In which Ruth finishes her favourite journal

20140208_131328Did I mention how much I love stationery? Oh how I do! Lovely journals with beautiful covers thrill me more than I can say. (I’m a huge fan of PaperBlanks.) I love beautiful pens with vivid violet ink (CultPens are a great source of the unusual) and lovely puffin tins and purple staples and wooden pencils and … You get the picture.

Whenever I go off on retreat or holiday or to a course I take a notebook/journal. In it I jot down little notes and reminders. Sometimes when I come home I transfer bits to my bigger Quotes Journals or blog about the events which happened. This week I’ve been on the Clergy Silent Retreat at Whitchester and finally finished my lovely purple bejewelled journal. Who gave me it? I can’t remember but I’m sure it was a gift. I’m quite sad it has come to an end, this purple beauty, for it contains many truths and many memories. It still looks beautiful and I shall find a space where it can lie face-front in all its glory.

Do you want to know what’s in it? OK, here are just a few snippets:

  • On visiting a church famous for pilgrims, wonder why the people who take the service aren’t more friendly. Indeed, seem positively snooty. Would it hurt to ask where we’re from?
  • Retired clergy who take Clergy Retreats should not talk at length about their holiday memoirs, or insist that we all love poetry.
  • Meet clergy who are bullied, clergy who are gay but frightened to tell, clergy who are deeply unhappy. Praying seems so inadequate. Why is nobody caring for the carers?
  • Note: buy Icon to St Cuthbert by Tavener. (I never did.)
  • “Some gates only open if you work at them.” David Adam
  • “Too often church worship is weak because we have not been faithful in our own daily prayers. Its like trying to be friendly on a Sunday to someone you have ignored all week.” David Adam

O island my lovePuffin2
my windswept and craggy one
with rain and snow and sleet and wind
to batter down my defences
with sun and moon and stars
to remind me of your awesome power
with quiet and rest and stillness
to revive my spirits.

  • At Bishop’s House, Iona I did some manicures for my little flock. Someone said it was like Maundy Thursday!
  • Staffa and the water was like a millpond. Puffins are God’s comedians. Tobit should be in the lectionary more often.
  • Gilmore-Fraleigh style = Achieving/Directing
  • Saw God in the windows of St Chapelle. Adored spiral pillars and fan vaulting at St Severin.
  • “An atheist is someone who wakes up on a beautiful morning feeling thankful, and then remembers there is no one to thank.” G K Chesterton
  • Is there anything so sexual as St Theresa in Ecstasy at Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria?
  • Find it hard to find God in a chantry chapel until I spotted the unicorn.
  • Thomas Traherne is lovely and all that, but he’s really just not me!
  • Every cathedral should have geese in the courtyard.
  • DSCF0227Oh Gaudi how I love thee. How I love your fluid lines, your nature-in-stone, your colour and symbols.
  • Cool light of the cloisters are places to rest and ponder.
  • Everyone should have a Black Madonna in a snowstorm.
  • Pudding stones from 1026 in a church looked like clootie dumplings.
  • Relics Exhibition at The British Museum and adored some stunning reliquaries.
  • In the bible hardly anyone goes back home – you can only go forward home.
  • Who is holy? Someone who earths God in the ordinary things of life.
  • Today, what is it that priests need to become?  Enabler, listener, risk taker, perseverer, being a bit weird, shared episcope.
  • “How can I find God’s will? God’s will, if it exists, is probably locked up in a file in the Bishop’s filing cabinet!”  Margaret Silf
  • Stop reading and start watching and noticing. Everything is a gift.
  • Taking a group on pilgrimage is like herding cats. And I never did have much of a maternal instinct. Why can’t grown-ups catch a bus/ferry/train when they’ve known the time for months?
  • Feral Goats for 2 miles.
  • Shortbread and lemon curd. Yum.
  • An Art Studio on Skye is really someone’s front room.
  • “I have often repented of speaking but never repented of silence.”
  • Rest is not what we do – it is the gift of God.
  • The gift of rest is a gift to others.
  • Accept the discomfort of not being as we would like to be. Accept others are they are.
  • Stillness enables the work of God within us. It is not about what we do, but what God does. God works in the inner heart. That’s why the Kingdom of God takes so long to come – God takes time.
  • We are so concerned with the world right we haven’t put ourselves right.
  • Humility. As soon as you think you have it, you’ve lost it!
  • Vainglory – seeking attention for ourselves, that we are better than others, taking what is due to God to ourselves. This is a big danger for the Church and clergy.
  • God covers our sins, puts his hands over them.
  • Perhaps today’s reduction in numbers in the Church is God’s plan to take away some of our power.
  • “The utterly magnetic God.” Mother Jane  God draws us to himself whether we know it or not.

