Sky Path

Who worked the path

That I traverse

To make it easier – for me

 

I love to look up

Into the inky black sky

A rainbow collar around the moon

White shiny dots

Outline the plough

And the guy for archery

 

Sometimes even planets

Are seen but I know nothing of these

I see only pinhole camera dots

 

Filled with wonder

Full of awe

At the hands that threw those lights into space

And who made my heart His home

Someone told me about the deathstars

Bright shining lights signalling death

 

One night two years ago

I saw a shooting star

Drop from the sky

 

Billy sang it was a satellite

And he wished you cared

But I saw it shoot

And I did not wish anything

As it fell down straight.

To you though, my love, my friend

 

I look forward to spending time with you

Your mission field was a small patch of land

Seeds planted in each new child

 

I wonder do the others

Bear their seeds on their path

Maybe if I looked horizontal and not up

I would see across the meadow

Or see pairs of oxen too

Evenly yoked through history

 

The people came before and are yet to come

The ones who surround me now

The crowd of witnesses from the field

 

Bringing us all

Closer to Thee O Lord

Closer to Thee.

A sojourn in the secular part 1

Spending time with others really does curtail my praising loudly in the van. However no one seems to mind if I sing along to the vacuous lyrics of current charting songs. And some people don’t mind as I sing lyrics from a long time ago.

My preference has always been folk songs, from the Northern wastelands of England. I had an eclectic musical heritage from the brass bands of Northern towns and villages to the beginnings of punk and beyond.

Now when I sing these long ago “vacuous” lyrics I see the emptiness in them, the dire need of the songwriter to find peace with their outpouring of teenage angst & middle age gender neutral menopausal hypocrisy.

Take these lines:

Now the summer’s over
and I find myself alone
with only memories of you
I was so in love I couldn’t see
‘cos I was living in a world of make believe.
But now you’re gone I’m just a daydreamer

I’m walking in the rain

chasing after rainbows I may never find again

Life is much too beautiful to live it all alone

A rainbow chaser! For those of us who love to see rainbows because they are an eternal reminder of God’s Noahic covenant, but not for us, for him. How reassuring that each rainbow reminds God of that covenant which along with the other OT covenants were fulfilled by Christ.

Jesus, our Lord and our God, who changed history for every single person on this planet. Our God who loves us {all} not just the obedient few, but us sinners, {all of us} even me, even you.

Our lives were empty, they were living in a vacuum of daydreams, chasing after status, dragons, nicotine, porn, bigger and better THINGS,

Our lives are now full, we are the richest people on the planet with no thought of monetary gain, because we inherit. We inherit, because God who loves us has invited us to join his family, no masses of paperwork, no forms to filled in and check boxes ticked. Just each of us turning away from our past and turning to Jesus, laying down our s*&t at the Cross, all of it, everything we have done, everything done to us. It is a time of celebration, of repentance, of new life.

No more chasing…

We are home…

And it is full of rainbows – chockablock with rainbows & moonbows & spectrums of every design. And our lives are changed. Human love lasts for a season. God’s love is eternal, it is real and it is open to all to accept this love.

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dancing dragons

Where did today go?

One minute I was on the school run and the next I was on it again. In the middle was some cooking for a crazy bunch of people. But I got bonus time.

I love bonus time, special time to spend with a special person or special people where honesty and accountability can take place. It doesn’t have to be a long time but it is a time that is ten held as a memory when the going gets tough.

I sit here thank full for these people, grate full that these people are in my life and though I should be doing something else I just want to acknowledge those people.

a moment

in time

captured

enjoyed

with love

rainbow

towel throwing

Travelling on from Mahon Falls I started a new voice recording that fills in a little of the background of the why and how of my journey to Mahon Falls and what happened there. I din’t have my map when talking so the abbey is Bridgetown Abbey just outside Castletownroche, not near Tallow.

