Lent 2022 RSVPs

This is where I’ll upload your RSVP responses to Lent 2022! Please send your RSVP to me, when invited. Don’t try to upload your own responses here. Sometimes I need to edit for clarity or length. Thanks so much!

Sixth and Final Window!

I feel as if I have already experienced Easter this year and I have a powerful story to share … 

My brother-in-law passed away on Monday night after some difficult last days, and it was very hard to know that my sister was there, like the women at the foot of the Cross, watching the One they love suffer, without being able to alleviate his pain…

A lot of people were praying for them and I was desperate to share with them the hope we have in Christ that this terrible trial was not the final chapter.

For the last couple of days, my dear sister said to us, “I trust you all to carry him towards the light, because I can’t, and I don’t know how to…” We felt honoured and humbled to be entrusted with that mission, but I told her that her love and God’s were one and the same…

In the end, when she felt he was about to pass, she cried out to Jesus to come and take him in His arms, and felt “an immense peace” after he had taken his last breath… 

That night, she sent us a photo of her hand holding his, and it encapsulated what was left, after the fire and the cancer had taken everything: only pure love… and that can never be taken from them as “Love shall never pass away”.

She has now decided to have a service of blessing for him as well as a more secular ceremony, as she wants to say that “It doesn’t all end in a chaos of suffering” and wants to share “this open window on hope and peace”.

I am in awe of her and of her heart, and of how God has used her love and that of all those who walked with them from a distance (most of whom have never met them ). There have been many more Spirit moments, too many to share here, and yes, in the end God DID Easter them.

Please remember her and her four children as they carry on this hopeful but difficult journey. Thank you all for your prayers. Betty F

After suffering comes a deeper joy. Patti F

“Thankfully awakening to His invisible love.” Andre S

We visited Sculpures by the Lake today and felt we should
share this with you. Philip B

I have been reflecting on the work of Joanna Macy and her relationship and writing on ”Active Hope”, particularly with war in Europe. I was also thinking of Julian of Norwich as she is the only medieval mystic to have lived through a pandemic – the Black Death. Matthew Fox has some interesting reflections on this in his new book. My six words: ‘Soft falling rain graciously received energy.’ Eoin M

A need to return to Love. Sylvia L

It’s not quite finished but I have enjoyed capturing a thought each day: https://photos.app.goo.gl/B6yhoMa7mEyNV7yf8 Thanks for a wonderful journey this Lent. Deb G

Jesus, light, love, grace – precious gifts. Sue dP

Jesus holds my head above water. Fiona E

Detached by challenges, captivated by love! Trudy L

My six words – adapted from Isaiah 42.1: ‘My servant, upheld, chosen, delighted in.’ Elaine Col

Two six-word RSVPs!
Candlelight eyes of reverence and kindness.
Beauty in simplicity; elegance of age.
Janet N

My Lent journey this year, in six words is: ‘Three – God, someone else, and me.’ I have also attached my One Line Journal Artwork, which is nearly complete… Lisa W-S

Let stones be, eat living bread. Idina D

Thank you as always for the wonderfully rich reflections that have kept me going. I’m coming to the end of a three-week walking challenge. I’ve seen such beautiful scenery here in Switzerland so here is my six-word memoir from this time: ‘Not the destination, but the journey…’ Alice D

Imperfect but perfect; complete yet incomplete. Geoff R

God’s light will overcome the darkness. Gay H

Nurturing new life, presence and hope. Bob L

Come closer, graceful Eastering, delightful rhythm. Jan C

Wilderness – obeying, fasting, enduring, believing, affirming. Ian W

Thank you so much, Brian, for the metaphors sent today. I felt particularly drawn to Faith is a bird with one wing of sorrow and one of joy. It seemed to emphasise our feelings during this Lent. Sorrow has predominated for us, the horrors of the war in Ukraine and more personal sadness. We were shocked by news of two people close to us who are now terminally ill from cancer, Norman’s cousin, and our next door neighbour, who had been in remission for 10 years. So it has been very important to try to dwell on the good things of life, the things that give us joy and our many blessings in order to keep our faith strong.

Thank you very much to you and the community for the wealth of creativity. I wish you and your family a truly blessed Easter. Diana S

OPPORTUNITIES daily- Faith working through  LOVE. Anne W

This afternoon I enjoyed walking around the lake, in a park, pushing our four-month-old grandson in his buggy. We heard birdsong, the drumming of a woodpecker, saw peacock and brimstone butterflies, graceful swans, a dog shaking wet fur after a swim, drifting white apple blossom and felt the cool breeze on our faces and warm sunshine on our backs. The park was wonderfully busy with people of all ages enjoying being outdoors. It was all so beautiful but I thought how amazing it would be to see something new and exciting. A voice in my head (I call God) said “What if the most spectacular thing you saw today was your own hand?” I glanced at my hand, gripping the buggy handle and thought of everything I use it for.  I looked at the children whizzing by on scooters, the elderly couple ahead holding hands and thought how amazingly and wonderfully we are made.

So my six words are: ‘You and I are spectacular creations!’ Audrey J

‘Patches of God-light, moments of delight’. Nancy-in-Canada (where it’s finally warming up!)  🙂

Travelling more slowly.  Looking and learning. Beryl B

I have two sets of six words:

Wild geese bear lament and delight.
Safely home. Trusting. All is well.

Julia L

For my six words I should like to borrow some from George Herbert: ‘Love bade me enter; accepted, delighted!’ Jill M

God glimpsed in glory and suffering. Mercia F

Lost – found, lost – forgiven, lost – loved. Sarah F

Broken, patient, listening, believing, healing, loved. Ann C

Slowing, circle between.
Joyning, glimpse Hope.

Philippa M

This new day, bold and beautiful. Annabel R

Grief; joy: learning life in paradox. Debbie WS

Thank you so much for such an inspiring Lent. The reflection that has touched me most is the one on dust, followed closely by the one on friendship, but I could have mentioned the two wings! Hence the following six words: ‘Dust and friendship leading to transformation.’ Freda S

I cannot get the terrible harrowing events in Ukraine out of my mind so my six words are: ‘Christ is being crucified in Ukraine.’ Mary H

This everyday, ordinary life – my offering.

(Every year I wonder at the meaning of Easter – and was musing on “This is my Body”; when these words from The Message popped into my head: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”  Which is just what Jesus did; does – in us; in creation; forever. Blessings on you, and this wonderful Lent family.) Sue R

Friday despair transformed to Sunday hope. Caroline C

My six words are: ‘What a friend we have. Jesus.’

Thanks for an inspirational time spent with a caring community. It’s been very precious to me during a period of ill health, the anchor in my storm. Happy Easter to all. Gill H

Embrace the space, light enters in. Liz S

My six-worder is my prayer today. I so love the idea of a winter friend who gives us time to find our feet again… I want to be that winter friend, for others and for myself, but I also ask that for our beautiful world:
 
“Lord, be your world’s Winter Friend.” Lauretta W

God has put Putin on my heart and the six words below captured the essence of the pictures God has given me.

baby Putin
satan’s arrows
satan’s puppet. Eleanor C

Welcoming Light through all the cracks. Liz H

Journeying inwards, gently dissolving the carapace. Ros A

I hid, God pursued, love won! Richard E

Fairground > Wilderness > Relief!  Pause … Endings … Openings. Dianna C

My first set of six words is a list but sums up this Lent for me:

‘Glory, Amen, komorebi, haiku, serendipity, apricity’.

My second is more personal to me and needs explaining. In the first week I slowed down and ‘saw’ cows . I thought cows were white with black blotches (or possibly black with white or even brown with white). When I slowed down I saw the cows were black with a white band round their middle. I had walked past them many times during ‘lockdown’ and never saw.

I wrote this ‘haiku’:

Sometimes smell roses
Smell and taste, touch, feel and see
Sometimes cows have stripes.

It reminds me to use my senses more. My second set of six words is therefore: ‘Sometimes cows have stripes not blotches.’

My third is: ‘Thank you for forming this community.’ Angela M

‘Spacious place new life future hope’ (with thanks to Psalm 18.19). Andy C

Tadpoles: today’s sign of God’s faithfulness. Howard G

Within the uncertainty, love reigns supreme. Sarah W

Daily reflections, going deeper, growing taller. Paul B

Pain, glory always God’s encircling Love. Sue T

Freedom to play, laugh, be, live! Kerry A

Rhythms, seasons, breaking, listening, transforming intentionally. Shefali

“In His footsteps, I have life.“ Heitor

‘Small steps every day my child.’ A huge thank you to you and everyone in this wonderful community. Claire H

Even the mundane 
Is precious time.

Gail P

Childlike messyness with friends under trees. Judith M


Journeying through darkness, slowly light enters. Marian K

After listening to the song this morning, I reacted differently to my six-word offering:

Long winding path
Dark clouds
Godlight.

Coral S

I’m always amazed at your Godincidences. Mark O

Holding together the thread of hope. Marian C

“Slow down, be in each moment.” As a do-er, you have inspired me to really work hard at being more reflective, more “in the moment”. My mindset has been (for so many years) to always be looking at “the next thing” and not being present. It’s a good journey to be on – thank you! Ian S

Empty hands, love circled, peace, delight. Susan L

Dot B

Long winding path
Golden hopes
Love.

Coral S

Looking for God in all things. Elaine Cooper

Wonderfully cradling, enfolding, perfect love embracing. Caroline H

Thankful for glimmers of light and hope. Jenny H

Practise hope. Light candles. Trust God. Julie M

Come. Be. Rest. Encounter. Grow. Love. Simon M

A new season, figuring it out. Darrel H

‘He came with Love my God
 
Rescued was I from the darkness
 
He taught me hope, joy, love
 
I have peace in his promise
 
Helped me carry love to others
 
Thanks be to God, the almighty.’

My Story. Lynn C-W

Remove the stone; unwrap me please. Louise R

My six words: ‘Choosing to find delight and hope.’

On hope – there is an encouraging tale of a hope sunflower maze in Scotland. It talks of sunflowers following the sun but when clouds darken the skies they turn to one another to draw strength- as our community has done

Gillian M

Spring springing, new life, new hope. Stella E

I am blessed to be on a two-week solo retreat in a place called St Francis Bay…  I’m going over all the reflections all slowly during this precious season of Holy Week. My six words: ‘There is fullness in the emptiness.’ Kay R

‘Inspired words en-light-en my soul’

It has been another pure de-light. My thank-you sung with the carefree birds this morning. Linda dPx

Some six-word thoughts:

Shadows, signs of Light source somewhere!
Each day a discovery of Love.
Unexpected encounters with Love Divine, humbling.

I’d like to share some lines from a Fisherfolk song called ‘Compassion’ which have sustained me over the years. I offer them for all who are suffering, especially those in this community of Love who have shared their pain.

‘Don’t hide away your grief in such dark and lonely places,
Don’t waste away your tears but in weeping share your life…..

… for I would like to cry with you, to share your deepest sorrow,
To be within your weariness and wake with you tomorrow,
And I would like to laugh with you and teach you that delight
Can walk beside deep waters, and compassion is their child …’

I’m sending love ❤️. Celia J

‘Eastered soul: luxuriating in uncluttered moments.’ Thank you so much for an amazing lent series. Michaela T

Thank you for all of the six words headings. They have been very helpful. I have thought of: ‘All singing under the same sky.’

Inspired by this exhibition which documents migratory birds and refugees in the most moving way. Derek Robertson’s project is one to watch, and has become even more profound as we contemplate yet more destruction in Ukraine.

But also inspired by the Lent book that we are studying ‘Saying Yes to Life’ by Ruth Valerio, which studies all of creation. And also your own reflections on looking closely at the smallest thing and relating to the interconnectedness. We are in this together. Cathy J

 this comes to me lest we forget…borrowed I know! ‘The government is upon His shoulders.’ Philip C

Here are the six words Jesus is saying to me: “You are Mine – do not fear.” Cilla W

Lent… desert dryness, but soul restored. Sue R

My six words from Luke27v12: ‘Consider the Lilies, how they grow.’ Anne M

‘It is written…serve Him only.’ Claire P

Prepared for change, ‘be-wondering’ and renewing. Neil KB

Godlight: led by faith from darkness. Pete F

Watch the birds, wait, learn, trust. Hilary M

In the beginning was the word. John 1v1
I am the alpha and omega. Rev 21v6

Love unending, Praise the Lord, forever!

Rod S

..

My shared journey through this time has been characterised by trying to be more open to the ‘dazzling opportunities’ each day offers. The awesome gift of returning swallows remains a very strong, personal Lent joy and I can recommend a beautiful song by Martin Simpson called ‘Dark swift and bright swallow’:

‘April sun on Slapton Ley
Between the lagoon and the haunted sea
I was thinking of war and cruelty
When spring’s first swallow split the sky
And I was lifted above all care
as the swallow swung through the salted air
Come from savannah and desert and sea, to mark another year for me.’

My six-word memoir: ‘Be present to each day’s possibilities.’ Trevor P


‘I remember being chosen and loved.’
My six-word sentence came from a powerful memory released while prayerfully walking a labyrinth at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley, AZ. Flushed with an outburst of tears as my whole body remembered being embraced in complete adoration and safe love as a small child, I became elated and deeply nurtured by this joyful memory – when all my needs were met by a solidified family. I was about 3 or so. Profound.

(The beauty and significance of this memory is that it’s the only one I have from three generations of family being together in an abundant, safe experience. Soon after this, crisis and dark tragedy struck members of each side of my family and then a few years later my parent’s partnership unraveled, as did the safe soil in my life.)

This joyful memory took me back to knowing truth I have felt the Lord long tell me: He has always been there, like Aslan was for the Shasta, in A Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis.

A picture of “a man in the maze” by Hopi artists is the visual. The other part to add to this story is about nature. The color of the stones, the smell of the fresh desert and the site of the red rocks on Camelback Mountain brought back the sensual memory of remembering this in my youth. Remarkable!  Jenna R

This week I am taking some leave and walking the Malvern Hills. Imagine my delight when, as part of today’s walk, I climbed Worcestershire Beacon and found not only the Ukrainian flag but also the Lord’s Prayer blowing frantically in the wind across the hills! So my six words are:

Ukraine and us; Our Father shared

The discovery of it was also the fifth blessing I had listed as the day went on, which I shared openly with the unknown couple in the picture who arrived just after I did and commented on the delightful surprise of it for them, too! The other blessings of the day were waking up just before sunrise which I was able to view from my bedroom window (see photo), seeing the bluebells just starting to make their presence known as I started my walk, resting for coffee and cake (!) and listening to the skylarks (not something I ever get to hear in London!). Fi P

LOST AND FOUND. LOVED AND TRANSFORMED. Paul and Mary R

Darkness. Dazzling Creation. Hope. Love eternal. Jan B

Be content, at home, take delight. Brenda T

Lighting the candle, judgemental thoughts evaporate.

He hears my pleas and cares. Katherine C

Resigned, applied, God opened the door. Marian M

‘I love you more and more.’ (I have come closer to Christ and God this Lent.) Jane A

Invisible love doesn’t hide it enhances. Jane R

I couldn’t do this 2 weeks ago, and now I can so here’s my 6 word memoir: ‘Jesus sitting with me, not judging.’ Thank you! Janet M

Every day a gift from you. IreneW

Jesus, separated from God, for us. Fiona T

‘Christ makes his home in me.’ John H

 I’ve been finishing my poem Soloveiko (which is Ukrainian for ‘nightingale’, and also a term of endearment.) I know it’s not six words but I felt it summed up our evening prayers for Ukraine each day.

Soloveiko

Sing, sweet nightingale,
Sing.
Sing your beautiful song
into  the heavy night
and cheer the chilled hearts.
 
Sing, sweet nightingale,
Sing.
Sing your beautiful song
into the desolate dawn,
and heal the scarred beauty.
 
Sing, sweet nightingale,
Sing.
Sing your beautiful song
ever more loudly into the hapless day,
and drown the pounding thuds with your melody.
 
Sing, sweet nightingale,
Sing.
Sing your beautiful song
of joy and hope,
of the return of Spring.
Sing, sweet nightingale,
Sing.

Coral S

(PS My six words: ‘Shadows quenched  by light, Spring returns.’)

‘Perfectly imperfect, perfectly Loved, a Delight.’ (Amen.) Sue W

..

‘Let go and let God’s love.’

(Especially grateful for the concept of the path out of the Lent Journey looking forward with curiosity and creativity.) Brenda B

Journey encapsulated in one word: Love. Stella P

“Here I am,
led by God”

fiona vw (noticing another layer to my six words – a reflection of Palm Sunday… if the donkey could speak!)

Wings of serenity, life in fullness. Ian M

God’s love is in my garden. Lois E

Before you do anything. Do nothing. 

(This just stopped me last week.)

Thank you, Jan B

For me, two sets of six:

two steps forward, one step back.
is still progress, so keep going.

