Friday photo – storm tower

The building you can see on top of the hill is the storm tower in Bude. I have a necklace of it, being sold to raise funds to preserve it.

How much do we need both literal and metaphorical storm towers at the moment. Three storms in less than a week and there were three power cuts on Wednesday, after all the storms had blown through. Then yesterday waking up to the news of the invasion of Ukraine and this morning hearing live air raid warnings on Radio 4. I remember as a child seeing an air raid shelter in Grandma’s garden and hearing stories of time spent there in World War 2, Mum was 6 when war broke out.

We sat looking at the First World War memorial in Padstow on Monday. I felt deep sadness as the war to end all wars was far from that. I feel powerless, I pray, I hope, I try to act peaceably but today that doesn’t feel enough. What can we do to build a safer world?

Wondering Wednesdays – being still

I wish I spent more time being this still.

This is a tidal river which sometimes looks like the sea, I took this picture on Friday morning.

I am partly taking a break this week and hoping for some space to be still and was inspired by this picture, it is so rare to see such a true reflection with the wind and tides.

Do you have space to be still this week?

Wondering Wednesdays – remembering

I have stood on the Normandy Beaches and in Flanders Fields and had eyes full of tears as I remembered those who never came back. Today we remember those who died in two world wars and I remember them with gratitude, I cannot imagine how scary it was for those who enlisted in response to a call to fight. This is not a political post, I pray for peace, lament that we seem to learn so little from history and want to honour those who sacrificed everything.

Covid 19 Musing aloud – being makers of peace

One of my Bonhoeffer daily readings a few weeks ago was about the beatitudes. Writing from prison, Bonhoeffer explores what it means to be a peacemaker. He makes an obvious point, but it struck me anew. He says a peacemaker must make peace, not just be peaceful.

I think this is an interesting reflection giving that he may very well have been implicated in an assassination attempt to kill Hitler. Perhaps this is another reflection on how the beatitudes reflect the upside-down kingdom of God.

This got me thinking about how radical we perhaps need to be, to become makers of peace during covid-19. I was sharing in another context this week Thomson’s construct of personal, cultural and structural factors. His original theory is around anti oppressive practice, which I think is really helpful when we continue to reflect and act upon Back Lives Matter. I used the construct in helping a group of healthcare workers debrief a tragic event. They made some wonderful and profound insights and reflections across this spectrum. they sought to make peace in their own lives, within their work, within their teams and within their professions.

Being and becoming makers of peace often requires us to turn values and norms upside down. Being brave and courageous, naming the elephant in the room. Maybe one of the redemptive aspects of the covid-19 pandemic, that we become bolder, more creative, in becoming makers of peace individually, culturally, and in society.

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Wondering Wednesday – Peace I give you…

One of the last things Jesus said to the disciples before he died was peace be with you, it was one of the first things he said after his resurrection. It is a word I need to hear a lot at the moment. Many years ago I was reading a book about meditation and it encouraged you to come up with a word or phrase, mine was be still, rest, shalom which still works for me. Shalom is a Hebrew word we often translate as peace and which means much more than how we often narrowly interpret it.

I have been reading a book of reflections and prayers on peace recently and I want to share two of the entries I have found helpful:

The Hebrew word for peace is ‘shalom’. Shalom is the substance of all the biblical vision of one community embracing all creation. Shalom implies well-being and the wholeness of life – material, spiritual, physical, personal, corporate. Howard Goeringer

I am trying to explore wholeness of life in lockdown and very gradually beginning to find a way of being within it which feels a little more life-giving and less task driven.

The second is a prayer by John Johansen-Berg:

Risen Jesus, we thank you for your greeting, ‘Peace be with you’. The shalom of God, deep lasting peace; peace that brings inner calm; that keeps a person steady in the storm; that faces the persecutor without fear and proclaims the good news with courage and with joy. This is the peace that reconciles sister to brother, black to white, rich and poor, young and old; but not a peace that is quiet in the face of oppression and injustice. This is peace with God, the peace that passes understanding.

I particularly like the phrase ‘keeps a person steady in the storm’ because that what some days feel like at the moment. The Easter story seems so right for now and this week peace be with you is the part I am focusing on.