“So I was travelling towards Waterford but in a very meandering kind of a way. I went to an abbey, I went into Dungarven, and I’d just left Dungarven and I was meandering along, obviously going too slow for the rest of the traffic. I was going 80 they wanted to go 100. They were not pleased and I saw this sign that said “Mahon Falls” and I thought…

“D’you know let’s go look at a waterfall”

So I did. Now it was 11 kilometres and a few wrong turns of course cos it wouldn’t  be me driving if there wasn’t wrong turns and my SatNav was going crazy and well eventually, well I stopped a few times to take photos cos it was just so awesome and beautiful and the red or russet tones on the hillsides, on the mountains. It was just awesome and there were some sheep who wanted their photo taken. And they were like saying “pick me” and there were some really weird sheep, they were painted red, but all over so they looked like little red sheep. So took some photos of them but from a distance.

I arrived at the car park of Mahon Falls, now I don’t know what I was thinking but I got out of the van expecting I suppose that the waterfall was going to be there, so I was thinking a bit like, Torc, you can park and then a few hundred yards and the waterfall is there. And it wasn’t. And I was a bit cross.

But I thought well I’ll walk to the first rise and I’ll take some photos and that’ll be fine. And as I was walking to the first rise and thinking about all the beautiful things that had happened to me that day. I mean there was a time, I was at the abbey, it is an abbey near Tallow, Bridgewater perhaps?

I was at this abbey, and I was just so, it was just so quiet and I just thought, I just wish and I know I am travelling down to Waterford cos I’m working tomorrow, but wouldn’t it be great if I could have two days. Wouldn’t it be great to have two days. And then I got to Fermoy. Went to supervalu and got my provisions. So frugality out the window, strawberries, raspberries and celery for the two lunches and bananas, apples, tomatoes and satsumas for dinner.

I was talking to the woman at the checkout and I was saying how that I was travelling down to Waterford because I was working the next day and I was having such a blast getting down there. Because I was taking photos, I was enjoying myself, just soaking in the views, and praying to God and just being still, and not doing … really … The driving, I never count that as doing, it is just a way of travelling whether I am walking or running, or driving it is just a method of moving.

So I got out to the car park at supervalu, and before I’d gone into supervalu, I thought I’d lost my phone, I thought I’d left my phone at home, and I was thinking oh right okay, I’ve left my phone at home, when I get to the hotel, I’ll click onto the wifi and send Sean a quick text message, pick up my phone and look after it for the next days, if anyone wants me, tell them I’m not there.

And so I really thought I’d lost my phone, or left it at home. I looked one more time for my phone. And found it, And I put it back down again, ….    and it rang. And it was a number that didn’t tell me who it was, and so I thought well I’ll answer this it might be a delivery guy. And it was Ruth. All apologies, because the clinic is cancelled. I told her I was happy it was cancelled. I am still going to Waterford and I am still going to enjoy myself.

So I find myself at Mahon Falls, And I am walking and thanking God, because, my one dayday, my mini vacation day, had now become a mini retreat. It is just me and God.

And nobody else.

And I need that time because. I am having the collywobbles. And I am not acceptable is coming again. I’m not clean enough is coming again. Why would anybody want me to lead a congregation is coming again.

And so I was thanking God and I was walking, to the first rise, I’m going to take photos, cos I was ill prepared. I was not dressed to go walking. I get to the first top of the rise. And I look down and the waterfall seems ever so far away, but I’ve a zoom camera so I took a zoomed picture.

But I felt called to go to the next rise. And everytime I did this and did it a number of times, I would stop at the top of the rise and I thought I would take a picture here cos, always looking for sermon illustrations and small group illustrations. I’ll take a picture and that’ll do fine. Water cascading down waterfall. But as I got closer, the last rise before I came to the rivery bit. I noticed that some of the water was in the main part of the waterfall was falling differently to the rest. And this started to spur me on. Now bear in mind heeled boots, skirt, not dressed to go across a river. No matter how many stepping stones there are. And when you include my balance issue, – not prepared at all. And expensive camera, very not prepared.

