Lent 2020 RSVPs

This is where we'll begin to gather the collective wisdom of the Lent community - as you share your creative responses. Please wait until I invite you, each week, to respond. You can send your RSVP to me by replying to an e-mail reflection. Your response may be edited for clarity and brevity. Please keep them succinct. Thank you!

 

Week 3

This afternoon I went for a walk along the (still very flooded) river Ouse. As I paused to look out across the river, momentarily the sun came out, and the water sparkled; it was almost like a spluttering fire, with the sparks appearing to bounce off and dance across the surface of the water.

A phrase 'Dancing through life' came to mind which is the title of one of the songs from the musical 'Wicked' which we're playing at orchestra at the moment. With all the uncertainty right now, it just felt like a little reminder that goodness is still all around us, and although we may not necessarily feel like dancing right, there is still much for which to be grateful, not least this lovely community. Take care everyone. Liz S x

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On Wednesday night, I was driving home... I felt the gravitational pull of the moon. So I pulled over. Tried to take a photo (never really comes out right.) But I just stood there. The moon and I. God too.  (That's a given.) I was appreciative of God's invite in to a moment like that. I obliged. And left a few minutes later. Grateful and connected. Your lenten devotions have motivated me to look out for little moments like that. Darrel H

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Thank you for your inspiring words in these difficult times. The burden on my shoulders seems to get heavier daily, sometimes every few hours, as new information and regulations reach us. Your daily email has become my midday moment, and sometimes I read it twice a day. And I “breathe "!

Schools will be closed for five weeks in Germany now. While panic wanted to rise, it  reminded me of your thoughts:

This is a chance to slow down! Spend time with God and trust in Him. He is with all of us.

What an extraordinary Lent! Keep breathing, Corinna F (sunny southern Germany 😊)

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A prayer was answered when I became a part of this Lent community. I feel so blessed to have your suggestions of readings. Your pauses for breath. Your meditations. Different ways for devotion to God and myself within that. God being the grace and light along the deep. My giving up for Lent was the way I feel about myself. Not a physical thing but to feel that I belonged and was loved. Thank you, everyone, for being part of that answer. Cheryl H

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Thanks so much Brian and to everyone for the reflections and RSVPs... it feels so good and essential to be in community and read calm, wise words and reminders of how we can find God and some form of peace in these uncertain times.

I listened to Rob Bell’s podcast today and he offers thoughts that this time can also be an opportunity to deal with those fears and anxieties that we can usually manage to numb and ignore. Now with the current news that isn’t so easy. We can see this as leading to us being awakened to address these fears, which in itself is scary but also an opportunity to come through this experience changed.

I am trying to learn to breathe, pray, rest and trust for myself and others, that we all may come through this with renewed experiences and deepened trust that God is with us. May this be used by God for a reordering and change, where needed, of our personal and worldwide collective life and values. Much love and grace to all. Sarah S

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Thank you!  Your reflections this Lent are so very much appreciated. I was on the way to work yesterday morning and passed someone on the street wearing a medical mask. I realised I was holding my breath as I walked, and your simple reminder: "... and breathe..." came to mind.

I've also gained so much from your signposting - the poetry, the lovely Radio 4 'Ramblings' programme and the Mid Faith Crisis podcast, which in turn led me on to their interview with Adrian Plass and then to dig out our copy of The Sacred Diary of....  I returned from work having to stifle laughter on the train. Philippa P

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Beautiful and encouraging words as always Brian and our community. Thank you. A friend shared this story with me this morning,  and I think it fits in well.

'My Granny prayed Psalm 91 every night for each and every one of her family members.  When her son, Uncle Herbert, was very young he contracted Polio. Granny prayed Psalm 91 and promised that if he was healed she would pray this way every day for the rest of her days.

He was healed.

I recall Granny standing or sitting alongside her bed with her little white bible praying every night.

In her last days before she went to heaven, unable to speak or read I saw her lips moving...'

Go well, may we keep on keeping on, secure in the knowledge that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. Linda dP

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It is indeed certainly challenging times and although we are not yet affected with Corona here in South Africa as badly as other parts of the world, nonetheless, we are still in summer and the worry will be when winter approaches with so many already compromised with poor immune systems. Many villages do not have running water, so washing hands and basic hygiene is a concern.

We are currently crippled with our power supply – stage-four load-shedding which results in no electricity four times a day for two and a half hours at a time. During the darkness of last night we were blessed with an amazing thunderstorm which resulted in 40mm of much needed rain. The thunder would have woken the dead but the lightening display was incredible as I sat watching and waiting at 3am.

Taking my little grandson to school had me stressed this morning with most of the traffic lights not working and traffic heavily backed up until my boy started singing “Our God is so good”.  So instead of despair we sang together the whole way to school.

Our God is indeed good. We went out to see our moon last night and check that our bird bath still had water and from feeding my wee birds paw paw, the seeds had fallen and have now sprouted three healthy paw paw plants.

'Will your anchor hold in the storms of life' is my hymn for today, and I pray that the world's anchor will indeed hold…Bless you all. Sharon S, South Africa

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'So, having been practicing moments of soulfulness and enjoying that time of peace and stillness, I have had to work more hours over the past couple of weeks to cover staff absence and my life has been extremely busy.

However, soulful moments often find us unexpectedly. Mine came on the way to work, waiting in my car at a red light at a large and busy roundabout on the edge of town. I noticed a magpie looking pointedly at me from the pavement at the side of the road, right by my door.

He entertained me with his cheerful little dance until red became green, bringing the beautiful natural world into man-made concrete, metal, noise and fumes. Yes birds do sing over the traffic and they dance alongside it too! It was a delightful connection that resonated and my day was all the sweeter for it. Jane B

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On day 9 you told us the story of getting lost, which  struck a chord with me. Today, you used that word again, adding we are in uncharted territory, tension in the airwaves. Coronavirus is cutting a swath that affects us all. Our lovely son, with wife and three young children, was a pilot with Flybe - yes uncharted times as our family reaches out to God for trust.
 
I have just handed over leadership of a growing church ministry for, I believe, God directed reasons. All good and going well, but I am realising unexpectedly a loss all entangled with looking at identity again.  I record on that day that it is good to have my identity cage rattled a bit and to refocus it again on who I am in Christ. We can thank God for these readjustments.
 
I thought about God being with us always, meaning when we feel lost too. The stars are always there when it is cloudy. Jesus was pushed to the utmost as he set his way to the cross, but he knew the Father was with him, until that moment when he felt abandoned... what a cry of anguish. But we are never abandoned. And yes, small things point to God’s love. Kind people praying for our son. Right outside our living room window is our small mimosa tree with its dazzling yellow mass of fluffy balls tapping against the window pane.  Jackie W

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Your reflection today, Brian, 'From Behind the Clouds' is especially precious, at this very strange and uncertain time for our world. Some of your previous reflections have inspired, in part, my latest blog: Springtime. Blessing to you all, Eddie G

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I am so glad you did the rewrite this morning - 'we walk together' brought tears to my eyes. Over the last week or so I have taken in that as a nearly 74-year-old with 'underlying health problems' I may not get out of this alive. I have always been a strong, fit, full-of-fresh-air and healthy-food type but over the last few years I also have lungs that don’t always work as they should. 

