Life is full of journeys. Some are  life changing. Some tedious. Some challenging. Some painful. Some exhiliarating. Some short. One is life long.

We journey with many different companions too. Some are by our side most of the`way. Some we encounter briefly. Some are flesh and blood. Others are moods and feelings, health or  sickness. Some times we journey in great numbers. Often we journey alone.

The psalms all 150 of them have something profound and real to say to us as we journey. Some are to be sung along the way. Some will speak into the depths of our fears. Some are like a hand to hold and some are as a silent companion when words are beyond us.

They are steeped in history, Jesus, would have known them from childhood, and they are still set to music today in  fresh expressions of appreciation and celebration of their riches .`Psalms like the 23rd still accompany many on their last journey and continue to bring strength and courage to those`left behind.

That said, they are not always an easy read or all sweetness and`light. They are about the human condition in all its strength and all its fraility. It is for that reason they are still so relevant .

St Benedict for one made the psalms an integral part of the  Rule of life  All the`psalms were read or sung each week. The monks encountered   all the despairing, doubtful, bitter, vindictive, self pitying, nationalistic, and angry voices  in the Psalter. It is not that every sentiment is admirable, but that in praying the Psalms, they and we  confront ourselves as we really are. The Psalms are a reality check to keep prayer from becoming sentimental, superficial, or detached from the real world full of real people struggling with their relationship with God, with one another and with their own limitations.

The monks would have known the psalms by heart so lets start out journey by learning one today

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm  and makes a beautiful prayer of affirmation, and praise . Make up your own tune and sing it sometimes too!'

'Praise the Lord, all nations, extol him all you peoples: for his love protecting us is strong, the Lord's faithfulness is everlasting.'



Psalm 1

Let's start at the very beginning..a very good place to start! Words  from the Sound of Music apply very well to the psalms. The first 3 verses of Psalm 1 are a gateway through which we go as we begin our journey. They give us a vital piece of advice essential  to take with us  Use a  map. The map  which is the law of the Lord- (that is the whole of Scripture.) Happy say the psalmist are those who meditate on it.                    To delight in the law – is not just to look at the scenery as we journey but to take it deep within us and tuck it away if you like to bring out when life throws up challenges and disappointments and opportunities. If we do that then our journey will be fruitful, we will bear fruit in due season. We will have a deep stability and rootedness in God which is as secure as the roots of a tree.

Read the first 3 verses again and draw a picture of a tree with the roots showing. Write under each root words that symbolise where you find your security. On the branches write where you feel your life is fruitful. On the ground draw a few leaves that have fallen from your tree. Pray about each one – the ones that you have been glad to let go off and the ones you grieve for.

Loving God to delight in your word is to be blessed with rich nourishment for lifes journey. May I draw closer to you day by day as I read your psalms and embrace your will for my life. I pray in Jesus name Amen.


Psalm 16

The opening verses of this song  are both a prayer for protection and an affirmation of trust. It speaks too of inheritance, which the psalmist partly enjoys now as he celebrates the sense of God being at his right hand but which is ultimately an eternal inheritance. Gods faithfullness is for now and it is forever. The psalmist declares that God is all he has and he celebrates that that is more than enough. His fears  are overriden by his belief that God will show him the path of life and trusts  that path will lead to the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus calls us to. If God is our greatest good then we can breathe a huge sigh of relief – we cannot get lost on the journey and we cannot lose the inheritance that Jesus died to bless us with.

Gather on a table if you can all the things that you have inherited in your life. All the things that you would like to leave to others. Spend a few moments enjoying them. Pray too for those whose faith you have inherited and pray for those you would most like to pass your faith on to.


Psalm 18

'I love you O Lord' my strength, my rock in whom I take refuge.

Refuge is a big word in the psalms. God is continually called a refuge and how many times do we need that support. It is the only support that we can ultimately rely on when storms hit our journey. When we are exhausted, alone, demoralised, afraid. In Psalm 2 David took refuge in remembering that God would ultimately put things right. In psalm 7 he took refuge in resting in God's wisdom for the plan of his life.

In this psalm Davids refuge is in remembering and thanking God for past blessings. Remembering the times he has been brought safely through another close encounter that has threatened his life.   The word he uses for 'love' in the opening line is an unusual Hebrew word that conveys deep emotion and passion. David bares his heart and soul as he declares his love for his God. He doesn't withhold ny part of himself. Every bit of who he is loves every bit of the God who has saved and blessed him.

Whether you are crying out today for God to be your refuge or whether you are singing I love you O Lord write your own psalm that expresses how you feel. It may only be one or two lines or it may be a long heartfelt pouring out of all you have kept inside. Be real. Be honest and be reassured that God hears all you say and all that you cannot find words for.


Psalm 22

If we were beginning to feel rather comfortable about the psalms. The words of this psalm bring us back to the reality of suffering. Especially poignant because of Christ words from the cross. It is impossible to read the psalm without reliving the events of Good Friday and feeling something of the agony and horror of the most hideous of deaths – crucifixion.

And yet. And yet..... it ends on a note of hope. Of promise. Of salvation. Of redemption. God has done it cries David. It is finished cries Jesus on the cross. God has stayed by his suffering son. His death wasn't futile. He wasn't forgotten. God is, was and will always be alongside those in pain, bringing some good out of even the most desperate situations. It is hard to hang on to that. It is impossible to see sometimes and it doesn't diminish pain or suffering one iota. It can though somewhere deep within us, save us from ultimte despair. God is at the beginning of our journey as we set out and he is at the end. He is with us through every dark night and every morning when the effort to get up is just too much. There is a spark of hope in that and that hope is resurrection.

Cut out stories from the paper of situations where God seems absent. Light a candle and pray the light of hope into the lives and places before you. Pray too for the light of hope in the places where you are hurting.


 Psalm 42-43

I always think of these as the see-saw psalms. The psalmist is in the depths of despair but doesn't really know why. Then for no apparent reason he is up beat again and trusting in Gods love and plans and rejoicing in Gods presence. He starts with a deep deep longing for the waters that will quench his thirst. A thirst that is unbearable. He remembers happier times and comes to the dreadful conclusion that God has forgotten him. His see saw is at its lowest. Then gradually the water he craves begin to trickle and he gently laps up the realistaion that God is still there within reach. He trusts he will bounce back, his see saw will rise high again and life will be balanced, his journey will resume and his well being restored.

