Category: spirituality

Every creature is a word of God: Giraffe

“Every creature is a word of God.” (Meister Eckhart)

Once upon a time, all good stories begin with these words. Even true stories like this one.

Once upon a time the Lord God, for what reason, only the Lord God knows, opened a window in heaven to show a very young woman; His creatures, lion, tiger, leopard, rabbit, hedgehog, dove and pelican (by request this last one) and a Giraffe.

For what reason?

Well 50 years on, she often revisits the scene in her mind, and ponders and ponders.

She knows the reason for the pelican. That was given, simply because overcome with delight with all the others, she asked, as only the very young can, “Have you got a pelican, Lord?”

A few years later visiting the Zoo with niece and nephew, standing just watching some of these creatures made of bone and flesh, she realised that with patience, she could predict just what each creature was likely to do next, and eventually she came to realise that human beings were no different, with patient, quiet loving attention the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve are readable like a picture book, and all the more lovable for just that reason.

What great delight, the Lord God must have had in planning and crafting all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, He made and loves them all. And then on the 6th day, as late as that in His working week, it pleased God to make Adam and Eve to give His creatures names and to care for them ~ “Every creature is a word of God” … there is much wisdom in that, if only we are able to see with the eyes of a child, the eyes of a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve.


He showed me a Giraffe. Now I am small in stature, like Zacchaeus, I would have needed to climb a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus and short in knowledge of Giraffes, but this one, the Lord made, or so it seemed to me, to kneel down and reach down, his lovely, strong neck so that I could notice his eyelashes, his markings, his quiet composure, his grace.

And so, as I have thought about the scriptures the word of God, the Giraffe became for me a word of God and a mirror of the Eternal Word of God. In Jesus the Father, Creator God came down to us, and visited us with such Grace that the humble and lowly of heart might reach up and dare, like simple, loving children to embrace the strength of a Giraffe’s neck in perfect love and trust without fear.

In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.”

Do not think in your heart, ‘who will go up to heaven? – that is to bring Christ down; or who will go down to the depths? – that is to bring Christ back from the dead. What does it say then? The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth; and in your heart, that is the word of faith.”

Always remember that God hates the proud but reveals His heart to the heart of a child, blessed are the pure in heart they shall see God, and to them ‘every creature is a word of God.

Scriptures from the NJB: 1 John 4.18 – Romans 9. 6-8 with reference to Matthew 5.8

Visions of creatures from the Grace of God, may He be blessed who blesses His little children.

Your thoughts and comments always welcome.

And Give Me…. Sense, and Knowledge, Lord

Easter lasts 7 weeks, for 7 weeks the Altar frontals and hangings are white, and the Readings tell us more about the Resurrection appearances, tells us more about Our Risen Lord and Teacher preparing the seedling church for the great Day of Pentecost. Just as it takes time for a seed to germinate and put out its green, so it takes time with all spiritual growth.

Sometimes the Heavenly Gardener sows fresh seed into our hearts, carefully preparing the soil first, removing old planting, yes, it maybe that He received a good return on the first, second or even third planting, but He has a new work for us to do, now. Something, the Holy Spirit is nudging us, moving us forward to do, something new, but we are just not sure what.

At times like these we need the Teacher’s time, His personal attention so we ought to devote more time to seeking His attention in prayer, waiting. Listening for His answer.

Perhaps we might use the following prayer

Most High glorious God,

Enlighten the darkness of my heart

And give me true faith, certain hope,

And perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord

That I may carry out

Your holy and true command

St Francis prayed this prayer, kneeling before the crucifix in the little Church of San Damiano. It was around 1205/6 early days in his Christian calling and Francis knew God was asking him to do something, but what? In the stillness of that place Francis heard Jesus, our Teacher saying, “Francis, go and repair my house, which is falling into ruins” Francis did just that, gathering stones, begging materials as he went to repair the little church. Now we can see, what Francis could not see, Jesus meant THE CHURCH.

From time to time, the Church, and all of us do need repairing, restoration and renewal takes time… whether in the greater body of believers or just in me or you) and it takes time, from the first seed, the first whisper of the Spirit for the full sense of God’s Holy Spirit, His Holy and true command to come to flourish in our hearts and in what we carry out with our hands and feet in the world.

All of us need to be prepared, to take time, and allow ourself to be set aside, to find each for his/herself what the Teacher wants us to do….next.