So, I have been 'putting my house in order' ...  I feel very calm,  it is all a bit unreal, a path that none of us have trodden before, and coming from a line of people who have lived to 100+ never thought I would need to even think about for a very long time.

And I may sail through this unharmed! I am well, the sun is shining, the blackthorn on my creek/field walk is in full glorious bloom, and I too saw the moon, looking slightly watery as if part of it had dissolved, and wondered what the next month would hold for us all.

Remember we walk together even though it is in uncharted territory. With love to all the community, Jane R

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I found some moments of peace yesterday, doing this colouring in response to your writing yesterday morning. Andrea P

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I'm continuing this lenten journey under southern skies (and tonight, sailing across a lake - a star-filled sky); and at present in the company of Brits, Aussies, Canadians, Americans...

We're a community of strangers, until a a few days ago, but now joined in wonder - awed by ancient, towering mountains, enormous, deep waters, breathtaking horizons. A constant refrain for me - "I look to the hills - where does my help come from?" Then the response echoes in my heart: "My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth"...

Whatever the future holds - let there be wonder, awe - and community. Sue R

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This isn't a carefully crafted spiritual reflection, but I wanted to thank you for the Satellite Navigation and Making Peace posts. How could I have reached the advanced age of 62 and not consider that Jesus saw the moon (and the Plough, and Orion, and all the others... without light pollution)? I will look at the night, as I do every night before going to bed, in a very different way.

When I read the Making Peace post, I was very anxious/worried/concerned - you name it - over various legal financial and admin issues; I breathed deeply and reframed the worries. I then worked on the matters practically and was able to collate all the papers required and hand them over today.

I'm sure you weren't thinking, when you penned the Making Peace post, 'Oh, this will help so and so with gritty worrying issues!' but it came at just the right time and I am so grateful. Also I am keeping the 3-step prayer pattern right by me so I can keep it fresh in my mind. Anne G

 

 

Week 2

A few thoughts. The moon and Jesus. The moon looking down on his lovely face and looking down on me. The night before you posted that I'd watched the Apollo 11 documentary of their landing... old footage and fabulous fashion! So your post resonated so strongly. But then that afternoon I met a sort-of-friend and told them about the doc and they said "It never happened"! A conspiracy theorist! Wow, I've never met one before. Struck me so forcefully that we cannot see what we refuse to see.

And now this morning. Breathing. Letting God breathe for me was such a painful excercise because in order to let my lungs expand and relax I had to let go of the ball of tears sitting in my diaghram. This took a while ... I need to come back to it. But the Hebrew breaths as prayer, that settled deep in my spirit. So many other stirrings but I can't sit here all day typing to you ... Much love! Rachie R

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Hi all! 'The Earth is the Lord's and everything in it' reminded me of a picture I painted a while ago trying to express the beauty of God and His Spirit making Creation happen. How we have fallen short as stewards of the earth and the four elements...

Maybe you are right Brian, I thought the current crisis might have the benefit of making us all look at the way we sometimes feel all powerful over our lives, what we consume and when, but it might also be that chance to take stock and consider a possible change in general habits.

I thought the disappearance of the pollution cloud over China (which has been a concern of mine for a while as I feel they are paying the price for our consumerism with their health and lives) quite amazing, and it should indeed encourage us all to believe it is possible to reverse global warming if we change our ways...

As Christians we have to keep that hope alive in the face of impending doom and pray we humans would have the desire to amend our ways before it's too late. We should also lead by example. Ca Commence Par Moi (It Begins With Me) is the title  of the book on living a "greener" life I am reading at the moment. An eye opener and a challenging read...

Your meditation on the breath of God in us reminded me of the song "It's Your breath, in our lungs and we pour out our praise to You only." When I had radiotherapy last year I was warned it might damage my lungs and singing that in church was so meaningful, like a new lease of life. It's His Breath / Spirit we are carrying in the fragile clay pots that we are - amazing...! Blessings to all Betty F

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Our tree (in what sense ours?) is at the bottom of our garden in something of a vale, so out of sight of the house. I had not realised how many small branches have come down in the recent gales. As I listened (as per your recent suggestion) I had a powerful sense of our granddaughter's grandchildren playing happily there as she does with her siblings and cousins. She is 12. I was left with a question: What will the climate be? Jonathan R

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Our church is currently studying The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. This seems to fit in with our Lenten reflections. This week we have explored the importance of Sabbath.

My wife and I have enjoyed our Sabbath today by visiting Kingston Lacy near Wimborne. As we breathed in the air we discovered a lovely fragrance. As we progressed along the path, following our noses, we found a sunken garden full of hyacinths. As we breathed in the fresh air, this was a lovely reminder of God's gift of fragrance, which lifts our spirits and reminds us of moments of joy. Phil B

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This is a lovely short film about an oak tree at Kew Gardens, 4 minutes long, and well worth a look - sent in by Michele S!

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Thank you again Brian for another rich week. Your comments of the contagion of blessing and kindness were timely - as some antidote to all the news of Coronavirus. (I’m trying not to be too anxious but my husband is 92! ) Your reference to the blessing in Numbers from The Message reminded me of Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 11: 28-30 - the 'Come to me, all who are heavy-laden passage' - or as Peterson puts it: "Are you tired? Worn out?"

Within the passage is the lovely phrase "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace" - which struck me as God’s way through.

I took up one of your suggestions of doing some art - I wondered what the unforced rhythms of grace might look like. Looks very wild, out of control in places, full of energy - perhaps a metaphor for God’s grace if only we would let it - if only I would let it. Something to ponder upon in these weeks of Lent. Elaine C X

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I stepped into the wilderness to run a marathon in Dorset ... minimal sleep, lower back niggle and a couple of blisters. I was close to staying at home but a little voice said GO, try, see what you can do! And what a wonderful journey - rainbows, hail, mud. Seeing all the elements in one day makes you humble and respectful of God’s creation.

There was even a blind runner among us. I put myself in his shoes ... even those with full sight slipped and fell in the mud. So brave! Feeling the sting from the rain followed by the warm glow of sun. And feeling blessed and assured of how capable we all are! Milli

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I have three practices for Lent (and beyond):

1) Show kindness to fellow creatures even if you don't see the desired results. Last week John and I tried to rescue a struggling bumble bee. We were not sure whether "he" was a geriatric bee from last season or an overeager bee for the coming season. We brought him sugar water, dandelions and a camellia flower, even though it was soon clear that he would not survive.

