Taking a break ( seeking Sabbath)

I’m taking a break,

though not from work,

from Social Media of all kinds,

I’ve become conscious of how attached to my phone I am,

and how it fills the spaces in my head,

leaving me with no spaces,

how it can become a toxic space,

offering memories and sound bites

that open internal strife,

and how reading a book

or watching a film

can become quite disjointed …


but mostly I am taking a break to re-find myself,

I used to exist beyond the device I carry everywhere,

I didn’t need to check it for affirmation,

or even confirmation that I still exist,

and am of value…


I’m taking a break to read more,

and choosing to walk without wondering which photos people will like,

so I will walk for the sake of walking,

no camera, no phone,

feeling the breeze,

tasting the salt sea air,

and simply being…


I’m taking a break to be present,

to myself,

to others,

but mostly to God…


I’m not going anywhere,

I will be at work

but I wonder

if this break will be more like a real break

than any other break I’ve taken recently…


I need a Sabbath week,

in order that I can reorder myself

to Sabbath days…

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Lesbian visibility week…

It is lesbian visibility week,

though of course we are always visible,

but of course we don’t generally go around

flaunting our sexuality

despite that being a frequent accusation….

my favourite quote on this is from comedian Hannah Gadsby,

who says she cooks more,

but nobody calls her a chef comedian…

you see it’s not all about sex,

though for those who chose to debate us

that is all it is about,

it is about being in the world in a particular way,

like being left handed or short sighted,

like being neuro-diverse,

or a wheel chair user,

but of course not like any of those,

BECAUSE we are all unique,

there is not one lifestyle lived by lesbian women,

we are simply who we are…

some tall, some short,

our skin could be any colour,

we may be neuro-diverse, or not,

or even left handed! Perish the thought 🙂

as for me,

I am tall, a bit overweight, and

I read, I read as if reading were going out of fashion,

and I need to finish all the books,

I love the beach,

love painting,

write poems and am a deep introvert,

so I am not writing this to say look at me,

but if you do, please remember that

being a lesbian is a small part of who I am,

and everything about me,

it took me years to say the word,

to accept and love myself,

and I am still recovering from all of that hiding,

my skin still feels new when I out myself again and again,

and I bruise easily,

particularly when challenged and told I cannot be the me that I am,

because I lived a hidden life,

naming myself unacceptable…

BUT, I am accepted and loved

by the one who made me,

by the one who calls me precious, honoured, and known,

and there I find my comfort,

for when I was hidden they sat with me,

in my hiddenness , and waited,

until like a butterfly I was ready to emerge,

vulnerable, and more than a little afraid….

and yes I have been rejected, misunderstood and called a liar,

but I am me, and I am learning to be me,

as I walk this rainbow path of life…

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Imposter syndrome…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything, this lent has rushed by at quite a pace, possibly because I have had so many funerals to arrange along with the visits and preparation they require. Don’t get me wrong I am not grumbling, I see funerals as a vital and vibrant part of ministry, it puts me in touch with people who are wanting and needing something to turn to. The funerals have been a mix of good memories and life celebrations those where the question “why” hangs thickly in the air, that is a question I have no answer for, so I hold a space of hope, it is all I can do. Hearing the stories others, of lives well lived, of challenges faced and overcome, and of loves won and lost is inspiring and thought provoking. I am thankful not to have come across a perfect person yet, but they were all loved, and that is so telling.

We are all loved, even when we struggle to see it, and we are all valued and valuable, I must admit when I visit families mourning their loved ones I do sometimes wonder what people will say about me, will there be a big turn out, or a small one, how will be remembered, it is at times like that when I begin to doubt myself, maybe we all do. Imposter syndrome is a something I struggle with, having had my calling to ordination questioned, not by the committee tasked with testing my call, they passed me with an 100% vote, but by others who had an axe to grind, I do sometimes wonder if they were right. I guess that is not a bad thing! But too much questioning can lead you down a hole that is unhelpful.

Yesterday I received a call asking if it was okay to use one of my poems for a Holy Week Service, of course it is, all I ask for is that credit is given, but as usual brush it off, why on earth would anyone want to use my poetry. I write a lot, I also paint a lot, and I both want to offer these gifts and to dismiss them, I think at lies beneath that is a fear of rejection, maybe declaring that I have nothing much to offer is my way of shielding myself.

What complex creatures are! We long for love and hide from it, we crave acceptance and shun it, it takes courage to step out and offer what we are and who we are especially when we have been hurt. As someone who is always encouraging people to see themselves as God sees them, fearfully and wonderfully made, known, accepted and loved, I need to turn my preaching upon myself, and hope that it will slowly sink in.

( Image- masks- my work)

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Questions about bridegrooms and harsh managers… (pondering Matthew 25)

Having read Nadia Boltz-Webbers amazing sermon on Matthew 25: 1-13 on the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, a friend of mine came up with more questions, and that really got me thinking, so bringing a hermeneutic of suspicion to the text I question the power of the bridegroom and the harsh manager in the parable that followed. They had the power, and in their power they excluded those who were in need of oil and compassion.

