Friday Music

After yesterday’s post it got me thinking again about Van Morrison. I have over 20 albums, but it is years since I bought any. Similarly I have seen him about half a dozen times, but the last time must have been 15 years ago.

He did a couple of spoken word songs that spoke more than just the words did. At his best he used to do that for me: take ordinary experience and make it into something ‘other’.

This is the song that yesterday’s title came from. I should have known then that this deviant tendency for mystery and beyond would gradually erode my straitlaced conservative heresy and lead me headlong into heresy. And irony….


feeling wondrous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life.

It was a teachers’ strike on Tuesday. My wife was working beyond flat out preparing for a school inspection (don’t know how she does it- she does a 3 day week: I am convinced she works more than I do on a 6 day week)- being married to a teacher I do not now believe that teachers have it easy. I suppose I could have juggled things with my youngest son, snatched some work here and there around his interminable games of ‘garage drive cricket’ (he is winning the current Test Match by the way) but I decided not to.

So we went out, we went out for a day out together- fossil hunting on a deserted post industrial cove, eating packed lunch over looking the wild east coast, poking around a cold fishing village, talking, laughing, watching reruns of his favourite part of ‘The Two Towers’ and playing interminable games of garage drive cricket. And it was lovely; and I had that sense of what the heading of this post describes (It’s from a Van Morrison song).

And I read this the next day, and it is true….

‘There are forces larger than we that take care of the universe, and while our efforts are important, necessary, and useful, they are not (nor are we) indispensable. The galaxy will somehow manage without us for this hour, this day, and so we are invited—nay, commanded—to relax, and enjoy our relative unimportance, our humble place at the table in a very large world. The deep wisdom embedded in creation will take care of things for awhile’.

(Wayne Muller: Sabbath-Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest)

In the words of another Van song: ‘I’m thinking, wouldnt it be great if it was like this all the time’.

It is that time of year….

…when as Van Morrison observed: ‘the night is full of space’…… or in another track, ‘Can you feel the silence at half past eleven on a sunny summer night’?

We are still about a month from the longest day, but already it is possible to go outside after nine at night and it still being light, the skies are big and I can hear the sounds of nature both falling asleep and waking up. I really love this time of year and the sense of possibility and openness it brings.

And you expected something deep? It’s Monday….

Oh No- Friday means music again.

This may be the last for a few Fridays; the best thing about music is listening to it, not writing about it. As Van Morrison once sagely noted ‘to feel lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life’.

The best music makes me feel like that. The album ‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley invariably does. A career that is in effect one complete, released album (I’m ignoring the stuff that has been put out since his death) also has a sense of mystique. Couple that with his father’s early death at a similar age and you enter the realm of legend.

I discovered this album (Dream Brother) through a laste night trawl through Amazon’s ‘You might also like’. When ‘you might also like’ comes to less than £3 including postage it is tempting. When that same album includes people like Sufjan Stevens, the Magic Numbers and King Creosote, the temptation becomes hard to resist for me.

It says it is more adventurous than the normal tribute album- I think it is. There are gems of real beauty on here; stuff to lose yourself in.

My memory of this cd this week is turning over an ongoing issue that seems intractable, mentally marshalling my arguments of self-justification and then my angry thoughts being interupted by the Earlies singing the line ‘Lord, I must have been blind’ over and over again. I’m sure the producers didn’t mean this, but I was taken back to what I consider the most meaningful prayer ever ‘Lord have mercy on me a sinner’.

But then good, heartfelt music does that. This is it..

3 moments of grace

A kind of back to work/post flu/current flu day. On all days light appears, grace shows itself- most times my eyes are turned the other way.


Yesterday in a 10 minute period, 3 things hit me- humdrum things maybe…. but grace I think is like that- ordinary. I don’t claim any great holiness but it strikes me as a mistake to equate grace all the time with great huge, angel trumpets blaring moments. In my experience it is rarely like that. In fact, to associate ‘spiritual experience’ (yeuck…hate that phrase) purely with those moments is part of the horrible duality that sometimes afflicts western Christianity ie…. spiritual= pure, matter= impure/tainted.

Sorry- went off and philosophised there….where was I…..

My 3 moments…..randomly bumping into a youthworker at a church in the next town whilst I was walking around this village. Seeing the light and joy in her eyes as she spoke about what she was doing. Talking about valuing the church kids she was sent to work with……. but being passionate about ‘going beyond’ and being with kids nowhere near church and who may never come near ‘cos I think that is what Jesus did’. And I was feeling ‘I am not so strange after all- I get most excited about this too’. Mostly just getting excited at meeting someone fulfilled and real…

…further on down the road…. meeting an 85 year old woman who had been featured in the local rag about her days in the Land Army. She began to speak spontaneously and suprisingly about God in her life and her gratefulness to Him in real words and not the ‘language of Zion’. Again, getting excited at meeting someone so excited and real…

…getting home…. the sound of a letter box flipping open and a card coming through. Opened it to find a home produced ‘Thinking of You’ card sent by the Parish Church (I was not well on Sunday night and could not make the service) and signed by a number of people there including some very suprising names who could easily have not signed it…(I don’t dish the dirt on this blog…you fill in the blanks)………bowled over.