2) Take your watch off and let the day unfold to "un-hurry to the pace of Jesus" (John Mark Comer). On Saturday I felt stressed because there was so much I wanted to do. However, I realizsd that there was nothing I absolutely had to do at a certain time, so I went out without my watch.  I still got most of the things done that I had planned, without the self-imposed pressure. There is a great 5-day bible study on eliminating hurry  and an inspiring talk about becoming a "non-anxious presence" by the same author.

3) Look at art to connect with the biblical story. I was especially moved by this painting of Jesus in the wilderness.

Blessings, Susanne I

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Above is my RSVP. It's not directly related to the reflections, however, it might bring a smile of recognition (and, hence, encouragement) to any who feel they are struggling with faith at the moment. (This is something I "created" – for want of a better word! – rather than found on the Internet!) Phil S

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Many years ago I was driving home alone late at night rather nervously on country roads. It was very dark and difficult to see the road. Then to my great joy the moon appeared lighting my way and I felt such comfort and relief and a real sense that this was a gift from God to guide me safely home.

What a wonderful thought too, as you mentioned, that Jesus must have watched the same moon during his life that we can watch, and so we can feel closer to Him as we watch. Heather W

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'I looked for the moon tonight but it was obscured by thick cloud and accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds. After facing into the wind, and also getting very wet, I came indoors and sat listening to the elements. Both experiences, although completely different, were thrilling, uplifting and life-enhancing. Only yesterday evening, I was listening, this time in relative stillness, to blackbirds singing well into the dusk. What contrasts in weather we’ve experienced in the last few weeks. Wild divinity most definitely in action!

I loved the little video, ‘Bloom’ which reminded me of an amaryllis bulb I was given for Christmas 2018, which I began to prepare straight away. In January, only a couple of weeks later, it was growing well. I then caught a virus and was unwell for over a month. On those grey, gloomy winter days, and feeling decidedly gloomy myself, I watched my amaryllis grow, and change, filling the space with the most beautiful, vibrant, red blooms. It cheered up those dark days and lifted my spirits for sure! As Luther Burbank said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul." With love, Rosie A

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Thanks so much for your creative and beautiful reflections!! I've been thinking about the full moon and the Genesis passages about its creation: ‘God made the two larger lights, the sun to rule over the day and the moon to rule over the night; he also made the stars. He placed the lights in the sky to shine on the earth, to rule over the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God was pleased’.

Then today at our library group it just so happened that the kids were ‘silver stars’. They were encouraged to be ‘wild and free'! The adults wafted shiny material over them and there were shrieks of glee. Dens of safety were created and rockets for adventure. What a great illustration of being free to be the light we are called to be in this world. For me, this photo of my daughter perfectly captures the delight of being cocooned within the safety of the bright light only God can provide. From this place of being one within the Light what can we see that we otherwise wouldn’t have?' Laura B

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After taking myself into the garden to read your reflection on Friday morning and to soak in the beauty of the day, I noticed more water during hours that followed: a rare (these days) break in the rain, but droplets of dew nestled like mercury shelled snails, and the remnants of last week’s Itchen flooding (usual river channel on the left of the tree); and a huge puddle for this bench to wade in! The climate is changing! The world is amazing! Both of those things help me see truth, challenge, hope... God.  Jo C

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Lent greetings from the wild mid-west, in Kansas. The photo captures sunrise golden colors rising upon the historic Santa Fe and Oregon Trail from the Missouri River. This was a safe place for pioneers with a vision to cross the mighty river and begin their journey into the Wild West from 1827.

In addition to seeing the wagon wheel road indentations from long ago, I feel as if I can hear the brave and faithful pioneers whispering “You gotta this!” to me when I pass by on a walk with our wonderful dog Ollie. Truly when I consider the courage these men and women had, to blaze a new path into unknown wild territories, I am humbled by the simplicity of my life today.

Facing this kind of wild presses into me the value of letting go and letting God, as my favorite UK 🇬🇧 neighbor says! Thank you for your Lent devotions that lead me closer to the wild with our Maker each day. It reminds me of a quote about gratitude - it makes what we have, seem like enough!' Jenna R

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'I was walking on Stockbridge down today, thinking about Ramblings and mid-faith crises and water and you. I watched a sky full of water, and wondered whether there was a spectacular rainbow coming, like I encountered with you a few months ago at the same place. All the elements were there. Low sun, breaks in the cloud and drizzly rain. All I needed was God and physics to do their thing. They didn't.

I went to Tescos. Guess who showed up?

 

I love this song called 'Rainbow'.

Go well, Ian R

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This morning I was thinking about how light travels in straight lines - and so how does Jesus shine into the nooks and crannies as his light passes through our cracks and crevices? Then I visited the Brainpickings email you noted, and encountered the Lisel Mueller poem:

How swiftly the honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious.

One of my still moments earlier this week was standing by an azalia and marvelling at the buds! Jonathan R

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This tree is the first thing I see when I draw the curtains in the morning.  We have always loved it, a beautiful horse chestnut, and yes I do talk to it. In the winter evenings, the western sun shines red through its branches, a black silhouette against the glowing sky. Due to a disease which attacks horse chestnuts, it was finally felled last month.

I have shared many thoughts and questions with it over the years. I loved Rosalind M’s quote about the age and wonder of the tree. The third picture is of the hope for future generations who live in this house and talk to the tree. A sapling weeping birch was planted last week, nearby. Who will ask this little tree in the future - ‘who are you?'?

Loved Ramblings. No kingfisher here, but a pair of wrens are very busy. God is good! Love, Kate R-S

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I so enjoy your Lenten series. I always look forward to them avidly. I keep thinking of things to reply but haven’t got round to it yet! Instead I just wanted to share a photo. This was sunrise this morning overlooking lake Geneva where we live... If you look carefully there is a bird perched on top of the tall pine tree also watching the sun coming up. Alice DeB

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On Tuesday I was struck by your willingness to allow an exchange between you and the tree, Brian. To wait long enough to listen at a deeper level of our being is not something we give ourselves time to do, at least I seldom do.

Recently, I came across this piece by Maria Popova quoting Herman Hesse on What Trees teach us about Belonging and Life. He writes: ‘Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth... A tree says: a kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am Life from eternal life... When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: be still! Be still!’

I am reminded to look to the wisdom of our ancestors and that includes trees! Thank you. Liz H
 

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Last Sunday Tom (my husband) and I were in London. We visited the Garden Museum next to Lambeth Palace. I was really struck by an art installation "Lambeth Wilds" by Katie Spragg. It was the explanation that for me really resonated with Wilder-ness: "Taking wild opportunistic plants and the way they may be overlooked or hidden as its theme, this project aspires to celebrate and make visible these plants and communities local to the museum that may also be overlooked or hidden within our wider society." Something I'm trying to carry with me as I pay attention to my surroundings.