The Way of Peace Compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild. Lion 1999.

Friday photo – written above the door

What would you have written above your door? I am inspired by reading this as I return to Mill Grove, a place I love and have fond memories of a placement there. I appreciate the boldness, the public witness, the reminder, the challenge. I am not sure what I would choose if it seemed right to do this. My first reaction is peace be with you, which is something I often need to be reminded of and I can imagine seeing that as I walk back into the house may help me metaphorically leave some stuff outside the door.

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Friday photo – thirteen hours later


I left for work at 6.15 yesterday morning for an 830 meeting with colleagues, thirteen hours later walked out of the car with dinner to eat before we even unpacked! With a head full of complex thoughts to process it was wonderful to come to this place of peace ans be nourished by food, wine and rest in a place which is good for my soul as I wrote about on Wednesday. We are also nearing the end of Paul’s birthday month and enjoyed a beautiful bottle of wine Paul was given by one of his team. I feel blessed as I wake up in a place of peace.

Friday photo – remembering with gratitude

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If I had been on Facebook 25 years ago yesterday I may well have got a memory pop up. Paul and I went to Portsmouth for the 50th Anniversary of D Day.  We had previously toured the different places in France that are part of the story as well as those which are in England and even Scotland where we saw the remains of a Mulberry Harbour block.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like and my eyes have been filled with tears as I have watched and listened to some of the coverage over recent days. We went 25 years ago to pay respects and to say we still need to remember.

I am so sad about the dissonance between some of the values expressed then and some of the values which are expressed now. A world at peace would allow for human flourishing, a world without violence would make a difference to the whole of creation. I am always aware that change has to start with me and that I need to show some of the courage that the men and women we have been hearing stories about demonstrated 75 years ago. We are hearing from the last few of that generation, let’s treasure their stories and wonder in what ways we can do our bit in trying to make a better world.

 

Go the distance – prayers across the world

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We have both been immensely blessed by being able to travel to the USA to gatherings of the Pediatric Chaplains’ Network. To be able to be part of such a supportive community of practice is something I don’t take lightly. As different tragedies have taken place so messages are sent and prayers mobilized and you know that you are not alone in whatever it is you are facing. I joined those responding and we are praying particularly for Jessica and James, the local chaplains we know best, but also for all the emergency responders along with some family friends of Sally’s. This is the prayer that one of the chaplains forwarded for those facing Hurricane Harvey:
Harvey Prayer
In times such as these it is hard to know exactly what to pray – but being aware of God’s presence and peace is one I use a lot.

Honest Christianity – how to respond when bombs explode?

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When I wrote last week’s blog on unexploded bombs, I had no idea of the tragedy of another type of bomb that would be exploded by a suicide bomber in Manchester the following day. How should we respond when someone decides to explode a real bomb with the intention of harming children and young people? Obviously we weep with those who weep, our empathetic hearts break with those bereaved and injured. Many rush to help, support, pray, and the very best of humanity is expressed when we see others hurting and distressed. One of the many voices of life suggested that the city of Manchester will choose love not hate as their response.

We also ask why?  Asking why is not a doubting question but a real one in the light of such sadness. It is also a brave question. It is brave because we do not always know what answers will be revealed or if there is even an answer at all that will answer our questions. This week questions of why and responsibility have been asked by the families, observers, helpers, local, national and international leaders. Was something missed that could have been picked up and the bomber stopped? Learning lessons is a universal helpful response to tragedies. But questions of why quickly move to accusations of blame.

Questions of responsibility are necessary and helpful but do not have to be motivated by finding or locating blame but bravely to learn and understand. Personally I hope we do learn how this happened so that lessons can be learnt and more people who wish to cause harm are stopped before it happens .

But I also hope in time and hopefully quickly, we will also ask the question of why, what causes one person or persons to feel this is an appropriate action or reaction?  Simple answers of ‘they are evil’ will only superficially serve us.  I wonder if lessons  learnt from conflict resolution processes in other places could stand us in good stead as we look to ways in which we might respond. More fundamental explorations are needed and deserved around the longer, wider, deeper narrative of why, and a greater desire for peace and justice than retribution.