May God make your year a happy one! Not by shielding you from all sorrow and pain, But by strengthening you to bear it as it comes; Not by making your path easy, But by making you sturdy to travel any path; Not by taking hardships from you, But by taking fear from your heart; Not by granting you unbroken sunshine, But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows; Not by making your life always pleasant, But by showing you when people and their causes need you most, and by making you anxious to be there to help. God's love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead. - From the Sisters of Charity of Paul the Apostle, Birmingham, England.
God Is Present Everywhere
Those who seek the throne of grace Find that throne in every place; If we live a life of prayer, God is present everywhere. In our sickness and our health, In our want, or in our wealth, If we look to God in prayer, God is present everywhere. When our earthly comforts fail, When the woes of life prevail, ‘Tis the time for earnest prayer; God is present everywhere. Then, my soul, in every strait, To thy Father come, and wait; He will answer every prayer: God is present everywhere. Oliver Holden, 1765-1844
Turn in, turn in, the leaves dance and sway like terminal lovers beguiled by decay. In ochre and amber the autumnal edge with coloured collapse keeps its annual pledge. The now lonely branches, stripped down, unadorned, hail heaven with bare limbs, green garments yet mourned. Their stilled presence marks time to rest and repair, to lean into winter’s quiet swathe and prepare our cloistered hands, hushed minds and poor yielding hearts, in silence of wholeness to be set apart.
11th November 2021, Wiltshire, England.
In the land of his affliction
In the land of his affliction the wise man bows down low, glad in humble posture that the inner light will glow. As darkness smothers senses, so the heart must guide the way - the furnace howls, the errors burn the smoke of doubt holds sway. Acquiesce? No, persevere he turns within anew, takes up the cross and drinks the cup, walks like the faithful few. On route he knows the refuge is to share the gifted load - in sorrow poured out prayerfully a lighter yoke bestowed. 25th July 2021, Wiltshire, England.
A Wished for Song
You're song, a wished-for song. Go through the ear to the centre where sky is, where wind, where silent knowing. Put seeds and cover them. Blades will sprout where you do your work. - Rumi
A prayer for the poisoned
Forgive my blindness Forgive my deafness Forgive my lies and pretence. Forgive my ignorance Forgive my coldness Forgive my scorn and disdain. Forgive my deceptions Forgive my incompetence Forgive my turning away. Forgive my ugliness Forgive my vanity Forgive my arrogance and blame. Forgive my depravity Forgive my ingratitude Forgive my weakness and guilt. Forgive my squandering Forgive my impatience Forgive my wounding and shame. Forgive my weariness Forgive my misery Forgive my fear and control. Forgive my faithlessness Forgive my doubting Forgive this poor, futile game.
The original serenity prayer
God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) - unabridged, original version.
Strangers and pilgrims
Remain as a stranger and pilgrim on this earth. Do not be concerned with the things of this world. Keep your heart free and lift yourself up to God, for here you have no lasting city. Direct your prayer and longings to heaven every day, so that at your death your soul may be free to pass joyfully into the presence of God.The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
The quiet mind dissolves, the stilled heart holds - the expanse of faith envelops now and not yet. There is no yearning, and no imagined future - the silence of God moves closer.
A pilgrim’s lament for rural England
The thatched cottage, the dappled meadow, the ancient spire - the rural contours of this museum isle yield ample beauty and refinement. Decency is sustained by a simple frame of good manners, banter and tea. But is this today an abode for the living, as the land lies dormant and its inhabitants forget? This island has been made a mausoleum. The weight of disavowal and unyielding servitude has ceaselessly obscured the light. Here, the English pilgrim waits, with an aching heart and the company of ghosts, a witness to the unraveling of a Godless land.