Tag: contemplation

Oh, that I had wings

Oh that I had wings…

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest;

yes, I would wander far away;

I would lodge in the wilderness,

I would hurry to find a shelter

from the raging wind and tempest.”

Psalm 65: 6-8 E.S.V.

From time to time, most of us, have sighed and wished that we too could spread wings and fly away, to find that place of peace; far away from the noise of our enemy; from grudging anger, that we don’t deserve, from, those our friends, who are at loggerheads with one another… and strive with all their might to draw us into their noisy, vindictive quarrels. We just want to …. fly away…

I woke up at 5:15am this morning with just such a thought, and turning over, it seemed to me, I turned into the arms of the Lord.

There is no better, safer place to fly, when troubled, than to the Lord. Like Noah who put out his hand to take in the returning dove with olive twig in its beak – the Lord is always eager to draw us quickly into the Ark of his presence – to his heart.

Now, King David was a man of war, but not I think from choice, we read of the time when he had his enemy in his grasp but did not kill him (1Samuel 26) after all the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time for war, and a time for peace – a time for every matter (E.S.V.) under heaven – and so, I believe it is with most of God’s people. Blessed are the Peacemakers, but their task is not easy, except we have a Lord and God who understands and in whose welcoming arms we find not only consolation but when our mind and heart are stilled, wisdom, guidance: so, having rested awhile, we take flight once again, on eagle’s wings.

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no-one will see the Lord.”

Hebrews 12: 14
It is so easy, Lord,
To lose heart,
And wish to be
The other side of the sea,
Putting oceans, wildernesses, mountains
In between us and them -
Strengthen us Lord,
Weary, troubled,
We look for you
And will find you
When we seek,you with all our heart.

We desire to come
Like Noah’s Dove, bearing our
Twigs plucked from
The Olive tree

Then Good Lord,
With kindly hand bring us
Into your heart
To rest awhile;
Then send us out again
Bearers of Good News,
The Peace of Christ to the world.

Amen

Tree

“Whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”

Luke 14. 27

It’s just a tree. Gnarled, twisted, battered by the winds… but still standing.

A bit like you and I have often felt….

We all endure our share of storms in one way or another, we all get conflict and some of us at some point in life will know pain and agony in our mortal bodies, some will fall victim of wrong doers, some will be found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit… do you remember the story of Joseph?

Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers out of envy. Joseph falsely accused by his master’s wife and turn, turn again promoted to high office and power by Pharaoh, Joseph who became the rescuer of those same brothers and his fathers whole family. Joseph who being begged for forgiveness by those same brothers, said simply this:-

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”

I have been reflecting on the picture because I see Jesus Body borne on the cross in it…. I think I shall go on reflecting on it for a very long time and praying that when troubled, and when assailed by that oft asked question

“Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this?”

That I shall remember these words also:-

“All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8.28

Father,

If you would,

Give me Grace, and fortitude

That blown about in the Gales of Conflict,

To just hang on and take it. Courage,

Lord to withstand Howling Storm – bitterest grief

And pain of every kind.

Grant me the sweet, sweet, love and compassion

Of Joseph, and of other Cross Bearers before me

Most of all, grant that I also may be ‘conformed’

To the image of your most dear son,

That most Beautiful of men,

My Saviour

Thy Son,

Jesus Christ

always Jean

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,

So is my beloved among the sons.

I sat down in his shade with great delight,

And His fruit was sweet to my taste.

Song of Solomon 2:3

All scriptures are from NKJV

Follow, and Keep Following The Star

Follow and Keep On Following

Wishing all my friends a Happy and Bright New Year. Continue to look up and keep on following the Star that led us all thus far… Covid19 cannot prevail in the end the Star that is Jesus the Bright and Morning Star will overcome all darkness and bring us through to both peace and light.

Do I really believe this?