Jonathan R

PRACTICING letting God into every moment. Jo H

One step closer, another step tomorrow. Denise B

To see HIS presence in nature. Brian K

We’re on the train to Newcastle, and I’ve rarely felt more pride towards my Warrior-Wife. In the midst of intolerable challenges, she’s maintaining a brave face to give us a ‘normal’ experience. I have no words for my admiration. Therefore, my six-word-memoir is: 

Overwhelmed by love, despite the pain. Martyn S

‘Stretched yet Eastered, be yourself, loved.’ Thank you for a wonder-full series. Helen S

Connected by a longing for peace. Steve P

Don’t tidy pain, sit in hope. (Thank you. Next Monday will be a sad day with no BD in my inbox!) Lauren F

My six words are:

Jesus Christ, The Cross, Suffering Love.
This my blood shed for you.
The community of love is all.
Thank you Brian for your Love.
And lastly on YouTube,
The Prayer Matt and Savannah Shaw.

Mike S

Digging deep displaces rubble for blossom. Harriet C

‘Simple gift without signposts creatively Homing.’ Elizabeth C

Unexpectedly, joyfully, thankfully discovering new life. Alan C

Messy, uncertain, stuck? Creative curiosity beckons… Rachel R

I’ve long been a fan of the term Wabi Sabi as it validates my love of the ‘imperfect but beautiful’ in my life. These chipped enamel bread, flour and cake tins have been within the family for years and years and are now used daily in our kitchen; apart from their obvious appeal, I think of the hands of loved ones (especially my late mother-in-law) removing and replacing those handles, as I now do with my less than perfect arthritic-y fingers.’My six words, ‘Inhaling His loveliness this Monday morning.’ (The other pic is from my kitchen window!) Meg

Perfume, Anointing, Crying, Drying, Kissing, Preparing. 

Garden, Praying, Pleading, Perspiring, Fearing, Surrendering. 

‘Do this in memory of me ‘

Jesus, my Anam Cara, thank you.

Vincent M

A bruised reed, but not broken.  (Inspired from Isaiah 42 v3) Kate S

“Joys and sorrows, hand in hand.” Hazel R

Walk, talk, look, sing, smile, love… Libby MS

Death, life, love, light, hope, restoration… and breathe! Matt L

Embrace imperfection and live fully now. Judith D

The thrumming of love in darkness. Rae M

Messy me, trusting God, I pray. Julia S

Grateful for much, expectant for more. Karen S

Annie H

The six words that came into my mind when I asked God what story He might tell of me were: “You are dust destined for glory.” David H

Life; the sorrow and the joy. Polly R

Touched by two wings, Encircling Love. Deb G

As we prepare to move house after 33 years, my six words would be: ‘Letting go for fresh new start.’ Jane T

There is One, other than me. Elizabeth C

This lent series “let the light in“ has been powerfully illustrated in our home as we had two new windows installed into a previously very dark room . My six words cover both my physical and spiritual environment: ‘Walls broken down, light floods in!’ Alison M

Live the ordinary moment as sacrament. Chris C

Help me, hold me, heal me. Liz S

Slowly growing more vulnerable and authentic. Jean W

Eyes towards Light, Courage whispers “again…”. Rachel W

Bound, sorrowful, wearied  – released, loved, inspired. Marion C

PS OR ‘Come and see, came and stayed’ – sorry you have set me off now! 

Delight in, trust in, have peace. Joy H

God loves me. I love God. Ciaran M

I see you; you see me. Sue H

Every moment: a challenge, an opportunity. Paula K

Relaxing my grip, I am held. Simon W

Widowed,  Lonely, but thankful for friends. Anne G

Dearly loved daughter arriving today. Relief. Sarah G

Encouraged by acts of creative resistance. Susanne I

Spirit is shaping me; slowly, steadily. Karen L

‘You can lay that burden down’. Robin D

Sun rising, day beginning. Thankyou Jesus. Venetia N

Patiently waiting for gift and transformation. Sally B

Love love, love Love, Love, Love. Tristan MS

Pausing, turning, and bracing becomes facing. Diane R

Rediscovering God’s grace and love together. Philip B

Lament and hope in beautiful world. Miriam M

Fifth Window

It is late in the evening and the wind is howling outside and whistling down my chimney.  ‘The Spirit blows wherever he wills.’
Journeying through the wilderness, slowing down to sit with Jesus, and savouring the awareness of his presence, recalled lines from a hymn which has often brought me much consolation and comfort:

Lord God,
your light
which dims the tars awakes all things
And all that springs to life in you 
Your glory sings.

Your peace presence giving strength
is everywhere
And fallen men may rise again
on wings of prayer.

The Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh, was a man who was very familiar with many journeys through the wilderness.. Lines from his beautiful poem ‘Having Confessed’ resonate with much of what has ben shared  in the community as we journeyed together through Lent.

‘We must be nothing.
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material, 
We must not daydream tomorrow’s judgement – 
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for his hand.’

Sleep well. May the angels sit on your pillow. Fond good wishes. Vincent M

I’ve really appreciated this version of ‘There Was Jesus’ by Demi Lee Moore & Riaan Benadé. I hope others do, too. Colin D

So many wonderful thoughts  and pictures for our minds this week, to take us further into Lent. Much has concerned noticing and appreciating the small, the inconspicuous, sometimes the less than pleasant things.

Having read Ross Gay’s suggestion that we look for’ hidden delights’, off I went to my local (small) garden centre plus post office in search of seedlings and compost. I asked if someone could help me to the car with the large compost bag – but there was no-one that day. Whereupon a young woman in the  PO queue said, I’ll do it – with pleasure! I made my way to the sliding door with a rather awkward large box of seedlings and another lady sprang forward and pulled it back as she said, ’Those look lovely!’ Of course on reaching my car I put a finger in the air and said loudly ‘delight!’ times two!

I loved the reminder, among so many others, of our new crescent moon waxing towards Passover as Jesus journeyed on his last two weeks on earth. Jesus, the bread of life. Jan B

When I looked out of my window for the first time with “seeing” eyes I saw the Man on the cross on the old  gnarled tree. Thank you for your wonderful meditations, God bless you deeply, Helga S

This morning at 4.45 am my dear friend died. I had been waiting with his wife for the days beforehand, standing with her for support. I couldn’t sleep after I got the news, so I got up, and lit a candle, and thought of meeting and greeting the dawn. Snd I wrote this, remembering and being in the moment, and thinking of your devotion that mentioned “Just like me.”

A cup of tea

It’s 5am in the morning
The waiting is over.
“The boat has come across the river called suffering,
Which every soul must pass,
To reach the kingdom of heaven.
And the name of the boat was called love.”
Tears come uninvited, as I give into long held-off grief.
I can’t think properly. 
I feel useless to ease my friends entrance to this new season she has now entered of widowhood. 
I get out of my bed of comfort and warmth.
Light a candle, and sit with the dancing shadows it makes on the wall.
Reaching for a prayer to say, as my own words won’t come yet.
I need some help to guide me.
I know – a cup of tea. That is what I need.
Why, in the moment of grief and sadness, does a cup of tea seem the right thing to ease things?
A ritual almost of love we share. 
A connection in the
Fellowship of suffering. 
I notice the dawn chorus of birds as night gives way to light.
And stepping outside with my candle,
I listen to their song when my own voice deserts me.
I let them carry the tune of thanksgiving of life, of love, of praise and the hope that some things remain constant.
The turning of the earth.
That night will give way to new day, however long that night might be,
That the light shines in the darkness.
As my soul and spirit is filled, lifted and nourished on the 
Performance of the dawn chorus,
And new strength is imparted,
I lift up my cup.
A cup of tea.
There will be many more cups drunk together on this journey through grief.
And we will share in the cup of blessing as well as sorrow and remember, .and weep, and laugh.
Ah yes, a cup of tea.

Shefali

I am in a very low time in my life due to family disasters. Your thoughts have often got me through the morning.Thank you. Hazel A

Like so many of our amazing on line community I have very mixed experiences and emotions within all aspects of life over the past two years. The input from the community really does help to stay connected with the loving, creative things of God that help us towards thriving rather than just surviving. 

This time of year is the anniversary of the loss of my sister to suicide, which sadly neither her doctor or any of us as her family saw coming. She would be so proud of her children and grandchildren. We think of her every day and have to leave with God the why’s.

One of the positive things I have done for a long time and more so since lock down is to spend a lot of time with the scriptures’ prayer and meditations first thing of the day. Prayers cover everything I am aware of – including this community – every day and I bring it all together as a cry from my heart for everyone and everything with the following words every day.

Praying to the Lord 
“For the outworking of your purpose for each one of us. 
For our mental physical spiritual emotional health healing wholeness.
For the search-light of your Holy Spirit in every dark corner.
For your light in the darkness.
For your transforming power.
For your guidance your protection your wisdom.
A huge thank you for your blessings.
For our relationships one with another.
Your Kingdom Come Your Will be Done.”

With love and prayers, Brenda B

I’ve just started my two-month sabbatical and am listening to bird song and Gods presence everywhere – stilled by God’s beauty. A little friend greeted me, his present to me. Neil KB

Hello, Brian and everybody, and thank you for all the wisdom, wonders and creativity that you have shared this week. 

I loved Pema Chödrön’s “Just Like Me” practice, and when I looked up the whole piece I particularly appreciated the ending – “Through our hopes and fears, our pleasures and our pains, we are deeply interconnected.” That same day, I started reading the latest
book for our book group, Things Hidden by Richard Rohr, and was delighted to find this reflection at the very beginning, written by the Byzantine poet St Symeon the New Theologian, who lived from 949-1022, which describes that same realisation of our total interconnectedness: interconnectedness – not just in theory, but by active participation in that understanding of creation. It ends with these words:

What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essence but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame,
it is the whole flame you receive.

Special thanks to Trevor P for sharing the wonderful and very moving Ukrainian Folksong, which I’ve listened to so many times, and to DeniseT for her sad, deeply loving and appreciative words about Fynn – so beautiful. Sending much love to all, Hazel R

PS This is St Symeon’s whole poem –

What is this awesome mystery
that is taking place within me?
I can find no words to express it;
my poor hand is unable to capture it
in describing the praise and glory that belong
to the One who is above all praise,
and who transcends every word…
My intellect sees what has happened,
but it cannot explain it.
It can see, and wishes to explain,
but it can find no word that will suffice;
for what it sees is invisible and formless,
simple, completely uncompounded,
unbounded in its awesome greatness.
What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as one,
received not in essence but by participation.
Just as if you lit a flame from a flame.

I am both challenged and deeply moved by Kramskoy’s Jesus – grim, stony-faced; facing the ultimate consequence of his surrender to “the good way” – and NOT KNOWING how he’ll get through it.

I’m reminded of Frodo and Sam in Tolkien’s “The Two Towers” (Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy). Already dispirited and uncertain of the way forward…

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam. 

Sam:  I know.  It’s all wrong!By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.      They kept going.
Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

Keep going… Sue R

Definitely taking delight in the small things (especially spring flowers) this week following a week of my husband and I isolating from each other due to Covid. When he finally tested negative again (26 meals eaten apart) that was certainly a joy-ning moment. Marian M

Looking through a collection of poems, I read this by Carol Ann Duffy called Prayer. The first verse really resonated with me:

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself.  So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

God bless, Annabel R

It was Friday’s letting the delight in that really touched me this week and the thought of joy-ning 🙂 My particular delight last weekend was a shy 4-year-old who is in year R at the church school we are linked with.His mum says he sings all the songs from school and church at home but he’s too shy to join in when we’re all together. This week I heard a great song at school that we wanted to introduce at church. He sent me a voice-note (via his mum of course) saying he’d like to stand at the front and help lead the actions. His mum and I didn’t think he’d actually manage to do it… but he did! All went well until part way through when he realised he was in front of everyone and he froze. But his courage brought me (and his mum) delight this week as he joy-ned in. Philippa M

On my morning walk along the canal towpath, two geese in the canal, facing each other, intentionally taking turns to shower the other one’s head, as they turned gracefully in a circle.  

I have no idea whether they were washing, dancing, playing or courting.  But a smile went to my lips and my head shouted out “Delight!”.

Blessings, Jo M

The view from our hill … pausing at midday between the showers. Some warmth from the sun when the clouds move along. Sarah G

The notion of Kintsugi came to mind when reading yesterday about “wabi sabi”, and again today as I reflect on the amazing truth that God knows us fully, accepts us with all our imperfections and can make something beautiful out of our broken lives. What an amazing Wednesday thought!

Thank you for your beautiful reflections which are an anchor in a new environment. Cilla W 🙂

Thanks Brian, I love Twardowski’s poem. The terrible suffering of Ukraine alongside the beautiful blossom, magnolias and other wonders of nature that I have been noticing reminded me of George Matheson’s hymn:

O love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That from thine oceans’s depths it’s flow
May richer, fuller be.

O joy that sleekest me through pain
I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

O cross that liftest up my head
I dare not ask to flee from thee
I lay in dust, life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Amen. Jill M

Here are the latest tiny responses. Thank you for your inspiring reflections.

Day 21 Deeper In (yew tree at Tyntesfield)
Day 22 Dwelling Places (nest, tree church in Oxford)
Day 23 Moments of Delight (window at Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire)
Day 24 Resilience (bamboo, appears flimsy but is very strong in a storm)
Day 25 Bread of Life (Jesus amongst the stones of the wilderness)

Sarah Y

Your message days ago about play, connection and flow restoring the soul have stayed with me. I’ve noticed recently that being a bit freer or more playful does feel restorative; silly dancing in the kitchen with my 15-yr-old son and taking my daughter (13) to a roller disco and deciding to give it a go myself! I also gave a silent cheer for any other middle-aged skaters putting on skates. 😊

Just letting go and not caring what people think is in itself freeing and both times I connected with my kids who would think they’re too old to play, but I know they enjoyed it too. Recommend roller skating if you dare! Deb G

I have been very struck this morning by Jan Twardowski’s words, ‘an invisible love / does not block the view’.

Such simplicity but at the same time a depth that will keep me pondering for a long time. Thankyou. Jane R

This spoke to me this morning as I considered Jesus laying down his rucksack and mine. There’s a lot of things that stop us (me) becoming ourselves (myself); ‘the seed of which You planted in me at my making’.

‘Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me at my making. Out of the depths I cry to You…’ (George Appleton).

Tim P

This was a particularly powerful reflection this morning (Invisible Love). A strong encounter with the Lord, who is love. And seeing Him in a new way… thank you!!

I’ve been praying through this verse these past couple of days – Matthew 26:38. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’

This is the real Jesus: perfect God and extraordinary human. I’ve been reflecting on the word ‘overwhelmed’, but also his call for us to stay and keep watch with him. Such a tender partnership of unity and love, and for me the most wonderful place to be now in the run up to Easter. Simon M

I’ve just been reading this beautiful poem ‘Love’ by George Herbert as part of my Bible study: https://englishverse.com/poems/love. Susan L

The pictures of small birds nests were amazing! I looked through my bookcase and found this book which I inherited from my mother. It was published in 1965.

You explained how the artist sees with love. And the introduction to the book, by Philip Duke of Edinburgh, highlights that the book took 60 years to prepare.

I have been wondering how long Love should or can last. This reminded me that true Love does not grow cold or get bored – ever! We can say “I will always love you“ because that is what love does. Mick L

You talked about seeing a flight of geese in one of your You Tube sessions, and then more about birds last week. Our home group have called ourselves ‘the honkers’ after we discovered the following ‘goose facts’: 

Next autumn when you see geese heading south for the winter… flying in V formation… you might consider the science behind why they fly that way:

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily when they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone… and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have sense we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way as us.

When the head goose gets tired it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs… with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. What do we say when we honk from behind?

Finally… and this is important… when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that. 

Jenny H

Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, to free us of our sins. Let us too forgive one another as God forgives. Amen! Heitor

What a beautiful day it has been. We visited Seacombe near Swanage today. The power of the waves crashing onto the rocks was breath-taking. We sat and watched a small bird as it darted about. So much to praise God for. ‘Even if we were silenced the stones would cry out in praise.’ Luke 19:40 Susan L

Your recent reflections have taken me down memory lane and have made me grateful for the return of some resemblance of normality – like sitting on a park bench (here is the link to my blogpost on this topic AppArt Exhibition opens this Saturday (susanneirving.com). I am also aware that in Ukraine park benches are no longer safe spaces. I am praying that Ukrainians will soon be able to enjoy time on a park bench without fearing for their lives. Much love to the community. Susanne I xx

Your piece last week on how just blossom can speak to us of our eternal home reminded me of this textile piece I had started last year to try and convey the explosion of life that is spring… and so I picked it up today and finished it to share it with you! (I watched blue tits build their nest in the first lockdown and was moved by the energy and perseverance they displayed.) Taking in the beauty of Creation and actively listening to the birds (St Francis said they sang God’s praise all day long!) has been a lifeline to me through the hard times of these last two years. Thank you for helping us all to look better and deeper at it all, and to see His Hand in all of it, down to the smallest of things… Betty F

Walking it off

I took my doubts for a walk in the wood
entered a green cathedral roofed
by sky, saw bluebell carpets, heard
choirs of birds. Faith’s candle flared again.

