Someone spoke to me a couple of weeks back about how when they went running it was the nearest to ‘feeling spiritual’ that they ever felt. I asked them why and they said something like it was the feeling of being alone in the beauty of nature and that made them feel ‘emosh’.

I only run 3-3.5 miles, 3 times a week. That sense of space, of inner contemplation, lifts me up. The feeling of being aware of your body, what it does, how it moves and the rush of adrenaline fills me with life. Next year, I want to try and lengthen that- maybe run a race that pushes me.

Likewise I have been able to walk more: I had to. In the first few months of the year, the urge to walk, to be alone was very strong. Nothing else gave me a sense of liberation. To feel small in a landscape is very powerful. To walk, being nothing other than the walk is meditative in itself. Sometimes I would pray- sometimes (after checking that no one was around…) I would do this out loud: a word, a phrase, sometimes a string of ‘fucks’, anything…

I think it was St Augustine who said something like ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’. God, although not really mentioned this week, has I guess, been in the background. And as I look back on what I have written, I am profoundly thankful. Also there has been family: I am blessed- I just don’t do ‘gushing’ in a blog….

The last few months have been some of the hardest that I have had in the ministry. I am on a long holiday: it hasn’t come a moment too soon (and I have never said that before). This is part of a 2 week series: week 1 is ‘thanks’. Week 2 is ‘Things I have learned’.


I post a piece of music on this blog every Friday. That is not just to fill space (as I have blogged before, my usual problem is not finding things to say, but working out what not to say: I like writing), but because music moves me: it is never just a sound.

Does saying ‘thank you’ to music sound pretentious? It certainly sounds like an Abba song…

I don’t care if it does: many times music has lifted me and taken me to another place. Often it has given voice to my lament and helped me sense hope. Still more, it has helped me to feel understood.

In church, it has been the old hymns; generally the 17th century ones that have helped the most. Songs, which like the best rock music hold joy and pain together and do not retreat into ‘cheese’.

And yes, if you had told me that 12 months ago I would have met two of my musical idols in this village, both at gigs I had booked, I would not have believed you…

The last few months have been some of the hardest that I have had in the ministry. I am on a long holiday: it hasn’t come a moment too soon (and I have never said that before). This is part of a 2 week series: week 1 is ‘thanks’. Week 2 is ‘Things I have learned’.


I want to say thanks to a ‘thing’: poetry.

A fellow blogger, a couple of years ago said that my writing was poetic. This caught me by surprise: I just used my normal quirky prose where grammar was only an occasional close friend.

Then I found a blank book, with the kind of paper that longs to be written on in ink. An experience from my early 20s came back to me and a phrase. I wrote it down and kept writing and a poem was formed. The next day, the same thing happened.

The voice I have used sounds passive. I do not want to say ‘God gave it to me’ as I can imagine someone saying ‘that’s because He was glad to get rid of it’. But it seemed to happen at moments when I felt still & ‘present’: the crisis within me came out on paper.

I did not know how these would come across to anyone: they were just for me. They made the darkness seem more hopeful: lighter even.

Gradually I began to blog them. Mainly I did that as I wanted to see how they looked on a screen & also I thought if I blogged: ‘why not’?

I am grateful that my thoughts come out in this way: regardless of how they sound or read in public, they give me a sense of liberation and life.

If you have commented on them: thank you. If you have held your peace as they were drivel, but sensed why I put them up, I also want to say ‘thank you’.

The last few months have been some of the hardest that I have had in the ministry. I am on a long holiday: it hasn’t come a moment too soon (and I have never said that before). This is part of a 2 week series: week 1 is ‘thanks’. Week 2 is ‘Things I have learned’.


The last few months have been hard, but they have been marked with unexpected and unlikely friendships.

Some older friendships have been deepened: I will always be grateful to an old friend who lives a long way away, met me in the middle and took me out for a meal, listened and laughed & was just ‘there’. Other friends have made contact through text/email/social media & that has been lovely to know that I am not alone.

There have also been friends that I meet but once a year: the island/wilderness retreat was a lifesaver- laughter, crudeness, but also tenderness, conversation and prayer.

But it has been the unexpected and unlikely encounters that have given me a boost. Friends that I drink with, who have turned aside from the banter and spoke deeply with me: I have seen a side of some people that I didn’t know existed. But also new friends- people, who if you had ever asked me a year ago that I would have common cause with, I would have been very surprised.

Many of these encounters have moved me almost to tears. Shared brokenness has been very liberating.

I have disguised much here: if you recognise yourself- good! Thank you

The last few months have been some of the hardest that I have had in the ministry. I am on a long holiday: it hasn’t come a moment too soon (and I have never said that before). This is part of a 2 week series: week 1 is ‘thanks’. Week 2 is ‘Things I have learned’.

The longest journey in the fastest time.

I have often wondered: is the longest journey in the fastest time the one by those of us who go to church?

By that I mean the distance we travel  in the split second between the ending of a service with ‘The Grace’ & ‘normal life.’ You have had all these holy thoughts, things you could do to make the world different; forgiveness you could start, money you could give, community work you could engage in etc & then ….the ‘Sunday hour’ is over.

Deep breath: back to normality. Life really is about me and my nearest and dearest: what I just heard has given me enough to go on for another week, but not to act on or actually try and be any different.

Just wondering….