To ask for light to see the way as it is pointed out,

for true faith, in the One who is speaking to us,

hope which nothing can shake,

love which will still be love for all, no matter what the enemy of our soul throws at us,

sense … nothing stands us in better stead in undertaking a new work of faith then sense. Sense such as Francis had, when hearing ‘Go and repair’ he immediately began to do so with his own hands and little else. All new ventures all have to begin, so let us begin and have faith that God will complete His work in us.

And yes we need knowledge, whether it be knowledge gleaned from the Scriptures or a Word of Knowledge to help us on our way, God will provide it. For our part we need to wait and ask in prayer…. The Teacher will show us what comes next.

(The Prayer is commonly called ‘The Prayer Before the Crucifix’)

Knowing

Thank you dear friends, for your faithful comings to this blog, while I have been away, away in the sense of not writing, I wish I could say that I have been travelling to distant parts, but sadly that is not the case – the only journeys made have been to places just around the corner, yet, sometimes just around the corner is just the place we should be, and, after all Jesus did not travel very far either.

I have a new friend on Word Press who left a lovely comment about fancy altars, and she is quite right, our surroundings, and church trappings can be a distraction and draw our thoughts away from the One we visit church to worship. The Sacred Space that He would choose is our heart, the worship He prefers  our awed silence, following those special glimpses of Himself which he gives when we pray.

I hope that your Pentecost was special and holy to you, Pentecost Sunday in the U.K. was followed by a Bank Holiday on the Monday, and for once, I was un-busy and  found time to make a picture of my own, just coloured pencils, my watercolours, don’t get much of an airing nowadays – and yes, its a Mandala, nothing to do with Zen in this case, just me, musing on the dove pictured in a small round stained glass window. I expect you know that the large, round, Rose Windows in cathedrals and churches are in reality Christian Mandalas, cut a nice, big, round and juicy orange into two, and you find yourself with 2 Mandalas.

Now, I know that some of you are very deep thinkers and into all kinds of things, so if you think my mandala gives you an insight into my personality – you are welcome – and if you choose to comment – that is welcome too.

Knowledge, self knowledge is very important to a Christian, and to know another in a deep friendship – a sacred thing – the most sacred thing (at least to me) is God’s knowledge of us.

If I can share from a favourite Psalm.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God” How vast is the sum of them! Were I too count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” (Psalm 139; 17-18) (NIV) – Precious thought, even while we are sleeping, He is with us.First Light 001May you be blessed.

 

Laws of Heavenly, Planetary Motion

During my prayers, my mind started to wander, my thoughts turning to 2015, the New Year…..

365 days = 1 year = 1 complete journey of planet Earth around the Sun, a good few years ago, I learnt Kepler’s laws of Planetary Motion, but before my mind was completely attracted there, God drew my thoughts back to himself,

See what I see?” He asked gently and closing my eyes as we were taught as little ones, I saw, in better than glorious Technicolour, our Solar System; the planets, the moons, asteroids, meteors, comets. I mused on the thousands of small bodies, bumping, colliding, like lost sheep … How quickly my thoughts were drawn and attracted by those lost sheep, but again the Lord drew my thoughts back to Himself.

“Pay attention,” he said. “Apart from those lost sheep, what do you see greatest in number?”

“Oh their Moons,” I replied, like a child given a big jar of sweets.

God chuckled. I heard that quite plainly.

“True,” the Celestial Architect said. “The number of those children of mine, for whom their Sun and God is heart centre is much smaller, than the number of those who circle around, celebrities, that’s what they call them, today.
But don’t you see that out of the planets only one supports green and growing things, only one has blue seas and life? Why do you suppose that is.”

“Ah,” I said anxious to be thought smart, “Unless you know otherwise, Lord, it’s because Earth is just the right distance from the Sun, and just the right size. Having just the one Moon might help though, not a lot of tidal turbulence causing too many conflicts.

“Hmm,” God said quietly, “Remember this, to follow Me is to orbit Me as True Sun, to set Me apart as your One, True Heart Centre, orbiting at the right distance is to fear God, (reverence in worship, rare these days), to be just the right size is to have true humility, remember that my Mercy follows you all the days if your life, I am your True, Constant friend, never leaving you or forsaking you.”

I cried a little, knowing that His words are true, and I share them with you my fellow planets on the same journey, if there is something that you can respond to, may the Lord bless your response, and if not then Bless you all the same, that is another thing I have heard Him say, always bless, never chide.

