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  • Reflecting...

    I took this photo at around 7 p.m. yesterday.  The Clyde looking absolutely idyllic with near perfect reflections of the surrounding buildings.  What a beautiful city.

    Ever since lockdown, I have made a point, whenever I go for my 'permitted exercise', of snapping some photos.  Last night, on the eve of the first significant easing of lockdown in Scotland, 'reflections' seemed like a good theme for my photos, and I was fortunate to get some really lovely ones.

    Reflection can also mean 'thinking over', and as I walked, I pondered the changes that have slowly unfolded since March, when the UK-wide lockdown roughly coincided with the spring solstice.  Back then, it was dark when we got up, and when we went to bed, now the days stretch out with, mostly, clear blue skies.  The daffodils were in bloom when I began snapping, and now there are roses.  So often, as we near summer, the leaves on the trees are already looking grubby and tired, but this year they are fresh and green (though the prolonged dry spell is having an impact).

    For me, the most significant reflection has been on the choices I have made of what to comment on, and not, what to share, and what conversations to tune out of.  Had I faced 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the photo above, the record would have been very different - people who cannot count to eight, let alone two; people who seemingly don't know that Friday comes after Thursday, people who think 20cm is the same as 2m.  I could have chosen to get annoyed or angry, or I could do as I did - as I do - and concentrate on the things that are lovely, truth-bearing, upbeat, encouraging, energising.

    As lockdown eases, across the entire UK, it is possible because most people, everywhere, did as they were asked, at least most of the time. I  would rather choose to focus on that positive than the (totally legitimate and necessary) anger at high profle individuals who perceive themselves as beyond the law.

    This is a beautiful city, on a beautiful island, on a beautiful planet... this is, for me, for now, enough.

  • Finger Labyrinth

    A Finger labyrinth for lockdown life, shared with me and others, by a minister friend.
    Some of us enjoy walking prayer labyrinths, others may have beautiful carved wooden 'finger labyrinths' to use at home, and still others may never have heard of them.
    This picture is one that you can print out and use, if it's helpful, either with the guides provided or simply for your own prayer.
    How does it work? Simply 'enter' the labyrinth at the top, and trace the path with your finger, perhpas notcing how you get closer to, and then further away from, the centre before finally reaching it. Then either take the quick route out, or simply retrace the route back again. Take you time, perhaps pause at each numbered 'blob' for a moment of prayer such as...
    'Into your hands I commend my spirit'
    'Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy'
    'Jesus son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner'
    You can't do this 'wrong', so just have a play - and a pray - and see if it's helpful for you.

  • Table Fellowship, Last Suppers, and other Rememberings

    This morning I read a post on social media from someone who lives alone, is researching theology of communion as table fellowship, and has now eaten almost 200 meals alone since Lockdown began.  I did a quick count back - the last time I shared a physical table with anyone was Friday 13th March, a full week before Lockdown.  I had invited a group of church folk for a meal, a regular practice of mine, and because of the guidelines in place at the time had stressed that anyone even the least bit unwell should stay away.

    Since then I have eaten more than 200 meals alone.  That's salutary only in so far as it is normal for so many people who live alone.  It's part of the reason that our Coffee Club began a practice of staying on for lunch, allowing those of us who live alone the treat of company and no cooking or washing up once a week!

    Over the past weeks, I have been far more intentional about meal times than ever before.  I am a bit of the 'food is fuel' mindset, often gobbling my meals at me desk or standing up.  It's only ever really been 'food is pleasure' when I do it with others.  But for now I can't do it with others, so I make more effort - witness the photo from Monday's Day Off breakfast treat, table laid, food set out, book ready to read (a good one btw).

    Intentionality seems to be my 'go to' word at the moment - I am being much more deliberate, slowing down, making more of everything, and that has to be a good thing.

    I have no photos of the meal on 13th March, but I know who was there, what we ate, how laughter rang in the air, and anxiety bubbled beneath the surface, at least for some of my guests.  It is a precious memory, one of the 'last suppers and other rememberings' that are part of my life.

    As I've pondered all this, and more, I've recalled the last meal I ate in Northampton, after clearing my mum's flat: I went to Debenham's cafe (now I believe closed down)where I ordered a strawberry tart and a pot of tea. It was a sunny day, the strawberries were sweet, the tea good and hot, I can picture myself sat at the table by the wall.   Out of that experience I wrote this (now published) reflection:

    Whenever you do this, remember me:
    In broken bread and poured out wine -
    Or pots of tea and strawberry flans -
    Take a moment to pause
    Deliberately call to mind this moment
    And what it meant
    Live the memory
    Re-live the memory
    Remember the meaning
    Re-member the meaning
    Because every time you do
    You restore the moment,
    Renew the promise
    Recreate the meaning
    Until the day when all things are made anew
    In God’s Kingdom of Shalom.

  • "Lean on me," says God - A Poem/Song by Lucy Berry

    This beautiful song/poem is available free of copyright/royalties

    It seems as though our world is at a halt:

    sickness in the air, but no-one’s fault.

    Lord, how did this happen overnight?

    We are in the dark and there’s so little light….


    And God said: “Lean on me, lean on me.

    I AM here right now, so you can lean on me!

    I have been here all along, I will be the One who’s strong,

    this is when you lean on me”.


    Dear God, we’re in a Wilderness for sure,

    in a place we’ve never seen before:

    lost, and poor in heart and weak of soul!

    How is it that we could lose so much control?


    And God said: “Lean on me, lean on me.

    I AM here right now, so you can lean on me!

    I have been here all along, I will be the One who’s strong,

    this is when you lean on me”.


    In fear of flood, or flames, or Lion’s Den

    That’s when we remember God again.

    That’s when we begin to hear God say

    “I am with you always. And that means today!


    So children: Lean on me, lean on me.

    I AM here right now, so you can lean on me!

    I have been here all along, I will be the One who’s strong,

    this is when you lean on me”.


    God, what a lonely time this is to bear!

    Staying in, and thinking no-one’s there.

    Lord, You’re always here through all alarms.

    How did we forget to climb into Your arms?


    And God said: “Lean on me, lean on me.

    I AM here right now, so you can lean on me!

    I have been here all along, I will be the One who’s strong,

    this is when you lean on me”.


    Yes! God said: “Lean on me, lean on me.

    I AM here right now, so you can lean on me!

    I have been here all along, I will be the One who’s strong,

    this is when you lean on me”.

  • Zooming Marvellous!

    Yesterday Zoom had a massive wobble, rendering much of the UK unable to use it.  There are many theories and possible reasons for what went wrong, but amazingly, our connection lasted out for the service, even though a lot of people didn't have video, and a few kept dropping out.  We managed to get a full recording, and it was available online by close of play yesterday, which is no small feat by our techy folk.  Apparently one journalist suggested that 'the church broke Zoom' - not sure that's true but it's amusing.

    Today all seems well, so far as I can tell.  So, many more zooms in prospect this week, one way and another.