Tag Archives: poetry

(after spending a day in Southwark Cathedral
with prayer, worship and workshops)

I think too much
I take you apart, analyse,
pore over you bit by bit,
search for the magic words,
strain to hear your voice
but all I hear is mine.

A cathedral day of spirituality
meeting places –
would I meet you?

So I switched off my brain,
let all thought go.
I slowed into stillness
and several hundred people
could not get in.

I wandered the Prayer Station,
away from the crowd,
paused by each picture,
prayer stone warming
in my hand.

And I didn’t try, I didn’t question,
I just accepted.
I was here with you
and you were here with me.
That’s enough.

I’ve brought my prayer stone home,
it sits in my jacket pocket
ready to hold, ready for prayer
and as it rests in my palm
there is a heat exchange
as thoughts pass between us.

(c) 2013

God Hunting – Worship (1)

My 'worship through art'

My ‘worship through art’

And so I am into Chapter 4 of God Hunting by Jo Swinney which is all about worship – individual worship and corporate worship. Corporate worship I think is self evident though Jo speaks of visiting a church while on holiday (something she doesn’t usually do – me neither!) but trying to stop comparing the worship styles and congregation with those she is used to and concentrating on the service.  She also spoke ofNew Wine where masses of people gather to worship.  I have never attended anything like this as my church doesn’t organise that sort of thing and I think I’d get swamped in the crush if I went on my own.  But I thought I might attend some services that I don’t normally do, or very rarely.  With Easter coming up the chance is there.

Colouring book for meditation.

Colouring book for meditation.

Individual worship was something I wasn’t sure about – what did Jo mean?  Well, she used things like singing worship songs in the car and finding in God in nature.  So I had a think.  As the ‘worship’ theme runs over a month with no set weekly plan it’s a bit more flexible so this week I had the urge to draw and colour as a form of worship (a very Celtic idea) .  You can see my effort here.  I’m no artist but I’ve dabbled with paints and pen and ink in the past, though this is something different but at least original (something I never do is originality – I have to copy!).  Also I have a book from the Lindisfarne Scriptorium called Multicoloured Meditations which is a colouring book with drawings by Mary Fleeson (who I once met as she demonstrated her art).  I find colouring quite therapeutic and really enjoyed being rather childlike.  I dug out my kids discarded colouring pens along with the felt pens and just went for it.

The other thing I have tried is writing a poem.  I do actually write some Christian verse (as well as secular poetry) so this isn’t new to me.  I may post my poem up next time…..if you are good!

Lastly, I have been looking up some new Christian music on YouTube and have discovered Casting Crowns and I will leave you with this.  (By the way I am still trying to memorise my verses from the week before.  I just think I’ve got it when I mix up the verse numbers and mix the lines of the verses.  Will I ever master this?  Watch this space!)

A Celtic Advent

Celtic Knotwork

Celtic Knotwork

Advent is here, our tree and decorations have been brought down from the loft (but not put up yet) and this morning had a real wintry feel about it with a heavy frost draping roofs, fences, plants and grass.  The sun was shining and everything looked beautiful.

To start the season, I yesterday attended a Celtic Advent workshop at the London Centre for Spirituality with our hosts June Boyce-Tillman (Professor of Applied Music at University of Winchester) and Kenneth Boyd Browne, former Interim Director of the Centre.

The day was split into four parts, the first being The Creative Breath.  We began by humming, any  note we wanted while some small instruments were used every now and then.  It was interesting to see that eventually everyone was humming in harmony!  This reminded me a little of my choir warm-up (in fact all the singing aspects did).  There is something quite haunting about  humming one note and there was a hint of Tibetan monk about this which I liked.  The exercise ended with a chime from the singing bowl.  We then paused before moving on to a breathing exercise in which June used a hand drum for rhythm and spoke some sentences about breathing and nature.  Next Kenneth read what is believed to be the first Irish poem and while a candle was lit we sang a song with lyrics written by June to an existing tune.  We then ended the first session repeating the words from Palm 42 ‘as the heart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.’

The second session was entitled Light and Darkness.  We began with another song written by June called Harvest of Darkness followed by a short talk on redemption and Ken read ‘This is the long night…’ (sorry not sure where this comes from) and then we had a period of silent meditation on being aware of the light of God that is tat the heart of life. During this a plant was put on the table next tot the candle. Outside workmen drilling away like crazy! At first it was annoying yet it was possible to switch off from it times.  Before we broke for lunch June showed us some pictures of Celtic Knotwork and invited us take some photocopied sheets during lunch to either colour in there and then or to take home.

During lunch we had a chance to chat with each other and small world that it is I found two ladies who lived a couple of miles up the road from me and one worked at the school where my son used to go!  I had really enjoyed the morning, the silence, the singing and the poetry and was looking forward to the afternoon sessions.  I picked up a ‘Knot sheet’ and some text for later and had a chance to whiz round the bookshop there.