So I got to the first bit of the river. It was stream, it wasn’t a river. But it was water and it was moving and there were stones in it. And I am looking at it and I realised that I never actually go across these things unless someone’s with me in case I can’t back and they have to help me back. I never do them on my own. Even if I was wearing trainers, I would always have someone with me. I can’t do it on my own. I have this fear of getting stuck. Fear of not being able to get back to where I was, and I will climb any stone, any rock, any hill, as long as someone’s with me, who can help me down cos I’m, not very good at getting back down again. My balance goes all over the place, more so when I am coming back down. But these were wee little stepping stones, and I’m thinking will I won’t I?

What will I do? And I looked up at the waterfall and I just couldn’t get the right picture, not matter how much zoom I put on it I couldn’t work out why some of it was slower or different than the rest. So very wobbly, got across the first stream, got a bit further and went across the second stream and the third was a bit of tight squeeze but we managed to do with only a little bit of mud going on the boots and a damp bottom. And got across.

And then the path changed from being a gravelly path to being mud or ground. It would have been dry ground hait been the middle of summer but because it was Spring and we’ve had the wet spell, it was muddy-ish. So I hato tip toe because you can’t walk with high heels in mud, you sink so tip toed and got as close to the waterfall as I possibly could. And then I sat on a stone and I just lookeat it. I didn’t take a photo of it. I just looked at it.

Mahon Falls is like a multi layer cascade. At the very top there is a thin channel, where all the water is going at the same speed. And then it goes to the side through another bit and that was out of view at this angle. And then there was the bit, the bit that had been bugging me all along, the bit that I just had to go and look at. And in the middle of the waterfall there was water just pouring down the rock quite slowly and then either side of that there were two channels. One was going very fast and one was going fast. But because I was now so close to the waterfall I could see there were another two smaller waterfalls, or two smaller channels and this water was just doing its own thing.

And then all this water pooled into the bottom, I assume I couldn’t see that, but it all came to the next little fall altogether again.

And I just thought that – that is like us, we are all made new creations, and that’s the beginning of our journey, we are madenew creations, the past is gone. But how we then walk, or how we then travel is different for each of us. Some of us travel fast and some of us travel slow. And some of us go at the side and a different route. But we all come down into a pool that cascades down the same again.

And I think God was telling me that yes, I am different, I don’t have a massive heritage of Methodism within me, I am different. But he still loves me. And he loves me just as much as anybody that is seeped in Methodist history, anybody that knew John Wesley personally, anybody that knew Jesus personally. He loves me the same. And He has a purpose for me.

And so there I was at my waterfall, looking at my waterfall, and because on Friday I was due to have a meeting where I was about to throw the towel in again and say, this is it. I am too different. I am not the same, I can’t, why would I bother fighting, this whatever it is. I am too different, I am unacceptable to the church. I am throwing the towel in before I have even started really this race.

And then I turned around. ..

I sat there for some time. But eventually I realised I would have to go back up, because every time I had gone down, I was thinking I’ve got to go back up that. And my back, my sciatica was sort of like saying Yes you do! Ow! And I was thinking about the streams, and I was thinking about all the things and how difficult, how more difficult it was going to be to get back.

So I turned around, to head back and there was a rainbow. And today is not a day for rainbows, I have a friend in the States called Charlene and she tells me there can’t be a rainbow there because there is no rain. And I told her to make her own with glass beads in a window. And there was a rainbow for me, there was no rain. There was not a cloud in the sky, today is 9 degrees, and blue sky and absolutely gorgeous. And there was a rainbow. It was a spectrum, there was no bow. At Mahon Falls there is a curve of mountains, around the falls. The sun was beginning to go behind one of the mountains. It was about quarter to three in the afternoon. And you see, that is the other thing that had happened all day, was I kept catching a glimpse of a spectrum in the sky, but not fully seeing it, just sort of like “I’m there” Just out of the corner of my eye I kept seeing them. And it was very weird. But for the first time I had my camera handy and about to walk I took photos of this spectrum. I don’t feel the need to prove that I have seen a moonbow, or that I have seen a rainbow on a cloud, but sometimes other people need to know. Sometimes other people need the proof, so I thought right I’ll take this photo. Well I have never had so much trouble taking a photo in all my days. No matter what way I put the camera, Trying to angle it up I couldn’t. It just would not take the photograph of the spectrum. So I have ten photos of mist, and the spectrum that was in the middle of it I don’t think I got it. And I was crying, I was, water was coming down my face, it wasn’t crying, it was tears of joy. Because every time I get to the point where I throw in the towel, I never actually get to throw in the towel. I get to say I’m going to throw in the towel, I get to verbalise it, I get all the way through to that point but then when the time actually comes for me to actually physically get hold of the towel and throw it on the ground, I get a spectrum. Or I get a rainbow, or in the middle of the night, a moonbow, I get God telling me, that He is with me, this is His will, whatever way it works out, it is His decision,