On Friday morning , after the two days of rain, I stepped out of my front door to walk. The first thing I noticed was the bird song - I felt they were expressing my joy at a morning of sunshine (A soul-full moment). Later I met a woman whose dog was also very much enjoying the sunny morning and exploring everything. We spoke about the weather and she expressed mild frustration at the slowness of their progress - I just gently asked whether that mattered?

On my home stretch I could see someone walking towards me, hands cupped, being followed by a cat. She was holding a robin her cat had brought in but she couldn't put it down anywhere because the cat was right behind her. I took the robin, which sat quietly in my hands, and walked back into the woods with it. Sadly I'm not sure it will have survived, but it felt such a privilege to hold that small beautiful part of God's creation for a moment. Thank you for encouraging me to notice these things :) Philippa M

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This week I read Steven Callahan's book Adrift and this passage, which is at the heart of the book's message about the natural world and his survival during 76 days adrift alone across the Atlantic in an inflatable life raft, chimes so well with your 'Wilder-ness' series. The creatures are dorados (sometimes known as dolphin fish or mahi-mahi), who are drawn to his life raft:

"More and more I feel that these creatures exude a spirit that dwarfs mine. I don't know how to explain it rationally - perhaps that's the point. I don't think that these fish reflect or think as we do; their intelligence is of a different kind. While I cogitate about truth and meaning, they find them in their immediate and intense connection to life - in body surfing down huge waves, in chasing flying fish, in fighting for life on the end of my spear. I have often thought that my instincts were the tools that allowed me to survive so that my 'higher functions' could continue. Now I am finding that it is more the other way around. It is my ability to reason that keeps command and allows me to survive, and the things I am surviving for are those I want by instinct: life, companionship, comfort, play. The dorados have all of that here, now."

The Bible doesn't talk so much about instinct as about 'the spirit' and 'the flesh'. But I am starting to think that the Holy Spirit renews and restores our instincts as responsive creatures of the Uncreated One, and that 'the flesh' is more like the rational mind turned away from God in pursuit of self-sufficiency and independence. Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us into life, companionship, comfort and play!' Helen H

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'Thankyou for flagging up your “appearance” on Ramblings with Claire Balding.  On that frightful wet afternoon I joined you, sitting warm and dry on my sofa, and walked with you on that remembered path. What a gift. Jane R

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Thank you once again for your daily inspiring words and enabling us to be part of this soul provoking community, where are souls can touch. What has resonated with me this week is once again the reminder to be present to what is and being open to receive. I was so grateful to be reminded of kindness and how it ripples out (can be an antidote to our fears) and how  we can pass it on.

I thought about all the kindness I receive. I felt the blessing of all I receive through my senses. I felt the blessing of everything around me starting with the bed I was sitting on and then everything I encountered as I moved into my day, progressing to my feet on the floor, toothbrush etc, and later in the garden a leaf, a flower, the air!

I was rather challenged the following day to wake and find no internet connection or home phone or mobile working, especially as I am still experiencing family challenges, and I initially panicked! However I later read your email (when finally had some connection). It led me to opening the back door, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the rain caressing me and I listened to birdsong and felt the joy and presence.

All was well! As you experienced with your wren earlier in the week and your robin and kingfisher on your inspiring Ramblings! Thank you! Blessings, Sue T

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'As I walked past the memorial Hall near Bramcote, two little faces popped up at one of the windows where the playgroup is held. I smiled at them, they stared, then suddenly smiles radiated over their faces - my 'Kingfishers' of the day - and I found myself feeling blessed and inwardly asking God's blessing for them. Eleanor B

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Thank you for the beginning of this lenten series. There have already been many resonant ideas which have challenged and blessed me. The idea of pushing through rather than holding back, as I often feel I should, has spurred me on. Being loved into being was a comforting and reassuring and affirming  reflection.

I was reminded of my own encounter with an ancient tree that caused me to take a photo and later produce a painting from it. Whilst being in it' presence and later studying it when painting, the sense of its age and life was very real. It brought to mind a quote I read recently.

'It is said that, in the face of great wonder, what we experience is the dissolution of self ... and just for a second, we experience the world as it really is, unfiltered through the veil of our ego.' Rosalind M

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I was struck by the light on this wood this evening. As always mesmerised by the rhythm of the sea. As my dear friend Nick would say, this sounds like wiffly Californian piffle. But I can’t help thinking my life is a wave.' Joe D

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I have had an exceptionally busy week. The daily escape into wildness, stillness and observing has been a lifesaver. I was driving south though Mid Wales yesterday and listening to your Ramblings. There had been no signal before it came on, and within moments of it finishing the signal on the car radio disappeared again. Another kingfisher moment - the term I shall now use for the serendipity, co-incidence and unexpected connections that happen if I am still, looking, noticing and receptive. As I was thinking of turning this into poetry, I looked out of the window and had a 'bullfinch moment'. I have never seen one, or a pair in the garden before. A flash of not-robin-red and too-big-to-be-robins and there they were feasting on our neighbours' crab apples. I plan to listen to our oak tree tomorrow. Jonathan R

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Today’s nature watch - sharing a drink, melted frost! I’m taking in God’s daily gifts to us. Thanks Brian for pointing us in this direction. Rose G

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I'm finding much to provoke thought. The thing that jumped out at me was the seven everyday acts of paying attention. So often we rush from one place to another and this made me think... and go out into my garden. My first thought was how lucky I was to have one. I know not everyone does. The second was to take in the birdsong and snowdrops. Nature has a habit of being amazing. God bless.' Mark O

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I came across this blessing/poem by the wonderful John O’Donohue: Axioms for Wildness. I couldn’t help think of you and these Lent reflections. Perhaps a prayer for us all.' Harriet C

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'I'm boomeranging a smile back to you, too, Brian!  :)  I'm enjoying walking on the "wilder" side this Lent. But given the snow on the ground here, I decided to bypass this week's invitation to "try a short barefoot walk today!"  ;)  Hugs and blessings, Nancy-in-Canada

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I have hearing loss. It's been developing for the last 15 years. I've tested some out some hearing aids this last week. One of the first things I noticed was I could hear bird song... again. Something that quietly disappeared is now back. It's wonderful and has been quite emotional for me. I can testify to what you say about noticing things. Your reflection lead me to Psalm 104 which is all about praising God the Creator and especially verse 33. I will sing to the Lord all my life; as long as I live I will sing praises to my God. Ian M

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This prayer from The Celtic Wheel of the Year by Tess Ward spoke to me after reading your reflection on the significance and ripples from small kindness.

As I reflected on it commuting up to central London for a course on legal matters for vulnerable older clients, I passed the screen shots on to a friend (I have just ordered him the book too) ...