This is my thinking:

The blind see,

the deaf hear,

the lame walk,

the prisoners are freed,

and the kingdom of God is made open for all,

who is judged then,

maybe it is those who have excluded,

the harsh manager who excluded his fearful servant,

the mean bridegroom who did not open the door

to the bridesmaids judged foolish,

when Jesus looks over the crowds at the end of time

will he include the fearful servant, and the foolish bridesmaids?

Is he not more likely to exclude those who excluded them?


So why was the harsh manager so harsh?

He expected much of his servants, and certainly the fearful servant

was concerned about punishment ?

Yet for years we have been told that the harsh manager is a God figure,

rewarding the shrewd and casting out the fearful…

This is not the God I have come to know…


And what about the bridegroom, refusing to open the door to the foolish bridesmaids,

ignoring their request to be admitted,

surely these were his friends,

or surely his brides friends?


Could it be that this manager and this bridegroom are not God/ Christ figures at all,

but false Messiahs welcoming those who look after themselves.

The “wise” bridesmaids were mean, they could have shared their oil or their light,

the harsh manager could have recognised his servants fear…

maybe we are being called to recognise this

in the light of the ministry of the one who went to the margins and to the edges,

light could be shared and compassion could be shown.


Yes we need to be ready,

but that includes being ready to spot the false Messiahs bearing false promises

For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.  (Ch 24)…

a smouldering wick won’t be put out,

a bruised reed will not be broken…

who is here to help the servant and the bridesmaids,

with a call to go to the lowest and the least,

in the kin(g)dom where the first shall be last and the last first,

perhaps Jesus is calling us to see the excluded and to go to them.

to see him in his need in them,

and to serve as he would serve,

not for our own gain, but simply because in Christ that is who we are!


For as Jesus taught in the last paragraph of Matthew 25:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these

brothers and sisters of mine,

you did for me.”

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Into the desert…. (Spirit and Empire)

Driven or led,

compelled or accompanied,

he entered the desert for forty days,

forty days and forty nights,

praying and fasting,

with the wild animals

he turned his face to God…


His stomach rumbled….

Turn the stones to bread,

fresh bread, warm…

surely you can smell it,

the voice taunted him, a whisper at first,

then growing more insistent..

how wonderful that would be,

you need never be hungry again,

you could feed the world, and all would know you

Lord and Messiah…


Stand firm, hold fast,

the Spirit countered,

God will sustain you,

do not be afraid,

there’s more to life than bread….


there’s more to life than bread he repeated,

and, we cannot live on bread alone


for a while it was quiet

days went by,

he grew in stature,

he knew who he was and whose he was…


well said the voice,

if you know who you are and whose you are

test it out,

suddenly he was standing on the highest point of the temple

crowds were milling below him…

what a stir there would be

if angels bore him safely to the ground…

he would be heralded,

Messiah and Lord,

the crowds would surely bow in wonder,

the city would be awed to silence,

and the Roman oppressors would quake in their boots….


You are not here to be lauded,

the Spirit countered again,

you are here to serve,

to seek the lost,

to heal the broken,

to free the captives…

the blind will se,

the lame will walk,

and ALL will know that

the love of God is FOR THEM!



I will not test my God he said,

I will not put him to the test,

his voice was firm and strong…

I am his,

and he is mine…


He returned to prayer,

again it was quiet,

and days went by


The suddenly it was as if he woke from a dream,

he found himself on a mountain top,

this time the tempter stood next to him,

arm thrown around his shoulder,

as if they were friends,

but, the smirk on his face betrayed him

look he said, gesturing to the vista that lay below,

all this can be yours,

these cities and towns,

this empire,

yours to reign over and rule….


I am wealth, I am power,

worship me!!!


he looked long and hard…


Once again the Spirit spoke,

the kin(g)dom of God

is not like the kingdoms of this world,

the kin(g)dom of God,

means freedom for all,

it is ever expanding,

ever including,

in time and place it has no boundaries…


In the kin(g)dom of God

the first shall be last,

and the last shall be first,

the little children shall be gathered,

swords will be turned to ploughshares

and the lion will lie down with the lamb…

peace love, joy and hope will be its signs.

and you will show the way…


As he looked his vision expanded,

he saw the crowds,

sheep without a shepherd,

and his heart broke, and filled with love for them…


I will not worship you! He said to his tempter!

Speaking quietly, but with such power,

that the tempter shuddered and stepped back.


I know who I am and whose I am,

my way is the way of the servant.

and I will take a bowl and towel and wash the feet of all

who choose to walk my way..


I worship God alone!