May the year ahead of you be Merry and Bright,

Your friend, Jean

IMG_0431.JPG

Because We Are the Lilies of The Field

20141108-223723-81443548.jpg

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

These are the words carved between the angel heads on our simple wooden lytchgate. In times past the bearers (on foot if you were a poor family) would lay their burden on the bench inside and rest awhile before continuing on to bury their loved one.

Now when I am tired, sad or discouraged, I take time and rest awhile, taking in the loveliness of nature, I consider the lilies of the field. I know those words which say we are like the flowers which fall I know the words Jesus spoke concerning the lilies of the field, of how that King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as well as these humble, short -lived flowers, and I don’t feel sad any more, I recognise that I am a Lily of the field, you might say, here today, gone tomorrow. I say, yes, but “gone where?”

From a child, I have passed by, read those words on the lytchgate, I know who I have believed, the gate that Jesus keeps, is not the gate to the churchyard but to eternal life. Take a careful look at the poppies here. They are not sad, they are in festal gowns.

I wish you joy!

Everything Cries Glory

Tomorrow is Jim’s funeral. Jim was 76 and sadly has suffered with Parkinson’s’ Disease during his last few years. Jim was well liked, renowned for his witty spider poems especially the one about Dirty Harry who reputedly lives in the North Aisle if church, I say reputedly because in the many, solitary hours I’ve spent in church I have never been bothered once by Dirty Harry, who from time to time is credited with many dastardly acts, notably playing really loud notes, uninvited, on the organ, during the really quiet parts of the sermon. I wonder if Jim would have written a poem for our new organist and Music Director who takes up her post in two weeks time. Perhaps he would, Jim was always a gentle man with ladies. I found a copy of an old magazine, and you know what I got mentioned in a poem, as the one who never made a fuss in a crisis, apparently I just sang a little song.

And did I?

Yes. And I still do, but rarely in an audible voice these days, my songs seem to be heart songs unvoiced but always there. What kind of voice have I got? I’m a soprano, once quite happy to sing in choirs but now happy to sing my quiet songs. I have been reflecting on my little songs of yesteryear. It has been an eventful week since Jim died, someone had to oversee the earthy business of finding a space in the churchyard, someone has to sweep up the fallen leaves, someone has to be there for other bereaved families, making sure the church is warm, we have had other funerals to deal with this week, and someone has done these things gladly, singing a little song. I rather think it would amuse Jim to listen in on my little quiet song, but am not sure how he would write about it in a poem.

You see, my little song has a big theme. The words are coloured, red and gold, and I read and hear the music in the carpets of leaves swept up, in the gold embroidered words on the altar frontals, in the children’s smiles as they join in with the sweeping and collecting,

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Holy, Holy, Holy, is The Lord,
Who was, and is, and is to come.

Jim wasn’t always a member of this church, he was a lifelong Christian from a small church down the road, in what used to be known as the Village, they sing different hymns there, do things differently, yet, faith is the same, we serve the same Lord, read the same bible we share the same hope and love is the same colour thread wherever you find it woven into the fabric of this life. I am glad to have known Jim, I am sad that he has died, sad for his beloved wife but I am glad that in this life we both learned the words which angels sing; not everyone sings this new song, not everyone will ever want to learn it; but those who know and serve the Risen Saviour look at windy churchyards with different eyes, they see what was, and is, and is to come, they know that there are no little, sad songs in heaven, there

All cry glory!

20141023-220221-79341587.jpg

Air and Wind

20140918-071435-26075329.jpg

It was a Day Trip, a visit to the sea, a change of scene, a change of air. The air was so fresh and the wind ran its mischievous fingers through our hair blowing the cobwebs away.

A change is as good as a rest, so we say, and this was true of this day.if the air had been still, hot and full of smells, (as it can get in some towns) – it would not have been so pleasant a day, the air would lacked that special quality of freshness. You, know what I am trying to say; sometimes it’s not a change in location that’s needful but a change in the air which we breathe.

This is true of our churches, fellowships and social circles and very much with ourselves… We need a change in the air, in the atmosphere and a change in the air is brought by wind. It is the wind which brings freshness, cleanses and blows the cobwebs away. The wind brings change and movement which is so needful to freshen, renew and waken us up to life,

When God’s Spirit blows we are best to open our doors and windows to let him blow through our hearts, to breathe in us like breath in a flute or oboe, like the air in a big pipe organ, it is so much better to let him make music to accompany us in our singing and dancing; then it is to nail up all the shutters and oppose Him .. and thereby lose our vitality.