And I may not be acceptable to the church, I may not, but it is not for me, to throw in the towel.

I must continue on.

Persevere

Keep going

And step out in faith

Just like going across those streams

One step at a time

Cos that’s what He wants me to do.

And I am not going to diss’ Him

So there’ll be no throwing in the towel, on Friday.”

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I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

remembering the moonbows of my life

moonbow

I didn’t know there was a thing called a moonbow or whitebow. I saw one, not knowing what it was in the physical sense but I knew what it meant spiritually. It could have been a shooting star, or brighter than normal star or any other night time manifestation.

But it wasn’t it was something that I could have missed, I could have driven past, I could have dismissed, I could have done many things but I stopped and saw and basked in His love.

Let me explain a little.

It was my second day of paid work that week. The previous day I had driven four miles before realising I had my reading glasses on, I had put it down to lack of sleep for the first few miles as everything was a little bit blurred and foggy. The reason for the sleeplessness, an ongoing doubt in my abilities to make the next leg move into a full step.

So this particular morning, it was seven o’clock. It was dark with the moon setting slowly. I was again in conversation with God. I mean I understand that he has a call on my life but it scares me and I doubt, not him. I truly believe he has in many different ways put this call on me, but it is in my response I have difficulties. I look at the people living out this call and I don’t feel that I can do that.

So I drove down my lane, turned left and after the first bend the left side of the sky had something weird in it. I immediately touched the edge of my glasses frame to check I had on the right glasses. Next I washed the windscreen. I looked right and saw the moon, huge and clear like the moon in ‘Bruce Almighty’ but on the left was all at the time I could describe as a night rainbow. I stopped the van got out and just marvelled.

I immediately decided not to photograph it. It was for that moment. I didn’t know what it was and how rare. I also didn’t know that the moon that night was the smallest full moon since November 18th 1994. So what I have is the memory of a beautiful God moment, not the first and not the last but as today progresses one of the many images flitting into my mind.

As this left leg moves in slow motion to plant itself on the ground to make a step, to test this call and test it against what the church needs I have a “viewmaster” collection. All I am doing today is responding to the call and beginning the testing period, and if I am unsuccessful (if that’s the right phrase) I pray that more doors will open for the next quirky, INTP, God loving, with a massively bad past but who is now dead to all of that and I live for the Lord, he lives in me.

I feel like dancing suddenly…

I think I will…

After all if there’s no dancing, it ain’t my revolution

Praising my Saviour in song, word, life and deed all my days long.

raindrops

It was the rain I missed most. Growing up in Ireland you certainly got used to the soft days, the showers, the heavy downpours and torrential rain. I remember one summer; I must have been ten or eleven. It rained every single day for the entire summer holiday, then the first day of term; bright sunshine.

Sitting in the room watching raindrops fall down the window, like an ever changing waterfall, I remember that. The wind, there was always wind, would drive the rain against the window panes. The panes themselves would shudder and moan. They were the old type, two halves and a sash cord to raise them up or down, only one fixing in the middle. Designed to last, designed before house burglary became an occupation for so many, but they did like to groan.

