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Showing posts from March, 2016

Throwback Thursday to a time of transition

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Midweek Musing: of gratitude, belonging, and mutual encouragement

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Recently in conversation with PhD colleagues, we were discussing the ebb and flow of confidence in our work, the mixed feelings we experience as we submit writing to our supervisors, then enter their office to discuss that work.
Sometimes we know it is work in progress, and are prepared, even hoping for, critique of the gaps and weak spots to help us strengthen that piece of writing, more successfully express that argument, fill out that discussion with another point of view. Sometimes we think we might have written something quite good, and our hopes are that our assessment will not be contradicted by our supervisor when we meet.
A lot of the time, we are simply not sure at all. Is our work at an acceptable standard, are we asking helpful questions, making appropriate interpretations – do I even belong here?



I had an interesting thought during this conversation, one that has occurred to me before: I do have confidence in myself as a writer, a scholar. I know I belong.

And it occurred…

Easter's call - will you love?

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on the unhelpful influence of uncertainty

How are you?, she asked.

I don't know, I replied. I honestly don't know.

In the moment, we were around a table, a bunch of women, sharing stories and experiences and wisdom. There was solidarity, friendship, laughter, honesty.

Sitting down at my desk in the half light of dusk, having walked through the cold early spring afternoon back to my flat, I felt as though I would burst into tears.

It feels like nothing has changed.

One year ago I was facing the terror of an empty bank account, not certain I would have the resources to see this adventure through. This year, the accounts aren't as close to empty, but they're heading in that direction faster than is comfortable. I think I can see the PhD through to the end, but may have to make even more sacrifices in order to get there, the consequences of which for my health and wellbeing I cannot predict.

One year ago the darkness was encroaching, enfolding, engulfing. I'm not at engulfed just yet, but I think I am moving t…

Throwback Thursday gratitude for the gift of words

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Midweek Musing: love's restoration

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For Holy Week, a poem and a story. 
The art of restoration
Holy Week.

When the stories we tell narrate the journey through triumph,
expectation, anticipation,
bread broken, wine shared, feet washed, head
anointed for the burial to come; from loyalty to
betrayal, into prayer, anguish and distress,
arrest and swords and clubs and an ear lopped off; brutal
violence of injustice, mocking and misunderstanding.

Holy Week.

When the stories we tell narrate his journey and our
own, through the confronting reality of love
overflown, undermined, betrayed and mocked and
cut to the knees, nailed to those beams – yes, we
go with him, remembering – re-membering,
enacting, performing, inhabiting the story of love
we hardly understand, and which somehow will,
in the end, soar triumphant, carrying all in its wake.




In celebration of poetry

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In celebration of poetry.



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The power of yes!

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Do you remember when you last read a book that moved you, inspired you, delighted you so much that you recommended it to all your friends, lent it out despite your rule because never mind the risk this book must be read by all, bought it as a gift just because?

What if you were that book to someone?

What if your gifts, work, presence in a community was thus appreciated?

What if someone shared your poetry, recommended your websites, bought your book as a gift, invested in you because they want you to be shared with others?


Would that, do you think, affirm you, encourage you, inspire you to keep doing what you do, be the best version of you that is at all possible?

Might it make up for the times others put your book down, aren't inspired by your work, prefer the poetry or research project or facilitation skills of others?


Will you, when you are inspired by someone, moved by their work, delighted enough to share your experience, do just that, in gratitude and affirmation of the beaut…

sleepy Thursday poetry throwback

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'Turning the sandman away' features in new poetry collection The Only Constants

Midweek Musing: juxtaposed

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The older I get the more I learn to embrace life's inherent juxtapositionary nature. So many moments of joy are tinged with some sadness or grief. Even in the midst of my darkness I have found a reason to smile or be grateful or even to laugh.



sarah tells stories, my public 'face' as storyteller, poet and minister, is growing in so many ways.

The full performance of the letter to the Romans has been received by its first audience, received with affirmation and warm appreciative welcome. (There are friends who want to read more on that, I know, but I am still working out what I can and want to say, given this is for a PhD thesis and there are rules to follow, and despite my usual practice, these ones I don't think I will bend.)

The Only Constants poetry book number two – is published and ready to be received by old friends and new.

Collaborations on (in)humanity with musicians and hosts will see me dust off my beloved stories, shelved while the letter was the priority,…

The Haar

damp curtain, off-white silent wave from ocean sky pulled across the glass


New Poetry Collection: The Only Constants

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And now, some very exciting news just in time for your weekend retail therapy sessions: my new collection of poetry is available for purchase.


Also available from Amazon / Amazon UK

Welcome Human - sarah tells stories in Adelaide this April

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Workshop
Performance - The Letter to the Romans
(in)humanity & poetry launch

favourite lines of poetry for throwback thursday

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Midweek musing: practicing presence

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It is Wednesday. On Wednesdays I post a 'midweek musing', a kind of disciplined practice of writing, a regular 'presence' in this space.



This Wednesday, I am paradoxically empty of all thoughts or musings, and also brimming with the connections and ideas I will pick up and ponder one by one in great detail over the next year.

Today I present the embodied interpretation of the New Testament letter to the Romans I have been preparing for the past 6 months – or 9 months since the first year review board, or 18 months since I arrived in Scotland, or years of dreaming and planning in Adelaide. This performance is a test case for a new approach to biblical interpretation I have been playing with for a while. This performance will be filmed and the recording form a chapter of my PhD thesis.

And when it is done, I will continue to rehearse for one month more, taking the performance to Adelaide in April to engage with the letter with a different audience.

When that is done, I r…

Focus, breath, presence

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As I finalise preparations for the performance of the letter to the Romans, I am ironing out the transitions that are not going smoothly, polishing expressions, strengthening gestures.

I feel like Derice in the movie Cool Runnings, in a very short scene (watch here, then go on to enjoy the end!) in which he sits on the floor in his hotel room rehearsing the track, the movements of his body to guide his bobsled, his team, safely and successfully down the hill.

I, like Derice through those photographs in his imagination is in the sled taking those corners, in my imagination am inside the story, building into each section awareness of what follows, preparing for the transitions even as I speak this current paragraph.

I am inside the letter, it is inside of me.

A few more days of sitting on the hotel floor with photographs, training the body and the mind, breathing deep. Then I go to the top of the hill, no three team mates or coach; but a crowd cheering ready to bear witness to a story …

Another poetic Throwback Thursday

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Midweek Musing: guest post on entering communion with our whole selves

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This Sunday as I sat in Greyfriars Kirk for gathered worship, I listened to the reflection and nodded assent. Immersed as I am in the task of embodying the Sacred Story for my PhD project, I delighted in this affirmation of the whole person in our relationship with God. I was going to write something inspired by what was spoken, but actually have decided to invite Martin to speak again here, as my first ever guest blogger. 
This week's musing is the reflection offered, with my deep gratitude, by Martin Richie, Artistic Associate, Greyfriars Kirk; PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh. 


“For that doctrine maun be maist effectuall and moving that waulkens and steirs up moniest of the outward senses; that doctrine that waulkens not onely the eare, bot the eye, the taist, the feeling, and all the rest of the outward senses, man move the hairt maist, man be maist effectuall and pearcing in the saul. Bot sa it is, that this doctrine of the sacraments movis, steirs up, and waulkens moni…