

Their hope-filled voices open up a truth that something lies beyond this night-drenched sorrow, this seemingly endless interior darkness.

Joyce Rupp Little Pieces of Light Mahwah Paulist Press, 2016, vii-viii.

Friday photo – lighting the final candle

Today is Christmas Day when you get to light the final candle in the Advent wreath. This picture is from Christmas Eve when I presided for only the second time since Lockdown started. It feels very strange not having a Christmas Day service this year but this year is not a normal year.

Advent is partly about watching and waiting for the birth of Jesus. I feel like life is a constant round of watching and waiting at the moment and has been for months. Waiting for a vaccine, waiting to see people face to face, waiting to do something simple like hangout in a coffee shop reading or catching up with friends or going into someone else’s home. So many of the little every day blessings that bring meaning to life.

The final candle signifies that the light of Christ has come into the world. The light of Christ came into my life many years ago and that experience has shaped my life ever since and is the source of my hope at this challenging time.

Wishing you hope, peace and joy today and in the year ahead.

Covid 19 musing aloud – what types of hope do we need?

During all the restrictions we have had during this pandemic, we have needed to draw deeply upon old and new personal resources. Who thought we could have put up with so much, eaten and drank out, walked by the sea so little. We have been hoping for so much, most of us have been hanging on in there. Getting out in the summer was just about ok, but less daylight and no seaside is something else!

What type of hope we have needed, I expect, was not the type of hope we wanted. Given more restrictions now and on the horizon for many, deferred hope is what we need. A perfect illustration of Advent Kingdom principles of less of now, and more of not yet. Delayed gratification, joys, pleasures, even what we might assess to be essential human needs of physical community, touch, affection, visits to people and places to love and be loved, are still having to be planned for, looked forward to, deferred for another time.

We plan for a different type of Christmas, deferred hope means we even have to plan differently. We won’t be able to do all we want to do with all the people we want, in all the places we want. So if we want to stay sane, we need a way of thinking and approaching the coming weeks and probably months. Looking forward to a vaccine might be a part of this mentality, but a deeper more sustainable attitude might be to resign to the restrictions. To actively make plans for the future, to defer, to look forward to all the joys.

One of the Spiritual Play activities we offer to our patients is to make treasure boxes. We have had made for us lots of these stones (thank you Michelle to offer to them for what they already have or would like. Hope is understandably frequently chosen.

Many of us have already learnt this type of hope. We have learnt to hold in tension glimpses of the reign of the Kingdom of God now on Earth as well as appreciating there is more to come, even sadly realising some of the comprehensive justice we desire, not being this side of Heaven. Let’s realise, we have learnt to flourish in this tension for many years. We have not been debilitated into doing nothing, but we have been getting on with what we can contribute to seeing hesed; loving kindness, justice, being shared and experienced now. We have been flourishing in deferring some levels of our Kingdom hopes, perhaps this can inspire us that this deferred hope can sustain us during covid-19 restrictions of not much now, lots more not quite yet!