I write like this, because I believe in God, and know his presence in all his creatures and all created things, in water, in air, in stillness in movement, in quietness and in sound. I know there are those who do not believe as I do, but I wish them the pleasure and enjoyment of all these, good, wonderful things, the balm and medicine of life, fresh air. I cannot give my faith. I can only wish you well and all the blessings of this life.

For All Seasons

The last day of August, most children are returning to school and lessons over the next few days, we have to face it the seasons are changing, September is the herald of autumn and then, well, Christmas cards are appearing in some shops already. Why, oh why is everyone always rushing from one thing to the next, why can’t we just take one day at a time?

No morning Service in my church this morning, it being the 5th Sunday in the month we visited a neighbour parish, newly decorated they have a new hand crafted, and originally designed altar frontal. Designed and made not by a professional but by someone with a good eye and a desire to give glory to God. Liturgically we are in the green season, but this was designed to reflect the colours of all the church seasons, with The Cross the focus of them all.

Seems to me, that my heart should be good for all seasons too and faithfully abide with God, day in day out in whatever circumstance I find myself, whether the pastures are green, or snow filled the rest I can leave to Him, after all,

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down” (Psalm 104:19)

20140831-154021-56421451.jpg

Snow Lady

20140728-073101-27061641.jpg

I took this picture of Leucanthemum ‘Snow Lady‘ before planting her outside in the back garden, she is rather lovely, clean, white, bright, fresh as a daisy, but how will she fare now she’s outside; will she stay clean and white, will she survive! Greenfly, slugs, snails, wind, too much rain, too little rain, planting anything is an act of faith, and also of hope. Once upon a time ‘Snow Lady’ was no more than a grain of hope, a seed which a gardener took and sowed…

Three babies were bought to be baptised yesterday, clean, fresh as daisies; they were bought in faith, in hope with prayer to receive the sign of the cross, to be baptised. I know, not all Christian churches receive little ones like this, many parents desire to let their children make their own decision when old enough, yes, it is true, some will never get around to doing that; yes it’s equally true that not every parent or godparent is going to keep the promises made on a child’s behalf, it’s vexing and arguable, but, if these three little ones had been carried to Jesus, would He have turned them away with no blessing, no prayer?

When the first baby photos are taken we can’t see, we don’t see what will be, we don’t see how a child will turn out that is the truth, and it is also true that in creating human beings, although the Almighty had more than an idea of what would be, and how things would certainly turn out – He still did it anyway!

What do you think?
Is God the best example we have of sowing in faith and hope?
What does that say of the value, the promise the potential of all of us, what does it say about the Love of God for the whole of creation?

I leave these questions with you, as seeds for your thoughts or otherwise?

A Giant Felled

Finally, fateful decision, made the Buddleia has been reduced to two heaps of branches and several large bags of green foliage; this was a giant of Buddleia kind, home to, possibly, several millions of butterfly, and moth caterpillars: I had known it since it was a twig, the decision was painful but necessary, during rainstorms a year it two back, it’s roots had slipped in the soft earth and it no longer grew upright but diagonally, a 14ft giant blocking the path and effectively cutting off the rest of the garden.

It took 3 of us 4 hours to commit this crime. I did feel a criminal the destroyer of worlds, but I notice my friends the Robins. Thrushes and Tits seem to have taken its passing remarkably well and I now have a sizeable piece of ground to plant again, this time with smaller plants. But all the same I miss it…

I have been musing that some church fellowships have their giants, like my beautiful Buddleia, we have known them since we or they were twigs: they have been so good, so great, how would we do or manage without them if suddenly, they aren’t with us anymore.

Might we not become aware of those smaller church members, we hardly noticed before, and find that they are just as kind, just as attractive. Because you know, I think the Heavenly Gardener hasn’t invested all his sweetness, grace and gifts in one or even a few of us,

But to each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it”(Ephesians 4 v7)

Now a photo of 2 heaps of wood is hardly an encouraging sight, so I decided to use this one, the bees just love the Lupins and the birds like to feast on the seeds, to remind myself that The Lord’s sweetness is shared out .. Some to the small as well to the great.

20140616-233941-85181717.jpg