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  • A Scribbling Spirituality?

    From time to time I write prayers on this blog, and when I do they just tumble out of my head, via my fingers, onto the screen.  So what is posted is not the product of some careful crafting and editting process, it is my actual praying, as it happens.

    Ths makes me wonder if there is a kind of scribbling spirituality, an authentic way of prayer that exists in the act of writing, that maybe suits some kinds of people more than, say, verbalising their prayers.

    All too often when I close my eyes to pray either my mind wanders or, if I am tucked up in bed, I fall asleep.  I then end up feeling bad that my prayers are so terribly poor.  Periodically I use published liturgies and psalters to try to keep a better focus, but to be honest even these don't always succeed in holding my attention.

    So is my 'natural' prayer style to scribble?  I can recall at the age of seven that when it was our class's turn to lead Assembly at shcool the teacher would ask us to write prayers - a task that came very naturally, and quite often mine would be chosen for use, usually to be read by some other child.  It never worried me that I wasn't chosen to read them, because I kind of knew, even then, that they weren't my personal property.

    I think it's also fair to say that doodling is part of my reflection/prayer style too.  Whenever I have been able to go on retreat, and especially if it is a silent one, I will pack a notebook and some pencil crayons as well as pencils and obviously a Bible.  I have very little skill in drawing (A level Engineering Drawing notwithstanding) but find doodling both therapeutic and prayerful.

    Perhaps none of this should be a surprise - I have always been someone who thinks by writing, developing ideas as I write/type and keeping a sheet of paper to hand to note down new thoughts that need to be explored later.  Perhaps this is why I find it difficult to hone my writing by editting but, instead, do better to start afresh 'fed' by the previous endeavour.

    A lot of words - but I think that somewhere in among them I have recoognised, or named, or both, somehtign of 'how' I am and 'how' I 'do' faith that offers me liberation from the guilt of falling asleep mid-prayer!

  • Circling Prayer

    This week I have written 'circling prayers' for a couple of friends facing unpleasant medical procedures, and they seem to have been appreciated.

    I can recall posting about circling prayers before, so this is not the place to launch into a long explanation of what they are, just to note for anyone who doesn't know, that Celtic ciricling prayers involve imagining, or tracing with the hand whilst turning slowly, a circle around the person praying the prayer.

    Today I feel that I want to pray such a prayer for my blog readers, encircling them in the love of the Sacred Three, or, for those for whom such concepts fail to hold meaning, then simply to circle them in Love...


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep hopefulness within and despair without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep wholeness within and brokenness without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep gentleness within and bitterness without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep courageousness within and abandonment without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep calmness within and restlessness without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep peacefulness within and vengefulness without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep contentedness within and discontent without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    Keep security within and terror without


    Circle them, Sacred Three, with your love:

    All people

    All places

    All creation

    May circles of your love spread like ripples on a clear pond

    Carrying with them blessing

    To the very end of all things

    Until they find their source and their end in you

  • Sanctuary

    Today's PAYG began with this song...

    Take me to a quiet place
    When I can be with You
    And all my cares can slip away from view
    Take me to a secret place
    Where You are all I see
    And everything is how it's meant to be

    If I leave the world behind
    Surely I will find
    Sanctuary in You
    I'm so tired of it all
    I need a place to fall

    Nowhere else will do
    My sanctuary is You

    I never knew there was such grace
    I never want to leave this place

    If I leave the world behind
    Surely I will find
    Sanctuary in You
    I'm so tired of it all
    Ineed a place to fall
    Nowhere else will do
    Sanctuary ïs You.

    Karen Money


    What struck me especially was the first stanza and the idea that "all my cares can slip away from view".  As I head it sung, I was reminded of a once popular worship song 'Jesus, we celebrate your victory' with the (in my view) unhlepful line 'and is his presence our problems disappear' usually accompanied by mumblings of 'oh no they don't' or 'really?'

    The idea that problems 'slip away from view' may be saying the same thing with different words, but for me it carries a different sense, one of temporary respite from the intensity of feeling that can threaten to overwhelm us in tough times.  I have a number of blog friends, web friends and life friends for whom life is very painful or anxious just now, and I know that they need places, spaces and people of santuary - a respite from the storm, allowing them to escape, however fleetingly, from the pressures they feel.


    Sanctuary, a place of shelter in you, Lord

    Not the stilling of the storm, but stillness within it

    Sanctuary in steaming cups of tea drunk at kitchen tables

    Sanctuary in bracing walks along wind-blown paths

    Sanctuary in retail therapy and pamper sessions

    Sanctuary in the other-world of a good novel

    Sanctuary in the rhythmic feel of well-loved poetry

    Sanctuary in the crescendo (or diminuendo) of favourite music

    Sanctuary in late-night conversations live or online

    Sanctuary in familiar words of old hymns and new ('secular') songs


    Sanctaury, shelter, a place to rest, a place to escape for a moment...

    A place from which we emerge just a smidgeon stronger, braver, wiser

    A place we find, ultimately, in you.


    For those who mourn, for those who fear, for those facing uncertainty may you find sanctuary this day.

  • Back to School Preparations

    The last three months (two and a half) have been wonderful but the down side is that my already poor housekeeping standards slipped even further.

    So now it's the 'back to school house clean frenzy' which has already seen me blitz my disgracefully cluttered bedroom, work through a veritable mountain of ironing, clean the cooker, the fridge and the freezer (well the last of these is still ongoing - takes a heck of a lot of hot water to melt that much ice! No auto defrost on this freezer) and sort through a cupboard that was chockablock with ancient storage containers, a large proprotion of which will be joinging the legion of the lost. 

    In between times I have made a pot of soup and some bread (bread machine variety) so at least there will be something tasty for tea.

    Every time I blitz my house I tell myself I'll do better, will keep on top of it, won't leave it so long... and every time life gets in the way.  But then no-one ever did say on their death-bed "I wish I'd devoted my life to housework"!!

    All in all a good way to spend the weekend, and perversely I actually quite enjoy intense bursts of housework - it's the routine stuff that I dislike so much!

  • Last Fruits

    This afternoon I grubbed up and disposed of the triffids (tomato plants) that have graced my kitchen window cill (sill?) all summer.  As I did so, I garnered one final harvest of small green triffidberries:

    002.JPG Not enough to do anything much with (would be a very teeny batch of triffedberry chutney, and I had fried green triffidberries yesterday) but I will put them to use.

    Now I have daylight in my kitchen and, shock horror, a view!

    I have enjoyed growing the tomatoes, which have yielded a steady supply all summer long.  Now it is time to return the plants to the earth as compost, their work complete, harvest gathered.

    That bit in the vine image/parable of John 15 about branches being torn off and burned is not (imo) about worthlessness or waste, it is about a use once the function of fruit-bearing is over.  As my tomato plants and the compost in which they grew go the way of all flesh (and plants) they will enrich the good earth for another season... so the last fruits pave the way for the new growing season.