A New Year’s prayer

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, 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 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.


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

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.