We` all have days where for no reason we wake up low. The list of things we have to do is beyond our strength or the emptiness of the day is just too much.we suddenly notice and feel that nothing at all is right with our lives. It's not self pity, it is a mood that can overwhelm and threaten to rob us of all we thought was good and worth living for. Equally we can wake up singing. Have a spring in our step and life is just the best. Mostly we live somewhere in the middle, but it is good to know that we are not alone in our moods. The psalmist has been there and left us a precious mark on our map.

If it is at all possible and you have a park near you – go and play on a see-saw – with a friend. Eyebrows may be raised but be brave! Feel the ups and the downs – the high and the lows. If you are on your own- try a swing instead- for the same feeling of high and low, If you can't then stand tall and then bend down. Give thanks  for something good in your life as you stand up and entrust to God something that drags you down when you crouch. If you aren't so mobile- close your eyes and imagine yourself doing it as you pray.

Psalm 61

God`as a refuge recurrs in this psalm but the verse I love the most is 'set me on a rock which is higher than I'. How many times that verse has been my prayer when I have been stuck in the rut of my littleness and my limitations. When I have longed to be lifted above the difficulties of life and set on a rock where no problems could`reach me and I could be protected from the assaults of the world  for a while.

Of course`wherever we go we take all we are with us but a high place gives us a different perspective and our prayer is that it will be God's perspective. Looking at our lives – where we have come from, where we might be heading from a perspective bigger than our own can be life changing. In small ways drawing us out of our self pity, or despair at how hopeless is everything is. In big ways – from higher up we can see further and with Gods perspective we can see  the bigger picture with Gods heart and Gods love. There is a cross in that bigger canvas and an empty tomb. There is a creation that God rejoices over and delights in. There are tears as mistrust and sin darken hearts and lives. There is a light that refuses to go out and which the darlkness can never overcome.

Go to an upper window, or go out to the top of a hill  and when you are ready  pray

God of all the`world, vast and tiny, set me on a rock that is higher than I and grant me to see through your eyes, to listen with your ears, to rest in your strength, and when the moment comes, to act with the love of your heart. Amen

Psalm 81

when we think of commandments they are usually big asks! So this psalm can come as a surprise as we re commanded to be joyful – to sing and to make muisc! Not so easy on own perhaps but as a church and a community – what an opportunity to celebrate our great God and to rejoice. Joy isn't the same as happiness and it isn't something we can pretend or conjure up. But it is a response like gratitude that is tucked away in our hearts and which we can draw on and release as we look to God and away from ourselves.

Verses  8- 10 echo Exodus 20.2 which immediately precede the giving of the 10 commandments. This time just when we think there might be more dos and donts God surprises us again – reassuring us, reminding us of his love and promising to feed us. We don't have to think of commandments as negative and we can see Gods wisdom immersed in them. To be obedient needn't mean struggle. It can mean joy.

Express joy today- play an instrument if you can. Sing your favourite hymn or song. Maybe you have always wanted to join a choir? Now may be the moment.Or book a ticket to a concert. In your own way – Sing aloud  to God your strength and shout for joy.

Singing on a long journey can make the time go much quicker and help us forget how tired we are or how much we ache!


Psalm 91

In the opening verses, the psalmist uses two contrasting images for God as our protector. A fortress and a feathered wing couldn't be more different. One sounds splendidly solid – the other unbelievably vulnerable. The thick stone walls of the first stop all spears and arrrows. The covering wings of a mother bird are fragile and she only protects her young by bearing the cold and the dangers herself. How can God be both? In Jesus we have a clue to the  answer- he is both the King of Kings and the lamb. He conquers death, but only by suffering and dying. It is his wounded hands that heal. A crown of thorns that he wears. An innocent death that he dies for the guilty. If we put our trust in him in – then the end of the psalm promises that the strength and the vulnerbility of God will be his gift to us in trouble. It won't save us from trouble. Our journey won't be all plain sailing.  It will though be blessed with and surrounded by the love of our God.

Light a candle and give thanks and pray for all those who supported you in your journey of life so far. Those whose strength has been an inspiration and those whose vulnerabilty has been their gift.

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 is one of the most moving and heart felt psalms as we look around the world and see refugees weeping. Hundreds of miles from home, their countries and communities being torn apart and their families living in conditions that make for tears not music.

It is also one of the most brutal psalms if we read it to the end which we don't often do but the longing for revenge and retribution are real, they were real then and they are real now.

For us praying for victims and aggressors is  a hard calling. Seeing the faces or worse – the bodies of children on our TV screens makes us angry and desperate to see an end to violence. Balancing justice and retaliation. Trying to be peace makers not warmongers is hard. We`are called to pray even as our hearts are breaking. We are called to pray even when we have hate in our hearts. We are`called to pray using all our emotions, in all our humanity. We dishonour those we pray for if we give any less.

Write down in different colours pencils or paints the words that describe how you feel when you watch the news. If you can't find any words don't be afraid to leave the paper blank and just write on it the places most on your heart.

God of all the places of violence. Of all abandoned homes and all broken families. We bring to you the best and the worst of our emotions and feelings and ask that you would make of them your prayer for your world and all who suffer in it. Amen.


Psalm 139

God knit us together in our mothers womb and knows us inside out and through and through.

Every thought that flits through our minds. Every dream we cherish. Every choice  we make. Every step of our journey that we take. Our past. Our present. Our future. All are held in Gods hands. All are known in Gods heart. Which can be both comforting and disconcerting. And always beyond our understanding. This is a psalm of ownership. We are Gods children. We always have been and we always will be. It is a psalm that as we near the end of our journey enables us to look back and see how God has journeyed  with us even when we felt alone. It  is a psalm that allows us to look ahead too and trust that whatever lies over the next hill, or round the next bend we will not have to face without the love and grace and strength of our creator and guide.

If you are a knitter – knit a square and as you knit make each row a prayer. Starting from childhood until now pray over each stage of your life – good and bad. When you have completed the square keep it with as a reminder of all you have come through, all you have enjoyed etc. Knit a second one with each row a hope for the future- for you, your family and friends. If you don't knit – you could learn or you could find another creative way to illustrate your past and your hopes for the future.


