Good morning dear friends. I write this from my little office in the vicarage. My desk is just by the window and as I look out on this beautiful morning the sun is shining and the world looks fresh and new.
I have found myself waking up extraordinarily early in the last few weeks. I wonder of subconsciously I am on guard over my household and family.
Many of you have told me how comforting you find my short recorded talks. This one is about those who have gone before and who we miss and how they are still cheering us on.
This morning’s Celtic treasure is this:
God with me lying down,
God with me rising up,
God with me in each ray of light,
Nor I a ray of joy without Him.
God with me protecting,
The lord with me directing,
the Spirit with me strengthening,
Forever and for evermore,
Chief of chiefs, Amen.
So friends I have been thinking how much we owe to actors. As we are stuck at home there are so many resources now available. The National Theatre is making plays available on their website and so many other theatres. I have been reminded how central art is to our lives and the way actors can cheer us up, make us think and encapsulate the human condition. I watched all ten episodes of Picard and am happy that Friday Night Dinner is back. We are re-watching The Crown in awe at the performances.
I have never felt that acting is about ‘play acting’ or pretending. Instead, drama gets to the heart of what it is to be a person.
The Celts had a high view of creativity and storytelling. they would have told the stories of their families and communities. they constructed beautiful stone crosses. I found this little beauty of a prayer for this morning, it is about Jesus.
Thou art the joy of all joyous things,
Thou art the light of the beam of the sun,
Thou art the door of the chief of hospitality,
Thou art the surpassing star of guidance,
Thou art the step of the deer of the hill,
Thou are the step of the steed of the plain,
Thou art the grace of the swan of swimming,
Thou art the loveliness of all lovely desires.
Hi friends. Today’s reading is John 11 1-45. It is all about Lazarus and his raising from the dead. Do listen to my short talk today. C S Lewis felt a bit sorry for Lazarus – pointing out that he would have to do his dying all over again. There’s something in this – but for me the point is all about compassion and the way Jesus is so moved by the grief of his friends. We do not want to lose those we love because we know that they are precious and that the world is a better place for having them in it.
John Donne, that great poet and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral was lying in his room believing himself to be dying of plague. The year was 1623 and London was a ghost town. He was feverish and had been wrestling with God.
He has a moment of great clarity…no one is an island, we are all connected and the death of anyone has a impact on us all. We are all part of each other’s suffering.
The Celts have some beautiful prayers and this is the one I have chosen for today.
Thus shall I know no overthrow.This day I call to me … God’s shield to protect me … from the snares of demons … from dark powers that assail me … for my shield this day I call a mighty power, the Holy Trinity
I read an interesting article yesterday that said that during this crisis time we are experiences far more vivid and emotional dreams. I am sure this is true. And it isn’t just dreams. I am finding myself having intense memories of times past – family holidays when I was a child, gatherings, good times.
I think it is because when we feel in such peril our subconscious wants to fix us, give us things to give us hope.
Yesterday I happened to hear one of my favourite songs and it reminded me very much of how much I am missing simply being with other people. Roy Orbison’s Blue Bayou is a sad masterpiece of memories – of yearning for how things used to be.
I’m going back someday
Come what may
To Blue Bayou
Where the folks are fun
And the world is mine
On Blue Bayou
Where those fishing boats
With their sails afloat
If I could only see
That familiar sunrise
Through sleepy eyes
How happy I’d be
Gonna see my baby again
Gonna be with some of my friends
Maybe I’ll feel better again
On Blue Bayou
Saving nickles saving dimes
Working til the sun don’t shine
Looking forward to happier times
On Blue Bayou
O boy. I so understand. Roy was a man who experienced intense sorrows and the slings and arrows of misfortune. But his voice is one of the greatest and this song is full of yearning and also hope.
Our Celtic Christian friends have many beautiful prayers about the power of hospitality and community. I’ll finish with one. But for the moment, take heart, we will some day, come what may be back together again.
May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
This little prayer of protection seems very powerful to me. Do check out Weekly Services and listen to my very short talk on Jesus Wept!
In the Name of the Three, In the name of their might I will draw the ring That doth instant bring Safety from foes’ affright. In the Name of the Three I shall rout all my fears, I shall stand all unscathed from the cast of their spears.
We are all stuck indoors. Some of us have the joy of animal friends for company, I no longer call them pets. My daughter wasn’t at all well yesterday and the our cat wouldn’t leave her side. We have taken to calling the cat Florence Nightingcat. They know! For the Celts, God and Creation were intrinsically linked.
Jesus took great comfort when he was in the wildness from the wild animals around him. Like my little cat, ministering to my family, the animals ministered to him. The following is a paragraph from one of my new books which should be out quite soon.
Thou King of the moon and sun, Thou King of the stars beloved, Thou Thyself knowest our need, O merciful God of life.
The Celtic story is full of wonderful tales of the Celtic saints developing strong and lasting bonds with animals and forming deep friendships with them. It is interesting that in Mark’s Gospel Jesus too formed great bonds with animals during his time in the wilderness. Ian Bradley in The Celtic Way reports that St Serf had a pet robin and a lamb that followed him around and raised a dead pig to life. Ciaran was helped in the graveyard by a tame wild boar that helped him to dig the graves. In time he employed the boar as his servant. St Cuthbert had his life saved by wild animals on a number of occasions and the sea otters would dry and warm his legs when he had been praying all night in the water.
So today, I am thankful for my animal friends and I am going to go in the garden and see if I can see the robin who hangs around every day. I am going to be thankful for the world we live in and on and pray for all of those people who are ministering to us.
Isn’t the weather lovely? I am watching my friend the robin hopping around outside the door. beautiful.
In this uncertainty I remind myself that creation is good and we live on a beautiful planet. I like this from the great theologian of the Celtic Christians, Pelagius.
Look at the animals roaming the forest; God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the birds flying across the sky: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the tiny insects crawling in the grass: God’s spirit dwells within them. Look at the fish in the river and the sea, God’s spirit dwells within them. There is no creature on earth in whom God is absent.
When I feel low and worried I get great comfort from going into the garden and looking at the wonder of nature. There is an old ninth-century prayer that goes like this:
Let us adore the Lord,
Maker of marvellous works,
Bright heaven with its angels,
And on earth the white-waved sea.
Hi folks. I hope you are keeping well. As ever, call me on 07873 434617 if you are feeling a bit lonely or anxious or just want to chat.
Here is a very short message from me. It is a little reflection on the Annunciation – tomorrow is the day we celebrate it. The angel showing up caught Mary by surprise – which isn’t surprising. Mary’s reaction is a great help to us.