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

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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

on autumn and brueggemann

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I’m curled up in the rich Autumn sunlight, looking at the last of the yellow leaves on the tree outside the window. I just noticed these leaves – lingering when all the others have fallen. Directly in the sun’s gaze, I guess the leaves know they’ve caught a good spot and are soaking it up, every last ray, for just a few more hours.

Autumn this year has floored me. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m taking more notice, but the leaves seem to have stuck around a lot longer than I expected. They began to turn not long after September, very much in line with our shift into a new season in every possible sense. Move outs, move ins, new jobs, new vocations, new routines. The leaves turned as we did and I was grateful for their companionship. Continue reading

on wandering with the right guide

During Easter weekend we spent some time in Knoydart, self-christened the ‘last wilderness in the UK’. In a way, it’s probably better to go to the second-last one as lots of people seemed to have the same idea as us in wanting to see the LAST one. But a day of walking back from the village into the mountains and the label rang more true.Image

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unearthing creation

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We are told that all Creation is groaning. “Groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Creation cries out through its slow burning into fullness. 

There are seasons when we feel that deep unease which lets us know that we too – we fearfully created beings – are a part of that groaning. I guess in the same way that (so I’ve heard) during childbirth contractions which speak acutely of what is to come ebb and flow, the awareness that we are part of the greater groaning of all Creation comes and goes in waves. Continue reading

of jumping in – and surfacing

So much has happened lately that I feel I’ve dived underwater and am waiting now to resurface. Trouble is, I seem to have grown accustomed to life below – a nagging sense that I’m growing webbed feet.

And the whole time there has been silence on here. I’ve scribbled words, thoughts and observations down in my battered black notebook that have followed me around.

But I never felt brave enough – or able – to join the dots and tell the different stories. And I feel poorer for it.

Continue reading