Psalm 150

like every good concert or firework display the best is saved to last and the psalms end with a great explosion of celebration and praise! They are  a commentry on life. An expression of all it is to be human. They are songs, tears, anger, despair, joy,longing, poetry, anguish repentence and gratitude. Every possible experience shared and chronicled for our journey today and for those who will journey after us. Even when the psalmist feels only the absence of God, he still prays as if God were listening. Each outpouring of his heart is part of his ongoing relationship with the God of his individual circumstances but more than that is encompasses all people who believe in the God of yesterday,today and tomorrow.

It is right that the last psalm is about praise because if we truly share every step of our way with God we will always in the end be full of thankfulness and graitude. All roads lead to that place. All hearts in the end find their fullest joy in praise and thankfullness. The last line 'Let everything that has breath praise the Lord' is a prayer to `carry in our heart each morning and each night. As we pray 'Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven' It is a prayer that can lift our spirits as we imagine all creation praising its creator. What a world that would be.

Create a collage of creation praising God. Cut out pictures or paint or draw them. Use the completed picture as your prayer and allow the last line of the last psalm to minister to you, to bring you hope and to inpsire you day by day.

Our journey together is over but we will each continue on our way through the ups and downs of each day. I pray the psalms will be a companion to each of us and draw us closer to God, make us more real and deepen our faith in Jesus. They might have been writtten a long time ago, but they have spoken afresh to each generation since and they are living words for us today.



Big Doors Swing on Small Hinges


At the beginning of November we spend a lot of time remembering and looking back, commemorating all saints, all souls, the tragic events of the gunpowder plot and the even more tragic loss of life in past and present wars. Then as November draws to a close and Advent approaches, the emphasis shifts and we begin looking forward to Christmas and beyond to a New Year.

Perhaps we could think of faith as a hinge - keeping the door of our lives open both to what has gone before and what is yet to come, enabling us to celebrate and learn from the the past but to embrace the opportunities and challenges of the future. In many ways faith is a lot about looking back to the events and life of Jesus 2000 years ago but if it's to be real it is about today, about the here and now, the new challenges we face as individuals and communities.

It will take courage to both cherish the moment of now, not missing it's blessings whilst holding the past and future together, So often we idealise the past as if it was a golden age or block it out because it's too painful to remember. We may rush headlong into the future or bury our head in the sand hoping it will just pass us by because we`re just too tired, too busy....

As the darkest time of the year approaches, take time on your own or with others, to reflect on the past and dream dreams for the future. Open the door of your heart and celebrate all that you are. God is the God of yesterday, today and forever. He cherishes each one of us, understanding our regrets, our fears, our disappointments and sharing our hopes, our joys our longings. He is the past, the future and the now and continually oils the hinges of our creaking doors with grace and love.

Thank Goodness!Title Quote is from the writing of W Clement Stone

The London Marathon

The London Marathon

For a lot of people running the London marathon is on their bucket list. It is certainly on mine and I hope one day tocross the finishing line exhausted, but elated! There is something about the sight of all those runners which moves me to tears. So many stories of courage. So many people wanting to raise money, wanting to make a difference. Wanting to show themselves they can do it. They can run 26 miles.

Of course it's not just about the day. There is the training. The going out day after day in wind and rain when you ache and would rather have an extra hour in bed. The dark days when you can't run through injury and the darkest days of all when you lose the belief that you can finish the race and berate yourself for ever believing that you could.

Those thoughts don't just apply to marathon running. We can excitedly start a piece of work for God and there is a great surge of energy and the tiredness kicks in. Things don't go the way we thought and the desire to give up and to convince ourselves that we have failed that God hasn't called us at all really kick in and unravel us. Perseverance, endurance, faith, belief trust are beyond us.

It's then we need to find cheerleaders- encouragers, those who like the crowds lining the streets of London spot the runners who are really struggling and call to them and wave to them and even run along side them for a while. To re- energise them. To inspire them to Keep Going.


There can only be one winner of any race. But the Marathon isn't about winning. It is is about courage. It is about taking part. It is about everything that is good about the human spirit. It is about togetherness. It is tough. Very tough. But when the going gets tough..........


Is there something on your Bucket List you can begin to make happen? Is there someone you know who needs you to run alongside them for a while



Life's Marathon


The good thing about running the London Marathon is that you know exactly how many miles it is. So you can pace yourself and train accordingly. We don't know how many miles there are in our life's marathon. Should we work like mad in our younger days and then rest when grey hairs start to appear. Should we give everything we have now or hold something back in reserve. How fast should we run? One thing we are called to do is to run our race 'with perseverance. Chapter 12 of the letter to the Hebrews is a great encouragement. It is challenging, reassuring and brings us back to Christ, whose life race was short but a marathon none the less . A marathon with hurdles! This passage is one of my favourites verses 1-5 especially. It is easy to miss the first verse-' lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely' and yet without doing that we are too burdened to run. It is like trying to run in trainers with stones in. it is like running backwards.

Read this passage slowly and reflect on it and make it your prayer today.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross. . Disregarding its shame and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.'


And may God bless our every step, as we sprint, as we jog and as we rest. And may perseverance, endurance and love be gifts we are blessed with and gifts we share in Jesus name


Lenten Reflection after the Brussels Bombings


As I look out at the moon. I am reminded of the Cathedral in Gloucester and one Ash Wednesday, which by co – incidence fell on the same day as the Islamic New Year. As I walked home from Evensong and looked up at the fragile crescent moon above the pale floodlit tower, peace seemed so real, so tangible. So tantalisingly close. There above me were the crescent and the cross, symbols of two major faiths together in one icon of absolute beauty. A prayer so evocative, so eternal that for a moment everything seemed full of the freshness of new life.

But now as then, a moment listening to the news, more deaths, more violence, more hatred ...... brought me back to the reality of the divided world. Divided by faith, creed, culture, economics......

No wonder we find it hard to trust in the Prince of Peace, and a God of love supposedly able to embrace all people, all cultures, all creeds. Suffering and war do knock our faith in a loving God, vandalise it even. But thank God they needn't destroy it, because at the cornerstone of that faith is Jesus. Who on the one hand was himself at the mercy of the world and who on the other was and is the mercy of God FOR the world. For its healing, its redemption. War, hatred, suffering, indifference, cruelty, all these things break the heart of love. But they can't break the power of love.

God was and is passionately interested in all his people and creatures and weeps and grieves more deeply than we can imagine. But the love he embodies in Christ is stronger than the worst we can do to each other. Stronger than death itself and even the many waters of religious hatred cannot quench it.