Yes I do, those wise men of old, without name themselves and from unknown lands, did not have ease in their journeys and from the day when you and I, brother, sister first began to put one foot in front of the other in our following of the Lord Jesus; we have all, if truth be told known times of difficulty as well as ease, times of sadness as well as joy ~ times of loss as well as gain, times of mourning and bless the Lord times of consolation.

We have known those times of being completely drained and emptied; only to be filled with amazing love, peace and joy beyond all human telling. Such was the finding of the wise men as they gazed on the infant Christ…. they looked on a child wrapped humbly whom they found living in humble circumstances. The Divine Son from all eternity wrapped in the same mortal skin as ours born in such a time as this..

So at the beginning of 2021 let’s look up and follow the Bright and morning Star.

Lord of all hope,

Bright and Morning Star

Keep us ever faithful in our journey.

Guide us and keep us by the light of your presence,

Until we come into that Bright and Eternal Kingdom

There, sorrows forgotten like those of a mother safely

Delivered of a newborn child, may we kneel in perfect worship

At the throne of Love, Peace and Joy.

Amen

Jean Harcourt (3rd January 2021
Artist unknown

A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place

…A lamp shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1.19)

The mornings are dark, wet and cold.

I wake in the dark and wait for the first silver-grey signs that Dawn is on the way. Often scriptures wake up within me, as I am sure they must do for many reading this. We are now 7 full days into Advent and nearly at the end of 2020 which has surely earned more than one page in the World History in a day and age where there are no shortages of either chroniclers or media in which to record the events as they unfold. Do you recall this word from Ecclesiastes who complained,

“All things are wearisome” (chapter 1.v8)

“There is no remembrance of earlier things;

And also of the later things which will occur,

There will be for them no remembrance

Among those who come later still.”

Ecclesiastes chapter 1. 8, 11.

Sounds a dismal fellow, doesn’t he this Preacher who grew very wise because he was so thoughtful and took care to remember. He says about that (v 13) that it is a grievous task which God has given the sons of men to be afflicted with, and I think as time goes on that when those personal memoirs appear on bookshelves and in media archives there are many who will give a little shudder and pass them over .. for something brighter, cheerful less solemn, and leave it to the scientists and statistics people to make sure it never happens again.

This is the way of the world. The world forgets easily those things which are wearisome and doesn’t take easily to grievous tasks

The world can be forgetful.

I say that with sorrow. The world is full of people who need comfort at this time, it needs comfortable words. And yet, those who live in comfort and are comfortable ought not to forget those who have no such comforts as food, clothing, shelter or medicine, or those trying to find a refuge from poverty, or war. This is one of the messages of Advent which is not so popular, but rather grievous and wearisome to bear. Such unpopular, grievous, wearisome messages have been delivered by God’s faithful messengers down through millennia. Are they being unheard today?

May the Lord bless those who He finds faithfully hearing, remembering and acting on His word, when He comes.

‘So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1.19

Lord, when you come,

As you will come,

Silently, and in the night,

May I be found

Watchful, wakeful and trusting.

May I be found as one with a loaf of bread to spare

For a traveller in need, a coat to give away,

Straw for a Manger bed;

A lamp to hang up high

That no feet slip in the dark, cobbled alley of

Forgetful Street.

Jean

All scriptures taken from N.A.S.B.

Golden Glory/Autumn Rain

Autumn in the City (Birmingham U.K)

I love Autumn it’s colours, it’s smells, the air. The carpets of leaves under my feet which sometimes crunch as Corn Flakes do, I love Autumn’s Promise, “Look, I am just touching everything with sleep for a little while…. “Get ready for Spring and waking up”

I have always trusted God to keep His promises, especially the one that as long as Earth remains Springtime and Harvest won’t fail to show up on time. But that doesn’t mean to say, that I should be careless and disrespectful to Mother Earth, she is the home that God gave me … full of wonders that I will never see, full of creatures, great and small, bright, beautiful and trees that can count hundreds, some thousands even, of candles on their birthday cakes. No. I cannot be disrespectful to Mother Earth.