Today’s prayer 🙏 “the little things... sing of your care for us” 👍 “your living presence is with us as we do the little things we do this day” 🤩 ...”be with all those who feel they have nothing to give” 🙌 Ahhh such helpful, reviving, perspective breathing turns of phrase!' Ian Mac

...

I noticed the birdsong in the city today! It was behind the traffic noise and I've noticed it there in the background all day. So peaceful on a sunny day following the deluge of yesterday. Chloe W

...

 

I love the concept of pushing at God's open door, and aim to learn to trust Him more with those who are precious to me. Lent began with the hustle of a Vegas trade show, which seemed an incongruous place to explore wilderness. Yet God takes as much delight in His city children as elsewhere.

Once the show ended we left for Zion National Park. It's hard to miss His glory here. We have climbed the heights and slowed to listen to birds on the river bank. A sanctuary to take time out mentally and spiritually. This sign made me laugh as we started out. Sue B

...

I really liked the idea of talking to something in nature and found myself thinking of the rowan tree I can see from my bedroom window. I can't remember when I started really paying attention to it but for years now it has let me know the changing of the seasons. Right now it's saying it's definitely not spring yet! I liked too that when I came to write a haiku about it, I couldn't really tell whose voice was whose. 

Further significance came yesterday when I was reminded about the patch of wasteland the tree is on that is being un-wilded to make a car park for new flats.  Perhaps it was because I'd 'conversed' with this tree, or noticed my noticing of it, but I felt a real joy and relief when we realised it falls on just the right side of the wall to be saved from getting chopped down!

'Faithful rowan, who
Am I? Seasoned companion
Walking us to spring.'

Jenny S

...

As well as the usual giving up of alcohol, etc, I've decided to take on swimming and intermittent fasting during this Lent, so your thoughts about water were particularly relevant to me. I’ve always loved swimming but when [my late husband] Nick got ill I just didn’t seem to have time ... But recently I have found a lovely little pool right  on the coast. The drive itself to it is so beautiful.

The last few days with all the rain, the sea has been rough and the waves high. I arrived yesterday at the pool to be told it was closed due to power failure because of all the rain. But today it was open and with your thoughts in mind I really noticed everything about my swim. I love swimming back stroke as my whole body is touching the water. I am able to zone out and go to another place, to be still and at peace. Rather than counting lengths I often use the time to pray for those who are struggling, those God has put on my heart, and today was no exception.  

As I came out of the pool, the sun was shining, I could feel the warmth of it on my back and the sea was like glass, so calm and so still. Quite a contrast to the last few days. I just wanted to be out there on the water, sailing with Nick and that made me sad. But I was able to recall many happy sailing days. Tomorrow, weather dependent, I will be out on the sea, rowing and that will be a different water experience.' Julie P

...

In honour of St David’s Day on Sunday we attended the Temple Church for Evensong last night. The opening anthem sung by the Welsh Men’s Choir sang touched me deeply and sang in harmony to the messages we have been hearing from you:

Keep going! Dave P

...

The expression 'planted not buried' broke free from the page and took my thoughts about death somewhere totally unexpected. I even smiled! Death is something that's has come too close before and has robbed me of so much peace, so I found the coronavirus reflection helpful... love and kindness can be contagious.

So on the tube I drew smiling stick people in the condensation on the window, with big hair and big boots, and had coffee with a homeless son of God who I often see and told him how beautiful he is. And then birdsong as prayer! Yes, I adore pigeons cooing especially, as these remind me of my grandfather when I was a child. Thanks you so much. Rachie R

...

 

 

'God's Way Through': this narrow board walk speaks to me of the way of love through the mirey bog to the sunshine shining around the trees. A way of achieving our goal without crushing and damaging our neighbours. Inspirational message in today’s sunshine. Thankyou, Brian. Jeanette

...

Listening to Brian on Ramblings on Thursday afternoon brought back memories of us following the same path last year, up the steep hill to the labyrinth at the top. Aching legs being felt as an offering of effort. The narrow and winding trail to the centre bringing a strong sense of a meaningful journey to something big and important.  

But this year I was not struggling in Brian’s wake. I was in a big armchair on a wet afternoon in London with my leg elevated in a brace, resulting from a fall last week that had ruptured my quadriceps tendon.  And that accident had itself brought a host of blessings. The gaggle of good Samaritans who rescued me from the road, and kept me company while I was lying on my back on the cold pavement. A long wait before the ambulance came, then off to the hospital where I was lovingly and competently looked after for five days by a whole range of people.  

A sudden lurch into dependency is a reminder that autonomous existence is a delusion. How much we owe to others; what a joy it is to receive. Gregor G

...

It was was so special to listen to Ramblings yesterday on Radio 4 and the perfect way in which you shared your faith with Clare Balding, the other walkers and the listeners was a lesson to us all - jargon-free yet powerful.

It was a beautiful, sunny day here on Anglesey and I luxuriated in the joy of ‘tootling’ in my garden especially after weeks and weeks of rain. The robin followed me as I tugged at weeds, and as I listened through my headphones to your words, God united us all through His creation.

My psalm for the day - 5th March 2020:

You painted a picture last night
Distant mountains purple velvet
Low cloud drifts like Monday’s washing.
This morning the view from the same window
Showed those mountains sombre, grey-black
With the sun slowly revealing its eastern splendour.
And then rain like lead bears down relentlessly.
Such variety in your work and by your hand.
What a God you are. Ever-changing. Never changing.
The one true artist. The author of life.

How many pictures have you painted?
They are innumerable - immeasurable.

You paint a picture of us - of our lives.
You show its light and shade.
The depths, heights and subtleties
You paint its beautiful colours - its sombre tones.
You paint our trials, our tribulations.
Our multi-textured days.
Each day as we awake we’re in your frame.
Within your frame we live and breathe.
You watch and care for us
The artist lovingly nurturing His creation.

One day that picture will be placed
In your gallery for scrutiny.
Please Lord let the subject of your work
Not fall short of the artist’s expectation.
Let the final picture be pleasing to your eyes.

Thank you for being prepared to erase -
Blot out our messiness.
Thank you for that new and fresh canvas
Just when we need it.

Thank you for the glorious paintings before us,
Your creation:
The Milky Way, the lush green earth,
The oceans and rivers, sunsets and seasons
And for dawns and dusks.

With love and gratitude we
Thank you for placing us in your big picture.

Meg

...

Yesterday we were deluged by cold rain, but when I stepped outside this mild morning the dew was glittering in the sunlight and the air was filled with birdsong.  As I scattered food on the grass, a robin quickly fluttered down, shortly followed by a wood pigeon, three magpies, a jay, and a blackbird, and two crows who several times stuffed their beaks to the brim and flew off into the trees, presumably to feed hungry young mouths.

