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Showing posts from March, 2015

of the difference between breaking and breaking open

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loss as gain.

prayer as losing (anger, pride, fear), and therefore gaining.

letting go, giving up, giving all.


these sorts of phrases dotted the sermon this morning at Greyfriars. In a tangential way, I felt a making sense of things begin somewhere deep within.

The depression got bad again recently. Really bad; there were days when all I was capable of was lying in bed and crying, reeling at the physical, emotional, cognitive agony that is this illness at its worst.

Sometimes, well, usually, there is something that triggers a downward trajectory for me. Stress, lack of sleep, grief, exhaustion, worry: and they usually all circle around each other like a pack of scavenging crows over a weak and vulnerable animal.

The money situation got really bad, reaching the point I was afraid it would. What steps I have been taking to avoid that point are yet to bring any physical income, and they may, even then, not bring in enough. This made me quite scared, anxious, worried. Cripplingly so.

Was …

Mark 14:3–9 - interpreting the story through performance

The story of Jesus being anointed is part of the gospel reading in the lectionary for Palm Sunday. I told this story recently at the Methodist Church in Edinburgh.
What follows is the interpretation I discerned through gestures and emotion, bringing my whole person to the text as an embodied being, part of the wider body of Christ, in order to make meaning of this portion of our sacred inheritance.

I return to the story as I search for the words with which to compose a monologue for Jesus, imagining him reflecting on Palm Sunday, for our walking tour through the stories and Edinburgh's Old Town next week. I offer the reflection as a conversation partner for others approaching the stories of Holy Week. I am experimenting with how I want to shape such reflections on performance interpretations of biblical texts.

I have laid it out verse by verse, sometimes line by line, and made comments on the points at which gesture, expression, emotion and audience showed me something of what the…

musing on Bible portions for the coming week

creative engagement with the lectionary : from a communion service I will be leading at New College this week. *

Year B. Lent 5.

Psalm 51. 
I plan to invite the people to listen to a contemplative (slow, with pauses) reading of the psalm as a prayer of confession. we will sing Trish Watts's 'Yielding' (Sanctuary) as an affirmation of grace. I like to allow people time to linger with the assurance of forgiveness; contemplative singing is a wonderful way to invite God's forgiveness to resonate.
this song will be sung again after the reflection, as people are invited to write words or names on the shape of fruit in prayers of intercession for situations in which we long for seeds of hope and the courage to break open those seeds for hope's full potential to be known.

John 12:20–33
What follows is the basic outline of the reflection I plan to offer – for our weekly celebration of communion, a brief 2 – 4 minute reflection is shared, so I may still need to edit this a bit…

defiant company

for those who sat beside me through a dark and stormy day,
reaching love across time and space 

what will the black dog take
from this encounter, this latest
attempt to stand, to deliver blow
and plunder all the joy and life from deep
inside?

what will the black dog take
from meeting human shields and swords
of light that shimmer through the mist
it hissed in my direction?

the black dog will not take
wounds to bind or lick;
its life
            it will retain.
but it will not be permitted to take from me more
space than it was given, will not make
of its corner a residence to call
its own.

as light fades a world away, it has been sent
to stand guard around me, a cobbled rampart
drawn from other lives and generations.

what will the black dog take from me,
scrape from the flesh beneath its claws?
a lesson will it take, a message sounding up
from empty jaws and un-pricked ears –
hear this, black dog foe, black
dog companion, this one here is loved, is not 
alone – 
              should you ch…

the blessings and the burden of a full plate

It's been a tough week.

I feel exhausted and I am not entirely sure why.

A new job, perhaps, and the consequent unsettling of any rhythm I had managed to establish. A new job is also tiring because you have so much to learn. This job is physically and mentally challenging because you're on your feet for the three or four hour shift, in a zone of six kids all working through their own program at their own pace and you have to help when they get stuck, record a summary of their work for the parents, and motivate, encourage, and otherwise manage the myriad moods and personalities of the group.
I am sure it will get easier, the energising element will outweigh the exhaustion of it, and my little explore learning oasis will provide balance. But we're not there yet.

The new job came just as I was at the end of a virus, which lingered, but surely must be out of the system by now. It certainly compounded the initial exhaustion of the first few weeks of the job.

As the new job bega…