I have watched a cheeky little family of dunnocks splashing water over one another in the giant flower pot saucer I fill with clean water every day. I think to myself, “now they’re good baptists” I watch tiny squirrel kittens learning from their parents the art of nut storing and the frantic antics to find them again! I wonder at the smallness and fragility of the little nest I found amongst the Ash Branches, I wonder and I marvel…

This year, I have picked an old habit up again … every Autumn I would plant some new bulbs…. an act of faith, trust in the Lord that come Spring the little bulbs will poke their little heads from under their winter duvet, daffodils will begin work on their Easter Bonnets…

I cannot disrespect Mother Earth nor any of the things, times and seasons which God has ordained even rainy days bring with them news from heaven.


Today has been a day of rain. Not just a little rain. It’s ok for me I can just look out of the window and watch the rain and the people go by, although it is true not many walk nowadays, but some still do especially schooldays; when moms push buggies and prams with older children at their side or dawdling behind, then the pavement is empty again until the great turn around time, and back home walk.

Autumn rain

Look around
Look around, look around
Is there something I'm missing here?
Is there something I should know?

And just listen to the sound
All around there's people living their lives
People passing by
As I catch their eye

It doesn't matter where you're from
'Cause wherever you are from
You got a long walk home
You got a long walk on

And I've walked for many years
And I've never shed a tear
For a place called home
'Cause in this place I roam...

Everyone's the same
When you're walking in the autumn rain
Walking in the autumn rain

When you're walking from your past
You can never walk too fast
Think you got away at last
Think you got away at last

And we all have to live with our mistakes
But what would it take
To make things right
To feel good inside?

It doesn't matter what you've done
'Cause whatever you've done
Life has to go on
Life has to go on, yeah

And my conscience is always clear every time I am here
Because there is no blame
When you're walking
In the autumn rain
In the autumn rain

I don’t know if you know that song?

Do you remember walking to and from school.

I do. All of my life my feet and legs have been my way of getting there from child to adult and my experience of rain is sometimes it’s been a delight and others ~ cold, wet and miserable. Another thought is how we feel when walking in rain is not really governed by the feel of the cold rain on our skin; but how we are feeling on the inside. I can remember walking with others and sometimes yet feeling alone: sometimes walking alone but yet feeling carried along in a crowd.

One day, sooner than they think, the little children, their moms and dads might be asking themselves what it would take to make things right and to feel good inside, as I draw the curtains on rainy, dark evenings I say a prayer that sometime in the walk of life someone will take the time to share with them the trust and faith which we were taught as little children, tell them Jesus is just a prayer away and that our Father is holding out His hand with a longing to make things right and let them feel good on the inside. We don’t remain as children forever; there is nothing so sad, so forlorn as a grown up with a hurting, empty heart which doesn’t know the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit of God.

Lord, let the Autumn Rain bring your blessing

Let the Autumn Rain fall warm and with tenderness

Fill the heart of young ones, that they may never,

Walk alone in the Autumn Rain,

Nor miss the loveliness of Golden Glory

Amen

Always, Jean

Autumn Rain, lyrics by MATTHEW HARDWIDGE, PHELIM BYRNE [Universal Music Publishing Group

I See the Moon

Psalm 89:37 – ‘Established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky

Therefore will I trust you always,

Though I may seem to be lost

And in the shadow of death,

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

And will never leave me

to face my perils alone

Thomas Merton

September will soon slip quietly through the door to let October in. This has been a strange year; an upside down year with no season or month appearing ‘normal’ For many it has been a year of great loneliness, despair and at times a fearful one. A year of sorrows and loss and as I write, with the days shortening and nights lengthening, so many of us will be looking at the approach of Autumn and Winter with trembling and fearfulness.

