Sunday, 29 April 2012

Contemplative Prayer

...a shameless link to the most beautiful reflection and artwork on what it means to pray contemplatively, courtesy of Roberta.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Spotted during  our Durham-Iona pilgrimage 2011, Tibbieshiels, St Mary's Loch

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!
  - author unknown

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Falling Upward

                                            Interview with Richard Rohr OFM about his book Falling Upward

‘[T]he task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s live and answer the first essential questions: “What makes me significant?” “How can I support myself”? and “Who will go with me?” The task of the second half of life is, quite simply, to find the actual contents that this container was meant to hold and deliver… In other words, the container is not an end in itself, but exists for the sake of your deeper and fullest life, which you largely do not know about yourself! Far too many people just keep doing repair work on the container itself and never “throw their nets into the deep” to bring in the huge catch that awaits them’…” 
  - From Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Much to get my head round at the moment; not easy when said head is still recovering from  the riches of our Rome visit. There was a lot to take in for all of us in our joint TSSF Area meeting yesterday, with a challenging talk and discussion on 'Adult Spirituality,' or, to be more exact 'Spirituality in the Second Half of Life,' by one of the contributors to the recent Chronicle magazine on faith journeying.  When are we ever not on a journey? We're always in process,  a work in progress I guess. I know my own personal 'inner landscape' has had its fair share of twists and turns; not all ones I'd have chosen either. But looking back over the ground I've covered these last many years, I now realise that one of the most significant concepts I've had to let go of is the assumption that all progress is linear. The image of the spiral is one I've found helpful. You can tell I'm a fan of TS Eliot, can't you?

Yesterday's speaker used several popular models which aim to  draw together knowledge of life and faith stages to offer us helpful ways in which we can try to understand our own and other's journeys: mainly those of Richard Rohr and, one which was new to me, the model outlined in Hagberg and Guelich's Critical Journey.  Another one mentioned, that of  Alan Jamieson's  Chrysalis I'm more familiar with and is my favourite, maybe because I'm increasingly finding myself respond more to visual imagery as I get older.  This isn't unusual, apparently a renewed, (or even a new) discovery of personal creativity is common to the second half of life.

Either way, I've found some of these ideas  invaluable as my life's grown and changed, especially when  I struggled with the church as an institution, it's been like a lifeline for me to know that where I was  wasn't all there is ; the pastures of Christianity are far wider and greener than the field I happen to be in.  Neither does it do anybody harm to realise that the way of living of the cows across in the neighbouring ones are as valid as those of your own, however exasperating you may find them!

To return to TSSF - or indeed any religious grouping or community, the challenge is maybe, to reflect on we can prayerfully use tools like these (and they are tools, not the be all and end all) to resource and support each other wherever we happen to be in our Christian walk. Useful to reflect too, that just as individuals grow and change, so institutions and religious orders too, mature and change.   Though the message and ethos of our founder is timeless, the way in which we live that out in response to society and culture we find ourselves merits  a re-think.

A challenging day...

Thursday, 19 April 2012

When in Rome... remember to take an umbrella with you.  A soaking wet and bronchitic Greenpatch's view of the queue for the Vatican museums earlier in the week.  How does I went to the Vatican and all I got was a wodge of  loo roll sound as a T shirt slogan? Whilst I wouldn't say my time spent  hacking into the papally provided toilet tissue and downing  my Bronchenolo Sedativo e Fluidificante rated up there with visiting the Sistine Chapel, it came pretty close! Both of us went down with the lurgy although happily it didn't spoil our stay in Rome; we managed to pack a fair amount into the four days we were there, thanks in part to some handy hints and tips from a fellow TSSF tertiary, (you know who you are!) A million thanks.

More later perhaps. We got in at 1 am this morning  after a fourteen hour journey and are still trying to come down to earth.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Stations of The King's Cross

A number of people have already highlighted this one: Stations of The King's Cross - an adaptation of the traditional stations of the cross that can be used when travelling the London Underground.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

And they came to a place named Gethsemane

Tenor solo from Stainer - The Crucifixion.

Set me as a seal upon your heart

 Set me as a   seal upon  your heart,
   as  a seal upon your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
   passion fierce  as the grave;
Its flashes are flashes of  fire,
   a raging  flame.
 Many waters cannot quench love;
   neither can the floods drown it.
If all the wealth of our house were offered for love,
It would be utterly scorned.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Spring - It's a Wonderful World

We're awaiting the promised snow here. No sign of it yet; there's a slight nip in the air, but somehow I don't think I'll be dusting down the toboggan and stocking up on carrots just yet.

But in case I'm wrong, here's a reminder of sunnier times: a 'found poem' I made last week; funnily enough a day or so before the trip to sunny Salisbury.

Words were 'found' courtesy of the National Trust and The Big Issue and this is what  they said to me:

Wonder to Enjoy
Remember this, in microcosm, early April adventure.
Start Spring.
The journey is just the start of the artist at work:
Raindrops bouncing off leaves
energy caught on lens; the tightrope walk
striving for conectedness,
lifting the lid...
Spring - 
Keeping faith,
shared growth;
A Work to wonder at...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Everything stops for tea!

I forgot to bring my camera...again! Never mind, you can see The Polly Tearooms, Marlborough,  where I celebrated my *Ahem* something birthday this afternoon, courtesy of my two partners in crime/prayer partners K and Y - just beautifully here. We demolished one cup cake, one scon (scohne?)  one slice of carrot cake and two (or was it three?) pots of tea between us.  What a wonderful surprise! I could get used to this. Do I feel a Teashop blog coming on, I wonder?

Mr GP and I then caught the curry night at our local Marstons, before popping back home to watch an episode of 'House,' the contents of which I won't divulge for fear of putting you off your food!

Off to bath and finish another chapter of the latest Ladies' Detective Agency saga. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Prayer and discipleship

...It is clear that prayer is not an effort to make contact with God, to bring him to our side. the effort to remove everything that might prevent the Spirit of God, given to us by Jesus Christ, from speaking freely to us and in us. The discipline of prayer is the discipline by which we liberate the Spirit of God from entanglement in our impatient impulses. It is the way we allow God's Spirit to move where he wants.
            - Henri Nouwen