on making space for the roots

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This Lent, I’m jotting down some of my thoughts in relation to food and simplicity over here. The problem with dipping my toes into an idea like simplicity is that gradually, the current draws me in and I realise just how far I’ve come upstream – how every corner of my life has become prey to the busy-and-crowded. The unsimple.

This became especially apparent this morning as I woke up, tired from a full week, and knowing that a full day lay ahead, and the next day, and the next…. Of course, this is due to choices I have made and when I am out doing this stuff I forget how I wanted to curl up under the duvet and say no to it all just a few hours earlier. It’s only every now and again – normally last thing at night or first thing – that I feel thinly spread.

There’s an anxiety that comes from knowing we are created to have feet firmly touching the earth and yet they’re flying over it as if racing towards some ever-deferred goal. That’s the anxiety I feel on mornings like this. Continue reading

on vulner-ability

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Vulnerability. Risk taking. Bravery. These words I have held close to my heart, readily dished out as I talked with friends . How I have tried, oh I have tried, to be intentional about living more deeply into these things. Being more of these things.

Fast forward to early evening in Paris. Weak light filters through the windows. We lie eyes closed, stealing glances every few minutes. We’re of course staring at each other through these half-closed eyes until we both catch eyes at the same time and are forced to acknowledge the silence. Continue reading

on a less-than-perfect start to a year, and second chances

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. John 1:1-3

This year has gotten off to a shaky start. 2013 was full and challenging and nourishing and I am g-r-a-t-e-f-u-l. I didn’t want to let go of it, as evidenced by the spilling over of 2014 happenings in the 2013 journal, this year which I haven’t been ready to embrace.

This year, I know, holds much of which I am afraid. Changes in the tide; changes in circumstance, career, life-patterns, friendships, church, family. Much of which I wish I could just halt for a while, hold at arms’ length. Continue reading

from manger to margins

In all of the Christmas rush my thoughts were pulled back to these men. Men whom I can now call brothers, men behind bars and watching Christmas happen through interminable hours in front of a TV screen. Nose pressed against glass, unable to reach through and touch. Those who lament the ‘easy’ nature of the prison system in which inhabitants ‘even have TVs in their cells!’ demonstrate a worrying attitude to what constitutes living.

Life is whiled away in a space so small every crack is seared into memory. The white noise from the box numbs the senses where the drugs don’t, whilst serving as a constant reminder of the life they are not living. Christmas: family, table, celebration, Saviour.

We know Christmas can be hard for many people for many reasons. Any sense that our own feelings don’t match the neon joy blinding us from every angle at this time of year can make us feel pushed to the margins. How far outside the margin they must be feeling right now.

As my heart chewed this over, Jesus whispered again that it is for the marginalised that he has come. He comes in a manger, in a dirty forgotten corner of the town, God incarnate. He came for the margins, he dwells there still and he is coming back for them. From manger to margin – this is where we will find him this Christmas and always.

How I pray this will filter through the white noise and be whispered to their hearts during this season. Knowing that it is for them that Christmas happened at all. Joy of Emmanuel may you rise up in the margins, singing the eternal song which says: ‘I did this for you’.

desert instead of rainforest

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Advent this year has found me stuck on the idea of waiting. In many ways, it has been a hard wait. A desert wait. It was fitting that I happened to be reading Isaiah this month – as I found myself daily identifying with the Israelites as they waited. Through the interminable “how long, Lord?”, holding onto the promise of a Saviour. 

On this side of that Bethlehem night, I know that the promised Saviour is now Immanuel. The promise has been fulfilled – so the wait should be somewhat less painful, no?

Perhaps. But it would be foolish to presume that because we live on this side, the dull nothingness of the waiting is any more pleasant. This month, I have been waiting along with the Israelites through a spiritual desert time. Nothing catastrophic, dramatic , just a lacklustre dullness. Blunt edges and feet in sand. What made this all the more painful was that I was supposed to spend this month in a rainforest, not a desert. Continue reading

dreaming back from the start

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As he told me about his new Big Vision, his wild dreams, I wanted to cheer him on from the bottom of my heart. The desire to cheer was, for once, louder than the more familiar one to voice my doubts and suspicion. I was shocked in that moment about how so often my knee-jerk reaction is to pick holes and hand out a dose of supposed realism. Perhaps I was feeling sentimental, because today – the dreamer won out. Continue reading

on “sorry”, and renewal

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I am always astounded by how God teaches us so much through our flawed human relationships. I’m sure much of it even goes unnoticed – but today my eyes were kept wide open to learn a beautiful lesson.

I met with an old, old friend – a friend with whom I have journeyed the high peaks and rocky places. A friend who once threw up one of the most honest and painful mirrors to myself whilst calling out new and brave things from that young heart of mine. At the time, my fists were deliberately kept clenched, allowing what would have been such precious lessons to slip like sand through my fingers. I hurt and bruised in selfishness and ran away when the time came to reconcile. Those simple words ‘I’m sorry’ were too far from my heart to form themselves into words.

As a result, I never released them and he never heard them. Continue reading

on the messy cleansing – and a tribute to the extraordinary ordinary

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Whilst in Canada, my soul-sister sent me this beautiful blog by Hilary Sherratt: ‘Love on a Sunday afternoon’. I internally  ‘yes!’-ed throughout as she writes so beautifully on the well-worn truth that the most significant relationship moments are those in which nothing extraordinary happens – and yet you are both deeply changed.

I was so glad to have read it shortly before I would need to call it to mind, when an ordinary-romance moment was in order for me. He had taken me headlong into a fairytale, to snow-covered log cabins, muffled in by snow-covered Christmas trees and capped off by snow-covered mountains. The icicles were strident in their own perfection, the fire flickered in smugness at its own good fortune at complementing this very scene. A unicorn may well have wandered into view (snow-covered) and serenaded us. Continue reading

love languages

When all said and done, it’s those hours that I cherish. The hours spent in the green Jeep under the gentle watch of the sweeping mountains on either side.

If God is beyond our humanly-defined modes of communication and we each hear from him in different languages, different ways, ways unique and personal to us, we must each have something precious to teach one another about God’s love languages.

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hugs that heal

MW

This is something I wrote down after seeing a client in prison 2 weeks ago. It is more like a diary entry than anything but forms part of the recurring thread of grace and grappling with ‘religiousness’ so decided to post it now.

Today was the last time I would see Luke* as I finish work at the prison law firm this week. As a lifer who has been in prison for 13 years, he is understandably anxious about his upcoming parole. And this means that visits with him are often fraught with miscommunication and tension. To be honest, I was expecting today to be worse. I had to tell him I was leaving and that level of disruption was bound – I thought – to tip him over the edge.

Continue reading