DSCF0725

In which Ruth does some holiday reading

Oh my giddy aunt! I have just read the best religiousy book ever. There is a rumble going on in churchy circles about this new woman called Nadia. She has popped up on Twitter @Sarcasticluther and in the Church Times and everyone is saying, “Have you read the book by that tattooed priest?” Ok, maybe not everyone but loads of folk are. And yes, she does have tattoes, lovely Mary Magdalene tattoes all up her arms. Not a little bluebird on your ankle or a butterfly on your coy shoulder kind of tattoes. No, these are big bruiser tattoes which tempt me greatly. The book is called Cranky, Beautiful Faith and is Nadia’s journey with God. She was/is a stand-up comic, an alcoholic, and unlikely pastor in the Lutheran church in Colorado. In fact she founded a mission church called House for All Sinners and Saints and blogs regularly and is becoming the public speaker everyone wants to hear, including me. The book is gloriously honest and outspoken and it made me want to be so much braver. if you like Anne Lamott and can cope with the F-word then read this book. 5 stars.

The next book I read on holiday was a Christmas pressie from Son #2 called Wonder which was absolutely unputdownable. This is one of those books which you’re not sure if it is for children, young adults, adults. I don’t think it matters. I don’t really want to tell you what it is about either or what the themes are but I’m pretty sure we will have it as a Book Group choice soon. It is American and about a young boy but there are other voices too. The young boy has a disability. There are references to Star Wars. It gets excellent reviews from everyone but please read it without knowing too much more. I envy you reading it for the first time. 5 stars.

Our next Book Group book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The theme of this book is not new – wife goes missing, husband gets accusing of murder. It is quite a long book and took a wee while to get into because neither of the characters are particularly appealing. However I did find myself wondering how it was going to end. The author is good at the psychological thriller and there are so many twists and turns but the ending won’t please everyone. It was definitely a page-turner and kept me guessing. Not sure why I didn’t love it so 3.5 stars.

Sean gunLast night I finished another of my Christmas pressies – Solo by William Boyd. Some time ago I heard Boyd being interviewed on the wireless about being asked to write this latest James Bond book. As you know, the movies are all set in the era in which they are made, but this book is set in the swinging sixties when James is about 45, which would be accurate according to Ian Fleming’s last Bond book. There are some lovely London bits in the 60s but the ‘Bond girls’ are very modern and feisty and independent. So even a feminist can read this quite comfortably! Bond is sent to a fictitious country in West Africa to sort out a civil war, which he does with a twist. Good read. I’d love to read a Bond book written by a woman. #justsaying  3.5 stars (As this book was in hardback I always take the dust cover off to keep it nice when I’m reading it. This book has the most wonderfully designed inside hard cover which I just loved. Go and just have a peak in a shop at the two covers and how they compliment one another.)

Funny old world

It’s a funny old world, this being a priest. Each day brings different challenges and opportunities. Sometimes you are sitting with people listening and sometimes you are on your own making lists of things to do.  Sometimes you are affirming others and sometimes you are wondering whether what you’ve done is alright. Sometimes you are fretting that you won’t get everything done in time and sometimes you are footering about on Twitter and Facebook. And sometimes you are in design mode, as I have been all week: designing Morning Prayer books; designing Advent Liturgy books; and finishing off the design for the magazine. It happens to be a job I particularly enjoy and I often harken back to those days when I did design for a living. The only downside is that there is never enough time to be really creative and spend lots of time making things look super-duper. That upsets the perfectionist in me.

I’ve also realised that I haven’t been blogging much lately. Not exactly sure why that is except that I have been rather busy what with one thing and another. So my Advent promise will be to do a little more of that.  We are going to be doing Morning Prayer at Christ Church again this Advent every morning at 9am and we shall be using Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community. I haven’t decided yet whether we will use the set readings or find something more creative (like the meditations in Celtic Daily Prayer or some other Advent book). All suggestions welcome.

And talking of Advent I note that Mother Kimberly is reviving Love Blooms Bright, her daily Advent blog with contributions from others.  Last year I discovered Jan Richardson’s blog Advent Door which is also worth a look. And Mother Kirstin is doing something with psalms over at her Advent Jottings. If you know of any others please let me know.

Today, while the pixies are away photocopying oodles of stuff, I shall be reading frantically several books which I promised to review for the Expository Times and then forgot. It’s a funny old world when reading becomes a chore. So the wireless has been put off, the cat fed and watered, the redbush and Earl Grey tea poured and steaming at my side, and I vow not to go near Twitter of Facebook until at least one of them is done.

New look Blog

Gone for a new look because my old one wasn’t working very well. I suspect it has been withdrawn from use. So this is my Lent look.

And yes, I know the header photo is squint. I like to call it art.