I took my pain for a walk in the fields
entered a world of graft and gift
poppies and wheat, beauty and bread.
Joy said, ‘I often mingle with toil and tears.’

I took my fears for a walk in the hills
followed the track to every summit
to find fresh panoramas, newer
views, clean air. Courage came climbing back.

I took despair for a walk in the rain
holding my own in a world power-
showered by water, blow-dried by wind.
Out came the sun. Hope brightened with the bow.

Jean W

Wabi sabi. This dying rose had a surprise at its heart. Anne D

You’re message on delight was, well, delightful! Wanting to anchor into the presence of delight on an unexpectedly irritated morning, I chose to explore on paper with an acrostic poem. The result is purely playful! Imagine!

D – diamond-like sparkles glisten in morning sun
E – early cardinal’s call exudes energy for One
L – light bursts life into this new day
I – illuminating a hopeful transcendence way
G – gregariously birds bellow “all is well” with me
H – humbly heartening to Thee
T – timely triggered to receive pure Glee.

May all be well indeed. Jenna R

What fun to be encouraged to write down a recent “delight!”  Thought you might enjoy a smile from what I wrote:

In response to the Canadian men’s soccer team making it into the World Cup, I woke up to a CBC radio interview with little kids on a soccer team.  They were asked if they followed the (int’l) game and what their favourite team was. “The blue one,” said a little girl! That made me laugh out loud while slowly waking up – what a delightful way to start the day!  🙂

I bet the community is grinning from ear to ear as we each think about the wonderful, small things that have brought us delight in the past day! Thank you so much for guiding us there and for everything else you’ve given us this Lent!  Sending hugs from snowy Canada – Nancy 🙂

My dog Fynn is dying and your message today gave me this delight!

The gentle touch on my shoulder, not demanding just a desire to be there, with me.
A beautiful heart felt connection.
A bond we share.
A gift from Fynn to me.
A joyous smile it brings and love flows between us.

Denise T

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37.4) What a day to read this text on Friday! It was our golden wedding anniversary. We rejoiced in the delights – the highs and lows of family life – God’s faithfulness in tragedy and joy. He has spoken to me as I’ve reflected the past few weeks on so many varying texts and thoughts – thank you Brian and everyone.

The same day I read this by Simon Barnes in his book On the Marsh:
“…life is hard, for humans and for kestrels and for everything else, but that doesn’t invalidate the moments of delight that come our way. The ecological holocaust continues, we lose species, we lose abundance. We know all that, we accept all that, and most of us do at least something to make things better or to stop them getting worse – but these hard, unpleasant truths don’t invalidate our moments of delight in the wild world.” Brenda T

‘Whoever you are, the desert can appear over the horizon and night will fall. The black crow will sit on your shoulder and use you and abuse you. But a star will appear in the dark night and shine out, the darkness will not overcome it for He will be with you until daybreak.’  

This is my prayer for Ukraine and the brave and courageous people of that land. Until their dark night ends He will be with them in their suffering as we are with His, on the cross of Calvary. I’m sorry to appear downbeat, but I think we must all be feeling that pain over the last few days. Peace be with you. Mike S ❤️🙏

Thank you once more for your daily inspiration. This and the community is a rich gift. Yesterday you mentioned light and cracks and this has been my experience this Lent as I have found light and delight shining at times through the darkness and all our pain. The light shining through flowers I have seen as stained glass windows, and I painted this stained glass flower.

Sending to all with my love, Sue T

I have arrived at the beautiful Holland House for a two day retreat before travelling onwards to my Stage 2 Ordination Discernment Panel. I am enjoying breathing deeply, noticing in detail the beauty around me. Yesterday I sat on a giant swing whilst doing your reflection, swinging and being still in God’s presence. Whilst walking I came across this sign which I think sums up the journey I have been on in the last few years. It was a good way to start the retreat knowing that God is here in this place with me. Julie P

Dear Brian and the Community, I know how much you all love trees, and many of you have sent in beautiful drawings and photographs of trees. They reminded me of a poem I learned in school by Edith Nesbit. It is called ‘Child’s Song In Spring’ –
           
The silver birch is a dainty lady,
She wears a satin gown,
The Elm tree makes the Churchyard shady,
She will not live in Town,
       
The towering Oak is a sturdy fellow,
He gets his green coat late;
The Willow is smart in a suit of yellow,
While brown the Beech trees wait;
   
Such a gay green gown 
God gives the Larches,
As green as He is good ! 
The Hazels hold up their 
Arms for arches ,
When Spring rides through the Wood.

The Chestnut’s proud,
And the Lilac’s pretty,
The Poplar’s gentle and tall ,
But the Plane tree’s kind ,
To the poor dull City,
I love him best of all.

Hope you all love this poem as much as I do . Eileen O’B.

Can you see them? I had to sit quietly and truly open my eyes to see the three deer quietly making their way through the woods. Shaded and blending in. I’m learning that God is a lot like that. I have to sit quietly and open my heart to God and be patient and trust that He is here, right in front of me. As Jesus sat by himself in the desert, he was never alone and neither am I. Thank you, Brian 🙏🏻 Suzanne W

I loved last week’s piece on ‘nests’ – and on a walk, talk and pray in our village (Clanfield, Oxon) with a friend we were thanking the Lord for the beauty of nature and His creation. As we walked by our village church it was beautifully complemented by a tree in full blossom. The tree, part of God’s creation, the church, built with human hands to the glory of God. With much appreciation for your wisdom and encouragement through this Lent series. Ian S

Thank you for each day during this Lent. You have touched our lives so often and helped us. Thanks to your promptings, these lines arrived on a walk over the weekend.

Notice enough, now;
Enveloping love and grace.
Jesus walks with us.

The sparrow is seen,
Hairs counted. God notices
Even in darkness.

Jonathan R

Here is my response to the painting you shared this morning. Sent with love.

I see you

As you sit on a rock in the desert sand
in the dusk/dawn light of a distant land,
hunger in your belly
no bread in your hand,
I see you

As mind games leave a troubled trace
across your tired and starving face
Divine eyes mirrors
of remembered grace
I see you

As you bend under pressure like a sapling tree
Yielding only to love that will set men free 
Your humanity holding eternity 
I see you
And you see me

Sue H

Yesterday walking along my local New River Walk in the depths of Hackney, North London I saw this amazing messy, giant nest – not all nests are beautiful, but they’re still made with love and care for the cygnets who are to come, I think! I am so thankful for God blessing us every day through his amazing creation and that despite the mess we seem to be making of taking care of it, spring carries on. Joy H

Annie H

Including, once again, Kramskoy’s remarkable depiction of Christ in the wilderness drew my eye to the small arrow head stone precariously balanced in the centre of the picture. It shouldn’t really be upright but for me Jesus is fixing his eyes on this vulnerability; of how it remains upright, point in the air. I think Kramskoy places us, the vulnerable stone, in the centre of the picture with Jesus intensely interested in our situation. With him we both remain standing and (as an arrow head?) useful. Stuart H

A haiku inspired by today’s reflection:

Choices. Stones to bread?
Fleeing from Gethsemane?
Love was His answer.

Many thanks, Stella P

Thank you for you Lent thoughts. They keep me coming back to the centre in a difficult time. Your Monday thought reminded me of a poem I wrote last year:

I want to be 
a carrier of the cross
that is ever splintered, 
bloodied and raw,
and hold it against the
beauty of a blossoming tree
to let it be,
not explaining it away
or nailing a theory of it 
to a door. 

Nicky M

We heard a version of this ‘leaky bucket fable’ last night and it resonates with your thoughts on being perfectly imperfect:

The Leaky Bucket Fable

Two buckets lived in a village. They carried water every day from the river to the people.

One bucket was old, warn, and cracked, and lost half it’s water by the time they reached their destination. It felt terrible not fulfilling it’s sole purpose.

However the younger, newer bucket (without cracks) told the older bucket to look behind the trail they walked each day… The water dripping from the older bucket had watered a beautiful path of flowers.

💐🌷🌹🌺🥀🌸🌼🌻

Gillian M

I woke with a word I heard from you
When deep in my dreams last night
Yet the word I heard in my dreams last night
Was a word I never knew
So I grabbed my phone
and checked out the word
As the word I heard was ‘imbue’
It seems the word means to permeate
To saturate, to be filled
Maybe with a sense of wonder
To delight in life and be thrilled.
So I took the word, delighted in it
Let it roll on my tongue like a fruit
Let your love and grace enter my pores
And your Word in my heart take root.

Meg M

Fourth Window

Re your piece on Friendship and people we may meet – when I lost my husband in 2016, I prayed to the Lord and asked for one main thing, and that was to put people in place when I needed them most, whether that was because I may feel lonely, or need practical advice and help running a home alone. 

The Lord has been true to his word in so many ways. Just this last week, I had help bringing my car Insurance down online which is a minefield to me, and all this happened when as a group of ladies meeting to make an Easter garden, one left hers in the back of my car and I later returned it to her, in the process being invited for an evening meal that night. After talking about bills going up and needing to insure my car, he said he would help me. How I love Gods consistent love and care. Helen H

I heard this haunting Ukrainian folk song called ‘Little Duckling’ on the Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio2 show. The English translation of the lyrics is given below the video clip, but one does not really need to understand the words to be deeply moved by this beautiful and visceral sound, which so movingly laments the current situation. Peace be with you and with this community. Trevor P

A couple of weeks ago we went to see our son play in his university orchestra. The composers of the music they played were Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. There was apparently some debate as to whether the concert should go ahead, given two of the composers were Russian … they went ahead for all the right reasons and it was an amazing concert. Instead of paying for tickets for the concert, we were encouraged to make a donation to help the people of Ukraine.
 
Then I listened to your Thought for the Day, Brian, which summed it all up so beautifully. Music can be a leveller and a healer which crosses the divide. The words of the reporter asking if the man was Muslim or Croat, and his reply, “I’m a musician”, were deeply touching. I was reminded of Galatians 3 v 28 … “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Sue L

God is good & works in incredible ways. A new lady came into the ward and I found out that she is a Christian. Today she was diagnosed with cancer; we’ve been supporting each other with prayer. Certainly a God moment. Pauline S

I’m just trying to pull together some thoughts collected from other people about gifts. As ever, thank you for your reflections. Jo M

I love Walter Brueggemann’s Wednesday Eastering with mercy and justice and peace and generosity. I am privileged to be part of a group supporting Syrian and Afghan refugee families. Scenes of families with children fleeing bombed cities in Ukraine have brought back difficult memories for one Syrian family I visit of when they fled Homs. A family member was killed in her kitchen by a Russian bomb.

All the families are full of gratitude, are able to show joy and laughter despite all they have been through, are generous in their hospitality, and they see new hope and life especially in their children. I’m sure the online community will join me in praying for all refugee families from these three countries, that they receive a warm welcome here and find peace, hope and new life. Bob L

So we are getting through Lent – although there are times, in Lent, I feel like that child in the back seat of the car on a long journey – aren’t we there yet? Thanks again for the rich gifts you are giving us as we travel through this season. Life feels somewhat overwhelming for me at the moment and I have been blessed with gifts from others – their time and their permission to take time out. I was very struck by the line in John O’ Donohue’s blessing On Friendship … and learn to be a good friend to yourself… something I don’t always find easy to do – but am having to learn to befriend myself at the moment.

I don’t tend to describe Jesus as friend – but one of my favourite icons is the so called Friendship icon – Jesus alongside Abbas Menas – just gently guiding. Elaine Col

Here is today’s haiku:

Waking up to love,
Journeying deeper within,
Coming home to rest.

I have been pondering what it means to me to be part of this online community. We don’t see each other in the flesh, and yet through the creative responses and the scrolling chat on Fridays, we are privileged to see into one another’s souls. The community is in some sense unseen but real, just as the spiritual realm is mostly unseen but real. Perhaps I have been slow to realise this – I get it now!

blessings, Jo C

Thank you so much for the wonderful moving Ukrainian Prayer by John Rutter. Diana S

Thank you Brian and rest of this wonderful community for all the comforting, moving and inspiring songs/music links which I have been listening to and they certainly help me to be more in the here and now. This is my haiku in response:

In the beginning,
Did God sing Creation’s Light?
Music is healing!

Jill M

Your message on ‘home’ resonated with me on several levels. I have been struggling, alongside my family, since my sister saw her whole house burn down two days before Christmas, and her husband had to have an operation a few weeks later and was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.Yesterday he had to have a second operation.

For them and their four children, there is definitely “no going back”, literally or otherwise, and there seems to be this great chasm between only a few months ago and now.

He is in pain, and going through the Cross, but they do not have a faith, and he is scared of dying. I am desperate to share the hope of eternal life with them all, but how to do that at this point when I feel like crying on their behalf: “Eloi, why have you forsaken me …?!”  

I am also praying “Easter them…!” and for me, the beauty of spring reflects that hope I need to cling onto…

Your gems Brian, and those of this wonderful community, have been sustaining me throughout. Please do pray that as I journey with them, God would give me the right words at the right time about “the great homing”. Thank you, Betty F 

I met by chance a long standing friend yesterday who told me that he and his family had recently taken a mother and two daughters from Ukraine  to live  in his house. He was greatly moved by the impact the bombing of their village in Ukraine had on them, particularly the young children. He said that through the friendship they were helping him to grasp the reality of Ukraine and how this compared with his lifestyle in Ireland.

I realized that friendship is not only with those whom we know long-term who know us – but it can also be created even in the short term, particularly in times of trauma. Jesus had long-term relationships with his disciples but  reached out to others in help after a brief contact with them. Friendship exists even in fleeting situations! Ciaran M

You invited us to think about ‘home’ this morning and what we might be missing. I was leading an online quiet morning yesterday on behalf of the Community of Hopeweavers (something we’d never have thought of doing pre-pandemic!). I’d chosen Exodus 3:1-5 from yesterday’s lectionary readings as a suggestion for reflection. I found myself thinking about what I miss from the enforced slower pace of life in 2020 and 2021.

As I spent time with the Bible text I noticed that Moses led his flock beyond the wilderness to the mountain of God; and that it was when God saw Moses had turned aside to look that God spoke. I wrote:

When the Lord saw…
(Reflecting on Exodus 3:1-5)

With pace of life resumed
where is the space to wander?
Busy-ed on wilderness paths
there’s rarely time to go beyond.
Yet when I do,
when I allow myself to turn aside and look,
it may not be flames
or the wonder of unconsuming fire 
that catch my eye.
My gaze is drawn
by miniature detail,
droplet-edged leaves,
sky in puddles,
or the beauty of a single flower on
trees ablaze with blossom.
No burning bush here but
just as surely, 
in my stopping 
God says,
This place is Holy Ground.

 Thank you for this weeks thoughts and suggestions and your holding of this Lenten community. Philippa M

I found your reflection on friendship and connection very powerful and it reminded me of a time when I felt like I had lost connection with the inner voice of love that is Jesus.

This poem was written then, and I send it with love to any in our community who might be wondering where Jesus is in the middle of all we are going through. 

When

When I couldn’t find you,
you were not lost,
you were always here,
When I couldn’t see you,
you were not hiding,
you were always walking towards me,
When I couldn’t hear you,
you were not silent,
you were always whispering my name,
When I couldn’t take another step,
you didn’t wander off,
you were always waiting for me,
When I lost heart,
you didn’t give up on me,
you were always making a way.

With love and blessing, Sue H

Your reflections on friendship have reminded me of a poem I wrote in 1995. Back then I had no idea that Zoom would one day be the lifeline to my friends. I am aware that I am very blessed that several of my friendships have been strengthened and new friendships made despite the restrictions in the last two years. My heart goes out to the many who have felt increasingly isolated and lonely – praying that you will reconnect with old friends and/or make new friends in the coming days. (Thank you for the reminder that Jesus does not just want to be our Lord, but is also our ultimate soul friend.) Much love to the community, Susanne I

This photo taken as I was crossing the road a few weeks ago captures something of life right now for many, including me. Occasionally the grey clouds separate and there is a moment of blue sky. There have been many of those small moments this Lent, including with two precious friends who are joining in with this community with me and they are indeed a ‘consistent love of my life’. Elaine Cooper

After Dazzling Weds, I came to my Magnificent Monday. I fell and broke my ankle in January and since have gone from pot (a Yorkshire term) to air-boot to crutches. I had a rare opportunity to go out with my two daughters on Monday to a local reservoir. It was a beautiful day, the water mirrored the trees and clouds as if it was another land. I managed partly to walk and was partly pushed in a wheelchair. We came to a hilly bit and they whizzed me down and we laughed out loud thinking they’d better not tip me into the water. 