The opening words of Psalm 89 tell us that the Psalmist (Ethan the Ezrahite] intends to sing out about the Lord’s great love forever. He sings of the Lord’s great faithfulness …. he sings of God’s eternal covenant with David (the Messiah] whom God will appoint to be His firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. (Verse 27). God declares (verse 37) that His covenant with David will be “established for ever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky”

I look up at the Moon in Autumn skies and have a little whispered conversation with her Creator, often very conscious of the Good Shepherds presence, I am comforted. I pray that any who might read these words will be too, and very aware of the nearness of the One who has promised, never to leave or forsake us.

I see the moon, the moon sees me.

O thou lantern great of grace,

O white moon of time and space,

Who gave light and shape to thee,

Life and death He did decree,

Who created thee is He

Who likewise created me.

God bless the moon, and God bless me.

Anonymous.. Scots Gaelic. Trans by G R D Maclean Celtic Spiritual Verse: Poems of the Western Highlanders from the Gaelic (SPCK London 2002)

May the Lord who made heaven and earth, placing the Sun to rule over the day, and the Moon over the night, that they might be for signs, seasons, days and years watch over you, whoever and wherever you may be and bless you with His great peace.

Always, Jean

Lamps for the Light of the World

Whitby Abbey
Yorkshire U.K.

When I first looked at this photograph, I wondered whether the sun was rising or setting? It looks like a great golden lantern, a light for our path,

Visit https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/whitby-abbey/history-and-stories/st-hild/ to find out more …

These ruins are an 11th century building on the foundations of St Hilds original double monastery, which was most likely several much smaller buildings of timber, wattle and straw. St Hild, known nowadays as St Hilda was a great niece of King Edwin of Northumbria and a key player in the history of the Church in England. She hosted the Great Synod of Whitby in 664 AD which meant the adoption of the Tradition of the Church of Rome and a movement away from Celtic Christianity as bought to our shores from Ireland. Hild herself, leaned more to the teaching of St Aidan than St Augustine.. but that is how the Synod went.

Today, when we think of monasteries, Monks and Nuns we possibly have very fixed views about them. But truth is, the lamp for our feet-the message of the Gospel was held carefully and bravely in their hands for many, many centuries they were the Evangelists and Missionaries of those centuries, they guarded the light, kept it burning through dark times, and were themselves on fire for the salvation of men, women and children

So what do I see when I look at the lamp in the photo.

I see in my Spirit, the faithfulness of Christ the Light of the world, the Everlasting Light, Hilds Abbey has long since gone, and the 11th Century Ruins are just that. But the same Sun still rises, still sets, and will go on doing that, long after you and I have folded up our mortal tent. Yet one day, science tells us that the Sun will be gone as well.

But not Christ our Sun and Lamp, He was the same yesterday, inspiring Aidan, Hild, Augustine, Martin Luther, Charles and John Wesley, Billy Graham and before all these, Peter, James, John… He went before Israel in the Wilderness, met with Abraham and Sarah. He is the same today, pouring out His Light and Spirit on me, on you and

He is the same tomorrow, when

“The city has no need for the Sun or the Moon to shine on it, because God’s Sh’khinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 21;23

Father who wakens us, calling us

And bringing us safely through darkest night

To fairest, brightest day,

Grant that we may be pure and holy, clean

And clear as crystal-glass letting your glory shine through,

We do not ask that we might be known, simply

That we may be the vessels your light shines through

As lamps to lighten the world.

Amen

Finding A Special Place

Sometimes, the Lord surprises us in unexpected ways. We know, that He knows all about us, each word before we even think to utter it. At some time or other, these words from Psalm 139 have rung gloriously true for most Christians

“How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand-

when I awake, I am still with you”

Psalm 139.18 (N.I.V)

During these ‘Coronavirus’ days, I have felt, as you have also, no doubt that the Lord has been very present in many situations, in many ways, great and small.

I chose the picture of Julian of Norwich with the well loved words that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well, because reading her Revelations of Divine Love we feel we almost ‘know” this homely lady born in 1342. She speaks comfortably, from her heart to our heart. The little cat sits comfortably on the window sill joining in the conversation with the odd purr from time to time. As I read Julian’s writings I feel assured that Julian knew our Lord God very well and that He knew Julian very well. In fact they were very close friends who shared heart to heart thoughts of each other.

