COLOURS

I’VE BEEN playing with colour (when not fast asleep) during a lazy hazy relaxing Easter holiday week in the Lake District. Here the colours have been changing moment by moment, and today I’m reflecting – as it’s time to head South and “back to work” – on the gift of colour in our lives, and the ever-changing spectrum; upon the goodness, the generosity of it if you like.  Life could have been given to us in greyscale, or just plain black and white. In middle age I’m finding that I like, more and more, to use the whole pallet in the artistry of life, and sometimes just to splash a bit of colour about here and there with a sort of relaxed abandon! And the English Lake District is one glorious area in which to glory in the spectrum. God is good!

ROUNDEDNESS & EDGES

EASTER HOLIDAYS, I suppose rather obviously, occasion a procession of thoughts about resurrection, about new life and the way it arises and surprises – leaping out of roundedness and edginess and colour. Holidays become holy days and the art and craft of Life come much more clearly – and frequently – into focus. As the lovely hymn has it: “Colours of day dawn into the mind, the sun has come up, the night is behind.”

Easter’s wonderful, and it’s great that Easter Sunday stretches onwards into Eastertide. Resurrection shapes and moulds me, calling me both inwards and upwards, downwards, outwards and sideways, beckoning me into fuller, freer use of the great gift of imagination, and into the times and places of rich and iridescent colour, in contemplation and in meditation, in people and in prayer, in books and in art, in hymnody and psalmody, in human creativity, in food and drink, in love and laughter, in freshly laundered soft cotton clothes, in divinely fashioned lakes and trees and sky and flowers. Easter reaches me, touches me, heals me; the Risen Jesus models for me a person possessed of both roundedness and edge, a person who loves enough and is quietened often enough to make of every day a holy day. I’ll try to be a more observant disciple.

 

FULLNESS

THERE’S A DEEP RICHNESS, a fullness, about the lovely people with whom I live and work in my daily life as a parish priest. I never fail to be amazed by the wells of goodness and of self knowledge I encounter in so many. And that’s the proper starting point in our relationships with God and with one another. Acknowledgement of richness, diversity, colour, beauty, glory, plenty, promise, fullness.

We’re God’s Harvest and it’s ours to live and to love and to celebrate life under the all-encompassing and beautiful dome of the sky. God is good and all that God has made is good. The same God has made us to co-create good too. We’re blessed with an abundance that needs to be acknowledged before we begin to consider what may be lacking. And when we live thus eucharistically – thankfully – we find ourselves moved to play our part well in making up the shortfalls where we do identify them.

I OFFER THANKS, Lord of all Life, for the fullness and for the beauty I see in the people around me now. God grant to me and to all your people the blessing of grace to welcome, open-heartedly, the glories of fullness, and of individual, deeply personal, finely crafted, beautifully made story and giftedness in every woman, child and man upon earth. As you do.

LOOK AT THE SKY

"Look at the sky; we so rarely look at the sky" - Brother David Steindl-Rast ... photo/simonmarsh

WE SO RARELY look at the sky, says Brother David in A Good Day … and whether that’s technically true for most people, or not, the point is well made. Much of what we experience as A Good Day involves what the sky looked like, the “over-arching features”.

My “good” childhood birthdays (all of them, I think) involved blue domed sky above tea parties that always included favourite sandwiches, strawberries and ice cream, and fairy cakes with colourful icing – so that the feasts were always as much about colour and art-fest as culinary delight and family and friendship shared.

The rear-view mirror in the car tonight was looking backwards for me, reflecting, “looking at the sky”, the overarching and satisfying features of the day, the week, the month, the year, my life. Looking back, reflecting. Looking forward and moving. Going and growing. Praising God with, as St Irenaeus would say, “the glory of someone fully alive” … this is Examen. This is prayer. This is Life. Look at the sky …

STRONGER LIGHT

THE LIGHT IS STRONGER TODAY. Ullswater is high and the deeper blue of lunchtime sky colours the swell of the lake’s surface, whipped as it is by a cold and stiff gale. I’m glad of the colour. The dirtied yellowed hues of winter’s lakeland fells make me yearn for bright new green and the lamb’s wool white of Spring.

This past winter’s depths have been harsh and powerful here. Attempts have been made at Glenridding spit to divert the river’s flood, but even huge boulders have been persuaded to yield by powerful current, and frost and flood have left their mark on lake-side road and pier-house.

But the light is stronger and longer today. When the wind quite suddenly slows, and the high cloud breaks, and the sunlight chases the gloom across the heights and the lows, hope grows. We’ll be warmed and coaxed and brought alive into Spring again. Soon.

FREEDOM OF SPIRIT

God has laid upon man the duty of being free, of safe-guarding freedom of spirit, no matter how difficult that may be, or how much sacrifice and suffering it may require.

PURE FM 107.8 -Thought for the Day – Sunday 10 August 2008

THESE ARE THE WORDS of the Russian philosopher and theologian Nicholas Berdyaev, and they’ve been a kind of lodestar, or guide, for me, across many years in Christian ministry.

The 2nd century church father St Irenaeus said that “the glory of God is a person fully alive”.

And philosopher John Macmurray wrote in the 1940s that “any morality which is against freedom is a bad morality”.

You know, I thank God that there are signs in this broken world of ours that some of us humans are becoming a little more humane. Maybe a little closer to the image of God. In many parts of the world human beings have come to recognize that God intends us to be free; to breathe his good air without fear or the need constantly to be looking over our shoulders. In many parts of the world human beings across the religious traditions have heard a call to work for the things of justice and shared peace; to work for the provision of food for the hungry, water for the thirsty and welcome for the outcast.

The Bishop of Colombo, addressing fellow bishops at the recent Lambeth Conference, said:

The Church is called to be: an inclusive communion, where there is space equally for everyone and anyone, regardless of colour, gender, ability, sexual orientation. Unity in diversity is a cherished Anglican tradition – a spirituality if you like, which we must reinforce in all humility for the sake of Christ’s Gospel.

And I say “Amen” to that. For I believe, with the Dutch scholar Erasmus, that God preserves the ship, but the mariner conducts it into harbour. We’re all in this together. God, together with every man, woman and child upon earth. Let’s take care to safeguard freedom of spirit. God is big enough to absorb our little mistakes and creative enough to have made us to be free. Grace and peace for you, as always.