Friday, 29 February 2008
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Our weekly management team meeting over-ran today – making me late leaving for home, and therefore missing tonight’s quarterly church members meeting. (To be honest, I haven’t shed many tears over this.)
The drive home was tricky in places, as cars and lorries were battered by broadsides from the wind.
But the sky was fantastic. I guess that all of the high clouds had been blown away, and the sky was a wonderfully clear blue, melting into a yellow-grey sunset at the horizon. The only blemishes were a few scruffy, grey clouds being chased across the scene by the wild winds. Then I spotted a flash of pink in the sky, and I realised that it was the vapour trail from a jet. It was catching the colour of the sunset – beautiful!!
The image doesn’t do it justice, but it helped me unwind at the end of a long day.
Monday, 25 February 2008
Sunday, 24 February 2008
It’s actually a question that I have asked myself round about this time every year. We grow autumn-fruiting raspberries, and they need to be pruned in late winter. But just when is that? Well, it’s before there’s any new growth – defining things by the absence of something is not entirely helpful. Anyway, pruned they must be.
There’s a logic that says, ‘These are tough plants, you won’t do any harm’. But there’s an equally logical position that says, ‘This is Scotland! You can get snow in late April, so it makes no sense to cut them now’. But if you leave it too late, you run the risk of damaging the new growth.
So why am I boring you with this (assuming anyone’s still reading at this stage)? Well, as I spent a very productive morning sorting out my raspberries, I thought that there were various metaphors and parables emerging.
Sometimes we need to prune things in an apparently harsh way for them to be fruitful – even when this seems counter-intuitive. Acting too late can do more damage than being a wee bit premature.
Pruning alone will probably lead to a decent crop of berries in the late summer/ autumn; but if you also weed thoroughly and provide a mulch of compost, you’re more likely to get a fantastic crop.
Since we garden organically, there’s a real pleasure in mulching with home produced compost, and knowing that the pruned raspberry canes will be shredded and used to mulch our other fruit bushes (blueberry, blackcurrant and bramble) is quite satisfying.
Then there’s the promise of fruitfulness in place of dry, dead canes – albeit with a healthy dose of faith needed.
Finally there’s the benefit of being out in the fresh air for a couple of hours – and feeling physically and spiritually refreshed as a result.
Here’s hoping for a bumper crop from the raspberries and the thoughts that emerged this morning.
Friday, 22 February 2008
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
I’ve been thinking a lot today about transformation. To start at the beginning – yesterday my ‘praying in colour’ doodle in my journal was rubbish. It was bland, uninspiring and didn’t stick with me for the day – it was so dull that it didn’t get as far as being coloured (it’s still a pencil drawing). But today was a bit different …
I was reading a passage from Acts 1 this morning where the disciples are described as being “constantly in prayer”, and I was thinking about how you get to that state. Is it repetition or discipline or giftedness or …? Whatever it is, it’s certainly about being transformed – and so my mind wandered over to Romans and “be transformed through the renewing of your mind”. This stuck with me and became the doodle of the day.
Then I read a bit of Heschel, which said:
“Mindfulness of God rises slowly, a thought at a time. Suddenly we are there. Or is He here, at the margin of our soul?”
So I’m thinking that to be transformed, we need to start to change – step by step, no matter how slowly until we reach a state where the transformation seems real (if not complete). When we realise that we are a butterfly not a caterpillar.
Then as I was driving between meetings at work and listening to a podcast from Speaking of Faith, I heard a fantastic, amazing, humbling, uplifting account of profound transformation. I exhort you to take the time – about 55 minutes – to listen or watch this, I am convinced that you will be moved and encouraged.
I’m not going to spoil any of the story, but it reminded me of Gandhi’s saying:
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
And to paraphrase – you must be the change you want to see in yourself!
Monday, 18 February 2008
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
The problem with letting something tumble around in my head for a while is that I then have to untangle it to make any sense of it. So here goes…
If the soul is dyed by the colour of its thoughts, what does it look like?
Well, it can’t be a single colour. We are complex beings, with lots of influences and thoughts. If we are one-dimensional in our thinking, then we’re probably not thinking at all.
Could it be balanced and whole – like a rainbow? Not in my case!
My thinking is not very well ordered or structured –so it’s definitely not tartan.
It seems to me that it must be random and individualised. At times it may be chaotic – difficult for light to penetrate.
I also think that it changes continually. The question is does it change through growth or blend with the background of our lives? Are we soul chameleons?
Well… I did warn you that it was a bit tangled up!!
Monday, 11 February 2008
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Then I went to a small specialist shop (where I should have gone in the first place!). There were a few people in the shop, and only one person serving, but somehow it didn’t seem to matter. There was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and no sense of hurry – each customer got the level of attention that they required.
The customers before me – a mother and her daughter of about 11 – paid for their goods and went away, leaving me as the only customer in the shop. I asked the woman who was serving for some advice, and as she started to explain the options, the mother came rushing back in with her daughter. Full of apologies she explained that her daughter had lifted a small article, and shortly after leaving the shop had reminded her mother that they hadn’t paid for it. There was clearly no intention to steal the item, just an absent-minded moment. I was heartened that the girl herself had spotted the mistake and was honest enough to draw it to her mother’s attention. The shop assistant dealt with it calmly and efficiently, without any sense of annoyance.
Then I had her undivided attention. She explained the options, suggested that I should avoid the more expensive articles, and highlighted the most suitable bargains. She didn’t show any impatience with my daft questions. As I was paying she went off to get a leaflet for me, explaining the range of products that were available if I wanted to make any further purchases in the future.
The result – a happy customer, who will go back there as the first choice in the future.
Small acts, making a big impact. There’s a lesson for the high street shop if they can be bothered and there’s also a parable in there waiting to get out!
Friday, 8 February 2008
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
we need threads of
we need a lifetime of
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Monday, 4 February 2008
A new dawning
with a glimmer of hope,
a chink of light,
through a blanket of darkness
When I lift my eyes
what do I see?
Bright hope for the day
or the overcast blackness
that meets my eye?
Do I see the day’s problems
lying in wait,
or the opportunities before me?
Can my hope outweigh my disillusion?
And even if the dark clouds
fill the day,
I will cling on to that promise of light
and think what tomorrow might bring,
with a new dawning.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
This is not the blog that I intended to post today, but my thinking was overtaken by a combination of things that I read this morning.
First and foremost was a passage from Luke’s gospel – the words of Jesus that struck me were:
“The kingdom of God does not come visibly … because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
This is an extraordinary/revolutionary thought – not because it turned the religious thinking of the time on its head (which it did). But, if the kingdom of God is within us, then we contain/constrain it. We must release it in the lives we lead – our acts and attitudes.
The integrity of the kingdom depends on our integrity.
The demonstration of God’s love depends on our love… And so it goes on.
Then I turned to John V Taylor’s “The Incarnate God” (and I quote at length):
“The true meaning of the prayer ‘Your Kingdom come’ ought to be a subject of supreme importance for all Christians…
…this is why Jesus invented the parable as his particular method of preaching. A parable does not convince people by arguing; it simply offers the truth to their imagination as a gift to be taken by those who have ears to hear and ignored by those who have not…
The second innovation which Jesus brought to his preaching of the Kingdom was to call men and women to live the life of the Kingdom here and now in anticipation of its arrival… we must be like him and reflect his nature in all our relationships.”
All of which left me with a question – summed up by Heschel:
“We cannot endure the heartbreaking splendor of sunsets. Of what avail, then, are opinions, words, dogmas?”
My conclusion, so far as I have one - how we worship through our living will always outweigh the words that we use.