Showing posts from October, 2015

Throwback Thursday lines of poetry


Midweek Musing: finding my way to understanding

Eek. It's Wednesday! The weekly fire alarm test, which alarmed me as usual, didn't tip me off at lunch time, so it's very late in the afternoon as I finally remember my practice of posting a

This afternoon, I have been preparing a reflection for worship with a congregation in Stirling this Sunday, in which I have decided to use part of my PhD focus letter to reflect on the lectionary portions declaring the Great Commandment.

Yes, it is a blatant exercise in consolidating time and energy.

It is also taking the story I am inhabiting and inviting it to make meaning today. This is the practice of my thesis, so I am using every opportunity presented to me to practice.

As I inhabit Paul's letter to the Romans this week, his words are becoming my words to the congregation in Stirling, his hopes my hopes, his prayer my prayer. I am finding it quite profound, actually, today.

It has not all been easy going with the letter, however. There are some parts of the letter I am findin…

stories and poems from a year in Scotland


of being many voices, one choir. a weekend in Edinburgh.

This weekend has been full to overflowing, and I take this moment to express my gratitude.

Friday evening I attended the keynote opening talk of the 2015 International Storytelling Festival. Working with world leaders in the UN, World Bank, British Royal Family, and major faith (and non-faith) traditions, our speaker, Martin Palmer, has brought the wisdom of story into conversations about care for the environment, welcoming the refugee, peaceful relationships across cultures. The book he's just co-edited explores the phenomenon of every human tradition carrying within its sacred compositions stories of welcoming the stranger as encounter with the Divine. Many major faiths are at the forefront of various initiatives of welcome for refugees across the world, and have been in many times of crisis through history. This book celebrates these acts of welcome, and highlights this golden story thread woven throughout the human story in all its various shapes and textures.

I felt an affirm…

Stories, Humans, Fear and Love

It's been a while since I shared a video with you, and as the International Storytelling Festival began this weekend (runs all week), with its theme of Stories Without Borders, I have after only one event already been reminded of my (in)humanity story series. So here is another from that series, as performed at Café Voices, Scottish Storytelling Centre in July this year.

I heard the story of St Magnus from New Zealand singer-songwriter Malcolm Gordon, who had the flag of St Magnus in his guitar case, and was composing a song version of the story when we met.

Inspired, and instantly making the connection to other stories I had been collecting, I went home and composed this spoken word version of the story. It is my version, one among many from Orkney and beyond.

Do watch, and share with friends, the story of a man who chose to act with love in response to others' choice to act out of fear.

Throwback Thursday celebration of poetry - to lament


Midweek musing: who do we think we are?

This past week, I endured another virus, quite flu-like in its attack on my lungs and muscles and bones, not to mention my concentration and good humour.

I have always been susceptible to viruses, but it feels as though I have hardly been without the heaviness of viral symptoms for months, as I emerge bruised and battered from a year of prolonged stress.

I have written much of this anxiety over money, knowing I do not have enough for the season of storytelling reflection and practice in Scotland, but also knowing it is right for me to be here, so staying never-the-less.

What I am pondering this week, however, is that if this stress and anxiety has produced such a weariness and diminishing of health for me – a stress and anxiety born of privilege and freedom, me being bound only to my own commitment to a calling – how much more is the stress and anxiety of those being held in off-shore detention at the behest of my country's government diminishing the wellbeing of our fellow human…


Retreat! Pile high the barricades, turn up the heat, get in supplies then shut up tight turn out the light, endure another enemy attack inside and all alone.
Body shot! Wind ripped clean away from icy cage.
Head shot! Stumble, fumble, dazed and all confuddled.
For days you have resisted, bones and muscles stretched beyond their limits, will deflating, white flag raising –
wait! Remove your quilted shield, peer over cushioned walls and regard your enemy, know the terms of your surrender – see – it is not the blackened warrior of old this time, no, smaller bodies this invasion, antlike, viral but not virulent. Put down the flag, open the gate, give in and save your strength to pick your body up

Throwback Thursday gratitude for poetry

'Children Cry for Freedom' was written during a Love Makes a Way protest in Adelaide, in 2014.  Too many vulnerable children, and adults, are still in inhumane detention. 

Midweek Musing: making the uncommon choice

It's not easy being green.

You see, most people are gold. They all start green, but generally seem to be on a progression from green to gold. The ones who stay green longer are usually waiting for circumstances to change, wishing they were gold, trying various combinations until they settle on the shade of gold that suits them. But most people are trying to be gold.

Some, one or two, here and there, choose to stay green. It might be a gold-tinged shade of green, or it could be a bold, confident green.

Now, when someone who has chosen to be green – a bold, confident green – starts wishing they were gold, it is worth analysing this desire through an interpretive lens of suspicion. (Let's ask 'why?')

Is there something wrong with your choice to remain green?
Was the choice made for inadequate reasons, because the change to gold hadn't occurred, so in order to stop yearning for gold, green was accepted, chosen, in defiant response to circumstance?
No. The choice was mad…

of healing, wholeness, and the miracle of love

Today I shared the story of Koala Blue, then a reflection on healing and wholeness with the congregation of Augustine United Church. I appreciated being carried through the songs on Fiona's voice (minister at AUC, she led worship), held in the soulful music of fiddle and piano, praying the poems of Jo McFarlane and prayers of Lewis, and the warm and generous embrace of this community of faith.  Koala Blue is a story you can only hear live until it takes recorded, printed and illustrated form next year.  But you can read my reflection from this morning, if you like. 
mark 10:46-52 The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus
They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy …

throwback thursday celebration of poetry

Mental Health Day is this Saturday.
I will be sharing a reflection on healing and wholeness at Augustine Church on Sunday.

The other #tbt for today is that I made this poem into a video just over a year ago, with Mindshare. View it here, if you like.

Midweek Musing: participating in conversation with living texts

History of interpretation or history of reception has been an important component of PhD theses for, well, ever, or nearly. It is the first task all my biblical studies colleagues were working on when we began. My own thesis is essentially a history of one method of interpretation. But that's another story.

Last week at New College, we were treated to a lecture from Professor Choon-Leong Seow of Vanderbilt University. Professor Seow was presenting an interpretive method that is not history of interpretation or reception, but history of consequence, an analysis of the story and its relationship with its audiences.

Applying this approach to a text from the book of Job, Professor Seow reached the conclusion that programs of annihilation of Jews in Europe could be understood as a consequence of the story of Job. I wondered, as I heard this idea, are we blaming the story of Job for Jewish genocide? Are we to hold a story accountable for the ways in which people have interpreted it, and…

Throwback Thursday celebration of poetry

October is mental health month. Scotland has a Mental Health Arts and Film Festival running all month. I am participating with stories of passion at an Art Café at Augustine United Church, 1:30 each Thursday this month. It's open to all. It's free. Others will be sharing their stories, too. See you there.

midweek musing: living well with depression

This week's blog post comes to you from a long day of hard work, compiling the monthly newsletter, and the Uniting Church's publication, New Times.

On the eve of the month-long Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, for which I am resident storyteller at Augustine United Church's Art Café spaces each Thursday afternoon, I thought perhaps we could revisit some words I wrote reflecting onbeing well when living with depression. This also anticipates something of the reflection I will be offering as guest preacher at Augustine United Church on 11 October, the day after International Mental Health Day.