Why I ‘need’ a holiday

No one ‘needs’ a holiday: you ‘need’ food, water & shelter. But today I enter another country for a long time (.3 weeks: so fortunate..). Generally I will ‘stop’- we don’t rush about on holiday trying to cram everything in. Just give me a book, some sun, a few chateaux, some churches, a river and some vineyards and the life comes back.

Not quite sure about the bit in brackets here, but it is my blog. First a bit from ‘The Message’ version of the Bible:-

‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


This weight,

Is too heavy to carry anymore.


Time was,

I would hear these verses and 

The weight would lift.



As time passed,

I would hear them and,

Learn to,

Ignore the weight and

The voices that said ‘too much’,


‘This is killing me’,

And lock them behind a heavy door.


(Worship, bad worship,

Can act like a drug,

Anaesthetising lament and ‘why?’

Till you have no grip on reality).


But this weight,

Is too heavy,

For me now.

What next?



Friday Music


I caught this on TV a couple of weeks back and was immediately transported back to being 14-15 and painfully insecure  (I am just insecure now and I have got so used to it that it is not painful). Those of us who were good at music were allowed to stay in the music room at lunch. That was where I first heard the Sex Pistols and this: endless 12” versions of it.

I had forgotten how good it was and owing to the miracle of  t’internet I now have, over 30 years later, my first copy of ‘Penthouse & Pavement.’

If you want me, I will be in the corner growing a mullet….

50 part 2

(see yesterday’s post)

I thought I could attempt 5 things in that 50 that I really don’t like or have baulked at. I have 3 ideas so far. I am tempted to have a go at the first 2.

Some of you know me and know my likes/dislikes: any other suggestions? I want to do something to appreciate things I normally steer away from and from which I may learn something. That was why I tried to get on ‘The Island’ with Bear Grylls (and nearly made it).

Do something I am uncomfortable with and don’t like:-

(1) Field sports– someone has offered me a go at Beagling. I am a leftie and opposed to stuff like that. Yet I live in a field sports area- how else to understand a whole world that takes place on my doorstep but I have no way into. Don’t judge unless you have first tried it….
(2) Dancing– I don’t. I want to try. I have no rhythm. Whenever I have tried it at AmDrams they have had to turn it into a comedy routine. I only see the word ‘dancing’- I don’t know the categories and types as the activity fills me with horror.
(3) skydive. Actually: throwing yourself into nothingness with hardly any protection and foresight, but with the faith that you will be ok, is like the day job….


A few weeks back a friend put something up on Facebook to the effect that they wanted to do the Lyke Wake Walk. I wanted to do it, but I was committed that weekend.

It set me thinking: at the moment I am unusually receptive to random suggestions, more often than not thinking ‘why not?’ Why could’t I do it myself ‘sometime’? Then I thought, if it remains ‘sometime’ it never happens: couldn’t I be like my friend and aim at a date and invite people?

A few more thoughts: but I like people and I don’t like cliques- why not open it wider? Then it occurred to me that I will be 50 in around 18 months: a significant occasion & ‘the new 30’ (yuk...). Why not use that occasion to do 50 things I have always wanted to (but see tomorrow). Some people can do some things, others can do others and I could raise money for something outside of myself.

So I put something on Facebook that I am going to work on some more when I am on holiday. This is the main bit. Read my Facebook profile- go to events and ‘like’ it or join it- there are fuller details there.

I have never attempted anything like this before


I am 50 on 28/2/16. That has taken me by suprise and hardly seems possible. I can still remember a Nursery teacher telling me about the break up of The Beatles…

From 1/3/15- 27/2/17 I would like to attempt 50 different things. I am opening this page now, not to remind you to buy me presents (the ones I want are out of anyone’s reach…) but to attempt a possible list. You will see that as well as this, if I do this I am aiming to raise money for charidee.

I have chosen a year before and a year after, as 50 experiences in a whole year is too rich: experiences are better if they are reflected on. Plus, I am not very flexible around weekends.

My criteria are:-

1) Must not be entirely self obsessed: although I will enjoy most of them.
2) Must not depend entirely on oodles of money. Partly as we don’t have it & one of my favourite literary quotes (from Douglas Coupland ‘Generation X’) is ‘Purchased experiences don’t count’
3) Must involve others: ‘No one is an island’- wealth makes us more so- I like people and community.
4) must not involve a tattoo- Victoria has already ‘firmly’ ruled this out. She also muttered darkly about ‘I want at least a nice meal out of this’.

I am doing that as I believe that ‘no one is an island’- we try to be & increasing wealth makes it easier to be- as far as possible I would like to share at least some experiences with anyone willing.


Today is my youngest son’s last day in year 5. One more year and he will have finished year 6 & 10 years of us being in the playground will be at an end. Whilst they will both still be at school, senior school is very different: no ‘playground gates’ and the conversations that ensue. Some people find playgrounds hard: I have been accused of ‘working the playground’. I am not naturally gregarious but I have become more and more excited by people: their difference and their stories.

But back to my son. With him, it is a restless excitement (and some trepidation of a ‘SATS’ year); holidays begin and only one more year and he can tread the path that his brother has made. Whilst I am excited at his growth and the person he is becoming, there is also a sense of poignancy- another stage of growth and the small child dependent on me recedes further from memory.

It strikes me that any period of growth is like this: things don’t stay the same- there are new beginnings and experiences but also a jettisoning of things that once seemed vital. That is why I distrust the gung ho and triumphalistic stories and songs of growth. Perhaps I also distrust those who utter them; I want to stifle a yell of ‘Be real’.

Growth is good and wholesome; that doesn’t stop it being painful and full of poignancy.