 I read this lovely reflection by Macrina Wiederkehr, a Benedictine Sister, in a book she wrote with Joyce Rupp, The Circle of Life, and I would love to share it with our group. With much love to all.

How quietly the earth breathes forth new life.
How eagerly the sun bleeds forth the spring.
I am listening.
I am listening to seeds breaking open, to roots growing strong beneath the ground, to green shoots rising up from winter wombs.
I am listening to thorns blossoming, to barren branches laughing out new growth, to wildflowers dancing through the meadows.
I am listening to the forest filling up with song.
I am listening to the earth filling up with life.
I am listening to trees filling up with leaves.
I am listening to the sky with its many changing moods, to flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, to opening buds and greening grass.
I am listening to the breaking forth of light in the vestibule of dawn.
I am listening to the freshness of the morning.
I am listening to the rain drops giving hope to thirsty gardens.
I am listening to the orchards pregnant with new life,
I am listening to the flowers bursting forth in rainbow colors.
I am listening to the brook, to the song of happy waters,
I am listening to music rising up from all the earth.
I am listening to spring soaring in on wings of life,
I am listening to the sounds of spring.
I am listening to prayers pouring forth from feathered throats,
I am listening to prayers rising up from misty waters.
I am listening to prayers of a meadow crowned with dawn.
I am listening to the growing in the garden of my heart.
I am listening to my heart singing songs of resurrection.
I am listening to the colors of life.
I am listening to winter handing over spring,
I am listening to the poetry of spring.
I am listening.

Hazel R

...


'I love the theme of wildness/wilderness. All week I have been thinking of the last four lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem 'Inversnaid':

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Some time ago I spent a silent retreat at St Beuno's and, as I walked around the nearby fields and hedgerows, those lines were passing through my head. Go well and have a positive and productive Lent.' Frances W

Week 1

 

'On the evening before Lent, I experienced this wild rainbow on Waterloo bridge. What you can not see in this photo is that at various points the sky was so dark except from St Paul’s. It was truly surreal, not just because of the beauty and awesomeness of it but because of the shared experience we were having. It was the end of a work day and people were rushing home, heads down until they noticed or heard someone talking about it.  What ensued was many people stopping to look ( and take photos) chatting and smiling.

I don’t know what to make of it but I was SO grateful. I have mainly difficult and painful things going on right now and this reminded me that there is hope. Love,' Elaine Marie

...

 

 

'The burning sun coming up this morning NZ time just caught these moments. I couldn’t help but notice it was forcing its light through our drapes. How can we ever resist His light in our lives? It far outshines all else. Jesus is the Light of the world the light in the midst of our darkness and fear.' Paul NZ

...


'The thing I am giving up for Lent (and for all time, I hope, but until somehow I forget again in the on-going battle) is fear for the future and shame from the past.

Fear for the future is the fear that my skills are fading with age, and that the company I work with will at some point chose not to use me any longer in the paid work I do, which I need to pay my mortgage, so it is really worry about future work and income. I have just over three years left on my mortgage, and I am aware that I am slower in some things (I’ll be 61 in a couple of months). But that worry hampers me and robs me of the joy of now, and of my awareness of Jesus’ presence with me. Similarly, I often battle shame from my past.

What am I kindling into flame?  Putting away fear by trusting in the joy of God’s hold on my life and of walking with him. And soon after I reached that re-recognition (these things are always cyclical and I need to re-learn the same old lessons!) last Thursday, I was asked to do a new piece of work!

I didn’t see the sunrise this morning (it was obscured) but here is the sunrise from during my run on Ash Wednesday morning.' Tim K

..

 

'I've been doing a lot of walking recently and on wet, cold and windy days it's usually head down and get the steps in but today has been bright and sunny here so following your advice l looked around and catching a flash of purple l glanced sideways towards it and was rewarded with an expanse of purple croci in the local park. What a blessing! Thank you for the continued musings. They're the first thing l read in the morning and the last at night - usually having struggled with Moltman!! My penance this year. Blessings.' Jo K
 

...

 

 

'Your reflections are such a helpful, encouraging and inspiring way to notice this season of Lent – thank you! Yesterday, I had the gift of a a whole day free to myself. The weather – which has been so wet – was bright and sunny, so I took the opportunity to walk local two sections of the London Loop path. The walk was around nine miles, and took me about 3½ hours. With nothing but my own company, and the green space around me, I was able to take my time, and look around, and stop, and notice. At one point I found myself exclaiming to the skies, "I am so blessed!" As ever,' Phil S

...

 

 

'Thanks so much for your insightful words and thoughts. I am always struck how valuable it is to stop and watch, listen and absorb the beauty of the world around us - it goes at a very different rhythm to us it seems, certainly a healthier one. I think this quote from John Ruskin sums up some of what you were saying today in your reflection, and above is a large oil painting I recently completed of a moment when i stopped and watched the sky.

"Sky is the part of creation in which Nature has done more for the sake of pleasing man, more for the soul and evident purpose of talking to him and teaching him, than in any other of her works, and it is just the part in which we least attend to her” (John Ruskin).' Steve K

...

 

'I'm "pilgrimaging" in my birth country, New Zealand - and so encouraged to notice, and be HERE - in this most beautiful corner of Creation. My soul is responding afresh to the land - reminded that we belong to the land; the land does not belong to us - in these words seen in the Waitangi Centre today...

Be blessed in your noticing.' Sue R

...

'I am working hard on giving up as much single-use plastic as I can and am using the Archbishop of Canterbury's booklet Live Lent on Care for God's Creation, which gives daily challenges and dovetails with the Wilder-ness emails so well. I would like to kindle into flame some of my "first love" passion for Jesus that I felt as a new Christian over 40 years ago. Strangely enough, Justin Welby was part of my journey to faith when I met him in the Anglican church in Paris when I was 19 years old! God loves to weave patterns and connections in our lives!' Caroline C

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'I'm very much appreciating my first time in this Lenten community - thank you. I feel very blessed to be away from work on sabbatical until Easter and I am consciously taking the opportunity to do things differently while I have the time and head-space.

The space my sabbatical offers me has given me the chance to take time with friends, to have weekends with my family (Sundays are usually work days), to learn a little about water-colour painting and to try some calligraphy, and most of all to slow down and notice - I have been watching frog-spawn develop!

It seems that, as with water-flow, when you make space there are always things that are pushing to flow into it: my elderly parent and an adult child have both needed more of my time. I have wrestled with the tension between feeling blessed that I have the time to give and the selfish frustration that I am losing my reflection time.