The house was, I remember, fond of talking. Floorboards creaked as you stood on them, doors whined as you opened and then exhaled when closed. Tiles on the roof thought they were in a rock band, pounding rhythms with the rain, thrashing out da-dum,da-dum, da-dum. Presses and cupboards held their own secrets; moths, insects and spiders all vying to be top-dog of whatever press they were in.

Up the creaky stairs and along the corridor was the bathroom. For a young curious lad the bathroom held the most appeal. In the twilight, silverfish roamed the tiled floor, woodlice snuck out of the skirting board and made a dash for the underbelly, the dark side of the bath. Once I counted four different kinds of mould and fungi growing in the damp humid conditions, black mould on the walls, a turquoise growth in the corner of the bath. Under the sink was a platform, hewn from fresh timber for the ‘smallies’ in the house but it had aged and in the clammy dank darkness of the bathroom and had grown orange and yellow curly foils of fungi. My brother, the daft one, wanted to eat them but then he would eat anything; charcoal, turf, the dog’s dinner. He was always so hungry and so painfully thin.

He was the first of our family to die in the 2014 emergency. He had always been sickly and couldn’t cope without medicine. Slowly getting weaker and paler, more ghost than human, his skin translucent. The veins and arteries throbbed slower and slower. There was nothing we could do to stop his death, living in a big old house ten miles from the nearest neighbour, no transportation; we sat with him as he took his final breath.

 

Dad and I dug a grave for him in the orchard, it was raining and the raindrops were making puddles as fast as we shovelled. Mam wrapped him in curtains and carried him out to the hole that would become his home. It was very sad. Within a year I was the only one left, in the wind, in the rain, in the house that talked. It got less sad, or maybe I was becoming numb to human suffering, maybe that is why I am so good at my job.

I left the house in a misty rain, August 2015, I didn’t lock the door, I wouldn’t be back and there were still a few people living around, in sheds, in ditches, in hedgerows. Let them have a roof that drums and floors that grumble, let them count the fungi. I was done with it, I was done with Ireland. There were no cars visible anymore, when oil stopped coming to our shores people just put their cars away, buses and trains stopped too so you could walk down the middle of the road and no one would run over you, you could walk all the way to Dublin on the railway tracks with no machine ploughing into you.

Walking with no real plan but to get to Cork and then to wherever I could I am amazed that I landed this new role. I sit in the desert, camouflaged and shoot people. It is a lonely occupation, I can go for days without seeing a soul and then, bang, bang, bang three are dead. The bodies get covered in sand just like the raindrops at home helped bury my family.

I miss my old life; I miss the speaking house, the howling North wind. When I allow myself I miss my family, my brothers and sisters, my mam and dad, all interred in the orchard under the watchful eye of the venting house. I wonder if anyone moved in, I will never go back, this is my life now, each week I get a fresh supply of food, drink and bullets, I want for nothing. Looking out of my peephole with nothing but blue sky and shining sun, I can’t help but miss most of all sitting in my room watching the raindrops cascade down the shuddering windows.

Covenant Love

promise me, keep me

never let go of me

i am Yours and You are mine

A sign of our love

 

look to the sky

see My truth

in Me your hope is found

A sign of My love

 

feeding needs

weak made strong

mustard seed of hope

All signs of Your love

 

(in awe of rainbows)

Hopelessness

grey world

grey people

grey lives

lonely afraid

alone bereft

 

greyness rules

murky dismal drab

not dark enough for pure evil

squalid dingy grey

never abating

 

grey world

grey people

breathing without hope

You are needed here

Shutter Speed

Businesses come, businesses go but the message of God remains the same. Kodak once a huge player, the one to aim for, in the camera and film industry is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection. It’s time is over, not because the digital age arrived but because it ignored its coming. Kodak produced the first digital camera in 1975 but didn’t pursue with gusto the revolution that was about to overtake the market. It didn’t like change, didn’t want change and believed because it was the market leader it could influence the market. But consumers did not listen, instead of insisting on staying loyal to the brand of Kodak, they went elsewhere and the market moved on. Kodak has had a couple of decades to right itself, to change but it remained arrogant and is now suffering because of its lack of fluidity, flexibility and vision remaining stagnant. What can we learn from this as God’s people?

