Saturday, 30 June 2018

It has taken me a lifetime- let the reader understand I am a slow learner- to realise there is a difference between being 'pi' and being holy; between being convinced in the head and believing in the heart; between asking God for a heap of stuff for a needy world, and praying; between telling God stuff he already knows and praying; between fretting over whether I am walking in the predetermined will of God for me every second of my life, and accepting the freedom God gives to choose the good ( and regrettably, sometimes  choosing the bad), between western liberal values and what Jesus means by 'the kingdom of God'.

And these are only the most obvious things that come to mind. If I were more insightful, less fretty, less pi, then other things would hit me in the eye, and. I hope, lodge in my heart too. There is a lot to learn along the way which Christians follow, but there is a lot to unlearn too. I have difficulty in distinguishing which is the more important at times.

There is solid ground, however, to stand on. A light to guide. I keep in mind and heart Jesus' words about being the way, the truth, the life. Heard many, many times, but learned deep in the heart- at least for this slow learner- far less frequently than I would wish. The 'L' plates are still firmly attached and the prayer, as always, is 'Show me the way'.

Saturday, 23 June 2018


As I write this, it is a sunny afternoon in Sark, and I am listening to the lapping of the swimming pool about two metres away. The only other sound comes from the birds. On an early morning walk earlier today to the Pilcher monument, I was surrounded by the perfume of honeysuckle from the hedgerows all the way there and back. Needless to say, in this haven of quiet I was asleep again before lunchtime.
The days are taken up with walks, contemplation of the views, wondering at the glorious flora in the hedges, eating and sleeping. I might get to swim, if I manage the effort......... oh, ,and a five spot burnet ( a daytime moth of great beauty) has just landed nearby.
Time to recharge is in short supply in our rushed lives. But is perhaps needed more than ever, given the increasing clangour about mental health, and indeed all other sorts of health, that of the spirit and soul included. Jesus himself called his disciples away from the crowds to to spend time with him alone, and he withdrew ‘to a quiet place’ as the gospels record, as a matter of habit.
So, while I can, I will recharge, revive, reconnect, in that classical Anglican way with God, with neighbour, and with self.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

In  one of the by-ways of my reading this week, I came across Joseph Glanvill- well-known to all of you, I'm sure- a 17th century English philosopher, writer and clergyman. He must have possessed some second sight, in that he predicted there might be 'conferring at the distance of the Indies by sympathetic conveyances  ……. as usual to future times, as to us in a literary correspondence'. That is, the telephone, and other modern stuff which enables almost instantaneous communication.

Maybe it's not too difficult to imagine a future age with all sorts of gizmos we presently do not possess, although I imagine it would have been more difficult back then. Nowadays we are used to the fast pace of technological change. Yesterday's sci-fi is today's reality. But the moral issues in every sci-fi novel or film are those we face today- nothing has changed in that respect. It 's the choices we make, the consequences of those choices, good fighting evil- the familiar stuff of our everyday experience.

We are often seduced by the siren calls of new technology, and the hope, and sometimes the reality that our lives are improved by the kit we buy. But that still leaves us with the choices for justice and peace, or their opposites, which we have to make day by day. We need a firmer foundation, a clearer light for life, than the latest phone.
'I am the light of the world' says Jesus. Who managed life very successfully without gadgets, gizmos, gewgaws. And still provides light, to stumblers in the dark like me, and millions like me.  

Saturday, 9 June 2018

The 'Rambling Rector' rose

We moved into this house last August, and began to plant a garden in what was a bare patch of green, surrounded by solid, but again bare, fences.
The first fruits of this holy task of garden-making are now becoming evident. I'm particularly struck by the profusion of flowers on the 'Rambling Rector' rose. Although it was only planted last November, and is less than two feet high, there are more small, creamy, orangey-scented flowers on it than I can count. In time it will cover the fence- that is the idea- but it will also, if true to type, become a bit of a thug, and need to be radically kept under control. Prune, prune, prune will be the order of the day. I heard recently of one 'Rambling Rector' bringing down a fence-  unattended and rampant, it had become so heavy its support gave way.

I guess I'm talking about balance; unrestrained growth versus something more controlled. Most of us  think we are balanced and it's probably true that most of our friends and family think we are at least slightly out of kilter. I put myself under the rule of the one who said 'I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener'. I do this in the hope and belief I will not turn out to be a thug of any sort, someone who brings self and others crashing down; but that with appropriate pruning, and feeding, will produce something of beauty and use - a life well-lived for God.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

It was the feast of Corpus Christi earlier this week; I had the privilege of presiding at Communion on the day. Corpus Christi goes back to the thirteenth century, in part due to the lobbying of a Belgian religious who after her death was canonised- St. Juliana of Liege.

The central notion of the day is to give thanks for the service of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion; it is more usually remembered as part of the events of Holy Week. Juliana's thesis was that its place can be somewhat overlooked in the rush of events leading to Jesus' trial and execution. Hence a day where it stands by itself, and due consideration can be given to its 'weight'.

As a priest, I see people's faces as they take communion. Few others do. I have written before of the devotion of older folk who at pain to themselves, will kneel to receive the bread and wine; the struggle of some disabled folk to come to the altar rail to receive. I have no idea what goes on in people's hearts and minds as they eat the morsel of bread, take the sip of wine, but I sense their thankfulness, their love, their devotion, to this simple but profound act and its meaning.

'I am the bread of life' says Jesus in the gospel reading for Corpus Christi. To see the faces of the believers on that day was to believe it.