So, I am seeking to let go of (give up?) the resentment when I have to change my plans. (Maybe notice the feeling and consciously move to gratitude that I have the time to respond?) And I am trying to practise stillness by focusing on centering prayer (inspired by a recent retreat led by you, Brian). I have a large pebble, picked up on Iona, which has concentric rings. Picturing it helps me to focus on holding Jesus at the centre.' Philippa M

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'I was thinking of you and the series so much this morning at 6.30am as I stood in my garden with a steaming mug of tea, looking across to Conwy Castle, listening to the thrush singing its heart out, seeing the early light appearing, counting my blessings and thinking of the Psalm which includes "This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice, and be glad in it." It seems to fit with what you have written today! Thank you for all your work.' Anne G

...

'I love the phrase 'loved into being' and the idea that we are all loved into being by God, just as Jesus was. It brought to mind for me a song I've come across recently by Lauren Daigel called 'You Say" (I like songs...) which speaks of the reassurance we have of finding our identity in God. You can listen to it here. Thanks.' Liz S

...

'I have been thinking about what it means to be wild and courageous. It came into my mind that surely the best way to be wild is through love, which makes us terribly vulnerable. I always imagine being wild as being brave and so my question has always been, 'How can I be braver, when I am not a brave person?' But really I think the question should be, how can I love more? And of course, that has to start with a love of who I am, and the braveness to express it.

Perhaps love of ourselves means accepting who we are in our essential selves, and allowing that inner person (who I personally have always been reluctant to accept) to be expressed in our thoughts, actions and words. So that's what I'm going to be trying to do this Lent - to love more, and to be present more rather than just observing things. And responding to the RSVP's is a part of that; of being me, in front of other people.

I hope your day is full of noticing, and enjoyment at being a part of this incredible universe, and thank you again,' Susie D

...

'Thank you for this inspiring start to Lent. This morning, eating breakfast at home, we noticed the sparrows sitting on a neighbour's fence, twittering away, and the light catching the colours on their breasts. I started Lent unexpectedly in hospital, but it was pure joy to have your first reflections to accompany me as I watched and waited and prayed. I am pushing into being less busy and more measured in all I do.  I will see what happens!' Freda S

...

'Hello, Brian, and everybody, and thank you for sharing so many wonderful thoughts. (I'm feeling a strange sense of irony - or paradox? - to be revelling in such riches in this season of stripping back!) I was especially drawn to the confusion between "Stop!" and "Push!". How often we misinterpret each other! And what a great concept, to rewild our lives. I have always felt 'in my element' out of doors, and I do think of humans as an integral part of nature, so it's really not surprising that it's where we connect most closely to our essence, to our own nature, feel most at home and find a sense of shalom.

 

 

Today's invitation has led me to find a tiny bug inside a hellebore flower (and to dwell for a while on these wonderful colours in the petals) and a shy little muntjack deer about to slip through the gap in the fence of our back garden, created by one of the recent storms. You have to look very closely to see him standing just in front of the gap - but I had to take the picture through a not-too-clean window so as not to frighten him off by opening the door. With much love to all,' Hazel R

...

'Letting go. The thing I wanted to let go became this ...

 

And I noticed this, by the roadside in Rotherhithe...'

 

 

Michelle S

...

'Thanks Brian. I have been pondering the series ‘Christ in the Wilderness’ by the artist Stanley Spencer. Each picture speaks so much. I felt this one mirrors your words today. I have never smelt wild flowers. That could change today. Thank you.' Robin D

...

The theme 'Wilder-ness' really appeals to me. As a lover of the outdoors, and with a daily hunger for birdsong and sunshine to be satisfied, I look forward to exploring the theme with others. In many ways, the outdoors can only really be experienced alone, entering the space and being engulfed by the natural sights and sounds. Then, there is the joy of finding oneself in a seemingly whole other world to explore, a whole sounding-board of senses revealing more and yet more of creation. I become aware of a thirst (almost scary) to simply let go and be part of this wonderful and ever-changing scene. But the great thing about Brian is that he enables this to be a shared experience - walking together on God's Earth. Thank you Brian and happy walking everyone!' Sandra F

...

'I am trying to begin each day in a more decisive/organised way. This has a pre-requisite though - improving the time of going to bed!! As the pressures of life have increased, bed time has slipped later and later, with the morning becoming a scramble out of bed, via breakfast and rushing to work, hoping to arrive in time to "manage". I am using your encouragement to try to redress the balance. Of course, whether my prayers have been answered when I awoke at 5am this morning and wasn't able to return to sleep, I can't say. Maybe the answer was not of this world?!' Alan C

...

 

 

'I used the electric fire in my lounge for my reflection on Wednesday. I’ve now given up having a biscuit with my morning coffee and taken up the practice of spending half an hour each day (whatever the weather) in my garden or another garden. Here is a photo of my fire...' Pam B

'I want to try to give up the idea that everything has to be perfect! I would like to kindle into flame relaxation and freedom from the dreaded "ought." So your reminder of Jesus' words "I do not give as the world gives" - that God will always meet our needs, but not always the needs we imagined, was very timely. January and February have been difficult months with a painful neck and other parts of the body being less mobile than usual. This had the effect of slowing me down physically - frustrating but it meant that I got more rest. It tied in with a visualisation I had that I was wearing my body out and needed to look after myself!' Diana S

...

'I was very much taken with your comment on the cross of ashes being both a symbol of our own fallibility but also of God’s burning passion for us. I’d just like to share with you a prayer which came to mind: Be with us in our fragility./Kindle in our hearts/Your flames of love.

May each of us have a blessed and deep Lent.' Elaine C x

...

'I have been going through much suffering and daily grieving. I felt the fire you talked about was for me; the purification of the fire of suffering, purging, causing me to dig deep into God. At the moment there is the dark night of the soul, but I know Easter Sunday will come I must wait and trust!' Jackie H

...

 

'What a thought-provoking first three days it has been for this 2020 Lent series. Here is photo of my fire - surrounded by treasures from water (and earth) - stones, shells, seaweed, amber, all washed by the sea; gifts from the earth, pine cones, lichen, bark, and leaves from the woods, and from the air, birds feathers.

Rather than putting the focus this Lent on finding things to relinquish, my attention is to find the courage to kindle the flames, to explore the possibility of big life changes. So the analogy of ‘Push’ (an invitation) is perfect as are the words, “Ask, Seek, Knock.”  Where once, through fear, I wouldn’t have entertained such changes, now I have a clearer sense of direction.

Taking a slow, deep breath ...' Rosie A

...

'Thank you very much for an inspiring push into Lent. I’ve realised that my Lenten focus needs to be mindful communication, both in speech and in writing. Pause, breathe and think before saying or writing anything. Stem the stream of conscious. Talk slower. Respond from a deeper place rather than over-assert myself. Say only what is appropriate in context. And less words ...' Alice F

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'Hi Brian, and to all the community!  This year I've decided to use Lent as a space to kindle my passion for poetry. It's something I love but have long felt insecure about so wanted to see what happened if I gave it some time and space. My aim is to write a haiku each day based on the reflection, more or less, as something that's doable. I've found the letting go part harder as I'd like to let go of people pleasing but have found it tricky turning that into a daily practice I can see. But hopefully that will come with time. This is my first day's haiku and the one from today:

Fresh start, hope startles.
Words spark into tiny buds like
Flames, given space. Breath.