The tempter was overcome with rage,

for a moment he burned brightly as a flame,

all hot and glowing,

then the Spirits breath extinguished him,

with all his hate and rage,

and he withdrew…


The Jesus sighed a deep sigh,

the angels soon surrounded him,

bringing food, water and encouragement…


As he stood and left the desert he knew

this ending was only the beginning,

he would walk the path set out for him,

he would seek the lost,

he would heal the broken,

he would free the captives,

the deaf would hear,

the blind would see,

the lame would walk,

and to ALL he would show the love of God,

and none would be excluded…


The Spirit was in him,

flowing through him,

and he was not alone…

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Out of sorts…

Loving God,

today I feel out of sorts,

off balance,

and tired,

I am very tired,

I kept myself awake last night

worrying small things

out of proportion,

and struggling with mountains of despair,

so I hope you don’t mind

if today I take a step back

and choose to look after myself,

to be kind to myself,

of course when I look at the life of Jesus

I know you don’t mind,

for he took time out to pray,

time to be,

time to rest and recentre,

time to connect again and again

with the unforced rhythms of grace,

so here I am weary and burdened,

tripping myself up,

second guessing,


and doubting my worth…


so I am choosing rest,

that I might find life,

and love and joy

once again….

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The space between us…

I will break bread with you,

I broke bread with you,

for that is the way of grace,

though I suspect you would deny me it

were the tables turned,

and I wonder if you would even offer me crumbs?


Your words cut me and bruised me.

your insistence on your own righteousness,

your Bible-believing ways,

your condemnation of my very being.

My reading of the Bible is somewhat different to yours,

so, why did you come to the table?


Why did you choose to receive from a woman,

a queer woman? ( you may be unaware of that last part).

Was it an openness to grace, to the offer of

an open table where none are excluded?

Was it the reminder that the Pharisees ticked many boxes

but were hard hearted and mean?

Or was it habit,

you came because you have always come?


Know this though,

your words wounded,

your judgement bruised,

your righteousness condemned me…


I hope I chose to take the towel,

for I know who I am,

and whose I am,

then I broke bread and offered it,

and you received…


still I was shaking

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Dear God,

Dear God,

I find it hard these days to know what to call you,

Mother Father, Holy parent

Spirit, guide, or spirit-guide

deep internal knowing,

love, oh I mean Love, with a capital L,

ground and source of all being,

knowable but unknowable,

deep mystery,

holder of all things,

all in all,

God, is not a big enough word…

and words are important,

because I watch peoples faces when I say God,

some of them close down,

and with good reason,

what they’ve been taught about you

is restrictive at best,

you are a holy dictator bent on punishement,

probably disapproving of all we do or say,

ready with thunderbolt in hand to ponce on the slightest mis-step!


I was once fearful of you,

waiting for punishment,

filled with shame and guilt,

wracked by the sense of my own inadequacy,

and in my darker moments I still am,

I wait with bated breath for the truth to be made plain,

I am not worthy of your attention,

and probably bound for hell…

thank goodness you have now shown me that hell does not exist!


So, dear God,

will you help me to become really free,

to be more fully human like Jesus was,

embracing life in light and shadow,

showing us how to be whole,

not demanding a false perfection from us,

will you help me to use names for you that will help rather than hinder people,

so forgive me if I rarely name you Lord,

and hesitate to speak in triumphant tones,

but I will call you LOVE, I will call you divine parent,

creator, and whatever comes to mind

as I seek to connect myself and others to the wonder of your presence….

and help me I pray to know myself

embraced, by the one who will not let me go..

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Shadow work…

I walked today,

through a field of memories,

collecting fragments of lost promises,

and broken dreams,

seeking out shards of hope,

searching the darkened corners,

exploring the holes

where shame still lies weeping….

these memories are of different ages,

some recent,

others older,

but all have left wounds and scars,

and I live with them,

I guess we all do,

some are griefs,

and deep laments,

avoidable, and unavoidable

they have made me who I am…


I can only go back to visit,

there is nothing I can change

no matter how much I might long to,

each one is a death of sorts,

even the celebrations

cannot be changed or reversed,

and there are these happier pictures of course,

but it’s not them that haunt me,

not them that turn up at midnight

filling my dreams as uninvited intruders,

I cannot push them away,

or drown them out,

( believe me I have tried),

so I have decided to invite them in,

to welcome them with compassion,

to hear their cries,

I meant no harm

is a familiar refrain,

but circumstances conspired,

and the wounds and scars are real

the only way then, is to choose to heal together…

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I should be like….

Oh they run every day,

I should be like that,

they swim,

and they swim outdoors,

I should be like that,

they do yoga,

the meditate,

they paint beautiful scenes…

I should be like that,

if I could be like that,

maybe I will learn,

they’ve lost 3 stone,

I should definitely be like that,

they are so careful with the environment,

reusing, reducing, recycling,

I should be like that..

I could live better, work better,

move better, be better,

I should be…..


In the midst of the “shoulds ” I stop….

I stop them becoming oughts ( for they are close),

and I remember that


I am not them, or them, or any of the ones I so admire…

I do my daily round of tai-chi, and I walk as much as I can,

I swim, though not regularly now,

I love photography,

I love the sea,

and I paint abstracts

sometimes with gold leaf,

it is okay to be me!


and yes there are things I would like to do,

but I pray that these would be desires,

not oughts or shoulds,

I am free, just to be me!

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