love song to the woods

blog-potchiAs an adult visiting my parents in my childhood home, there are things which I can be sure will remain constant despite the passage of the time and the changing of seasons. One of these is a warm welcome in the form of a hot meal, anytime day or night, and another is a walk in the local woods with our beloved dog and ruler of the household, Potchi.

I laughed once at my mother, a hospital chaplain, for ‘re-imagining’ Psalm 23 by casting our dog as the shepherd and these very woods as the backdrop for life’s journey; our dog being the one who forces my parents daily – whatever the weather and the inconvenience – into these woods for a window of rest, of breathing and of slowing down.

But this week, I have begun to understand what my mother means. As I walked Potchi towards the woods for the third time in as many days, I felt apologetic towards him for bringing him to the same place yet again. As I don’t have a car, I don’t have the means of taking him somewhere more imaginative. So these woods will have to do… but he must be so bored, I thought. Continue reading

shrugging off the layers

 It has become a near daily refrain now – alongside the panic and fear and too-oft returning into the same cycle of abandonment and blame, alongside the unexpected unravelling – a nascent wondering as to whether what lies ahead may look a lot less structured than I would have dared believe possible, and that that is okay.

There is a curious freedom I am experiencing from shrugging off the old layers – coats and scarves and jumpers and gloves – which don’t fit anymore. It’s been a good two or more years in the making of feeling the rough itch of the wool, the uncomfortable heat rising in my body, sweat forming beneath everything I have layered on myself for my safety, for my identity.

I am always afraid of being too cold. Continue reading

embracing the mystery

mountains

My liberal sensibilities have taken a bit of a knock these past few weeks. Three times in as many weeks, I have found myself in uncomfortable conversations, disagreeing with people whom I love. On issues such as interfaith dialogue. On what it is we ascribe to the term ‘biblical’. On what it means to be ‘pro-life’.

These kind of discussions – in which I invariably inhabit the liberal  corner – are not a new thing. But I have felt jarred by the frequency with which they have cropped up in the past three weeks – three knocks on my heart.

The first and second knock, I responded in my usual way. Stung, angry, righteous – carrying the sheer burden of ‘always being right’ amdist a sea of conservatives as a self-made cross upon my shoulders. I feel ashamed to admit my arrogance – and yet there it is.

But they say good things come in threes – and perhaps this was no exception. Continue reading

month 1 of marriage; or dancing in Love-Light

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I had an idea that I would write some reflections every month during the first year of marriage. Somehow it has been a month already and while I don’t know how that has happened and feel no more like a grown up, I know that deep in my core I am thankful – deeply, utterly and overwhelmingly.

As a perpetual over-thinker and one guilty of taking life far too seriously, I *knew* marriage would be hard work. I solemnly prepared myself for the hard conversations, the compromises, the awkward friction and endless sanding down of splinters that would come from the mystery of two becoming one.

And while I know that all that still holds true, the biggest revelation in this first month of marriage has been just how much Light there has been. How good, how true, how settled it has felt for our two little lives to fall into step with one another. Something changed when we made those promises before God, each other, and those we love. As my mum reminded us in the sermon she gave at our wedding, there is something profound and important about hearing your voice make those promises out loud to the other, to hear the other make them back. Continue reading

patchwork dreams – follow up

Since writing my last post on my dreams for a more inclusive church, I read this post by the fantastic Christiana Rice for the Junia Project in which she gives voice with such grace and beauty (and drawing from personal experience in a way I can’t yet!) to my heart for this issue.

She begins with an explanation of her own experiences as a woman seeking to run after her God and invite others into the story in a way authentic to her experience as a human, as a woman, from within an often male-dominated narrative. She goes on to list ‘5 Postures to Midwifing Local Expressions of the Church’ – well worth a read.

I love these words that she ends with:

The Holy Spirit is gestating and God invites us as partners and co-laborers to faithfully enact our specific gifts to birth magnificent things in the world.

As we explore fresh metaphors I pray our vision enlarges and our passion enlivens so we can join in on what God is birthing all around us.

Amen!

patchwork dreams

I dream of a Church which is represented in the pulpit, in the kitchens, on church councils and elders’ boards, in the pews, in mission, by women alongside men, people of colour alongside white, the working classes alongside the middle, the so called outsiders alongside the insiders – all gloriously subverting what the world would have us believe as the way things will always be to reveal the rich and patchwork beauty of the Kingdom of God.

I dream of a Church where we value voices and stories that are different to our own. That we would embrace discomfort-at-difference – turning away from our kneejerk ‘how can they make this more comfortable for me?’ instead running with determination towards ‘what can I learn about Jesus, about the heart of our God through this person, through this different way of speaking / praying / worshipping / living?’ Continue reading

an ode to Selma and Nina Simone

I listened to this song by Nina Simone yesterday: I wish knew how it would feel to be free.

My profoundly beautiful friend told me that this was getting her through a hard day or two in the office. I had heard it before, but as I listened to it alone a little later on I heard it as if for the first time, tears filling my eyes as the weight of the words washed over me through the melody’s indomitable rise and fall.

I imagined it must have been a spiritual, written during times of slavery. Some quick googling showed that it was actually written in the 60s, but that it indeed served as an anthem for the civil-rights movement. As I listened over and over (as I am prone to do when I latch onto a good thing..) I found it surprising just how much it moved me, how profoundly, well, spiritual, it was, how close it made me feel to the God I know and love in my core. Or not surprising at all, I guess. Songs, ‘dangerous songs’ as Walter Brueggemann calls them, borne from the furnace of the deepest suffering; songs that speak of a wild hope despite all that works to suppress it – no surprise at all, I guess, that flowers that blossom by the grace of God and the strength of the human-meets –Divine Spirit in the land marked by suffering are the most astoundingly beautiful.

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.

I wish you could know what it means to be me; then you’d see and agree that every man should be free.

Continue reading