Your hands stretch towards
me, daring I believe You
could love me to life.'

Jenny S

...

'It moved me massively to read 'Push!' - the striking image of the hand splayed which could mean push or stop. The day before I'd been with Christian Climate Action outside Westminster Abbey with our hands covered in fake crude oil and raised in the same way. It's all over their Twitter page. And the thought that the hands were STOP to fossil fuels AND an invitation from God to PUSH into personal and collective repentance of addiction to fossil fuels... all followed by ash and oil on our foreheads. It deeply resonated with me.' Rachie R x

...

The last two years or so have felt earth-shattering for us and our families, and this year began with more turbulence.
 I was sitting in silence yesterday morning with three friends in Whirlow Chapel and I heard the words in my head, "You are blessed. You are loved." Immediately, the temptation was to say, Did I really hear that? Then this morning, reading your words came as an unexpected underlining for me. Thank you." Rae M

...

So I'm giving up distractions and thieves of time such as social media and poor quality TV, background music, word puzzles. Trying to spend more time sitting in stillness and quietness 'calmly abiding' and waiting on God. I spent some time on the first evening of Lent watching the sunlight fade and whisps of smoke swirling from a chimney, the occasional bird hopping over hedgerows. Had a sense of all life settling down for the night. I was rewarded with a squadron of birds flying over towards their roost for the night. Soulful moment.' Jane B

...

'One of the things I am not doing for Lent is any formal Bible study; a dangerous thing, perhaps! Instead I have decided to just read around Scripture that you reference and see where that takes me. Today I was led to Luke 3.21-38 and the genealogy of Jesus. All those people loved into being by God and culminating in Jesus who loved us so much that he gave up His whole being so we could be forgiven and set free. Wowzer!' Ian M

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'There are so many people who have loved me into being, but they are not the only ones who have helped me become the person I am. From Merson's Palace of Nowhere, by James Finley: "Our real spiritual directors, our real gurus, are our loved ones who place upon us inexplicable burdens, force us to proceed out from our narcissistic prison into a selfless encounter in love". The people who hurt me deeply have made me stronger and deepened my trust in God. Of course, this probably would not have happened had I not been grounded in the belief that I was loved.' Val W

...

'Thanks for putting this together.. only a few days, yet already feeling better for it! I have written a poem in response so far, all about time:

Choosing - Using - Time

Not in the checking of lists
Not in relentless pursuit of completion
Not in seeking approval from accomplishments
Not in the selfish accumulation of possessions
Not in a lazy haze of preoccupation or self pity
Not in numb passivity...

But in thoughtful creativity...
     with space to breathe
To enjoy beauty and
    anticipate connection with others
To overflow, radiate, eminate the
   kindness and love that I have received
To feel the warmth from the sun, to be,
            to walk, to smile, to love.'

Pete W

...

Yesterday, I felt panic as I responded. This sequence arrived as I remembered that the body response to panic and exhilaration is the same

Ask, seek, knock or push.
Why is my heart racing now?
Can’t I trust His word?

I know he loves me.
His loving gaze is safety:
Take this step, in faith.

Jesus as surfboard
whatever the waves may bring:
I will be secure.

The same pulse change in
fear and exhilaration.
I will ask, seek, knock.

Today, travelling South on the M1, signs warn of a 30 minute delay so I have stopped at Woodall services to do my Lent reflection! I was amazed at the names and faces that came to mind as I remembered those who had loved me into the Jonathan I am today.' Jonathan R

...

'How lovely to be back in this community again. The hand and "Push" has really stayed with me and I am not quite sure what it is saying to me - but as it just sits there in my subconscious I am sure all will become clear. It is so easy to misunderstand others, or to be misunderstood, so it is important to be clear. So having just used that word twice, I wonder what I need to be clear about?! Food for my quiet time.' Jane R

...

 

'I attach one of my recent mixed media paintings that for me represents the idea of fire - a fire which can be mesmerizing, heart-warming, purifying, all-consuming and scary, all at the same time.

It was easier to decide what to give up (sweets - in my case this mainly means winegums, chocolate and cake.) What to take up has been a lot harder to decide - though I have just signed up for an intensive online art course and keeping up with the course will require passion, patience and perseverance.

Life has been a little bit of a roller coaster - two friends have died quickly and unexpectedly and a third friend has just fallen seriously ill. It puts life in perspective and highlights the importance to live life fully every day rather than postponing it for another day. I am really grateful to have our Lent community to journey with again this year. Lots of love to everyone,' Susanne I

...

'I shared in a lovely Ash Wednesday service where we wrote down what was separating us or stopping us from fully committing ourselves to Jesus and our preparation time of Lent. We then went outside the church and burnt them. Didn't have ashing but were blessed with oil after communion. it only occurred to me later that you'd talked about lighting a fire!! I did light a candle though. Loving the "Push" theme as well. How easy it is to be misunderstood by our actions and body language. And how easy to wound someone with a text comment when they can't hear your tone of voice. Let us all try to be more careful this Lent. How wonderful to be in Community again too. Blessings.' Jo K

...

'I loved today’s reflection “Love into Being”. Like Brian, I was also moved by watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. The part when Fred Rogers says, “Would you take 60 seconds with me to remember people who have helped us become who we are?” moved me to tears. In my opinion, it is one of the most powerful clips in cinema history and a piece of brilliant acting by Matthew Rhys who plays Lloyd Vogel - as you see the beginnings of an inward redemption displayed on his outward features.

Prior to seeing the film I watched the 90-minute Netflix documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour?. It’s a truly fascinating documentary featuring numerous clips of Fred Rogers and I found it even more inspiring than the film.' Dylan R

...

'I have had a difficult childhood and for the last few months I have been having counselling. My counsellor has been amazing. Never before have I received such “listening with full attention and love and acceptance”. I am now becoming the person God wants me to be. We are all on a journey but this is a special and freeing part of my journey. No more “shoulds or “oughts”, only full acceptance. She has shown me the love of Jesus. Thank you so much to God and my wonderful  Christian counsellor.' Gillie H

...

'You say: "I'm reminded ... of the wilder prospect that you and I, too, are known by name, by the God who listens with yet greater love." It cannot be that we are not known. God is light (read consciousness) - you are light (sub-atomically true), and you have the strange inclination to ponder things non-material (thus consciousness - even though this word is scientifically inexplicable). Biblically you were formed from the dust of the earth with the life of God breathed into you. You are God - you don't need to have a separate name!' Robbie G
 

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