So for me it’s back to Psalm 104 and the joyfulness of playing. Zechariah’s description of Jerusalem’s desolation followed by the old and young making their home there again reminded me of the picture painted by an anonymous artist and shared by Kay early on of ‘The Glory in the Grey.’ It has remained with me as a backdrop through these times. Rae M

Here I am! Receiving amazing kindness and acceptance from others – while it has felt as if my heart is breaking – is softening my heart. I am feeling increasingly held by God’s tender love and my heart is healing. Being part of this loving community is part of this. God bless you all. Sue T

The mention of ‘birdsong’ last week touched deep chords and fond memories in my heart. I am blessed to wake these mornings to the dawn chorus of blackbirds, thrushes, finches, robins and wrens. ‘To Him be highest glory and praise for evermore’.

My late Dad had a beautiful tenor voice. One of his ‘party pieces’ was ‘Bird Songs at Eventide‘. On Thursday as I reflected on ‘The Bittersweet Symphony’ I sat in silence and listened to John McCormack singing:

Over the quiet hills
Slowly the shadows fall, 
Far down the echoing vale 
Birds softly call:
Slowly the golden sun
Sinks in the dreaming west;
Bird songs at eventide
Call me to rest.

Love, though the hours of day
Sadness of heart may bring
When twilight comes again
Sorrows take wing:
For when the dusk of dreams
Comes with the falling dew
Bird songs at eventide
Call me to you.

In those precious silent moments I felt so close to my Dad. He revealed to me, in word and deed, the two wings of awareness – life’s glory and beauty, and life’s pain and suffering. Bone cancer gobbled him up. My Anam Cara. Vincent M

I’d like, if I may, to share this blog: Our Lady of Kyiv. Eddie G

Thank you so much for your reflections, which we’re all enjoying (in my small group here in Bristol). Here are my next drawings:

Day 16 – Dazzling (Spirea at dusk)
Day 17 – Awareness
Day 18 – Higher Power (Earth Hour)
Day 19 – Compassion (Grape Hyacinths from my compassionate friend)
Day 20 – Friendship (after the Icon of Friendship)

Sarah Y

This is my ‘waiting oak’, shortly to burst into leaf.

In spring 2020 my husband was courageously fighting his cancer, and we were shielding together for the year. It was an exquisite season; our robin sang lustily from the top of the holly tree. We had most of our meals outside as we watched the dunnocks scuttling about, or the long-tailed tits in groups come to feast – and the red and black woodpecker returned. 

My husband died at the end of that dreadful year; but those days and times, as spring literally unfurled before our eyes in the dazzling weather, will remain some of my most precious memories. Yes, ‘a thousand flowers’ may have been ready to bloom. For me, family and good friends who went the extra mile with unexpected kindness often appearing from nowhere … I am trying and learning, to love life again. But it is hard.

I have loved the words, poems and songs this week – GM Hookins’ scintillating glory of God in that falcon, the delightful Lost Words songs, the positivity of ‘Just like me’ (Pema Chodron) and the practice of accepting everyone we meet as giving us a gift (Mike Riddell). ‘Let the fern unfurl your grieving …’ Jan B

A wonderful reflection on friendship Brian, here’s my response.

Lots of on-line friends
Always receiving notifications of fun
Checking for ‘likes’ daily
But the dopamine hit always fades

Real life friends not often seen
The absence melts whenever we meet
Picking up where we left off
A joy that never fades

What a friend we have in Jesus
Laying down his life for me
Nothing able to separate us
A love that will not fade.

All the best, Paul B

We are preparing to move house in the summer after 33 years. The reflections on decluttering, home and all the uncertainty of the next stage of our lives has been very apt. Jane T

This morning’s reflection reminded us of one of Katherine Venn’s (amazing) poems:

New Year Poem, 16th January 2005

All the maps of Russia stop at Moscow
but home lies somewhere beyond, under
the blue bowl of sky, ceramic, unglazed.
I’ve heard tell of vast forests, immense fields,
black soil. But there are no maps, and
my only clue is a mustard seed wrapped
in cabbage-leaf complexities of skin
and heart. I must make my own way, collect
to myself the riches I hope to find:
a pinecone, a tug of sheep’s wool, a smooth
pebble, a papery seedcase, a sea shell.
I am a riffle in the stream, catching
particles of gold; of light. And if there is,
after all, a home to be found, I need
to see the shining thread, to feel its pull.

Dick V

Seeing the gift in another person via the ‘Just like me’ practice has been transforming this week. Particularly if I find myself making a judgement about someone, or questioning their views if they’re different from mine, or making a snap assumption based on very little. Saying ‘Just like me this person feels uncertain, anxious, threatened, or vulnerable’ means I can better treat them (and myself) more openly and compassionately. And I get a sense of God’s all-encompassing love. Thank you for this gift! Miriam M

Thank you, the words on friends and on difficult people this week have been very powerful. My not-haiku is below:

This Lent

This Lent my path is bumpy.
I can’t sit and be, read, think and create.
My haiku overflows its lines.
My picture stays undrawn.
But my friend sees through my clutter,
and my silence.
Says “that’s okay, 
you’re okay. We’re okay.”
We stop, breathe, smile,
and walk on, together.

Happy Wednesday! Rachel R

I have been playing The Rose, performed by the King’s Singers, frequently and it seems to hold so much of the longing, waiting and springtime promise of the invisible seed ‘beneath the bitter snows’. When the words fail, the beauty of the harmony reaches the heart. Thank you for this Lent series. Dot B

This morning’s email made me reflect on the word home. Since my first marriage fell apart 16 years ago, I have not had a house to call my own. I’ve had to live in rented properties and had to move house every few years at the beck and call of landlords. 

What is home? I’ve often thought about this. In our culture so much emphasis is put on owning your home. 

But Jesus experienced this kind of thing too during his ministry. And God prepares a home for us in eternity. I hold on to these things. They say home is where the heart is. My heart is where my family are and also, I hope, looking to the place Jesus has invited me to occupy in eternity. And in these times, when we are welcoming those fleeing war torn Ukraine,  I am super grateful for what I have. Karen L

As we reminisced about the beginning of lockdown last Wednesday, I recalled that bright spring of birdsong and writing about it in this poem. As we all hid away, I’d kept thinking about Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words, “My heart in hiding / stirred for a bird” from ‘Windhover’. With those bittersweet memories, revived by those days of extraordinary sunshine and then Brian’s Thursday reflection, I feel that I’m hearing Creation’s call, and that of the Creator, more clearly once again. Thank you.

Silenced Spring

Round town the railing posters still remain
Like shiny prayer flags flapping in the breeze, 
Recitals clean forgotten, plays unstaged,
Classes culled, unfinished symphonies.

The cherry’s sparrows chatter unaware,
The darkling thrush still trembles out his soul.
Sing for us now, you creatures of the air,
Until the day our songs can rise once more.

Debbie WS

I’m finding it hard to enjoy the good things with such tragedy and chaos in the world, but did find helpful Hildegard of Bingen’s ‘wings of awareness’.

Please find below my haiku, sitting on the garden bench soaking up the warmth and surrounded by extravagant beauty:

Melting into Spring
Heart heavy with the World’s grief
Joy and sorrow – two wings.

Jo G

In this moment I am feeling that God does things in His time and not ours. We may well be desperate, but God knows the right time to intervene. We must be patient. Amen 😄❤️🙏🤗  Heitor

I think “the community” is fantastic and seeing the picture of Paul B, certainly made me feel a closer connection to him. So, while it’s not something that I would “naturally“ do, my picture includes myself!

Sunday has become a very special day – catch up with the RSVPs! I love the daily emails, of course. But I’ve come to expect top dollar from Brian. Finding myself part of such a creative holy community is something else.

Our community,
Encouragement, inspiration,
Brave friends bringing hope.

I was struck especially by Paul B sharing his picture. I feel in someway that I now know him. Good luck with the half marathon! I took this picture on Saturday here in the Netherlands. One of our early signs of spring is the return of the storks (ooievaars).

Special thoughts for Pauline. Mick L

Thank you, Brian, for another week of wonderful reflections  – and of course thanks also for all the amazing RSVPs. For this year’s Lent series I’m choosing a few extracts from each day’s email and writing them out, slowly and prayerfully, along with relevant pictures. I also loved your Thought for the Day. One of the gifts I hugely appreciate nowadays is the placing of pianos in railway stations for anyone to use – it’s such an uplifting experience to hear them played so beautifully while waiting!  Love to all, Hazel R

My RSVP is another photo from my recent visit to the Isle of Wight – the windhover from reflection #17 – hanging on the sea breeze sent skywards by the cliff face. No need to flap its wings – the smallest re-shapings keeping it steadfast in space. Might I likewise ride the wind of God’s Spirit… Phil S

Last night, we watched a lovely programme on TV by Chris Packham called The Walk that Made Me. He walked from Eastleigh in Hampshire to Winchester along the River Itchen and at the end, up St Catherine’s Hill and on to the cathedral. We have fond memories of walking part of this with you, Brian, on one of your Ode to Autumn retreats. Chris, as many will know, has a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome and this was a walk that he used to do with his father. It brought back happy memories, but also some that were sad and difficult because of his state of mind at the time. He emphasised the importance of animals to people with autism, for him his dogs, but when he was a teenager, he had a pet kestrel that he was very fond of and he quoted the poem The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Birds of prey fascinated him. This walk saved his life and he wants people with autism to hear this. Diana S

I’ll try my annual Haiku Brian 😂.

Walking hand in hand
With you, the love of my life
For you loved me first.

Steven P

There’s been so much richness in this Lenten journey. I’ve realised afresh how much I need to see Jesus as my friend and not my judge. I have an anxiety disorder and when I’m anxious I feel I’m failing and that’s he’s judging me and scriptures like the one about the boat and the storm where He rebukes the disciples for having so little faith make me see Him again as a Judge. But I’m practising breathing in with God saying ‘I love you’ into the core of my being and beginning to sit with Jesus as my friend, not my judge. Anon.

Be – an inner dialogue
Be still
at least sometimes
taking a candle into the depths
of your being, not doing
to deeply know who/how/where you are
for yourself and another
Be here
at least sometimes
not there – past or future
but now, here
to deeply know who/how/where you are
for yourself and another.
I’m trying – in both senses, no doubt.
Stop trying. Just be.

Jean W (with thanks for some words or phrases to Sue H and George Appleton)

Why do I not live rejoicingly in the loving friendship of Jesus?
Why do I feel many years of serving and loving God as best I can are not enough? Caroline H

I came across this First World War memorial on Friday whilst walking in the Centenary Wood in Langley Vale near Epsom Racecourse. It’s entitled “Witness” and is made of 35 pieces of oak. I was thrilled having just listened to “The Oak Song’” you mentioned on Friday’s reflection! Oh, if only these pieces of oak could speak, what would they tell us of what they have seen?! I definitely went on my way saying “Glory” and “Amen”! Sue R

I loved your ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ reflection, as I have been noticing and enjoying birds a lot recently. We moved house last year and are privileged to have red kites circle regularly over our garden – a joy to behold – so majestic and graceful. I am in awe each time I see them, the handiwork of our creator God. Then there’s the friendly little robin who hops along the fence.

And then yesterday, we learned that our elderly neighbour had passed away the day she was due home from hospital after a fall in January. I remember one of our last conversations – we were standing under a tree outside her front garden and she commented on how she loved to hear the birds sing, and we stood still for a moment listening to their singing. A precious moment. Liz S

A low-hanging branch of this willow gave me an opportunity to see its beauty at close quarters and inspired my first haiku:

Bud bursting from bark;
golden splendour of new life.
Glimpse of Easter joy.

Thank you for this Lenten journey. Stella P

Last week I went to Tarn Hows – a place I’ve been to several times before but never at this time of year. It was beautifully stark. The trees seemed to be a metaphor of my life at the moment – one stripped bare – as I wait for our new build house to be completed (will it ever be?) but the promise of new leaves (life) is there – both at the same time? It’s a time, when I make the time, to reflect on the love of God and it could be a time to reflect that love back to others. Marjorie A

Friendship. Walking alongside. Annie H

Quiet time as the day came to a close; noticing the extraordinary array of birdsong now. Thank you Brian for reminding us to stop and take notice. Sarah G

What a difference last week’s beautiful weather made.Here are some photos, taken mainly in Exbury Gardens (in Hampshire!).

They speak to me of the journey this Lent from brokenness, to reflection, beauty, hope and God’s wonderful revelation. Simon M

We visited Corke Abbey yesterday on our way home from a special thanksgiving service in Leeds. Our goddaughter’s little boy was three, and had not been expected to live beyond birth. We sat on the low branch of this tree and thought about all the people that had passed by it. The birds were singing and there were signs of new life all around. A beautiful moment to treasure. Susan L

Bittersweet Symphony struck a cord with me. Halfway through my 2022 Lenten journey I finally found my creative task… to identify, draw and learn the names of the little birds I love and walk past, often without a second glance. I have printed and re- read bittersweet symphony several times it is rich with treasure.

Feeling blessed! Linda dP

Gossamer starlights.
Soft whisp’rings among the trees.
Woodland earth soul deep.

Coral S

I think you’ll enjoy this. It chimes with your Thought for the Day. Colin D

We have a large oak tree in our garden. Last year I took daily photos. It was so good to see it blossoming into full leaf! Pauline S

Pauline

The sun brought the bumble bee
Camelia’s beckoning blooms
Load his pollen sacks.

Dorothy M

I was listening to you, Brian, on Thought for the Day. You talked about the bittersweet nature of music and how it resonates with us in such a powerful way. I then watched this Youtube clip – A Ukrainian Prayer, by John Rutter – and it brought tears, of course. John Rutter is an amazing composer and arranger. But, also, read the comments below the clip. The music evoked such beautiful heartfelt responses. United in grief, love, compassion, people across the world reach out to God and each other. And not only to Ukrainians, but also to a Russian man who expresses his shame and guilt at what his country is doing. Very moving. I thank God for the power and transcendency of music. You don’t even have to understand the words to get what the soul is singing and praying. Karen L

Hi Brian, I thought you might like this, from ‘A New Zealand Prayer Book’:

Easter poem: Living God

Living God,
for whom no door is closed,
no heart is locked,
draw us beyond our doubts,
till we see your Christ
and touch his wounds
where they bleed in others.

Jean W

I liked this quote from the Yorkshire WIldlife Trust’s website: ‘The natural world can bring a lightness to and ground us in the moment, helping anxious, busy minds to slow down, a solace in these concerning times. After a long winter, spring brings new life, colour and joy to our lives. A reason to be hopeful – small, but powerful.’ Helen H

Third Window

.

Your reflection today made me remember this song from years ago. I think Garth Hewitt changed the words a bit last year but the chorus remains the same and is beautiful and powerful.Thank you Brian for your help throughout these days. Love, Jo H

My haiku:

If not you, who then?
If not now, when? This moment
will not come again.

RSVP Please.
I’m me because you’re you. You’re
you because I’m me.

Jean W

I saw this tree when out for a mindful walk – the sun glinting on the new buds. It lifted my spirits, and I hope it lifts others. Mary W

As I sat in my garden, this came:

Earth ready to plant
Flowers and shrubs sway in breeze
Son looks down smiling

David B

‘Blessed are the messy, for they ARE the works of Art’ (Brian D). That is so lovely, as we learn not to aim solely for success or perfection. We learn to try to keep our lives clear and uncluttered and to ‘stay present in the moment’, framing it ‘like a work of art’ as Buechner suggests, referring to a haiku. A beautiful idea! So we can be messy, we can have fun like happy children (Zechariah) and thus radiate light and joy to others. Playfulness. Connection. Flow..

This last week it was so remarkable as the almost bare earth around us, after a day of real warmth, sprang into action and flowers and plants in our gardens sprang up before our eyes – our Creator God bringing us renewal and hope.

Here is my first attempt at a haiku:

The new bright round moon
Heralded my sun-kissed face
The following day.

Jan B

Light as a symbol of God’s presence has been special to me this Lent. Each morning I light three candles and welcome God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. It reminds me that God is already here waiting for me. Ready to light my way, guide me, encircle me – even in the shadows and darkness. I have been overwhelmed by the light of God shining out in love, mercy, compassion, generosity and practical help to the people of Ukraine.I share this song by John Michael Talbot which I hope will allow God light to shine in your heart. For even the darkness is as light to the God who encircles us and indwells us. Ann M

Tangerine ball.
Sherbet spangled sky. 
Spring sunset.

Coral S (I know my contribution is not a haiku but a nod to it, as added syllables  would have spoilt my intention!)

This candle was a Christmas gift this year, introducing a word that was new to me. “Apricity.” I was thrilled to see it come up in these conversations as well. I’ve been using it as my Lenten candle. Delightful! Evelyn S

This was seen in the sky over Kyiv the day after a prayer that angels be sent to fight the good fight in the Heavelies and for protection. Philip C

Birdsong symphony:

In this quiet place
South facing sun brings Spring strong
I am listening.

