Thoughts from my caravan

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 that  I will  cross  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

Amen.

 

 

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

Amen.

 

 

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…

Amen.

Thoughts on love for Valentines day

Love

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.



Thankfulness

Getting stuck in!!!

Ninja

I have just come back in from burying a dear friend- Ninja. A tesco reject she survived two attempts by a fox to have her for lunch and had reached the ripe old age of 7. Whenever someone dies you find yourself reliving special moments and through tears and laughter reflect on all they meant to you. My happiest memories of Ninja are of her arriving unannounced in the kitchen and warming herself by the AGA. Of stealing a guest's toasted sandwich- we were having lunch on the patio and in an animated discussion the unsuspecting guest waved her arm in a gesture- Ninja spotted that the sandwich was raised as well as the arm – leapt like a salmon and scuttled of with her treasure highly delighted with herself. Her full name was Ninja Whinger because she never stopped whinging and muttering away to herself and to anyone else who would listen. She loved human company as much as her chickens sisters and would often pop into the caravan for a chat and then go on her merry way. If the door was closed she would tap on it – gently at first and then impatiently if I kept her waiting. One of the funniest moments was when she jumped in and encountered a wellington boot by the door. she mistook it for a chicken raised herself to her full height puffed out her feathers and systematically duffed the poor wellington up. Suddenly it dawned on her that it was a boot and and not an infiltrator and she went all sheepish. I swear she blushed looking round to see if anyone was watching and with as much dignity as she could muster scuttled back into the garden It was just like us when we trip up or do something silly and look round to make sure no one was watching or if they were try and act as if we meant to trip – bless her – she was an old battleaxe, the Maggie Smith of the chicken world but I loved her dearly. And when she asked to come into the caravan last night I knew it would be for the last time and so did she I'm sure.

I will miss her dreadfully but her death is a good opportunity for me and for all of us to thank God for those precious people and animals who enrich our lives just by being themselves. Take a moment today to tell someone how special they are. And remember with thankfulness all those who you have laughed and wept with.

I have a sneaking suspicion that St Peter if he was on duty at the Pearly gates when her Ladyship arrived last night would have got a right earful and even as I write I expect Ninja is already running the show!! Only joking but may she and all God's creatures and all of us when it is our time to die- do so knowing that we are loved. Really loved. By those we leave behind and by the Father God who welcomes us into a new life. Thank you Ninja for all you were – I will miss you x

Remembering

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 . 

Living Together

 

 Another non paying guest has moved into the caravan with me – Willow the wasp. She joinsArchibald, 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! 

The Jackdaw

Knockback

Not many jackdaws grace my bird feeder. They are apt to be a bit too heavy to hang on and a bit too large to squash themselves under the roof on the table. But one youngster has been coming these past few days. He sits on top of the gate, stretches and stretches and stretches until he can just about reach the fat balls. He jumps up grabs a bit in his beak and chomps on it. Unfortunately the momentum of his snatch and grab makes the feeder swing back and yes as it swings forward again it hits him in the face. The look of surprise is priceless and so comical that I just can't help but laugh out loud. (much to the consternation of my cat Eliza who not for the first time wonders if I am losing the plot) The jackdaw, undaunted grabs another beakful and the same thing happens and the same look of astonishment crosses his face. Four times, he tried, four times he got walloped and four times he looked in wonderment at how it could have happened. Finally he realised that being hungry was marginally better than being concussed so he tried another plan of attack. He perched on top of the roof and bent down and just about manged to get a mouthful before he fell off. It was rather a painful process to watch but he did eventually get supper and off he went, without knowing he had provided my evening entertainment. Once I knew what time he came I left some food by the water so he could just drive in place his order and fly off to eat his food in peace. A happy ending.

It was a bit like a slap stick comedy and it is always easier to laugh at others than ourselves. But we are equally ridiculous at times. Our antics would make others fall about if we were being watched. Me battling with the extra long hosepipe and trying to stay dry is indeed a sight to behold. I manage to get it wrapped round lettuces, courgettes, runner bean poles and when it gets a twist in it, and I try and undo it, I don't always remember to keep an eye on where the nozzle is pointing with resulting in an instant shower for myself and sometimes Eliza who shadows me in the allotment. But still, it is good to laugh at ourselves sometimes. 

 

Back to the jackdaw and I found myself wondering what things do we take an age to learn? What things do we keep on going at even though we get knocked back time after time? When is it right to look for other ways of doing things.? When is enough enough!!! When do we need to stop taking ourselves quite so seriously?

 

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Mary Hall | Reply 16.11.2015 18.22

A new friend recommended we spend a day at Mill House Retreat sometime and suggested I check out your website. I love your writings and the pictures you create

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Latest comments

28.08 | 20:17

Hi Lynne, the video of the moon bears was very sad and moving. I am a supporter of WWF and at present tigers are my thing. You are an inspiration. Bliess you.

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07.03 | 13:54

How is Dessie doing now? Hope the wren is enjoying today's sunshine and singing of the joys of Spring

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16.11 | 18:22

A new friend recommended we spend a day at Mill House Retreat sometime and suggested I check out your website. I love your writings and the pictures you create

...
01.06 | 13:22

Lynne, Your words are beautiful! After reading your bio I realized you are living the life I aspire to, simplicity, quiet, silence, Divine awareness in all:)

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