That doesn't make our faith a passive acceptance of evil. It doesn't stop us raging at God at the pain of seeing beheadings, bombs, refugees drowning, children starving before they have even had a chance at life. If our prayers are to be real or in any way vital then they must at times be as angry as they are reverent, which is the ongoing power of the psalms- which above all else are real. Uncomfortable yes- but real. Real relationships are about real emotions and our relationship with God is as real as a relationship can get, although it has to live with the paradox of the closest presence and the deepest absence.

We are called to look suffering full in the face and to challenge the cries of 'Crucify, crucify' not just during Lent but whenever we see hatred or prejudice or fear. Whenever we see Christs form in the broken and oppressed people and creatures of this beautiful and brutal world. We are called to stand alongside peoples of all faith and none. Not in superiority, but in penitence and humility. We are all in this together, whatever our faith, whatever we call ourselves we are in this mishmash world of joy and tragedy, of wonder and of horror together. Tears and laughter. Pain and hope know no barriers of language. They are universal as God is universal and as our need to empty our hearts of all that divides us is universal.

Each day as I look at the moon and look at the cross I can only pray Father forgive. Not in despair but in hope. Trusting and believing that the crescent and the cross can meet, can embrace, can make peace and can make our world a place we would all want our children and grand children to grow up in and thrive in.

Hope is fragile. Hope is being bombarded. But hope is love refusing to give in Refusing to surrender to hatred.

In the time I have taken to write this, lives will have been taken in the name of religion, in places far removed from the safety of my little cabin. That's the reality. That's the tragedy. That's the choice. Give up or go on.

I commit to choosing to go on......


Back to School

Back to School

I didn’t really enjoy school, but one thing I did get excited about at the beginning of each new year was the prospect of a nice clean exercise book. I always pledged to keep it neat and tidy and use my bestest handwriting. It was a chance to make a new beginning. To study harder, get better results and all in all be an ace student! Of course by week two, my new book was as scruffy as my old one and I had slipped back into my old routine of scrawly handwriting, and homework done at the last minute. All the potential of a new start had gone,- like my new year resolutions down the pan!

A lot of school work is done on computer now but a new school year still affords us the opportunity to renew our commitment to one another and to God. To give our best, in our studies, our friendships and our prayers. It gives us a chance to begin again. To renew our determination  not just to  think about ourselves but about the wider world. To help organisations like the Children’s Society in their endeavours to offer every child the opportunity to be fed, to be safe and to learn. To bring every child hope that their circumstances can change, that there can be a new beginning. That they aren’t forgotten.

Making a new beginning isn’t just about trying harder, or even working harder. God wants us to have fun as well. Yes even at school! God wants to bless us through our friends, to refresh us through Scripture and to renew us as we take time out from studying to enjoy the things that excite us. It’s hard not to get ground down by daily life. It’s hard to keep the sense of anticipation a new school year can bring. Tiredness creeps in. Anxiety hovers over our work and the prospect of exams hangs in the air. For many in our world just finding enough food or enough clean water let alone a clean uniform will be a struggle that takes all their energy and all their strength.

So how can they and we refresh our sense of purpose each day and feel upheld by God?

Jesus knew about busyness. Healing, and teaching about the Kingdom, he got exhausted  So early in the mornings he would find a quiet spot and pray. Amidst all the rush he knew he needed to step aside to recharge his batteries, and renew his relationship with his Heavenly Father.

Maybe as a new school year gets under way, we could follow Jesus’ example. Perhaps we could make a moment each day to say our family prayer and  ask Jesus to help us through the day We could hold in our hearts all who are suffering, especially children in places of war and poverty. Those who won’t be able to go to school and those who find school frightening and difficult.


As we  say the Lord’s Prayer together may we all know God’s refreshing Spirit in our lives and be renewed day by day as we begin again

and again.


Our Father in Heaven

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever




We thank you Lord Jesus that as we meet back at school for a new term you are there with us.

We pray your courage for all those who are afraid they will be bullied

Your companionship for all those who find it hard to make friends.

Your confidence for those worried about their lessons and  keeping up with the work

Your wisdom and grace and encouragement for all who teach and support children in their learning

And we pray your blessing on those seeking to help children around the world unable to go to go school…



LENT 2014

Words matter. We are judged by our words. What we say, what we write, helps others inform their opinion of us. If we use Twitter our words can be the other side of the world in a fraction of a second. Words are powerful, they can build up and they can destroy. Journalists have the power to destroy reputations in one article. We have the power to destroy someone' with one cruel remark. First and last words are especially precious and particularly remembered. Most parents will remember proudly the first words of their children. And if we have ever sat at a bedside and heard someone's dying words we are unlikely ever to forget them. We take notice of the first words of Presidents or Prime Ministers and are inspired by the last words of those who face death bravely and honestly.

The bible is the Christians book of words. But whilst we have Jesus' last words from the cross recorded in the Gospels only Mary and Joseph were privileged to hear his first spoken words as a child. We do have his first recorded words at the beginning of his ministry. In John's gospel they are 'Come and See' In Mark they are 'The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news'

Through this Lent I'm going to reflect on a single word each day starting with the word 'Repent' on Ash Wednesday. As I have suggested words matter. But so does silence. There are often far more words in our lives than silence. But we need silence just as much as we need words. It's the punctuation, it gives meaning to our words, it helps us understand our words. Without it things can go very wrong. The 15th March is Global Day for lions, raising awareness of those bred simply to be shot. But if the headline was 'Lions march for justice on .... Rather than 'Lions, march for justice on …' It could give the impression that lions themselves were going to take to the streets with their placards. What a sight that would be! A simple comma can transform a sentence. A simple ten minutes of quiet can transform a busy day. Punctuation matters. Silence matters. So each monday instead of a word to reflect on I am going to say nothing and invite you to as well!


In our Lenten journey this year may we hear the still small voice of God in the silence. Embrace a fresh relationship with Jesus the Word made flesh. And may the Spirit open our hearts and minds to the Living Words of Scripture.


there will a daily reflection and prayer on



Reflection on the killing of Marius the Giraffe


You might be thinking “why bother writing about the death of one giraffe?Yes he was cute and yes it was sad and gruesome what happened to him. But hey an elephant dies every 15 minutes, a family are made homeless every 11 minutes and most shocking of all 21 children under the age of 5 die every single minute. So what's so important about one giraffe? What does it matter in the scheme of things?”

