Anyone got a spare bucket and spade?

The Goans are off on a traditional British summer holiday.

Cue for a song- take it away Cliff…

(Nice little misogynist twist at the end there!)

This year we are heading to Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast- a familiar old place for us, as we had our Honeymoon at Robin Hood’s Bay almost 20 years ago. We have fond memories of parking our Citroen 2cv with it’s bumper against a lamp post as neither the hand brake nor leaving it in gear would hold it on the steep cobbled street.

The blog will be quiet for a couple of weeks

For those of you who are staying at home, or travelling- may you find rest. May there be some mid summer Jubilee.

May the noise of children mingle with the sound of sea gulls to conjure up best memories of your own childhood.

May the days rest soft and the nights be kind.

And may God hold you in the palm of his hand…

There is a time for all things under heaven

A time for marram grass to move
In gentle air
And for the dying sun
To turn all green things gold
To alchemise the evening
Into a luminal place
On the twilit edge
Between here
And there

A time when the last call of the curlew
Will echo away over the dimming mountains
And the stillness is itself

Whispering

A time for this day

To silence

The soul

From ‘Listing‘.

Remembrance Sunday- and our capacity to destroy…

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Today is Remembrance Sunday.

Old men will cry

Women will open up old cupboards of loss and let the sepia light leak out a little

Young kids will be distracted by brass bands for a while then fidget through silence that seems much longer than a minute

Politicians will assume a pose of media-appropriate sombre dignity

Most of us will feel a familiar ambivalence-

War is terrible, but we continue to make war. Peace is a blessing, but we are stirred by stories of gallantry and self sacrifice that only seem possible in the context of brutality and slaughter.

Our inherited memories of the last war are of a nation forged together in terrible adversity in heroic struggle against the rise of pure evil. The fact that we triumphed at terrible cost is for ever something that makes us proud. Those that died so that we might have escaped the fate of so many other countries deserve our deep respect.

But we also know that the story of war is rarely one of good and evil. It is about evil and still more evil.

And evil has a history- it has the big scale history of previous armistice and forced accommodation and compromise. The sort of history that we can read about in books- Empires rising and falling.

But there is also small history that tells the story of how we as humans seem to have such a propensity to breed hate for one another.

How we look at difference and see danger. How we segregate so easily into ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. How we demonise those people whose prominence threatens our own.

Most of us will have little influence on big histories- and my generation have been blessed to see few of ours names on war memorials. But if we are honest, those same engines for hate and war work within is all.

So this Remembrance Day, let us remember those who fought and died.

But let us also stand in examination of our own failures to follow the way of peace.

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A time to hate

There is a time for all things under heaven…

One summer evening I lay on my back as the light leached from the passing day
And watched the stars slowly flicker into the frame of the darkening sky
At first one here, another there
Then all of a sudden the sky was infinite
Full of fragile tender points of ancient light
Some of which started its journey towards us before there was an ‘us’
And I wonder
Is there someone up there
Raising his tentacles to the night sky
And using one of his brains
To wonder about me?

And should this unseen and oddly shaped brother across the huge expanses
Seek contact
What would he make of us?

I heard an astronomer speak once about the possibility of life elsewhere
In this beautiful ever expanding universe
He had come to believe that intelligent life will always
Find ever more ingenious ways
To destroy itself

And I fear the truth of this
That somewhere in the messy beauty of humanity
We nurture an evil seed –
Grow it in an industrial compost of scientific creativity
Water it with greed and avarice
And hot house it in a mad competition for the first fruits
Lest our neighbours get to market first
And once we work up production
There is no going back
No squeezing back the genie into the oil can
There is only the need for bigger, better

And the defending and defeating
And the ranging of rockets
Exploit whoever
Denude wherever
And if anyone should get in the way
Dehumanise
Overcome
Or destroy
Set up barb wire borders
Teach one another
To hate

So for the sake of green men
And Scottish men
May we yet stand before the eternal night
And decide that truth and beauty and grace will be our legacy
In this fragile passing place that God gave us

May we decide that now is not
The time
To hate

From ‘Listing’- here.

Listing- book project…

I have finally finished my collection of poetry and prose which forms a new book called ‘Listing’. I have very much enjoyed the creation of this thing, but there is so much other stuff I need to be getting on with, so it is great to have it completed.

Next- the wilderness book with Nick, and this novel that may yet find some kind of shape.

This (might) be the cover photo, taken in Benmore Gardens by yours truly-

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This book, which will be published through Proost and will hopefully be available in June/July. It is a collection of words-poems prose and meditation- based on some Biblical lists-

Ecclesiastes 3

Galatians 5

Matthew 5

1 Corinthians 13

Some of the poetry I have tried out first on this blog. Here is one more- if you like it, then please get hold of the book!

Now is the time to keep

There is a time for all things under heaven…

This Kingdom is always here
Always now
Held here in the hands of we
His failing followers

Standing on the shoulders
Of countless men and women of faith

Diggers of catacombs
Carvers of secret Kingdom symbols
Men making missionary journeys in hide skinned boats
And setting up carved crosses
Monks and nuns holding the world in prayer
Parchment gilders
Cathedral builders
Protestors
Reformers
Transformers
Renewers

So I take from you my fathers of faith
Grateful for the gifts you gave to me

For the canon of Scripture gathered and held precious
For those adventuring out with good news
For purifying zeal
For generous, graceful orthodoxy
For those planting a cross in the gutter
And those who consort with kings
For Bible teachers and interpreters
For a hundred synods
And a thousand million books
For people lit up in the fire of the Spirit
And others who seek the Lord in silence.

For Methodists and Catholics
Wesleyans and Quakers
House and Mega churchers
Baptists and Greek Orthodox
Each facet of a this precious thing
Called Church

And perhaps most of all
I stand in the sheltering shadow
Of people who stood between me
And a harsh prevailing wind
Who saw through the mess of me
Or chose to ignore it for a while
And shared with me the love that draws us
And meant it

All of these treasures
Handed down
To keep