Sometimes people who know each other very well surprise each other.

My first thoughts each morning are spontaneously with God. No effort involved. I know that I am awake and with God, that God is with me. Just over a week ago I was surprised as into my head came a fleeting glimpse of the computer work station, as it arrived new with my first home computer in the year 2000.

When my late mother became ill, she just wanted, needed me to be always in her sight, so abandoning the work station and its little den, I switched to a lap top so I could type up Church Minutes and stuff in the room where she was, Mom would look up from time to time, and we would exchange little thoughts… presence is comforting. Well, my Mom died 17 years ago and the work station on wheels, was never given a second thought. The little upstairs room, which I had turned into a den all those years ago, had slowly become a storage room for boxes and boxes of files that Martha has busied herself with down through the years.

Well, seeing the fleeting picture in my head, I knew, just knew that I was being prompted to do something.

Something like finding the tape measure and finding the work station a new corner elsewhere in the house. It, was, as I vaguely recalled, comfortable to work at.

Not for one moment did it occur to me that the room might be cleared of boxes. A couple of days later, tape measure in hand I entered the room. The work station had been pushed into a corner blocked neatly in by a box, or two.

It was so quiet, restful in that room. I ventured over to the window, opened it, and looked out into the back garden, where the little birds were busily having breakfast.

I just knew. This is my new ‘prayer closet’

The Lord and I are going to be comfortable here.

Of course, there are the boxes to sort, and made ready for their new storage home in church, the Martha side of me has already taken first steps in arranging that!

God, of your goodness, give me yourself; you are enough for me, and anything less that I could ask for would not do you full honour. And if I ask anything that is less, I shall always lack something, but in you alone I have everything.”

The prayer above comes from Chapter 5, Revelations of Divine Love

Thank you Lord, that you see all our needs and recognise them when we do not.

Thank You for your many thoughts towards us, your wise provision.

You carry us, dear Lord throughout all our days; teach us to know when we are being carried that all shall indeed be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Teach us also, to recognise that following You does not always mean a journey of miles, we do not reach your throne by any other means than Jesus who is the way, and though our bodily strength may fail us…. it is always by your Spirit alone that we are empowered.

My own prayer on finding a special place.

Every Creature is a Word of God: Elephant

Many of my posts have been centred on my younger self, well this one is from very recent days, as recently as 2018 a little baby of an elephant presented herself/himself? The lord knows. During my morning prayer time. I was charmed, fascinated. Momma elephant stood nearby, watching as baby raised a courteous trunk in greeting.

We All Have to Learn
To Trust the Water

They stood by a roadway constructed from logs, all neatly and perfectly laid

I still find the image of baby, mother and Mahout stirring in my mind from time to time. Yes, I did say Mahout, elephants do not naturally lay logs to construct roads, but they are capable, very capable of learning much and teaching much, passing on knowledge and experience gained down through their generations.

We say, don’t we, that an elephant never forgets? Memory and learning go hand in hand. With people not all learning comes from books, classrooms, teachers, the internet, much of it like that of elephants is from experience. From the moment we are born we are learning from mothers, fathers, siblings, all of our senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight inform us .. we are fearfully and wonderfully made. All God’s creatures are wonderfully and delightfully made – yet all must learn, and to a certain extent learning to all creatures is instinctive, so much is gifted to us before we are even born. Yet… there is always so much more to learn.

I captioned the picture we all have to learn, simply because we do Baby elephants need Momma on hand the first time they take a bath; and a fledgling’s parents are not far away when baby wings are tried out; water for a baby elephant, air currents for a bird. What about a child of God?