Claire H

My spirit was lifted yesterday by my first sighting this year of the gorgeous brimstone butterfly (12 days later than last year!). I was truly rooted to the spot in rapture and probably for not much longer than 2.5 seconds – they really don’t linger do they? My haiku tribute:

Sparkling cue for Spring
Ever flitting yellow leaf
The sublime Brimstone.

With joyful thanks, Trevor P

I didn’t pause at 12 noon exactly, but when I did, I sat outside on the little decking area which is always a sun-trap, to eat my lunch, and afterwards took the time to pause and be still. I decided to take a photo of the brightness, and as I did, a butterfly flew right across my view! So, here is my haiku from that moment!

With many blessings, Pete F

Thank you so much Brian for sharing the true gift of “play” and fun. It had been a very special but very emotional and draining weekend with members of my brother’s family whom we love dearly at my beautiful great-niece’s christening. My lovely brother died very suddenly 17 months ago and is loved and missed more than we can say.   

As someone immune-suppressed and vulnerable, the last two years, as for so very many, have been difficult and continue so. And then – as an intercessor, the terrible situation and suffering of millions in Ukraine of course brings much weeping in prayer. 

Hence, I woke on my birthday yesterday feeling burdened, so sad, tearful and feeling totally non-celebratory. But as I read and re-read your reflection, I felt the Lord speaking to me through it and bringing his healing peace. I went on to have a lovely day in the sunshine with my husband – so many cards and messages from friends – and a wonderful dinner and evening of fun with my son and precious family – the first birthday able actually to be together with them in person for three years! Thank you ever loving Lord! Lyn S

Your reflection on decluttering reminded me of J John’s blog on decluttering I read a couple of days ago … someone trying to tell me something perhaps!
 
Yesterday’s thoughts prompted me to write a haiku poem dedicated to my cousin Ed after hearing the sad news of his passing yesterday…
 
Heart heavy, mournful.
Sun sitting, bee watching, calm.
Release, rest in peace.

Sue L

Birdsong and airplanes
Filling the sky with purpose
The journey of Spring

I’ve never written a Haiku before. Written from my prayer bench in the sunshine this morning. Robin S

Thank you again for making lent so special! Some musings on outer and inner landscapes:

Walking, noticing tiny white pearls of blackthorn bursting into star lights.
Celandines, wild garlic leaves,
Catkins and pussy willows;
Fresh leaves burgeoning from bronze to lime green.
Spring has come and new life abounds.
Inside it is still wintry here with news of suffering. It seems so near.
Unsettling, upsetting and frightening.
Reading poetry and listening to music reaches deep within
To comfort and inspire, to trust in God’s all encompassing love,
And risk that reaching out to experience the new life and hope of Spring eternal
That comes through death to resurrection.
May my inner landscape reflect the greening of the outer landscape. Jill M

Love the idea of the 2.5 seconds – just enough time to spot deer in a particular field on a train journey to Portsmouth – I saw four today!

Serendipity or a God-coincidence – I have also been reading Psalm 104 this past week. What a wonderful psalm – so full of energy and humour. I took the opportunity to free-write some responses – I’m just sharing one here – v28 … ‘When you open your hand…’

The open hand of God
An image of generosity, and free flowing grace
Grace to fill us, to support our needs, to renew us when drained.
The open hand of God within creation; the energy of which is ongoing through the natural cycles of the seasons
and through us as co-creators.
The open hand of God seen with Christ on the cross; God’s love spilling through the wounds into the darkness and the pain.
The open hand of God there at the time of death, anticipating the new life to come.

After your reflection on Dust to Dust came across Paul Zach’s beautiful From the Dust – words underneath video. Thank you! Elaine Col

The children at the school I work in had been trying to write in different Japanese poetry forms, so i tried a Tanka.

Haltingly earth stirs,
Flowers beam at the warm sun,
Expectant birds sing,
In pleasure velvet bees hum,
Welcoming the seasons slow change.

Jane H

Your message was very timely today as we are in the middle of a major decluttering project. I have noticed that my mind is often even more cluttered than my environment! How encouraging that 2.5 seconds of focus can already make a difference. 

On Sunday our preacher said that “active attention is the engine of love”. We therefore need to pay attention to what we pay attention to. Attention is linked to “stretching toward” and being tuned – here is a link to the full sermon.

My favourite lines in George Herbert’s poem ‘The Glance’ (georgeherbert.org.uk) are:

…What wonders shall we feel, when we shall see
Thy full-ey’d love!
When thou shalt look us out of pain …

It’s my prayer that we will all experience this one day – our world certainly needs a lot of loving attention and healing right now. Much love to the community, Susanne I

My haiku whilst hanging out the washing this morning on the beautiful island of Anglesey:

The cry of seagulls,
A breeze caressing my face,
Peace within my soul.

Wishing you many blessings, Hilly T

A moment of possibilities… 

Pause, Breathe, body ease –
Disconnect to reconnect:
Uncluttered moment. 

Michaela T

This is my attempt at a Haiku (I’m sitting on a bench bathed in sunlight and listening to the birds in our village churchyard.)

Bird song fills the air,
Sunshine and scents of cut grass
Spring flowers and peace…..

Hilary M

The biggest magnolia tree I’ve ever seen!

Towering blossoms
Break into our riven world.
And the old tin car.

Miriam M

Here are the pictures I have done since last week. Sarah Y

A haiku or two struck me this morning after reflecting on your piece, both very simple.
 
On Sunday morning
Walking, talking with Millie
Delight, joy, fun, love.
 
Lent, time set aside
Going deep in the desert
Choosing life again.
 
I also noticed that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18(a) is almost a haiku in its own right:
 
Rejoice always pray
Continually give thanks
In all circumstance (s)
  
Alan C

The Past is history
The Future is a mystery
This moment is a gift 
Which is why we call it “the Present.”

Found in a late mother’s purse. David H

Thank you so much for your reflections. They are bringing such joy to Lent, which seems paradoxical to say! You prompted me to write my first haiku since school:

Equinox

Night and day. Equal
partners, herald the return
of Spring. Light has won.

Helen H

The haiku I have written was inspired by a moment that literally look my breath away. Sitting in the quiet space of morning reflection, I was struck by the unlikely sighting of a handsome red cardinal landing on the new tree just outside my bedroom window. As he climbed the branches higher up, I felt as if he was calling me to join him outside to play in this new day. As I watched him on this young tree, I was moved in a child-like wonder to discover this red tree is just beginning to sprout! Oh the joyful delight In the moment that makes all things feel fresh and beautiful!

Dwelling in presence
Captured by cardinal song
Red on red wonder!

PS! You know you’re captured in presence when your feisty cat sits at your feet! Had to send since it fits with today’s Lent inspiration!

Jenna R

Just contemplating the tree in our garden with three doves resting amongst its branches. Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Peace, Hope and Love. Praying for Ukraine and Russia. Susan W

I sat on the beach at lunch time, 5k run before work, work email to go back to, but it was fun trying my first Haiku as well as encircling prayer for V – the variety of life …

Apricate oh yes!
Sun warmth rolling waves (and stones)
Breath – begin again 😀

On Sunday I rose for the equinox sunrise and built a labyrinth on the sand before breakfast, and birdwatching – I saw my kingfisher after two years of trying – ahhhh! 🙏🏻😀 

Ian Mac

I have never managed to ‘get on’ with haiku, but relaxed for those ‘few seconds’ and looked out of the window at the glorious sunshine, and then noticed the way it caught the windowsill. The photo doesn’t really show the startling blueness of the bottle, but here is the result of a few restful moments.

Sun strikes the blue jar
The sun itself is golden
The blue is sun kissed.

Kate RS

Thank you for your encouragement to write haiku. This one wrote itself, using phrases from your reflection today:

Ditch the trivial, 
Shift to what’s significant:
Practising Presence. 

Blessings, Jo C

As a member of the Community of Hopeweavers, I’m leading a quiet day in Brockenhurst today. The sun’s shining and the sky is cloudless as we ponder the woman at the well from John 4. What do I notice as I sit in the sunshine?

Cloudless blue sky brings
Sunkissed yellow butterfly.
Promise of springtime.

Thank you so much for all you are sharing with us. Philippa M

I have had Covid recently – I wrote this poem yesturday as I sat watching the river and slowing down, enjoying being outside again and the welcome of spring. 

Soft spring 
You emerge
Gently 
Quietly 
Sweetly 
Your voice chirping 
Breaking through the air 
With melodies
You politely show your face
Surprising the soil 
With delicate colour 
Dressing the tips of the tree branches 
With buds of bloom 
Softly you come 
In the warm glow of the evenings sun 
Whispering a kind
Hello. 

God bless, Morag S

I have had Covid for quite a while in this Lent period. So after reading today’s message, I wrote this for the RSVP.

Covid.

Imprisoned I may be
Covid claims another day of victory.
My body wracked with coughs and cold
The flow test shows another line as this day will unfold.
Disappointment taunts my heart and mind
And seeks to whisper ‘life’s unkind’.
But I won’t listen to the torment of the day
Look up, look out, look far away.
Choose life this day with all its joy.
Look up, look out, look far away,
The gift of this moment a brand new day.
Grace upon grace for those who see,
Not blinded by this mountain of adversity.
So Covid you may claim my body one more day
But you don’t have the last word, this I say:
I choose to look up, look out, look faraway.
My God holds all within His hand
My time is His, my spirit stands.
I will not bow to sickness and all it brings
Look up, look out, look far away
And in this moment, beauty I see!
My spirit arise, my croaky voice gives over and I sing.

Shefali.

love is the 
root of affection and intimacy
is its flower

when I’m looking for intimacy
I realise that
I must start with a love
that grows affection
the flower comes naturally, supernaturally

gary s

Thank you Brian, your reflection on play was an encouraging and uplifting thought to have on the day that I was helping our church ‘Tots Cafe’ to experience ‘Messy Play’. Listening to the shrieks of laughter as they explored textures and sensations with hands, feet and whole bodies reminded me to go barefoot and get creative. Cathy J

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I have been thinking a lot about the idea of winter and how it’s not just a season to get through and escape. It’s a place of letting go, of things seeming to die, icy and cold, cluttered with old growth. It’s necessary for rest from growing, using up energy, trying hard, looking good. It feels releasing to be stripped back even, to bare necessities, and then to go again. And the beauty of a season in Britain is its cycles: spring following winter, new shoots of amazing beauty coming from lifeless and dead branches. That’s what my clematis does each year. Never ceases to delight and causes me to wonder. Andy C

Penitence.

As I diminish, so you Lord increase
Your love and strength for me.
Sufficient is your love and grace.
Trust in me with all your heart

Too much ‘mea culpa” can undermine my fragile self confidence.  I need to hold fast to Jesus and his love for me to find my true self-worth in him. That makes me more secure, braver and truly confident in humility and peace. It releases me from the demands of my false ego which only creates more guilt. Caroline H

Messy things.
I’m noticing the messiness inside.
My inner trembling when seeming outwardly calm.
I’m noticing the messiness outside, which I long to bring into creative alignment and peace.
Lord set me free from having to be good, show me how to have fun with you amidst the messiness.
Amen.

Diane R

Wasn’t the full moon just stunning on Friday?! Moonlight is so very different from sunlight, it is magical – throwing everything into sharp relief. It reminded me of a time more than thirty yeas ago. We were on holiday in the northern Lake District, staying at the head of Derwent Water. We had been out for dinner, we came out of the pub to a glorious full moon and decided to drive along the western side of the lake. The beauty of the scene that unfolded all around us was just memorable. Silver trees against the black sky and silver edged ripples on the water. A metaphor for God’s light lighting up the darkest places of our hearts and the world, much needed. Gay H

Thank you so much for today’s uncluttered moment. It met me just where I was. I am involved in a week of prayer on line which takes a lot of energy particularly technically so I needed to hear what you had to say.

I am so grateful too for everyone’s sharing in the RSVPs. Paul B’s poem hit me particularly today – chronic sapping of life to a new green coat – and the potato bean children were such a delight! Rae M

PS Still thinking of you, Pauline x

Thank you for the encouragement to “keep it simple”! AND the 2.5 second “focus” opportunity… hence my haiku:

Only two heartbeats –
and eternal Love floods in.
Just… by being; NOW.

Sue R

My attempt at haiku while coping with a despairing husband who is in a very difficult situation:

Despair for future
God’s face smiles at me through Spring
Present calm and peace.

Caroline C

A butterfly seen
Gives joy to the heart
Resurrection hope for all.

Susan L

The wonder and playfulness of dancing sunlight, seen on a walk this morning. 

John O’Donohue wrote: “Frequently, beauty is playful like dancing sunlight, it cannot be predicted, and in the most unlikely scene or situation can suddenly emerge. This spontaneity and playfulness often subverts our self-importance and throws our plans and intentions into disarray. Without intending it, we find ourselves coming alive with a sense of celebration and delight. The pedestrian sequence of a working day breaks, a new door opens and the heart recognizes the silent majesty of the ordinary. The things we never notice, like health, friends and love, emerge from their subdued presence and stand out in their true radiance as gifts we could never have earned or achieved”(Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace) Liz H

Blessings to you and this wonderful on-line community. Thank you all so much for your contributions. My haiku for today, based on my daily walk by the sea, as I sat on a low wall and simply watched:

Light dances freely
Shimmering on restless waves.
Joy in the moment!

I pray that the Light will dance freely in me. (And In all of us!) Celia J

May our hearts apricate,
Soaking in spring’s rays,
Basking in spring’s beauty,
Sharing in spring’s embrace.

fiona vw

Last Monday I dropped my daughter off to get the ferry back to Caen, so she could start the second part of her gap year continuing her work with refugees. After her initial time away in the autumn I had got used to her being home. But now she was gone again. I was feeling quite lost and lonely without her last week, even more so after losing my husband 3.5 years ago.

She texted me on Friday evening with a photo of the amazing moon she was looking at in Livarot. I went straight outside but the moon was hidden behind houses so I went upstairs to the window and there it was, the beautiful full moon in all its glory! I took a photo and sent it to her. We both then just stood for about half an hour watching the moon together, me here in Somerset and her there in France.

I felt such peace and such connection, and even though we weren’t together, we were. And then I thought about the people of Ukraine, and whether they would be looking up at the moon that night or hiding in a basement. We prayed.

I then read your email (first chance that day) and realised that you had invited us to do just that! The doorbell rang and I enjoyed an evening out with a friend and we laughed and we laughed. We had fun. What had started as a difficult week had ended in such joy, such fun and such connection. God was definitely in the midst. Julie P

My haiku:

No more trivia
Bring on significance
Give me life today.

Philip B

In the midst of my family heartache I see and feel moments of beauty emerging in the myriad colours of flowers and buds dotted round my garden. I am reminded of stained glass windows, and a tapestry. God’s light shining on them all. My soul feels fed by the energy of Spring and new life and I am filled with gratitude. I just opened ‘Divine Beauty’ by John O’Donahue and read; ‘Beauty interrupts restrictions in every place and thing’ …YES! Gratitude and love for this wonderful loving community. Sue T

I am a little behind in my responses to some of the emails as you can see! 
The candle was ‘drawn’ with a candle and I just ‘went for it so to speak’ . As someone that has perfectionist tendencies I am slowly realising that our offerings do not have to be perfect and to trust my gut more! I loved doing this. Thank you. Marion C

I am not in a good place at the moment and wondering about Long-COVID. I have had a number of experiences with not hearing well, seeing well, and thinking well. Listening to a podcast last week reminded me that noticing is more than just sensing. I can still notice connections and patterns for example. Your Lent live then brought that into a lovely perspective and the Haiku sequence arrived.

Cherry trees sprinkled
Not drenched. Skeletons show.
Can this be enough?
 
How do you notice?
At the surface, in the heart?
I hope for enough.
 
Losing what matters
Finding new experience
Is still beautiful.
 
This, now, here at hand
Can bring fullness in my life
‘life-ability’[1]

[1] Ruut Veenhoven is influential on this score, arguing that well-being depends on livability (a congenial environment) and life-ability (one’s ability to take advantage of this), each of which is enhanced by relationships. Lomas, Tim. Translating Happiness (p. 122). MIT Press. Kindle Edition.

Jonathan R

Another Lent series inspired collage. Sylvia L

Hi Brian, your tree example of weakness into strength made me reflect on my chronic health situation in a new light.

I’ve lost all of my leaves
Almost back to bare wood
Still trying to do my thing
But some days it is hard
Maybe winter is here to stay

I would love to see spring again
To wear my fancy green jacket
Not the one from past years
But still clothing me with new strength
A fresh expression of me.