I believe it matters for lots of reasons, the most important of which is because I believe it matters to God. I believe it matters greatly to God how we treat one another and how we treat creation. Mahatma Ghandi wrote “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated' I wonder what the death of Marius says about us? It would seem to me that when animals are discarded and treated as expendable simply because they are surplus to requirements or their genes are inferior it is a very sad day for them and for us and one that shames us all .

The gift of life is precious and God given and it is dishonours our Creator when we take a life casually, brutally or just because we can. We won't all be vegetarians, we won't all have been up at the crack of dawn breaking ice for our chickens or horses or sheep. We won't all think pigs are cute or rhinos are beautiful. But please lets all think carefully how we live, how we treat the animals entrusted to us and how we safeguard their future as well as that of our children.

I have written this and the song below, not because I think Marius matters more than children, or his death is more tragic than theirs. But because I think his death asks big questions of us and most of all because I believe every life matters to God, every death matters. It is in the nature of love to care and I believe God is love and extends that love to all He has made.  

A Song for Marius

For 18 months they cared for me I made them smile and laugh Their number one attraction a beautiful giraffe

Then came the day when all that changed as I watched the rising sun instead of bringing water they brought a loaded gun

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong

I was surplus to requirements so they shot me in the head and still the crowds were watching as I lay before them dead

Then they cut me up in public, Cameras honed in on the knife They fed me to the lions Such a brutal end to life

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong

They didn't have to butcher me They could have let me go Offers of another home came in but they said No

Don't ever let them silence you Until every creature's free You couldn't save my life but you can save my friends for me.

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong



A thought on love for Valentines Day

'Many waters cannot quench love – neither can the floods drown it.' Words from the beautiful biblical poem Song of Songs . Brave words when so much of the country is underwater and thank God trustworthy and true ones. Love is tough, bears all, overcomes all and is enduring. Soggy love is about as appealing as soggy carpets and there are plenty of those around at the moment. But real love makes a difference and changes lives. But what is love?

W.H.Auden asks the same question in his poem that parodies romantic love; “When it comes will it come without warning, just as I’m picking my nose? Will it knock on the door in the morning, or tread on the bus on my toes? Will it come like a change in the weather, will it’s greeting be courteous or rough? Will it alter my life altogether? O tell me the truth about love”

So what is the truth about love for us in our relationships- with family, friends, with God? I is a word that is very easy to say but much harder to actually live What is it that couples are doing when they join hands and exchange rings? What do they teach us about love and what does Christ teach us. Four words come to mind. Commitment, vulnerability, honesty and ordinariness.

Whenever a couple publicly declare their love for one another, their commitment to one another, their cherishing of one another, it is a risk. It is a risk that makes them vulnerable both to one another and to us. They are opening their hearts to us and in front of us and they are opening their lives most fully to one another. There is no hiding in love, no pretence. There is reality, frailty, honesty and of course joy. And there is ordinariness. There are wonderful occasions like a wedding day which will always be part of their life together but there is also the mundane things that make our lives what they are – putting the dustbins out in the rain, clearing up when the cat's been sick... it isn't all chocolate and roses – there are a lot of stale biscuits and stinging nettles as well! They are intertwined and it is love that intertwines them.

It's the same in worship when we express our love for God- there are the highs of wonderful music,in packed churches with vibrant prayers. And there is evening prayer said on a cold dark tuesday with by two or three faithful souls huddled together over a single candle. But the thing is they both matter. The great moments are wonderful, but it is in the routine that we steadily tune our lives to love and worship. It is in the ordinary that love becomes a way of life.

And Jesus in his life and ministry shows us the meaning and power of love in his commitment to the needs of others. He told ordinary parables, ordinary stories about the Kingdom of God, the place and the time where love is most fully itself. It made him vulnerable and it cost him his life. But it is on the cross where love bleeds, where love suffers that we see the truth about love, and we see that it is costly.

The love of God nailed to the cross by and for the very people who thought they knew all about love but they saw only raindrops not the oceans in the heart of God for each one of us and for all creation. They limited God's love to those who were religious and kept all the rules of the law – they didn't see or want to acknowledge the love overflowing for the outcasts, the failures, for the ordinary folk like us. Love isn't limited and it isn't static. It's a journey- it's our life's work, it's God's gift- it's all those things and more and we are not expected to be able to define it or articulate it, we are invited to be drawn into it and to draw others in and to rejoice that love cannot be defeated. Love lives on. Love bears the marks of the nails but it doesn't stay crucified. It rises and it lives on. It cannot be destroyed or diminished,for in the words of Sydney Carter it is a dance and the dance goes on.

On this Valentines day, lets pray for all couples,and for one another that love may bring us joy and sustain us, day by day, in the light and in the darkness of our lives. On the celebratory mountain tops and in the plains of routine. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it – but if they threaten to – turn to those around you for they are walking with you . Turn to Christ who died for you and whose love is your protection and your strength. And we will turn to you as well.

And now three things remain- faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. 


February was know in Welsh as 'Y Mis Bach' the little month. It is the filling sandwiched between the two long months of January and March. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate the little things that can be so precious, like a word of kindness or encouragement . To think about the little things Jesus spoke of in his parables, like yeast and mustard seeds. And it gives me a chance to tell you about one of my elderly chickens.

Little Pearl was the smallest and by far the scruffiest chicken on the block. In her four years with me, she has laid exactly 7 eggs, none of them bigger than a table tennis ball and most nearer the size of a marble. But undaunted, every day off she went in search of a good spot, wriggled herself about before getting up and coming back terribly proud of herself. But with no egg forthcoming!

Each day she went through the motions – going off – coming back, not the slightest bit bothered that she is in fact unproductive and in other circumstances may well have ended up as a burger or Macnugget. She's happy, I'm happy, we're all happy. Well all except the cook for the day who on occasions is a couple of eggs short of an omelette. But then aren't we all sometimes!!


Sitting watching her in the summer I found myself asking a few questions. Are some of us all show and no end product? What things are we just going through the motions of in our lives? What things on the outside look good but actually have no life in them.? How quickly do we judge ourselves and one another only by our productivity?


And then miracle of miracles aged 4 and a half Pearl has laid a full size egg. Her tail feathers have emerged and whereas she looked like a rat bag. She now looks like the Queen of Sheba and she walks around as if she knows she is as beautiful as she has ever been, with poise and a real spring in her step.

