Showing posts from May, 2015

of love, fear, stories, faith, humanity and (in)humanity

I cannot turn away and leave them to their fate.
I will not turn away, myself alone to save.

These are the closing lines of a story from my series (in)humanity. The story is my version of Raoul Wallenberg's response to the cries for liberation from Jews in Budapest. They are the final words I give to the story's central character.

This week I have been polishing my composition of this story, a work that was begun three or four years ago. In recent weeks, I have finally found the shape that sits comfortably in my voice, my body, my emotions. As occasions arise for the telling of these stories, audiences come before me with whom I can bring these stories to life, I have found that gradually, the stories for (in)humanity are taking their shape, taking their place in the collection.

For 'war. eickmann v wallenberg' the conversation partner has been New Kilpatrick church in Bearsden, Glasgow, where I will be sharing this story and one or two others from (in)humanity this Su…

enough. a dream for the world, beginning with myself

There are jobs we do simply for the money. It is necessary, but often the labour is purely functional, turn up, do this job, get paid and put a roof over your head and food on the table. Necessary.

Then there are the jobs we do that flow from our deepest truest being, that may be hard work but are a joy, give as much energy as they demand. To earn a living this way is truly to live. 
It is a dream of mine that all humans would have the chance to discover their true vocation and follow it. Follow it in order to pursue life, not only a living; in order to encourage life around us, not only to turn the wheels of commerce; in order to eat and sleep and work and play in healthy balance. 
It is a dream for the thriving of all humans. I believe that if we each live into our vocation, we would not be so susceptible to the desire to have more, be seen to be successful, build bigger houses and show off more. I believe that each person living according to their true self would bring satisfaction…

Pentecost poem written during worship this morning

chase the wild goose 

with flight inspired
like singing choir
and life contained no more
lift the roof
on organ wings
with tongues
with Spirit blaze
trail behind a smoky
these fiery days
comfortable no more
alight now, soar
arise, take flight,
each one fly,
fly high, dream wide
your uncommon gifts inspired
live life uncontained
with the goose – wild and free

I was asked by Martin, who was curating worship for Pentecost with a creative flair and flavour, to come to worship this morning open to writing a poem in the moment, to share at the close of the gathering. 
Goodness, I was delighted to receive such an invitation - what a challenge, what a gift. 
And the words came, thankfully (though I had some words from others with me to read if my own did not compose themselves adequately) - and here they are - inspired by the songs and prayers, reflections and feelings of gathered worship in a Pentecost t…

the spirit descends: seeing the table through the flames

pondering the story for tomorrow - the story of the Spirit resting on the heads of Jesus' followers gathered in a room together - I started out drawing the people with flames above them. 
they are gathered around the table. as the picture unfolded,  the table seemed more prominent than the flames. 
perhaps I'm not so good at drawing. that's probably true. 
but I wonder - what happens when we overlook the feature of the story that has this community gathered, together; experiencing this phenomenon, together; encountering the Sacred ... together?  I wonder 

of love and fear in a Dutch prison cell, an Orkney island, and in our every day

Elizabeth was an Anabaptist in the Netherlands in the late 16th century. Along with her husband, she was accused of heresy by the Christians who had power to do so and act on such accusations. Elizabeth was pregnant at the time, so her husband was executed immediately, but Elizabeth was allowed to give birth before she, too, became a martyr for her faith.

The story of Elizabeth survives through a letter she wrote to her daughter; my version of her story takes her words and adds minimal narration around them, telling the story of the consequences of fear of difference, and the courage she found through her love for and faith in God.

This morning with the Upper Clyde Parish Church congregation I told this story, one of those in the series (in)humanity, in conversation with the story of Jesus' prayer for his disciples in the Gospel of John (ch. 17). I won't post the story – its telling is strictly oral, and live, for now; here, however, is the conversation with the biblical story.

lectionary musings : Easter 7

This coming Sunday, I'm leading worship and preaching at Upper Clyde Parish church.

I'm quite looking forward to it.

As I reflected on the story in the gospel according to John, and Jesus' musing about the word in the world, the disciples in the world, I doodled, seeing the word as light / sacred, love, gift, and in the world.

still not crash hot at the doodling thing, but I had fun.

Hopefully I'm a little better at crafting poems: this is what we'll be praying together as we hear of Jesus' prayer for his disciples, for us, and, in our turn, pray for others and ourselves. The prayer is shaped by the hymn we'll be singing between the words I speak - 'It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord' who needs your prayers.

sing refrain

As you remember all God’s children, Jesus the Christ, we remember each other too. We remember the elders in our congregation and our community, those who have gone before us, guided and taught us; those who need the younger …

doodling stories

and now for something completely different

I've been playing with cartoon-like doodling, since our introduction from Geoffrey at The Gathering a few weeks ago.

Here's a couple for tomorrow: for the Bible portions I'm preparing to read in gathered worship in the morning, and for mothers day

on being collaborative in a competitive world

I've been becoming less competitive for a while, now.
Family trivial pursuit games at Christmas are, for me, these days more about encouraging others, enjoying the moment, and celebrating the near misses and successes along the way, to whomever they come.
As I play those silly games of Freecell and Solitaire on whatever device, I've gone from madly trying to better my scores and times, to enjoying a long run of successfully solving the puzzles.
I have lost any interest I might have had in competing in a poetry slam, the more I have attended open mic story and poetry evenings that encourage emerging and established artists alike in a community of creativity.
And I am done with literary competitions, submitting works only to see the same names appear on the shortlists time and time again. I wouldn't enter if I didn't need the money. I am much more interested in people reading and appreciating my poems than competing for whose poem is best. But I have to find ways to ear…

for Mother's Day

... and as it's Mother's Day in Australia on Sunday, another poem from In Prayer and Protest (Pocket Poets #8)

celebration and lament for mothers’ day
as a community, we take time to pause and give thanks for the gift of mothers. shining a light on the gift, shadows fall, and we acknowledge the shadows, too.
We celebrate and give thanks, each of us, for our mother. The woman who carried us in her womb, gave birth to us, brought us into life.
We lament, each of us, separation from our mother at different times, through conflict, distance of place, death. We lament, seek to forgive and be forgiven.
We celebrate and give thanks, each of us, for those who have been as mothers to us; our aunts and pseudo-aunts, big sisters, friends, mentors and teachers. The women who have nurtured, taught, encouraged, shaped us with love.
We lament, each of us, the women who have caused us pain, who have abandoned or neglected us, mistakenly or intentionally caused us harm.We lament the hurt we hav…

a political poem

they're going to the polls here in the UK. Here's a poem I wrote in the lead-up to the last national election in Australia.

campaign sickness # 
I don’t have thoughts about this election, this campaign season of dirty tricks and sledging matches, debates and brainless commentary,* politicking, promises and absent policy.
I do have feelings – or one deep, abiding, overriding feeling:
dissatisfaction displeasure discontent and disenchantment distress and disillusion:
I am disappointed.
in these servants of the people who serve anything but the people
for example: the question of marriage. is it dignified to allow distinction, build a hierarchy of love? or is love, celebrated by the ritual gathering of a community because it reminds us of humanity’s connection, still love, even though the couple do not differ in gender?
or our First Australians: one church of Australia has told the story of the first inhabitants of this land in its founding document.** could we not, at last, inclu…