All the best, Paul B

After a busy Friday of meetings and some challenges, driving home through the Hampshire countryside coincided with the most scintillating full moon. The light, the colour, the size, and the power and the majesty of it. On Saturday evening we sang of God’s glory and beauty in a choral concert and on Sunday the birdsong was simply beautiful. And now I write this on Monday morning from the top of Portsdown Hill overlooking Portsmouth and the Solent beyond. So much beauty, the special time of year and the sheer majesty of God’s love and provision. Simon M

I’m very grateful to you today especially for including Leviathan in your thoughts of fun. I was taken back to three wonderful experiences of whale-watching in particular seeing blue whales off the coast of Monterey in California. There were several of them all round the boat enjoying themselves and the sight of their great tails as they disappeared back under the water was magical. They are not often seen and it was a wonderful gift which will always stay in my memory, and it has lifted my spirits and is making me smile, so thank you. My grandson is a marine biologist specialising in the behaviour and communication of whales so they are of great interest to us. Amazing creatures, I love to think of God playing with them. It has cheered me up enormously. Mary H

Here are some images I’ve played with, as I’ve engaged with the series so far … Jessica R

One day last week our temperatures soared (we’d had snow the day before) and I invited the girls who live next door to decorate my sidewalk (pavement to you!). After drawing colourful butterflies and flowers with chalk, they invited me to join them – and I did! Haven’t done that since my boys were young, which was decades ago, and I had a ball! The 8-year-old even complimented me on my daisy.  🙂 Here’s a photo of some of my artwork – great fun indeed!  Nancy-in-Canada 🙂

What a joyful start to Monday! I love that image, which we saw so often over the years, of Desmond Tutu having fun, laughing and dancing – and the Dalai Lama even joined in on at least one occasion! Having been blessed with four children and five grandchildren, I’m grateful that playing and having fun with them has been a constant joy in my life for almost five decades now. I’m just thinking – much as toys have their place, there’s nothing quite like the spontaneous, simple outdoor fun of splashing in puddles, climbing trees, building sandcastles, roly-polying down slopes, playing Pooh-sticks, paddling in cool streams – sometimes with the added thrill of fishing nets and jam-jars!  And, even if we can’t always manage to join in, just the pleasure of being there watching them is fun enough.

Last summer my two littlest grandchildren had enormous fun digging up potatoes and picking beans in our vegetable plot. The joy of watching their excited faces and hearing their squeals of delight every time they found a potato was wonderful!

It’s so good to know that we truly can feel joy alongside all our sadness – they can, and must (I think) coexist. Much love to all, Hazel R

This morning I was sitting on a rock looking down at a volcanic crater in Northern Tenerife and thought what a wonderful, awe-inspiring world of nature we live in. Annabel R

There is an instrumental version of “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”, in a gentle jazz mode.  The band is Reverence, and the pianist is Graham Simcock.  I find this very restful and pleasing …

Love, Gregor G

You have revolutionised my ideas of dust; thank you; a work-in-progress poem follows:

Dust
We are part of, so I choose to trust,
Eden dust
Father-breathed into becoming living souls;
Pentecost dust
Spirit-breathed into holiness, growing whole;
Golgotha dust
Son-breathed into companioned pain and gloom;
Grave-in-garden dust
God-breathed into rising from empty tomb;
together earthing heaven here instead
dancing to a dustless paradise ahead.

Jean W

My husband calls me the Facebook Queen as I treat FB rather as my blog where I share poetry, knitting projects, nature, books and thoughts … anyway I thought it would be a bit of a sacrifice to have a sabbatical from social media and spend more time with my Father in heaven … Last night I watched that amazing full moon and this morning while on the beach I wrote the following poem. I thought the photo I took showed light coming from different directions and sometimes it’s just a glimmer (as through the small rectangular space between the rocks), the light of hope.

Ukraine, Ukraine – we think of you.
You’re on our minds
You’re in our hearts
Ukraine, Ukraine.
I’m on the beach
I say a prayer
God is here, God is there
Ukraine, Ukraine.
My plate is full
I’d like to share
But send instead
From here to there
A song of HOPE
A dream for PEACE
A dance for warmth and nourished bodies
For God to place His hand in yours
And for the war to cease.

Meg M

Culver Down, Isle of Wight
Skylarks – singing their hearts out
I joined them with my kite.

Phil S

Thank you so much for everyone’s prayers. I did come out of hospital last week, and it seemed things were under control, but just to let you know I was taken back into hospital yesterday with a high temperatire and I am now being treated again for sepsis. I would be so grateful for prayers. Pauline S

When you asked the question about having fun , I was able to answer immediately!We visited our family near Bristol on Saturday. We played rounders on the green near their house with our two daughters and granddaughters. It was such fun with lots of laughter and sunshine. We ached the next day but we are so thankful for a special time which will stay in our memories for ever. Susan L

Annie H

I am a reflective,  so slow in responding. Three things for window three:

  1. In the unknowing we learn to trust. A song “The Unknowing” by Ian Yately.

2. “Imagine how it would be if we were less afraid” …

A page from Charley Mackesy’s book.

I’m still working number three out. It is probably messy, and something to do with endurance and hope in the ‘best is yet to come’ from this dry vine. As always totally inspiring Brian and our beautiful lent community. Linda dP xx

Thank you so much for today’s uplifting encouragement to be playful. For me, a great way to have fun, connect and enjoy being in the zone is by making art and sharing it with others. 

I loved your image in the line of your email “the promise that we will play like kids again, one happy day, on the sunlit streets of the city of the playful king.”  It seemed to tie in beautifully with a fun doodle I created just last night – a row of cheerful houses, each different in its detail but, in my mind, all making a community of joy. I hope this little playfulness lightens your day too. Jenny B

Your reflection this morning on playful delight reminded me of the positive side of Ash Wednesday as I recalled the words in a poem of Longellow’s:  

‘Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.’

We have a sure hope indeed 🙏. Kay R

Sunset. Moonrise. We had fun. Brian D

Second window

You’re reflection ‘Messy, Beautiful and Blessed’ reminded me of a song I heard as a student when listening to Roy Hession speak. I have the words written in my Bible and read them every so often.

Something beautiful, something good.
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was emptiness and strife
But He made something beautiful of my life.

Thank you for this Lenten journey. Grace and Peace. Ros M

Hi Brian, YouTube has several sung versions of the Deer’s Cry and I find this one particularly moving … Gillian M

Your reflection on ‘beautiful messy and blessed’ definitely resonated. I opened the door to God at the age of 61. Although I have loved the art of photography for many years, I continued to say, “I’m a doer and I’m not creative”. Just before Covid, I felt God telling me I was, asking me to start creating. I started to make very basic crafting to give to family and friends as gifts. God even gifted me with a small garden studio which I have used as a place to craft, to pray and to share with others. More recently and now at the age of 66 I have also taken up crafts such as calligraphy, pyrography and sketching – all things I’ve wanted to do all my life, but have never felt I was good at. Knowing God has made me realise that I have always been striving for perfection in my life, but He has shown me that I can be messy and imperfect, and still be something of beauty. How blessed am I! 💛🙏 Lynn CW

I just wanted to share with you how meaningful I find it each day to sing this version of Psalm 44 (from the New Zealand Prayer Book, to an Anglican chant, which is part of my heritage) at 5.30pm every day sensing myself among those believers who are praying through this hellish time. Maybe others might find it meaningful in some way too. Elizabeth C

I live in an inner city flat in a socially deprived area where I seek to be salt and light. For refreshment, I love walking in my wheelchair along the river to a wide south-facing residential road with beautiful houses and gardens to appreciate where people have the facilities and time to be creative. This little poem came to me instantly as I stared at a rockery reflecting! Fiona E

Lord of the snowdrops,
Lord of the stones,
Lord of the troubles,
God of all zones.

My picture is of light  and hope through bare twiggy branches of winter.

What a wonderful line from Walter Brueggemann – ‘Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us’. I love that. On we go, in hope (learning that that itself is a discipline), recognising that winter, like this ‘now but not yet’ time of Lent is our friend. Within the bare branches and bare soil around us we know there will soon be a great transformation.

‘Light in darkness, hope in despair, life in death’. We learn to accept and appreciate the ordinariness of every day as we remember in particular those in or fleeing from Ukraine who would love to be doing their ordinary things. And yes, as we come together for vigils in our churches, towns and villages, it is to help us as well as them, in the very act of sharing with each other and with God, to bring light and hope.

All these wise words and thoughts are making Lent so much more meaningful to me. Thank you. Jan B

We are welcoming this evening Ukrainian refugees into our home in Switzerland. They have been traveling for over a week (a mum, teenage son, cat and large Swiss shepherd dog!). Would greatly value prayer for them and for us as they settle in to our home and develop a new rhythm of life…

Also on another note, every year around spring we wake up covered in thick Saharan dust (and what a mess it makes of everything!). But to think it comes from the Sahara (desert!) and rains down on us is amazing! It has really tallied with today’s reflection on dust and yesterday’s on getting messy (was thinking of that when having to wash my car and windows!) Alice D

SO inspired by Charlie Mackesy’s talk – in fact; moved to tears. Glad to be reminded of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – as I’d just recently been caught by these beautiful words too: “Sometimes I worry you’ll all realise I’m ordinary,” said the boy. “Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.  Sue R

I am really enjoying your Lent reflections. I  attach a collage inspired by “Into the Godlight” at my Quiet Garden Day. Sylia L

Spotted by my daughter at dusk  in Magdalen College, Oxford, here are indeed the colours of Ukraine in nature. Helena S

I took a break from my work as a GP for a mindful walk on Monday. This is the lower Test river. The tide is on the ebb. This little island has emerged amidst the rushing water. Gulls take sanctuary for a moment. It was a moment of peace amidst swirling demands and thoughts. A refuge for a time. Steven P

After Tuesday’s reflection and watching Charlie Mackesy’s talk, I was reminded of the creative arts days we have held at our church and also our retreat weekends. These were such memorable and pivotal times with real connections with God. Allowing ourselves the time and space, we worked with clay, painted, learnt a new song, wrote a poem. We cultivated friendships, encouraged each other, worshipped and prayed. And we usually came home with our own little piece of art, maybe not perfect, but nevertheless reminding us of that “thin place”, that holy space. Sue L

Once again you are stirring the spirit. God is doing something amazing with my weakness, and I almost can’t believe it. At the end of March I am doing the Cardiff half marathon in my wheelchair, my daughter running with me. God did not cause my disability, but is sure using it. Paul B

I wanted to share a Lent poem by Ann Weems, below. (Ciaran M)

Lent is a time to take time to let the power
of our faith story take hold of us,
a time to let the events get up
and walk around in us,
a time to intensify our living unto Christ,
a time to hover over the thoughts of our hearts,
a time to place our feet in the streets of
Jerusalem or to walk along the sea and
listen to his Word,
a time to touch his robe
and feel the healing surge through us,
a time to ponder and a time to wonder….
Lent is a time to allow
a fresh new taste of God!
Perhaps we’re afraid to have time to think,
for thoughts come unbidden.
Perhaps we’re afraid to face our future
knowing our past.
Give us courage, O God,
to hear your Word
and to read our living into it.
Give us the trust to know we’re forgiven
and give us the faith
to take up our lives and walk.

Being new to this community, I am so enjoying and appreciating the input and connections, so thank you.

I was pleased to hear about being messy and “having a go” The past year or so I’ve started Bible journalling. I’ve found being creative has helped me in my relationship with Jesus. At school I was no good at art. My creations now often look like a child’s but realise this doesn’t matter. So thank you for the encouragement. Here is my “playing with paint” for Monday’s encircling prayer. Brenda T

I was reminded last week on a walk with my dog after a late season snow that there is still room amidst the chaos of the world for peace, quiet and beauty. I was in awe of God’s work only for it to be gone by noon bringing warm breezes to encourage the tulips to pop their heads out of the soil and once again I was in awe of God’s work! Suzanne W

Yes – from the mess can come beauty – or even ‘does’ come beauty – wonderful! Dawn P

Here are the next few in my series of pictures for Lent. Sarah Y

Huge thanks for our communion with each other, here and across the world, over this period of Lent, and a reminder of the words of Thomas Merton:

“The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. Not that we discover a new unity. We discover an older unity. My dear Brothers and Sisters, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are”. Liz H

Sunday’s gospel invited me to climb the mountain with Peter, James and  John to pray with Jesus to his Father and our Father. Transfiguration means change. Those moments of intimacy, closeness, love and total oneness gave Jesus what he needed to face what lay ahead – Gethsemane, Via Dolorosa, Calvary. The Father told us, ‘Listen to my Son.’

The morning when they shared breakfast on Lake Tiberias, guilt, shame, remorse had to be thrown to the wind in that extraordinary moment of Transfiguration – “Do you love me? … Feed my lambs …” They were Eastered to face what lay ahead for them. This moment of utter love and challenge is being lived out by the selfless courage and faith of the Ukrainian people. “You are my beloved.” We continue to climb the mountain. Vincent M

The part about success in today’s passage resonated. In this modern world it tends to be frowned upon if you do not want to be successful – in fact the whole of the education system is set up for you to go on and learn more and therefore go on to bigger and better things. Not everyone is cut out for it but the question should be “What to you is success?”. If you achieve that then you have been a success no matter what society may label it.  Mark O

Thank you for your daily inspiration and for creating this wonderful community which keeps growing in its connection and strength and openness and bonds of encouragement and support and honesty and trust.

For me it’s been a long winter and  am still in a desert. I groan and weep for my homeless son who feels abandoned and is estranged from the family, and for the people of Ukraine. I feel weak and yet within the groaning I feel connected to all of life and a sense of God’s peace and love there within it all for ALL of us. Blessings to you all. Sue T

Annie H

Your reflection prompted me to think that out of the mess comes beauty… A video which has gone viral, of this beautiful 7-year-old girl singing ‘Let it Go’ from the disarray of a bunker in Kyiv. Now living with her grandmother in Poland, her parents remain in Kyiv to fight. Liz S

I’ve been struck by a few things recently. In particular this carving, which came from a storm damaged tree. And this article, ‘Why Beauty Matters in Wartime’ (based upon the writing of CS Lewis), which contained the phrase ‘Beauty is the reaching hand of hope’.

Life is tough right now for me, personally and for those I love and I often feel overwhelmed, but your words and your ’introductions’ to the goodness and beauty around are life-affirming and hope full. Elaine Cooper

As we journey together, I am struck by how much this is a season of ‘balance’ and changes in equilibrium. As we approach the vernal equinox, the portions of day and night become finely balanced; the weather can be a balance of glorious sunshine and cuttingly cold wind; the trees are budding but not yet in full leaf; our spirit may tip between lament and rejoicing and, of course, we are in the ‘now but not yet’ of Lent.

How to hold these contrasts in balance and accept that changes are a part of our natural order and our being? Your reflections have really helped in this, particularly the notion of our ‘Winter Friend’ – winter is indeed ‘part of the job’, but how wonderful the promise of Spring! I return to Tess Ward’s lovely words on the subject of ‘balance’ –

‘Ever-creating Maker,
budding newness on old trees.
Bless to me my growth in you.
Bless those in such change at this time,
That past and future are out of kilter
and equilibrium is not for now.
Bless to each of us a strength at core,
that holds in darkness and light because it returns to you.’

Blessings to you and this community. Trevor P

This song/chant has stayed with me through the week. May we and others know space for the tumult to quiet and to allow ourselves to be encircled and enfolded with God’s peace.

For Pauline, especially, as you embrace the unknown scariness of sepsis. I will pray for the diagnosis and treatment to become clear 💞

Rae M

I was so grateful to receive the link for the beautiful vigil for Ukraine from Winchester Cathedral on Monday, especially as I was unable to attend the vigil held in my own church on Sunday afternoon.

Your comments about making the most of every scrap of ordinariness this week resonated with me as I know I sometimes fail to appreciate the ordinary until a sadness or tragedy arises.I was so pleased to see the reference today to Charlie Mackesy’s book. I was given that for my birthday by a dear friend. I love the wisdom expressed by the animals – a book I shall return to many times. I look forward to listening to Charlie’s talk later. Diana S

This morning my bluetooth earphones had no charge, so I was faced with a run with no distracting podcast to help!  It was an unexpected joy as I found myself more attentive to the environment – the beautiful early morning sky reflected in mirror-perfect puddles; plenty of birdsong; and the blackthorn…

Winterbare branches:
Star-dipped tips a sign of hope.
Blackthorn in springtime.

Perhaps once a week I should run without my earphones as part of the discipline of practising hope 🙂 Philippa M

Last advent I enjoyed using a template you suggested for daily thoughts.  This time the idea of trees came as we focus on komorebi… So here are trees so far with a word or thought for each day.

I’m loving the circling prayers and on Park Run last Saturday I prayed circling prayers for all the runners, volunteers, injured, fit, those who chose to stay in bed… It was a new way to pray for me and felt very inclusive. I could really enjoy the sky above and the muddy ground below, sun on my back and the cold air on my face…

Thank you as always. Deb G

I stood in Winchester cathedral myself on Saturday, holding my daffodil and listening to the people of Ukraine reading Psalm 31. I stood in church on Sunday and sang ‘I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene’.
I stood in the garden yesterday, thankful for the ordinary things in my life. And so I wrote:

I stand amidst the ordinary 
I stand amidst the pain
I stand alongside the suffering 
I stand because He stood for me and hung on a cross.
My song shall ever be,
“How marvellous, How wonderful is my Saviour’s love for me.”