I can't explain the change. I can only marvel in it and as I approach 50, rejoice that it is never too late to take life by the scruff of the neck, or to believe in yourself and the possibility of transformation.

May this February bring you little blessings, little glimpses of the you, you can be . Little reminders that God walks with you. And if you can lay the odd egg along the way, well all the better........!!

Happy New Year From Downton Abbey!


I spent most of my Christmas at Downton Abbey! That is to say Jane bought me the complete box set and I sat hour after hour, episode after episode transported to the world of the Crawleys and Granthams. The Bates and the Bransons. High tea and trenches. Prison and parlour games. Love and loss. Triumph and tragedy. All beneath the roof of a Yorkshire Estate in the early years of the Twentieth Century.

I wept as Lady Sybil died in childbirth, when the footman William succumbed to injuries sustained in the First World War and when Matthew Crawley died well I was inconsolable.

Mixed in with that was the wonderful wit of Maggie Smith – wouldn't we all like permission to be as rude as her. (yet beneath it lies a deep caring for her offspring- oh yes there does!!) The dramas in the kitchen with Mrs Patmore and Daisy, the deplorable Thomas, the love story between the brooding Mr Bates and the beautiful Anna. The reliability and the developing friendship of Carson and Mrs Hughes, oh I could go on and on. I do know by the way that's it's just a programme but while watching it - it becomes real and can move, delight and enrich It might not be real life as we know it. But the emotions, the longings and the pain of the characters are real enough and ones we can in some way relate to. I have to say I think I'm probably most like Lady Edith- a bit of a disappointment and not quite fitting in. But even she has her moments – not many admittedly but one or two! And she does give and receive love, do her bit in the war and even learn to drive, much to Maggie Smith's disdain as she wonderfully says when she hears about it: “Edith dear you're supposed to be a lady. Not toad of toad hall!”

It might just be a programme, but watching the real characters emerge – seeing them fail and triumph. Seeing them overcome great sadnesses,great disappointments. To watch them grow in mutual respect is inspiring and encouraging and challenges me at the beginning of this New Year to ask some serious questions about my life. Their hopes, the things they put their faith in, the love they strive to be true to all batter at the door of my being and demand that I take seriously the business of life without trampling over the things that are precious by self importance, or lack of self worth. The best and worst of humanity lives under the Downton roof. Often beating in the same heart. And that gives me the courage to look into my own heart and not fear what I see. Because I am not alone in my struggles and in my contradictions.

If my life were dramatised – what would the TV viewers see in me? What would come across to them? Who would play me? Would my life be an object of ridicule? Or sympathy? Or would it be so boringly ordinary that I would be invisible as Lady Sybil is always saying she is in her family. Would I be seen to be petty, jealous, unloving? Or would people cheer me on as I picked myself up and tried again. And laugh fondly at my silly habits and irritating self righteousness.

What would I like others to see?What do I really value? What so matters to me that I want the passion to burst out across the screen and touch others. I have to say the clergy figures in Downton were disappointing stereotyped. Fat, boring and bigoted. But that's an aside. What makes me me? And what does that look like to others? What does it look like to God?

And what matters to you? What is most on your heart at the beginning of 2014? Who in Downton Abbey would you like to be and why? Are there any characters in Downton who can inspire you to be truly the person you know yourself to be but are afraid to be proud of, or to grow into.

Silly ponderings perhaps? Or profound questions as we step out into a new year. The world is changing as the Downton characters knew. The world is always changing and yet some things must and do remain. St Paul's letter to the Corinthinas may have been penned 2000 years ago but for the characters in Downton and for us we can rejoice that three things do still remain. Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.


A Final Downton Scene.......      (with apologies to Julian Fellowes)

Lord Grantham: Where does the time go ?

Bates: I can't rightly say Mi'Lord.

Lord Grantham: No, no man can, can they.

Bates: No but every man can respect it's going and enrich it's passing.

Lord Grantham I'll drink to that. Thank you Bates that will be all for tonight. 

Bates:Happy New Year Mi'lord

Lord Grantham Happy New Year Bates. And Happy New Year to you Mother

Dowager: Don't be silly dear. How can a new year possibly be happy for someone as old as me. There will be just more disappointments, more falling standards and God help us more liberal politicians. No Robert I don't anticipate that this year will bring anything other than tiresome troubles and indigestion.

Lord Grantham: Well I hope you're wrong.

Dowager: I'm never wrong dear. I thought I was once in June 1897. Only thought mind you and of course I wasn't. No being wrong is bad for one's health and I don't intend to start seeing a doctor at this late stage of my life. I've got better things to do.

Lord Grantham: What sort of things might they be and what's your new years resolution?

Dowager: Well. I'm glad you've asked . I've decided this year to be more forthright and to speak my mind.

Lord Grantham:God help us.

Dowager: Yes Robert God help us all.


May God help you in 2014 to be the person he has called you to be and may their be laughter as well as tears. Triumphs as well as failures and always, always family and friends to share them with.






Morning Eucharist

A blackbird berrying A robin at a fat ball, Another looking on, wondering whether to squabble or wait. He waits!

Sparrows on the ground

Gleaning rich pickings

Feasting on crumbs from under the table which previous messy eaters have flung out.

Water trapped beneath the ice in an old bowl, waiting to be released.

Plenty of early morning drinkers

But no bathers Not yet!

Such are the congregation on this raw march morning Sw

elled by families of tits Great and blue.

That zip in and out.

And as I pray 'Thy kingdom come, … on earth as it is in heaven.'

Just for a moment, I think it already has. 

Photograph shows Lynne  receiving 3rd place in The Jack Clemo Poetry Award with Ruth Gledhill and Dhallin Chapman.

John the Baptist and an Advent Calendar


Opening Prayer Lord Jesus, you came as the living word, to be the voice of the voiceless. You came as the word made flesh to clothe the outcasts. You came as the light in the darkness to reassure the afraid. You came as the lamb of God, to redeem the brutal. You came from the womb of the Trinity to the womb of the earth, to sanctify all creation. You came and you come as the servant of love, at Advent and always Amen



Advent can be a very evocative, and reflective time as we make our way through the darkness of a year coming to an end, towards the light of a star hovering over a stable at Bethlehem. It is the beginning of the Church’s Calendar year and can bring a sense of anticipation, and permission to make a new beginning ourselves. It is a time of waiting of preparing, of reassessing. But just as we are about to settle down into a nice gentle rhythm and pattern in bursts John the Baptist with no manners and even less finesse!

