Receiving my third place award from Ruth Gledhill Religious Correspondent for The Times
I was recently awarded third prize in the Jack Clemo Poetry Competition for the following poem
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 Swelled 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.
My Way of LIfe
Deacon in Devon-View from a Caravan Window
One of the most precious aspects of my life at Gloucester Cathedral, apart from the people, was the rhythm of prayer it offered. The pattern of daily Eucharists, morning prayer and Evensong both
enriched and sustained me day by day. 5 years on at Mill House Retreats, my routine is still coloured by those same patterns albeit in a caravan, and not a cathedral!
My day begins in my caravan (which I share with my cat Eliza) at 4.00
am as I light a candle and welcome the dawn and watch and listen as the birds and the garden wake up. Bats go back in to the barn and pigeons come out and the rhythm of creation helps me to build a rhythm of prayer and life for myself, The feeding of the animals
comes next, then over to the kitchen to make bread for breakfast. I have become the ‘chief baker’ here which is slightly worrying given what happened to my counterpart in Genesis Chapter 40. But it has been a real joy to discover the meditative
prayerfulness of kneading dough and the truth that the yeast can't be hurried. It is a living parable that all the muddle of nondescript ingredients you start out with, become together a beautiful loaf. Such it is in community and church and family. We are
a mix of individuals but together we are the body of Christ in this place and every place where we come together.
After morning prayer the day is filled with a mixture of practical work, inside and outside, reading, writing, sharing with
guests, and watching the abundant wildlife that is everywhere. Table fellowship is a big part of our life together here - with prayer breakfasts, bible study lunches and simple suppers with readings and music. There is also time to play and do those things
that get pushed out when we become hemmed in by time, responsibilities and expectations .
My day ends with compline as I listen to the birds singing out their night prayers and once again I watch light and darkness kiss each other like peace and righteousness.
The bats come out and the pigeons go home and I can blow my candle out trusting in the enduring faithfulness of God.
As I spend more and more time in solitude and silence the deeper I feel drawn into the heart of humanity and more urgent
the sense of holding in my own heart the suffering of the world. Amidst the beauty I see from my caravan window I see also baby birds that fall prey to predators, I see rabbits with myxomotosis and the reality of Good Friday and the hope of Easter Sunday are
my breathing in and out, they are music and they are a silent scream. They both fill and empty me. Gratitude for the gift of life and the realisation of how fragile and how precious life is inspires and encourages me through tears and laughter to go on day
by day seeking God everywhere and in everything and to build a sacred rhythm that sustains and strengthens me day by day.