Susan L

You’ve reminded me there’s a beautiful song/instrumental by Iona called Encircling …

And here are the lyrics :  

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead
His eye to watch, His might to stay
His ear to hearken to my need
(2x)

The wisdom of my God to teach
His hand to guide, His shield to ward
The word of God to give me speech
His heavenly host to be my guard
(4x)

The mighty Three my protection be
Encircling me, You are around
My life, my home encircling me
Oh sacred Three, the mighty Three
(2x)

Nicola T

“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall” (Psalm 18:28-9). Claire P

In reply to Pauline’s request, here is my encircling prayer: 

‘Dearest Jesus, grant that the staff looking after Pauline may be encircled with the wisdom and skills they need to treat her effectively. Please give to Pauline a continuing awareness that she is enfolded in your loving arms, every moment of every day.’

Stella P. xxx

I wanted to share this song by UpperRoom, called Love Note, which came to mind as I read the prayers of encircling this week. Claire H

The encircling prayer has had a huge effect on me…

As I sit here now, Lord, I’m aware of Your presence, that You live within me and I within You. Your loving kindness, Your partnership, is overwhelming. As I look out I see the sun dappled behind kindly clouds in the sky, the hawthorn and daffodils, I hear the birds singing and I smell the aroma of Your presence and Your love. And I pray that Your extraordinary nature, Your peace, will envelop everything around us: the devastation in Ukraine, the wonderful people and the broken lives, the leaders and ordinary people in Russia too, the situation with Covid, issues and concerns in our own lives… We ask for healing and restoration. We breathe in Your love and breathe out Your peace, and we rest and proclaim ‘Amen!’

Simon M

My Northumbria Community Prayer book fell open near the beginning this morning to a page just after the contents that I have never read before (or maybe they have, but they haven’t struck me before!). The words just seem so poignant especially at this time.

Where is joy?

As the hand is made for holding
and the eye for seeing 
You have fashioned us for joy.
Share with us the vision that
Shall find it everywhere.

And, when our song of joy dies down to silence 
Come, hold our powerlessness with love
Then shall our fear be gone
And our feet set on a radiant path.

(from Celtic Daily Prayer Book Two). Liz S

I am so grateful for today’s reflection “Better to Light a Candle…” on how to live alongside suffering. I shall come back to it often when the world feels unbearable. And being reminded that ordinariness is a sacrament in itself.

I also found myself praying for the Russian people: those who feel that right (and God?) is on their side; those who fight and lose their lives, and their families; others who take the great risk of opposition. May we also stand alongside them. Miriam M

I shared Thomas Merton’s prayer at our local Inspire meeting yesterday evening. (Two other good friends, also Lent participants, had brought different gems from the week – without having discussed it with each other beforehand!) The group received it well.

I attach  President Zelensky’s faith declaration – which I actually read out first…

It was a very meaningful and ‘hope-full’ evening of worship, prayer and sharing (inter-church) in a small village outside York, with a strong awareness of the hundreds of other such gatherings across the country. 

For myself – I am blown away by the depth and ‘treasures’ from last weeks RSVP contributions. Thank you all so much for this faith boost! Jane H

In Janet Morley’s book The Heart’s Time (a poem a day for Lent and Easter), she shares Thomas Merton’s poem ‘On a Theme’, and uses an image to describe our distraction from God’s presence – it’s akin, she says, to the lights, noise, smells and activity of a fairground that charge and overwhelm the senses.

An evocative image for me and so apt in this day of encouraged hype. Paralleling that with your comment of Jesus walking slowly in the wilderness – for me, with just the sounds and rhythm of Nature – is/has been such a help for bringing me to ‘now and not yet’. Making the choice to move from distraction to presence. Such a relief on all levels! Dianna C

How much I enjoyed Friday’s “Circle me, Lord” reflection!  It had so many elements that I love: Celtic prayer, Iona-related blessings, and St. Patrick’s Breastplate. I was even moved to memorize the short version of the latter (“Christ be with me…”), so it can continue to encircle me through Lent and beyond. Many thanks, Brian, for your wise and inspiring words! May you and all of us in the Community feel encircled this day. Hugs and blessings, Nancy-in-Canada 🙂

I took this photo on a walk last week, and have never noticed this tree in such detail before. The Winter Tree holds all the promise of new life. It shows its battle scars and yet its roots are deep, and life has surged through time and again.

I praise you, O Lord, for the Winter that holds all the promise of Spring.  Amen. Freda S

Many thanks for the reminder about circling prayer. Although it’s probably the same, theologically, as placing someone in God’s hands it feels easier for me in the current suffering of so many, to circle them in God’s love – for us all to be protected all around. Marjorie A

Annie H

My hope has been rekindled by helping out at my friend Pauline Medinger’s ‘Visions of Eden” exhibition at RHS Gardens Hyde Hall. Pauline had a vision of retelling the Eden story in seven canvases. They were meant to be shown in March 2020. When Covid hit, Pauline was forced to self-isolate for two years. Now she has an exhibition with over 100 (!) pieces of original artwork and sculptures inspired by the Bible, spreading joy and hope. I am learning once again that God’s plans cannot be thwarded, and His timing is much better than ours… Susanne I

On Friday I spent much of the day quietly immersing myself in comforting thoughts of being encircled by God, relishing the feeling of being lovingly and securely held; and, at the same time, envisaging God (and myself) encircling others with love, to protect and care for them – thinking especially, inevitably perhaps, of the people of Ukraine. Your circling hand movements during the You Tube Live were so helpful and meaningful.

But then, suddenly, in shocking contrast, on Saturday I heard that same word being used in a horrifyingly different way: “Russian forces are encircling Kyiv.” It felt almost like an assault – so distressing, to hear that word, that had felt so secure and comforting just 24 hours before, now with threatening, aggressive connotations. I wished they could have chosen a different  word… surrounding maybe.Then yesterday, as I hugged my daughter and little grandchildren, it struck me that a hug is yet another aspect of ‘encircling’ (one that we have missed so much over the past two years), and immediately that warm, safe sense of love and comfort was back.  Language, words … so much depends on context! Hazel R

The war in Ukraine certainly creates such a stark Lenten experience for us all, those of watching and feeling helpless but absolutely dreadful for the Ukrainian population; for them it must be like a never ending Good Friday. We know that Easter Sunday follows Good Friday, our prayer must be that resurrection soon comes to Ukraine, that God’s light will break through the darkness of evil. Gay H

I have been finind this song (‘I speak Jesus’) finding really helpful, beautiful and powerful over the past few days. It’s hard to know how to pray for so many seemingly huge situations currently, whether it’s Ukraine, personal struggles or our loved ones; but joining in with these words and speaking Jesus over the situations feels like a positive contribution when I’m lost for words. Thank you for leading the community, it’s very special. Hilary M

Thank you so much for leading us with such honest and heartfelt reflections again this Lent. It is wonderful to be part of the community during these difficult times. As you say, our very sharing together brings light.

One of the things I have been drawn to this Lent is Paula Gooder’s book Let Me Go There. In the introduction, she says, “The ambiguity of the wilderness means that we cannot know in advance what the wilderness experience will hold for us this time, but, good or bad, challenging or soothing, we can be confident it will change us.”

And so, we step out in faith, not knowing where our Lenten journey will lead us, but knowing that when we arrive at Easter, we will be changed by our journeying together.

I have attached my One Line Journal Artwork, inspired by the title of this series “Let the Light In.” There are no words though, because right now, there are no words.

May your own journey be filled with light. Lisa WS

A prayer and prophetic declaration for the people of Ukraine:

U.   United we stand 
K.   Kept safe in the knowledge that
R.   Ruach Ha Kodesh
A.   Attends the deepest need.
I.    Imbuing hope, the assurance of light, for a 
N.  Nation who will rise from the darkest of ashes
E.  Enveloped with songs of deliverance.

Kate S

As I made my early tea this morning the birds were all singing to greet the day, the gardens are becoming full of colour, people are beginning to cut the grass, the natural world is waking from its winter sleep.  As I hold the situation in Ukraine in my heart, day by day and minute by minute, I know that God is there too.  

Here is a beautiful sunset from a few days ago which lifts my spirits… “and all shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” (Julian of Norwich). Jane R

Thank you for helping me to think further on winter. The easier part for me is to recognise so much delight in the literal winter. These last two winters I’ve really sought to enjoy the winter season, prompted by the words “the best way to get through winter is to get out into it”. And then this year’s “embrace rather than brace”.

So, I’m giving thanks for all the delights and pleasures of the winter season, which I have so enjoyed, including: warm clothes; waterproof clothes; storms in the woods or at the coast (the power and the glory); early sunsets; late sunrise; the beautiful, low soft light; roaring log fires; winter visitors, including geese and swans; warm drinks and hearty warming soup; stars and planets and moonlight; the beauty of darkness (“yours Lord, also the night“); quietness; rushing rivers; bare trees showing intricate unique forms; ivy revealed; snow and ice and skating; frosty mornings, making a magical landscape.

I’m enjoying the coming spring, but I’m also grieving a little for the passing of winter – it has given me so much! Can I apply these ideas to “hard times”? I have more exploring to do! Mick L

As I thought about the encircling prayer I was reminded of an experience I had a few years ago which has stayed with me. The speaker at a retreat asked three people to stand in a semicircle to represent the Trinity. I had the opportunity to stand encircled by these three and became aware that “ In Him I live and move and have my being.”

This awareness of being encircled by the Trinity as I move through my day has returned to me often and brings great comfort and strength. May each of us experience being encircled today. Alison M

… 

I am so glad I signed up for the series. I’m 11 days into a hospital stay with sepsis & am waiting to find out what is going on & treatment. Your reflections are helping me to stay strong and focused on Christ, so thank you. I would be so grateful if any is willing to pray for them find the best way to treat me, as I have multiple conditions. Pauline S

Here is my response for when we feel overwhelmed and inadequate in the face of such great need. 

Enough and another

When I choose to live from my heart, moment by moment, 
my senses are awakened and
I discover…

My ears are enough 
To hear the vibrations of life
And listen to the soul of another 

My eyes are enough
To  watch the wonders of life
And find beauty in the face of another

My nose is enough 
To smell the scents of life
And breath in awareness with another

 My mouth is enough 
 To taste the flavours of life
 And speak blessing to the being of another
 
My fingers are enough
To touch the textures of life
And fold my hand in the hand of another

When I choose to live from my heart, 
 moment by moment ,
 my senses are awakened and
 I discover… 
 
I am enough with enough for another.

Sue H

I took this photograph on my mobile directly into the sun  in Hyde Park on a glorious spring day last Saturday. Even though behind me was swathed in sunlight and carpets of daffodils, here, in front of me, were slivers of light filtering through the shadowed andscape. Here, I am reminded how even if one turns one’s back from the light into the shadows, God’s light, Godlight, is constant. Coral S

The colours of Ukraine will fill our woods, gardens and prayers this year as the daffodils, primroses and later the bluebells bloom. As they did around Dymock and May Hill in 1914 prior to the start of the First World War and where Edward Thomas ended his In Pursuit of Spring journey. There, he met up with Robert Frost, Rupert Brooke and three other poets at the opening of The Great War. We must hope and pray history will not be repeated.

My mother’s family come from a neighboring parish to Dymock and I remember childhood visits through Newent and Dymock marvelling at the beautiful clumps of ‘Lenten Lillies’ in the fields, sadly now they are not so prolific. 

My wife, Helen, teaches the First World War and finds the echoes of imperialism, nationalism and militarism in the news chilling. We pray that cool heads and calm spirits will overwhelm the ruthlessness of Putin’s policies. Mike S

First I read your words about the Celtic caim, the encircling prayer, which I have so enjoyed since learning of it in David Adam’s glorious book, Walking the Edges – about the saints of the borderlands in his north eastern corner of England/Scotland. I have also been to Iona where the same closeness to God, of God, is a real, physical sensation.

Then I read this ‘Making Space‘ reflection for Lent from St Paul’s Cathedral – about Jesus emptying himself for his life as a human, sharing and alongside us. Susanna Snyder suggests we too should empty, make space in our lives, especially in Lent. Making space for something new, a new way of being.  

Finally: we have a local building firm called Six Sides, which is the dimensions of a building.But also of God – before me and behind me, at each side of me, below me and above me, so that I am entirely encircled.

Then I am secure, able to look outward and identify what I can do to serve our God. Sue M

First window

Thank you so much for the quote about Wednesdays at the beginning of your thoughts this morning. It hit me hard! We have just restarted our church toddler group – this is the second week – so still working things out. I used the quote to pray and we all realised the huge possibilities of the morning. We had a fabulous time! Irene W

We really liked your message on hope today. We spent this afternoon at the Garden House Sheds near Hambledon literally weaving hope. This is part of an installation for a prayer garden opening in Waverley Abbey House Gardens (23rd April) to help all who use it to process both the personal and collective grief and loss we have experienced over the last two years. Jo & Di O

I’ve never encountered the term ‘komorebi’, but it beautifully describes this scene we encountered whilst cycling in Epping Forest. We had to stop, and watch, in silence, in awe, as the mist slowly rose and gently moved, in this natural beauty. There was no hurry, no need to do anything, but watch and soak up the moment. Peace and Joy. Dominic S

Pulling together some ideas on community taken from the first few days of your reflections:

A community (for such a time as this) …
to seek God,
to pray “Your kingdom come”,
to not just know ‘about’ God but to experience the love of our Creator,
to find patches of GodLight,
to express lament,
to express hope,
to seek wisdom,
to learn to live selflessly, without ego but with soul,
to face the dark pull of my ego with the bright hope of Jesus (who shows me a different way),
to hold the space open for each other,
to walk a path together,
to fight for love with love,
  to welcome the stranger,
  to share the gifts I have been given in abundance,
  to offer mercy,
  to celebrate difference.
Amen.

Paul G

‘I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages’ (Charles H Spurgeon)’. Katherine C

One phrase in yesterday’s reflection really resonated with me: ‘this sacred, set-apart time for not knowing’. Being at a crossroads, that phrase will really help me to let go of needing to know the right path to take. At the same time, I will watch for the God-light moments. Thank you, as ever, Marian M

Once again your Lent series has been extraordinary not least for the empathy literally anticipating every emotion so far … I thought I would share an exchange I had with a colleague who is Polish and like too many others is deeply affected by what is happening:  
 
I think I am still in a state of denial, every morning I wake up and still cannot believe what is happening, it is unthinkable. What a bizarre situation when you text your London friends daily to check if their family is still alive. And if I find it hard, then what they must be going though? This poem by the Polish poet Stanislaw Baranczak has stuck with me for the past week:
 
If porcelain, then only the kind
you won’t miss under the shoe of a mover or the tread of a tank;
if a chair, then not too comfortable, lest
there be regret in getting up and leaving;
if clothing, then just so much as can fit in a suitcase,
if books, then those which can be carried in the memory,
if plans, then those which can be overlooked
when the time comes for the next move
to another street, continent, historical period or world:
 who told you that you were permitted to settle in?
who told you that this or that would last forever?
did no one ever tell you that you will never
in the world
feel at home in the world?

Alan W

We forgot to slow down… to pause… to listen… to be still and silent… to think deeply. Ukraine brought us to a bewildering standstill.
Let us resume our journey… with kind acts… thoughtful prayer… and renewed purpose. Ian W

Left foot, right foot reminded me of the film My Left Foot, triumph over adversity, laughter over tears, faith over cynicism, love over hopelessness. I often meet an elderly couple pushing their adult son, who has a disability, in his wheelchair but never spoke with them. Slow left foot. Stop. Greet and chat. What love, caring, selflessness, warmth, commitment, generosity and joy exuded from this delightful trio. The living presence of Jesus shone out from them. I was humbled, uplifted and grateful that my right foot took a rest.  The God of surprises never ceases to bring life and light into my Lenten desert. Glory. Amen. Vincent M

My response is full of gratitude and HOPE:

I am sitting under a majestic willow tree by the river listening to bird song. It is my first day out after having Covid. Thank you God for my breath which connects all. Thank you for the ‘discipline of life’. SallyW

We are having this week our Irish Chaplaincy Lent retreat via zoom and inspired by you I invite participants to share thoughts, reflections and pictures. Last Friday someone sent me a picture of an icon and it happened to be one I had been using in my morning prayer during the winter months and up until now. It was only on Friday that I discovered the name of the icon, ‘Our Lady of Kyiv’. On Sunday at the zoom Mass I attend occasionally I was overjoyed to see the face of Oksana, a lovely Ukrainian woman and an old friend from L’Arche. She explained to us how our prayers are so important for people in Ukraine. And I explained how Our Lady of Kyiv would be with us each day in our retreat. Eddie G

I’ve been reading today’s meditation from Tess Ward’s ‘Celtic Wheel of the year’ which has the heading ‘No short-cuts’. It resonates so strongly with your thoughts about ‘Nowhere to be but here.’ Her prayer today, of ‘Opening Out’, says:

‘O Vulnerable One who hears our silent cry
be with each person this day who is wandering their own lonely desert.
Encircle with your love
Those who know there are no short-cuts,
who cannot go round but must go through

Thank you that we do not get to the garden,
until we have travelled through this featureless barren terrain.
For this is not a detour for the unlucky,
but the touching bottom of being alive,
where we must reckon with what is.’