Of all the people in the New Testament (excepting Jesus) John the Baptist is probably the most dramatic, the most dynamic and the most compelling and disturbing. He is the great Herald, the booming voice of Advent and speaks with alarming and provocative authority.

Prepare the way of the Lord. The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good news.

There is no mistaking his meaning not like some public figures who say a lot and yet say nothing. John doesn't mince his words and he doesn't ramble. He is earthy flesh and blood proclaiming the divine. He had waited in the desert- perhaps having battled with his own temptations as Jesus did before his public ministry began and now his moment had come and he gives it everything. He put his whole heart and soul into his message and his sense of urgency, his sense that the time is now counter balances the waiting and preparing side of advent and this wake up call, this living invitation is John's great gift to us.

Repent now he says. Believe now. Follow now.

And not only does he in his ministry preach some of the most urgent words of scripture but also some of the most inspired. 'Behold the lamb of God' he says when he sees Jesus and glimpses something of the cost of Christ's calling

And he speaks too some of the most honest words and the most humble words- the one who comes after me is more powerful than me – I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.

And with great insight he says I must decrease and Jesus must increase.

John the baptist had it all- the urgency, the obedience, the vision, the humility, the grace to be who he was truly called to be- no more- no less. Yet he too faced doubt later in his life when imprisoned and suddenly overwhelmed asks Jesus 'are you the one who is to come or should we expect some other?' He wasn't perfect, he didn't get it all right and he certainly wasn't Mr popular amongst the religious of his day but in fulfilling his vocation he challenges us to ask ourselves this Advent what is our vocation?

And it is a big question for us to ask – who are we truly called to be? And how do we balance passion and urgency and make time and space to reflect and look forward. How do we live in the now at the same time as looking forward. How do we make sure in our rush to get to Christmas we don't miss the gifts Advent has to give us.

We might make a little desert time each day, time when we sit silently and ask God to show us the way he wants us to take and how to empty our hearts to receive the gift of the Christ child. Who might reflect on who we could invite to journey to the crib with us?

We might too do something practical and creative – if we have an advent calendar (and I have to confess that I have Thorntons one with a chocolate behind each window) as we open a window, we could take time to reflect on the picture whatever it is or the verse of Scripture behind it, mull it over and see where it takes our thoughts. Or we could go and look out of one of the windows of our house and pray for the people and the places around us. Praying peace into the homes and hearts of the people we live among. Or we could find a quiet little spot and open the window of our heart and offer to God all that we find there. Inviting Him to dwell in a new way in our lives, amidst all our muddle and clutter, all our longings and good intentions, all our pain and regret. Setting aside some time each day, even if it is as short an amount of time as it takes to open the window of an Advent calendar, may make our journey to Christmas, more poignant, and more powerful. Especially if perhaps we light a candle and allowed its tiny flame to remind us at this dark time of year that Christ is the Light of the World and that when he was born though it was the middle of the night, the sky was ablaze with light and glory. We could pray that light into the places in our world where the darkness of violence and hatred and poverty destroy, demoralise and diminish.

We could even make time together some days and share the views from our windows, share our thoughts, share our prayers- maybe even our chocolate although that might be a step too far!but it might teach us something new about God who is both the generous giver of all gifts and who longs to receive the most precious thing we have which is ourselves.

But why not dream dreams – if you could have exactly what you wanted behind each window what would it be. What are your most urgent prayers. What is our world in most urgent need of? It might be that the picture you dream is a little child laughing, walking, hand in hand with another child and you might pray for the raising up of more Mary and Josephs to love and nurture and protect and for an end to the tyranny of the Herods of this world, who crush the innocence of childhood. It might be that behind a window is a lamb frolicking in a field and you might pray that all creatures might be blessed with freedom and be safe from cruelty and abuse. You might see behind a window, a group of people kneading bread together and smiling and you might pray for an end to hunger and poverty. And as we dream let us imagine John the Baptist opening a window as well and lets look out onto his dream...

.John is the belligerent but blessed voice of Advent. His vocation was a great one. But he was only to prepare the Way- he was a signpost pointing to Jesus 2000 years ago and he is pointing to him today as he proclaims his message afresh to us and as we are called to proclaim it to others-

Repent Now, Believe Now Follow Now

For Jesus is the Lamb of God.

The Kingdom of God is upon us

Christmas is coming and the time is Now.

So individually and together, this Advent, lets listen,lets really listen to the voice of John the Baptist, lets allow him to shake us out of our complacency .That when Christmas does arrive, it may find us at the crib, not tired or stale, but excited and ready to welcome our Saviour, who is both Christmas Child and Easter King. And who one day will come again to redeem all creation. Amen.



And so is life....

What words are on our lips as we begin Advent? What jumble of words are in our hearts and heads crying out to be separated and sorted and silenced? How can we use the four weeks of Advent to craft out some space? How can we prepare our hearts to receive the Living Word Jesus Christ, both as the Bethlehem baby and as our beloved Saviour?

This collection of prayers are the words that are in my head as I think of Advent and Christmas and reflect on the coming weeks, from my little caravan in the grounds of Mill House. Preparing is one of the great themes of Advent and looking and listening are two of the most precious aspects I have been given as this new stage of my journey unfolds. Whether it is looking at the vivid stars in a sky so dark it is ablaze, or whether it is listening to rain drops dripping on the roof, or pigeons settling down for the night, or an owl out hunting. The sights and sounds are God’s gift and are a way of receiving more of God as I become entwined with creation, her times and seasons, her colours and decay, her struggle and all her joy.

I pray that as we look and listen day by day, drawing closer to Bethlehem and preparing for the birth of Christ, we may both see the sights and hear the sounds around us but also the sights and sounds of the outcasts, the suffering, the abused, the abandoned, the addicted. Or else we will settle in the inn of complacency and miss the cry of the stable. The cry of life new born and eternal. The cry of Emmanuel, God with us. The cry of Christmas, every moment, every day.

God of the stable, whose cry is love,

guide our steps to Bethlehem.