Revolutions come, revolutions go but the message of God remains the same. The way it is delivered changes, early Christians met in homes, gathered in open spaces but had no building like the temple or like our churches today. They met after work, before work, they took fellowship over a meal. They shared and encouraged each other, they spent time together in praise, in prayer, in worship.

Change happens, I wonder what the first Christians to use a building as a church thought, were they concerned about the practicalities: was it big enough? Was it too big? How were people to be arranged? Was there to be an altar? A pulpit? A lectern? Would they have instruments? Would one person lead? Or were they concerned about getting the message out to as many people as possible.

The potential questions they had could go on forever. Their focus must have been on God because here we are all these years later using buildings for churches. We have followed on from their beginnings. When I was very small the church I was whisked away to closed down, a lot of Protestant churches closed down towards the end of the 60’s and all the way through the 70’s in England. Travelling through Lancashire I see them now, carpet warehouses, private homes, restaurants and re-opened churches under a different banner. No doubt it is the same all over, not just Lancashire, but that is where I know.

Conversely buildings that had other uses: cinemas and bingo halls are now being used as church buildings. The time for cinema and mass bingo halls is waning. A time for the Lord is increasing but under different constraints than the original buildings. One church I attended in an old cinema had the feel of a concert, there was live music, a dramatisation and only a few sentences of God’s message delivered not from a pulpit, not from a lectern but most obviously straight from the heart of the orator.

No, we don’t want to make changes where change is not to our advantage, but there are times when we do need to make changes. When it comes to communicating the gospel, while the message itself never changes, our way and means of communicating it have to change in order to communicate effectively to the particular group we are addressing. One size doesn’t fit all!

Also, whether we approve or disapprove, many things around us change and if we don’t adapt, we get left behind…. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church

That’s all well and good, churches need to change to communicate God’s message to an ever increasingly diverse congregation. Ten years ago I was on a field trip in Killarney National Park with a group of adults ranging in age from 21 to 60. All participants shared  spliffs bar two, I was shocked at such widespread recreational soft drug use across social class and ages in rural Kerry. Times are changing, what is the norm is changing, it is changing now faster than ever before. Yesterday I watched a toddler in a stroller watching “Peppa Pig” on DVD whilst I was in the queue in the Credit Union. He was completely oblivious to his surroundings and totally focused on the cartoon, no eye contact with the other children, no looking around at the environment, focused only on his entertainment. How is that young child going to hear about God?

5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Matthew 10 (The Message)

How do we as individuals have to change in order to let God’s message be heard? Where do we need to go? A number of years ago I lived in a north-side corporation estate in a city in Ireland, it was the greyest place I have ever lived. The grass seemed to be grey, the sky, grey and most painfully the people were grey, the children were grey. Hope did not live on this estate, gangs ruled, drugs ruled, drink ruled. There was a different set of morals and societal rules, children were raised by children, the law of the street ruled. It was very hard to maintain colour in the stark light of such bleakness, the children I knew then are all on drugs, the girls on their second or third babies, one or two have jobs but their parents still don’t. Men in their 30’s believing they would never work again, haven’t, the Celtic Tiger made a U-turn on entering this estate. It is still grey, the people are still grey, the grandchildren and great grandchildren – grey, grey, grey. How can we hope to bring the light of Christ into such greyness? What new tools do we need to equip ourselves with to be able to engage with these people? How do we share the good news of our Lord in the face of such bleakness? One person at a time, a friend asked me this week to pray for them, that they were in need and needed to know someone was praying for them, this person does not have a personal relationship with God, yet but has seen the changes God has made in me and I pray will make the same changes in him. As people, individuals, we need to keep moving, growing and avoid the arrogance of stagnation, of staying still so that we can always be shining lights for Christ burning bright in the greyness.