Peace and blessings be with you and all in this wonderful community. Trevor P

The reference to hope reminded me of the Stockdale Paradox in Jim Collins’ Good to Great. In short, that hope not grounded in reality can be destructive. Hope which confronts the brutal facts of reality is energizing and sustaining. We know we live in a broken and destructive world but Jesus has overcome the world. Liam M

Glad to be with you all in community!

Leaning into light
Leaning into hope
Leaning into life

Taking my lenten morning walks at dawn (and I just learned that dawn is the time of indirect sunlight about half an hour before sunrise.) “Hope is a game she plays every morning” (a line from my most recent Sunday poem). fiona vw

My prayers for Ukraine feel like a small pebble thrown into a large expanse of need, but I have been reminded last week that God’s love is greater still and I can entrust the situation to his loving grace and mercy. This gives me the hope I need to carry on and not feel overwhelmed by what I can’t in any way control; I can only play any small part which God gives me to do. Caroline C

It’s sometimes so puzzling when there’s something as big as Ukraine, as to how to pray …. so I wrote this poem on Sunday morning when I woke:

I believe that we really matter to you
I believe that you hear our prayers
I believe we can put our trust in you
I believe that you’re always there.
but sometimes we lie in bed wondering
And it’s all such a mystery
Then you tell us to place our hands in yours
That it’s not meant for us to see.
I believe that you want us to lift up our eyes
And not look down to the ground
You said you won’t leave or forsake us
So I’ll look to the heavens and hold tight on your hand
‘Cos that’s where my Faith will be found.

Meg M

Thank you for another thought-provoking series. This Lent I feel inspired to take notice of those Godlight moments in my life, so I offer this poem as my RSVP, as a summary of what has touched me this last week, both through the series and my own experiences.

Komorebi:
Light dappling beneath trees,
Those moments of Godlight.
Sun behind all suns, Soul behind all souls.
Skin warmed in apricity, sitting quietly, talking deeply.
Soul warmed as we reflected on the hands of Jesus,
learning more of the Mystery that holds the world together from a child.
Left — Right
        Bird sing, trees creak, leaves rustle in the tangible wind surrounding me
                    Glory — Amen.

Many thanks, Sophia K

Reflecting on the idea of hope as a discipline, I like this quote by David Orr: ‘Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.’

And this is my song for the day: Christ our Hope in Life and Death.

Blessings, Christine P

It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by events and what is going on in the world with the many injustices and inequalities which have been exposed through Covid, and now Ukraine.  Lord let the Light in. Here’s a photo of our local hospital where I work in Greenwich, on a sunny day – we need your Light and Hope. Neil KB

It’s so lovely to be all together again in this community in such heart-breaking times. I love this poem about hope by Amanda Gorman:

Every Day we are Learning 

Everyday we are learning.
How to live with essence, not ease.
How to move with haste, never hate.
How to leave this pain that is beyond us – behind us.
Just like a skill or any art, we cannot possess hope without practising it.
It is the most fundamental craft we demand of ourselves.

Chris C

The quote of Annie Dillard’s you shared and the practice you encouraged has inspired me in so many ways! Thank you. Marion C

On hope! Am reminded of Julian of Norwich in the 14th century who said, ’All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well’ against the backdrop of many disasters. All her words oft quoted still today! And I just found this song, All Shall Be Well. Blessings, Sue T

I had this lovely photo I wanted to share with you. I have always loved seeing the light coming through darkness showing hope. Helen H

It’s so good to be part of this community again. I was really struck by hope as a discipline we need to practise and by “flickering with God-light together in hope”. A Haiku emerged.  It’s not elegant but it will be a reminder for me!

Lent: practising Hope.
With care-full emotions still
flicker with God-light.

Philippa M

Here’s a contribution if you’d like to share it from the Waynflete Singers in Winchester, who spent last week finding, learning and performing the Ukraine national anthem. Another note of solidarity. Belinda S

Thank you Brian, a beautiful start to Lent, light and hope … My first prayerful haiku:

Lead us, in your hope –
for we have no help but thee …
Sunlight, leak this way.

Lauretta W

I recently attended a Zoom retreat on the spirituality of the poet Mary Oliver which was fantastic. I am rereading her beautiful poems and would like to share one of them with you and the group called ‘Thirst’:

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowy learning.

Brenda H

I’m listening to Myroslav’s hauntingly beautiful music for Ukraine – so aware at present of my heart trying to contain both humanity’s sublime beauty and unimaginable cruelty. Is this the Cross? Sue R

I’ve started a one-line Lent page, as I found the one-line Advent so helpful, and was inspired by the creativity of others who shared theirs! On days when the word discipline seems a bit harsh to me, I think of the things I do as spiritual exercises or practices. This puts them in the category of self-care, rather than ‘ought-ery.’ Blessings, Jo C

Thanks Brian for giving of yourself and vulnerability in leading this Lent journey. I learnt the full serenity prayer in February and now the encircling prayer in March. Here are a couple of photos – an encircling for a friend whose sister tragically gave up her life. And light coming in at the beach and in the wood. Ian Mac

I was thinking today of that barren space Jesus entered in the wilderness, and that God led him there. I wonder if Jesus knew what might happen? I was relieved to hear that though we may have times WE set aside for retreat or refreshment, God does not always appear to ‘turn up’ at these times. Yet God I believe is always at work in and through us. He does not always let us into the secret of what he is doing. Hindsight is a great reward; often as we look back to see how he has led us. Paul R

My new grandson was born on 24th February, a day etched in history now. A joyful presence, light in the darkness, a little miracle in dark times. And I have heard some incredible stories of hope in the middle of war torn Ukraine, acts of kindness and rescue, hope in the most trying circumstances. My new grandson Jesse reminds me of the one who came to save, bring his kingdom in, Jesus, from the line of David. Light of the world. Emmanuel, God with us. The darkness will never overcome. Andy C

Thanks for your reminder that small acts all add up. I’ve been trying to bring my attention to my breathing and the present moment more regularly through the day. And not giving up on those little practices while also looking outward to the community and helping where I can helps me too, to remember our interconnection and interdependence.

It’s probably quite common at times of crisis to experience writer’s block or lose your creative mojo – both of which I’m in right now. But you’re right to encourage us in our daily small actions – here is a tiny journal entry, but it speaks to this bigger theme in a way that I trust will bring brightness and lighten our hearts, so I share it in that hope. Jenny B

It was a deep Ash Wednesday service, and having read your inspirational reflection, I was drawn to walk. The country park was deserted; I tried to be mindful. The little stream was flowing fast; I watched and listened. Words sprang to mind; they seemed to form a prayer:

Help us, dear Lord
To drink and be refreshed by You:
To bathe and be cleansed by You:
To be guided and to walk with You:
Living Water – clear as crystal – flow through us.
Help us to pause in wonder:
To observe in Your reflection, the beauty of Creation
To receive life:
To pour You out:
To splash You around:
To share You:
To spread Your Love:
Let our tears be dispersed in You.
In our weakness remind us —– we believe:
Empower us to know You
To stay close to You
To joyfully do Your will
Now and always.
Amen.

Gill W

Lots of thoughts, but here is my first as I sit listening to the Kiev Chamber choir:

Darkness,
A flicker of light seeps through, the light beckons ,
The Light is leading me,
Offering the most precious gift,
Life.

Susan L

My thoughts on Ukraine:

Calculated, cruel and savage,  
Talons of ice 
Clawing at the land. 
A people stunned but defiant. 
 
Frozen fingers menacing  
Beyond the borders, 
A spreading hard frost  
Of icy poverty and despair. 
 
Cradle this world in your hands, we pray. 
Tenderly enfold us, 
Love to thaw hatred,  
Hope, peace.
And please, a rainbow. 

Jenny H

I took this on Monday night.  I felt so sad about Ukraine and Russia. This beautiful sunset and moon stilled my heart. Fiona T

I passed this sign on my walk yesterday. At the base grew hundreds of snow drops, as if the sign were a guard forbidding entry to the field beyond. But, as I looked more closely, I noticed patches of snowdrops growing in the restricted area beyond the fence line. As I beheld these defiant little plants, I had to smile. Whatever the barriers humans put in place, love and beauty do have a tendency to break through. Robin D

As I attempted a ‘slow walk’ home along the canal path last Thursday, I spotted the attached. It brought a smile to my face that even in my very half hearted attempt to slow down and notice things God seemed to appreciate my small offering! Janet C

I have been reflecting on the words traditionally used with the ashes on Ash Wednesday – ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return…’ It is healthy to be reminded at times of our frailties and vulnerability and our habit of taking the most destructive path, harming others, the planet and ourselves. But I came across this alternative last week. We also need reminding of God’s love – from whence we came – and the love to which we shall ultimately return.  My creative efforts attached! Elaine Col

Here are my little (7cm square) pictures so far this Lent: Lament, Hope, Glory Amen, Godlight and Wilderness. Thank you for this lovely series. Sarah​ Y

Here’s a blogpost I wrote for the start of Lent for the Irish Chaplaincy. I thought I’d share it with you. Blessings to all. Eddie G

I’m trying hard, this Lent, to stay focused on the present moment, appreciating all the small blessings – the “komorebi” moments throughout each day …. but I find my mind drifting off, so often, to Ukraine. (How can it not?) Looking out of the window this morning, though, my heart leapt as I noticed – for the first time! – a bluetit at the nesting box; and again this afternoon, with my little grandchildren, helping them plant the flowers they had chosen at the garden centre. It’s wonderful how the natural world, and small children, keep us “in the now” – nowhere to be but here, indeed. It’s such a gift!

PS Just after reading your reflection for today, I opened an email from Mary Fleeson – the amazing artist from Lindisfarne – publicising her new book for Easter. In the introductory words, she writes, “The message of hope must not be stopped or restricted, and if that message is passed on, one to another in actions of love, then it will not be stopped.” Such a perfect reinforcement of the inspiring words of Mariama Kaba that you quoted.  Love to all, Hazel R

I have been using the praying in color resource again. I’m seeking to be a soul minimalist this lent. We’ve done an amazing decluttering in our physical home in the last 6 months and it’s helped to make our house a much more beautiful space. I’d like to do the same for my soul and live more spaciously. Michaela T

… 

Pausing more often and just being or looking at the bright new moon or listening to the increasing bird songs, noticing the sunlight through the trees and being uplifted. Jill M

From lament to hope in beautiful words and thoughts of writers and poets, from glorious Spring birdsong as it may have been at the Creation, to ‘komorebi’ and ‘shivelight’ expressing sun’s Godlight breaking through. I delighted in Sunday’s calm sunset with the bright crescent moon gleaming through the oak tree. Jan B

I am noticing a sense of shock, of inner trembling, of disbelief, of strong identification with the people of Ukraine. I am noticing Brian’s words, “I had to go really slow to find a rhythmn” (Thursday). I am noticing that my body and mind have slowed right down. And within this I am finding prayers arising and tears flowing. Diane R

Our 40-year-old son with Down’s Syndrome painted this (by numbers). He is so often the ray of light shining, bringing joy into our lives: our ‘komorebi’. Rachel M

I recently observed a candle flame for twenty minutes as part of a meditation and noticed that all the time the flame burned I could see a dark shadow next to or sometimes around the centre, but it was always smaller than the flame and never overwhelmed it. It reminded me that some time ago, I had a sudden, deep realisation that being alone in the dark was no longer a place of fear, because ALL of God was in ALL the darkness as well as in all the light. He spoke light into being (Genesis1); He saw me bring formed in the darkness of my mother’s womb and darkness is as light to him (Psalm 139) and Jesus is the light that darkness cannot overcome. (1 John) These days feel dark and scary but those words “all of God is in all the darkness, as well as all the light” keep repeating in my mind. Audrey J


I am noticing at the beginning of Lent the strength in community. Whatever Christian community ‘looks like’ is different for different people. We cannot escape the present dark and terrifying world situation but we can choose to be hope-bringers and encouragers as we seek to love one another in reality and to stand alongside the people of Ukraine. One day at a time. Anne W

Today’s meditation really struck a chord. Now that my darling Mum is no longer here (she died two months ago today), my life is so different. I suddenly have lots of free time, no commitments or responsibilities and more money than I’ve ever had before. I can certainly relate to the idea of the temptation to fill the void or squeeze something useful out of it. I love the idea of the space itself being a gift and teacher. Like many people, I don’t find being still and waiting to see what God will do very easy! When you’re an active, organised person, it can be the hardest thing in the world. But I’m trying to just ‘be’ and see what God has in store for the next stage of my life.  Hazel P

I was staggered to find the light flooding through the trees in the forest here – it was January. A wonderful instance of komorebi! I’ve been so troubled by the war. Wanting neither denial, nor to be overwhelmed. What helps is Angela Davis quoting her friend Mariama Kaba, who says that ‘hope is a discipline’. We must be cultivating it. Miriam M

I stopped on a walk yesterday to go inside the beautifully simple St. Andrew’s church at Chilcomb (near Winchester). After enjoying just Being there, I prayed the Jesus Prayer in front of this crucifix. Bob L

Thank you for such an inspiring beginning to our Lenten journey – I attach my attempt at a patch of sunlight in a wood, which has always seemed miraculous to me, as is the sudden light on a small field, as RS Thomas says ‘a pearl of great price’ . Diana P

This past week has been a very difficult time, and my heart breaks to hear of the enormous suffering in Ukraine and beyond and the existential terror and the sheer scale of events. I feel hopeless and overwhelmed. Yet at the same time, Lord, Your presence and peace are tangible and Your love overcomes even this horror. May I engage with You more fully this Lent and as You lead me to know that the destination will be ‘a resting place for me in Your luxurious love. Your tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss.’ (Psalm 23, The Passion Translation). Simon M

Thank you for being with us all in Lent. The community, a blessing. Personal family trauma is connecting me to the world’s trauma deeply. So much ouch and also gratitude to be able to share in this universal feeling. Was ‘here’ with an ancient pear tree in a walled garden and connected to its rootedness and through the buds hope for us all. Sue T

Faith is believing God is leading me to the right road even though I may not know it at the time. This Lenten season is one of going deeper for me. Deeper into my faith; opening my heart and being vulnerable in that faith. Making God my priority, both consciously and subconsciously. Thank you Brian, for helping me do this!! Suzanne W

God,
 it is hard to hang on 
and remain in the chrysalis – 
with wings clipped and so little wiggle room.
Help me to trust that 
at the right moment
the cocoon will burst open,
and I’ll emerge freer and lighter.

I have started to pray the full version of the Serenity Prayer (The Serenity Prayer: Full Version (The Prayer Foundation)) as one of my new practices as I wrestle with unexpected developments in my personal life (I’ve been in isolation since Lent due to Covid, among other things) and try not to get overwhelmed by world events. I am also planning to continue to fast for part of Wednesday – I heard a Ukrainian church leader say yesterday that freedom is not free, someone has to pay the price.  

Susanne I

There is still Glory in the Grey. This picture by an unknown artist reminded me of your words from Friday’s YouTube session. Kay R

I felt so privileged to be in Trafalgar Square yesterday and to watch an amazing ‘flashmob’ of musicians coming together to perform the Ukrainian National Anthem to support Ukraine. The kindness and love and skill shown by these people on a cold afternoon was so moving and touched by God’s light as the sun came out as they performed. Joy H

It’s great to be a part of the Lent community this year. I think what I’m experiencing at the moment is the joy of reconnection, not just regarding this wonderful Lent community but meeting freely with friends and rejoining gospel choir and other activities. My joy is muted, a mixture of my own apprehension and the subduing and sobering effect of events in Ukraine. Singing gospel songs reminds me more than anything of how it’s possible to experience joy in the midst of suffering. Rachel L

I find making these haiku and drawings really helpful every day. So happy Lily arrived safely so created this one in gratitude:) Annie H

Winter longing

When winter lingers long
watch the days begin
to lengthen 
with your longing,
like a haunting song
evoking summer days,
hidden in the clouds metallic greys.
It is the longing that will
lengthen and enlarge the joy
of spring’s low light,
when that long awaited season 
seeps in to surprise you
with the acid green
of new beginnings.

Sue H

Sometimes when we pause for direction we find that we are already where God wants us to be; however uncomfortable that may feel. Philip B

I feel that I am journeying through the desert with Jesus at the moment as I am little bit lost as to the direction that I am being lead. But I know that I’ll be led out when the time is right for me. As someone said recently, what you need is to have prayer and patience with yourself. Suzanne H

This is doing the rounds from a local artist here in Portsmouth. John B (And Libby R has pointed out that you can see the cathedral of Kyiv reflected in the pupil.)

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