The afternoon began looking at Centredness with a lovely poem by John O’Donohue called The Secret of Thereness.  I’ve not come across this poet before but I found this poem really touched me and I shall seek out his books when I get a chance.  We then had a reading from Ian Bradley’s Book (which I have) The Celtic Way about Knotwork followed by another song entitled I know I am loved.  Ken then read a story about St Patrick and the Stones and a stone was placed in a bowl of water next to the candle and plant.  Ken then showed us a posture prayer which we all did twice.  It reminded me of a yoga move as the hands come up the sides of the body, back of the palms touch the ears and then reach up.  The hands come together as in prayer and are brought down to where the heart is, then twist to a clasp as we come home to ourselves.  I loved this movement and will definitely use it again.  Afterwards we split into small groups of three or four to discuss ‘Where is my centre?’ and then feed back any thoughts to the group as a whole.  Observations included feelings of being out of sorts, reviewing things to get back to that centred feeling, finding the stillness within and about focus and finding stillness in a busy environment.  We all agreed that it is easy to find in the countryside but finding it on a bus or tube at commuter time is much harder!

The final part of the day looked at Birth and Rebirth. Ken  read a passage from The Spiders Web by Peter Tremayne, followed by a reading and discussion with June on The Celtic Tradition.  Some interesting points were made here about how pagans and Christians interacted and got along whereas Christians seem split over the different denominations!  June also said that if the Celts were around today they would wonder what all the fuss was about over halloween.  Ken then read A Christmas Rose by Rev Canon Grover while a rose was placed on the table with the candle, plant and stone.  We then sang Sacred Endings and Beginnings, another of June’s songs set to a traditional folk song.  There was a reading on The Pilgrimage (I think from Ian Bradley’s book) and we ended with the last of June’s songs See she comes in expectation  followed by a prayer.

I didn’t know what to expect on this workshop but I found peace. There were plenty of pauses between exercises and readings to pray or gather thoughts.  The day was uplifting, thoughtful and fun.  It was nice to get away from all the ‘stuff’ I have to do in the next two weeks, relax and remember what Advent is all about.


A Quiet Day in London

Art work in the garden of The Still Centre

Escaped for a quiet day today.  I went along to the London Centre for Spirituality which was given over to this small group of people who’d come together to spend the time how we wanted.  The Centre based in the church of St Edmund the King where there is a bookshop with both new and second hand books.  We were able to buy books, eat our lunch in the choir stalls or in the small garden (they supplied tea, coffee and biscuits) and as well as one other room downstairs there were two library rooms upstairs which were for silent reading.

After the quick introduction we all went off to do our own thing.  I had taken along a book On Holiday with God by Sue Pickering and I chose the resource ‘Waiting – learning to be still’.  I felt I needed that!  After a coffee I began with that, finding a nice comfy seat in the bookshop.  There was lovely music wafting throughout the day.  I find music relaxes me but even so I found my mind wandering.  I think another time I would spend some time relaxing before starting the exercise.  However, I gradually slowed down and the exercise took me about an hour.  There were some words which made me think, especially considering the doubts that have plagued me this past year…….’if God has not already touched your heart, you would not be reading this book.’  That told me!  I loved the descriptions of where God was meeting me through ‘God-incidences’ and that God is waiting for me now like a lover at a railway station – with passion.’ I found this part of the reading exercise quite moving.

After I had finished the exercise I had a wander around the bookshop mentally working out what I’d like to buy!  I had taken a flask of soup and pitta bread and headed outside to the little garden to eat.  It was sheltered and with my jacket on it was fine – blue skies and a a few white clouds.  I came back in made a cup of tea and sat watching Mary, a ceramic artist who was working there for the day.  She had brought along some of her work and invited anyone to have a go.  My creativity doesn’t extend to working with clay, I’m afraid, so I was happy to watch.  I then headed upstairs and had a look through some of the books – I found a poetry book Patrick Purnell SJ with a nice poem entitled Distractions!

Finally I returned downstairs to make my purchases!  I bought two second hand books, one is about the Wesley Brothers and the other on Hilda (Celtic Abbess of Whitby).  I also bought two small books for Advent, a CD by Margaret Rizza and a pack of Christmas cards.  There was time to relax a little more (I began the book on the Wesley’s) and then it was back into the world outside and the crush of the tube station.  I managed to switch off by reading.

There is another quiet day in February next year and its completely free to attend. There are lovely stained glass windows in the church and it is nice and peaceful to just sit there listening to the music, letting it wash over you.  I was wondering what I would do for five hours but it passed by easily enough and I was glad I’d made the effort to drag myself out early on a Saturday morning to trek up to London.  It was nice to escape the world for a bit and open my mind and try and make myself available for God.

Celtic creativity

Have been reading about creativity in Restoring the Woven Cord (Michael Mitton). The Celts loved expressing themselves through poetry, music and art – take the Lindisfarne Gospels, for instance. Caedmon  spent his life writing poetry and songs from events from the Bible, encouraged by Hilda in the community at Whitby.

Spurred on by my creative side I put together this little offering below:


You are the earth from which I am formed

You are the rain that urges my growth

You are the wind, my living and breathing

You are the sun, the life-giving force

You are the sea, the swell of emotion

You are the snow that purifies my soul

You are the day, the hours of my doing

You are the night who brings rest in my sleep

You are the light, the joy that shines through me

You are the dark, the watchman at night

You are the word, the music, the colour

You are creation, the breath of us all.