Empty us of all our noise

And Be the space between our words

That is silence and in seeking, in looking and in listening

We may find your gift

Which wrapped not in tinsel, but in hope reborn, is truly Christmas

Now and always


to see the prayers go to  or email me on and i will email the collection to you 




November is the month of remembering. We commemorate all the inspiring people we call Saints on Nov 1st. We remember ‘All Souls’ – all those we have known and loved on the 2nd. We light bonfires and have fireworks as we remember the tragedy surrounding Guy Fawkes on the 5th and then there is Remembrance Sunday itself, when we come together in silence to remember those who have died in conflict in Two World Wars and in many others since.                                                                                                                     Why do we set aside days and times to come together? Why is it important to  remember together?  It’s not as if we ever really forget those we love. But remembering is more than just the opposite of forgetting. And it isn’t about rooting us deeply in the past. It is about helping us to live our lives today. It is to make new, to put back together, to ‘re- member.’ And that is what Jesus did. That is what is at the heart of the Christian faith at the Eucharist. On the night before he died, Jesus gathered his disciples, around a table for a simple meal. He broke bread and shared wine, and said to them ‘do this in remembrance of me.’ The church has gathered ever since, sometimes in hundreds, some times in twos and threes to commemorate that Last Supper. Our faith is both living and an act of remembering. Enabling us to both look back and to look forward.

Jesus knew he was going to die, but he gave his disciples something to remember individually and as group of friends. At one level, when we have lost someone, we all remember and grieve alone. Yet remembering  as a family, as a community, as a congregation can bring us closer together in a profound way. Shared memories can make us cry, they can make us smile, they can give us the courage to go on amidst all the confusion and anguish and anger that loss can generate. In our aloneness and in our togetherness remembering is precious, painful sometimes yes, but precious.

So whenever we find ourselves remembering this month, on our own, or together, as we wear our poppies, or as we quietly light a candle. Let’s remember the past with courage face the future with hope and encourage one another to live life to the full. That when the time comes for others to gather to remember us , their memories of us, might bring them closer together . 

Slowly, slowly........


One of the most precious tasks I have at Mill House is looking after the chickens and collecting the eggs. And whilst they might not come out wrapped in chocolate like the ones I was given for Easter. It is a wonderful moment when I hold a freshly laid, still warm egg in my hand. A nun from Ghana once shared a proverb with me

Kakra kakra akoko benum nsno - Slowly, slowly, the hen drinks water

And that has stayed in my mind and my heart especially when I watch our hens drink. It seems to be saying something very profound and offers an opportunity to look at our lives which are so much about rush and busyness and to think about stillness and space and peace. Our world seems to be the complete opposite, full of rush and anxiety and noise. Some days even when you first get up there’s an overwhelming sense that there is just too much to do and you are tired and defeated before you even start. And a retreat house is no different, we are blessed with a wonderful setting, and opportunities to find space and silence but there are still a million and one practical things to do which can eat away at any peace of mind and threaten the sense of God’s presence that we try to rest in and enjoy.

Stilling the space within ourselves, drinking slowly, doesn't just happen, it comes from deep longing, deep thirst, even sometimes deep pain. So how can we nurture, protect and rejoice in a sense of stillness within? What does it mean to be still? It isn’t about sitting idly doing nothing. It's savouring the moment. It's being blessed with a sense of our place in the world, of being safe in the hands of the Creator God who made us. Of being connected with the mystery of life.

So if you get an opportunity to collect eggs this month or to watch a bird in the garden drink or even when you drink a glass of water yourself. Think about the mystery of life, the joy of life. Not cheap joy. But the joy that had to first endure the cross. The joy of risen life, the joy of hope.  

Living Together

Another non paying guest has moved into the caravan with me – Willow the wasp. She joins Archibald, Harold and Sesame spiders and Mildred the moth.

I first noticed Willow about 3 weeks ago and promptly shooed her out. This went on for a couple of days and I thought I had won that particular battle when I noticed her emerging from my packet of chocolate limes. She went out and came back about an hour later and dived straight back into the packet where she stayed all night! I peered in one day when she was on her morning constitutional and spotted one chocolate lime with a hole in – obviously breakfast, dinner and tea!

She wouldn't be my first choice of house mate and I don't suppose I am hers., but we have come to a working agreement that suits us both. If I want a chocolate lime I gently tap the bag- she leaves - I take one and she goes back in again! Meanwhile the hole in her sweet is getting bigger and bigger and presumably she is getting fatter and fatter!

I am slightly worried that I will forget she's there, put my hand in and get stung and a bit concerned  that she will forget about my candles, fly into them and go up in smoke. But that apart  Willow and I live side by side not exactly bosom buddies but not enemies either.

Perhaps a little reminder that we can't always choose those we live and work with but we can come to an understanding with a big slice of tolerance and if we tread carefully. And if we look to our differing needs then you never know we might even surprise ourselves and grow to respect one another. Not easy but perhaps possible. Flare up points are ever present but just maybe we can manage to co exist.

Of course there are limits and if Willow turns up one day with her children, Uncle Joe and six second cousins then they will all be immediately transported to the cider orchard across the road ! But for now we live side by side, munching on our chocolate limes and watching the autumn leaves change colour, heralding dark nights and short days.

I'm not quite sure what I will do when the chocolate limes run out. I guess I'll have to ask her if she likes sherbert lemons! 

Treasure in the field

Stinging nettles don't have many redeeming features but one is that they are a breeding ground for butterflies and a source of food for their caterpillars. One of the joys of summer is watching them chomping their way through leaf after leaf leaving only the skeleton behind and getting fatter and fatter in the process.

Looking from the main house, the field they call home (and in which my caravan nestles) looks like a neglected overgrown wilderness, but if you walk carefully through and look closely you will find these wriggling communities of tiny black creatures- treasure easily missed. Dozens and dozens of them journeying into a new way of being embracing colour and flight as they emerge from their cocoons. Leaving behind bits of carcase no longer needed in their lives as peacock butterflies. And although they don't go far from their beloved nettles, their whole experience of life has been transformed as they prance and dance in the air with an abandonment I can only marvel at.

I'm reminded of a story....

'The man whispered: 'God speak to me' and a meadow lark sang.                                       But the man did not hear it.

So the man yelled: 'God speak to me' and the thunder rolled across the sky.                                            But the man did not listen.                                                                                                                        

The man looked round and said 'God show me a miracle' and new life was born.                                    But the man did not notice.                                                                                                                       

So the man cried out in despair 'Touch me God and let me know you are here'                           Whereupon God reached down and touched the man.                                                                             

But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.


For more blogs from around Mill House go to