Just the same? We need the Holy Spirit. All the way along, on looking back we will find that even before we tried the water of baptism if we were baptised as older persons, the spirit was carefully helping with the construction of the road, present, although we may not have been fully aware of it, in our choices and decisions .. especially that big decision of trusting our very self to our Saviour and Lord to a new element .. the water of Life in Jesus.

Momma Church can teach us a lot, but not all because when it comes to choosing which logs to lay, which direction to go in, Momma church like Momma elephant needs Mahout, and Mahout is the Man Christ Jesus.

It is through Jesus, that the Spirit, and instruction is given.

I invite you to think about this “showing” with me, share your thoughts please if you will. I know that I still have much pondering on it to do for myself. But one final thing. If you will accept them, the words of Jesus to the little elephant

“Don’t be afraid. I must touch your head as well as heart.”

Lord, there are times

When our biggest need is for your

Touch on our heart, to warm our coldness,

Inspire our thinking.

And

There are times when you understand,

But we do not yet comprehend it, that

Our greatest need is the enlarging of our understanding

Your touch on our head, your gift of understanding,

To the heart you inspire with your thoughts

To bless and willingly to serve in the way You direct.

Jean

Fragments

He put it in my hand. A piece of broken pot, carefully shaped into a square. And on the tile it now was, the words, “I am broken” written

There are many who who are broken, some in the sense of financially broken, many have lost their livelihoods, some are heart- broken, grieving for loved ones, and some have come to know they are broken because of sin.

I didn’t know why this little token, was placed so gently on my palm. But I felt I must accept it, take it, turn it over, ponder it, keep it. This little fragment was important to the Lord, it was shown, given for a purpose.

When, the Word of God came, He came, He said to open the eyes of the blind, He came to heal and repair a broken world. To search for the lost, the fragmented, when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, Christ kept His promise and into that upper room the Holy Spirit blew…not a whispering breeze but a great, violent, noisy wind that swept the disciples out into the street and became a broom in their hands… a broom to sweep up and together the pots broken by its ferocity.

I write and speak so often of the gentleness of God, the whisper of the Spirit, the still, small voice. Yet, I know that still, gentle voice is the Voice that breaks twists great oak and strips the forests bare, yes the same Voice, the Lord Thunders over the mighty waters, shaking the desert… the Voice of the Lord breaks…..

The preaching of Peter and the Apostles on that Day of Pentecost was so powerful, breaking strong wills and stubborn hearts, casting down proud hearts and in their shattering the Church was born.

Before the world can be repaired, it needs to know it is broken.

Before the patient visits the physician He needs to realise He is sick.

The least welcome of all preaching is that which shows the world that it is sick, that it is broken and needs mending. Bringing conviction of that is the work of Holy Spirit preaching. It is also the Work of Christ and the Father… God does not thunder out of heaven with intention to destroy beyond all mending… He does it that we may know our brokenness and be put together again…. not as we were but better.

Pondering the fragment that had been given, observing that already it knew the hand of the Craftsman I knew that this would be fitted carefully into place:

Making of Icon
Saint Mary’s Church, Berlin

We are broken to be transformed together into the likeness of Jesus broken for us on the Cross of Calvary, in order that we might be perfectly whole, forgiven, repaired, better a New Creation.

Complete according to
An Icon from Saint Katherine’s Monastery, Sinai.

I don’t, usually write like this, but feel compelled to do so, as Pentecost approaches because on that day, when God bought the Church to birth, Peter preached, and pressed his case with many arguments and pleaded that those hearing would ‘save themselves from this perverse generation’ until about 3000 people were baptised and added to their number. Is our generation any better?

I think not. We just don’t fully realise that the world needs repairing, and making good. It is only when we know that we are broken that the Maker can begin to make the repair!

Lord, press into each palm the token

Of our brokenness, and of our

Need; to be restored, mended, fixed:

Made over; born over;

Into the likeness of Jesus, our Redeemer,

Messiah, your very likeness,

Then, we too, with all the angels of God

Shall cry “Glory”

Amen

Prayer: My own, Jean at Fresh Whispers