As the great Van Morrison intoned:-

‘You must remember; there will be days like this’


old small and weak bridge in bradwell_thumb[2]

I have a collection of 10-15 blogs I dip into regularly. I like all of them, but one of them is like a feast: full of insights and original photos (see above)- it is impossible to ‘graze’ it and move on. It was voted ‘Best Christian blog’ at ‘The original Christian web and new media awards’ in 2009:- I met the author last year on my sabbatical and he is a wise soul who was there in a crisis for me plus he likes drinking Guinness and trains (rather: he likes trains, not drinking trains. I’ve yet to meet someone who likes drinking trains…in fact I don’t know how it would be possible…however I now have a helpful image for a sketch..).

He did a post about a month ago. It had a phrase in which sent my mind into overdrive:-

‘I just can’t get away from the fact that Jesus did ministry on a local scale, at walking pace or sat down around a table…… Perhaps God prefers to travel at 3mph, walking alongside us and accompanying us at our pace, just like on the road to Emmaus. When we slow down like this there is so much more to be seen, appreciated, heard, smelled and noticed’.

It links with the stuff that I posted last week and I want to do some thoughts about ‘Perhaps God prefers to travel at 3mph’.

Thought for the day:-

Years ago, I walked from my then house in Colwyn Bay to the nearby Welsh mountain zoo. It normally took 5 minutes; I rarely walk at less than 4-5mph. This time I had my godson Sam with me. I think he was 4 then. This walk is etched in my memory- recalling it even now, I fill up. I did not have children then, but I longed for them; to have time with just Sam and me was precious. I had no real idea of what children did except from a distance.

The walk took ages! Sam had little legs so I had to go more slowly, but he seemed to stop at everything. At first I got frustrated (Internal dialogue: ‘C’mon: there is a zoo to see- that is our purpose’), but then, as Van Morrison sang on ‘Coney Island’, I ended up feeling

‘Wonderous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life’.

He stopped and pointed out a worm on the pavement, then a beetle. And it wasn’t just ‘pointing out’; there were comments, stories, speculations. A bit further on, and high in the sky, a jet was leaving silvery trails. This caused Sam to stop, point and imagine the story of the plane: what it looked like, who was on it, where they might be going. I don’t remember anything else about the walk, but I know that since then I have noticed so much more when I’m walking; inside it as if I have carried the 4 year old Sam with me.

And I’ve often wondered- if God walks at 3mph, does he see life like that? I think he does….

No music yet… but lots of people

Blissful, blissful afternoon yesterday and it was all working… I’ve quoted him before, but in the words of the incomparable Van Morrison:-

‘You must remember, there will be days like this’

My oldest son recently asked me: ‘Dad, why do you enjoy talking to people so much?’ (italics are for emphasis). I think I said something like ‘Life is short and people are so fascinating’.

My day was blissful as it was sunny and I got to listen to people and talk so much and made lots of connections: bumping into someone on my way to the ‘Cornshed’….lots and lots of connections and good conversations setting up the festival……building up connections and stories within the village……bumping into kids from another school on our village green and making connections with their dad….praying with someone ‘going through the mill’ right now….

the cornshed

With my old evo head on: was it ‘witnessing’ (the word makes my blood run cold: hide your personality and blast em with the ‘four spiritual laws’ and get on to the next target)? There are times in conversations like today when God feels so present and the air feels so alive and everything feels possible…when every conversation feels like holy ground…..

…if I could just do this for a living…… ooops I do….

And, whisper it not in Gath and Ashkelon, there is a very real chance I could get to meet a first class cricketer tomorrow who will come and present something at the Cornshed. If heaven is any better than this, it better be pretty damn good……

Hope I can remember days like this….

I’m thinking about grace part 8

I’m thinking about that bit in Genesis:-

‘And God saw that it was good’


…and how often I am inclined to say ‘Yes, but’ or ‘But what about this?’ and ‘But that is not so good…’

It was my birthday yesterday…. so many good, good things….. malt whisky into the early hours (I now know why the person in John 2 talks of the host’s practice of serving any old junk last…after my third exquisite glass, the finest, although fine was a mite ‘blurry’), good friends, family, a good walk (not marred too much by the world’s angriest man of whom I had the privilege of eyeballing from 6 inches), opening pressies, playing ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘Vertigo’ and ‘Yahweh’ at full blast (without protests from my significant others)….so many things….

My moment of grace was a feeling of being

‘lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life’

…which is a quote from the immortal Van the Man (again) that I can’t quite attribute.

Good Days

I’m thinking about grace part 4



There is a line, I think it is from ‘On Hyndford Street’ (Van Morrison: Hymns to the Silence) where Van Morrison sings:-

‘Can you feel the silence at half past eleven on Sunday night as the wireless played radio Luxembourg…?’

I like that…. ‘can you feel the silence?’…… that was Grace yesterday….. meeting a colleague of another denomination… we prayed briefly and then there was a moment/moments where the silence…well you could feel it… almost touch it.

One more thing…making pancakes late in the evening with a U2 interview on Radio 4 and the noise of a the family. As the great Van suggests:- ‘you must remember; there will be days like this…’

‘..I’m thinking about grace’ part 1

More on why this is ‘part 1’ tommorrow. And more about the title then.


Friday- National Museum of Scotland- Edinburgh. We eventually found a table to share an overpriced cup of coffee and a packet of crisps. As we left, we offered the table to an older couple. One said ‘It’s a miracle; thank you.’ She looked round and said to her husband; ‘O look- there is someone else without a table- they could share with us. Do you want a table….?’

I never did find out the end of the story…….

And I’m thinking of those lines from ‘Coney Island’ by the legendary Van Morrison ‘…wouldn’t it be great if it could be like this all of the time?’