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Friday, 29 March 2013


Walking Dusty through the familiar woods yesterday and still struggling with aftermath of the flu, my thoughts closed in on myself. Then, suddenly, I was aware of the difference. 

The landscape is still splattered with pockets of snow, which continues to drift sporadically from the sky. The wind hasn’t lost its biting edge. The sun peeks through occasionally, but generally keeps a low profile. To all intents and purposes, it could still be winter.

But the woods are alive with the sound of music, the music of spring. Birds, no doubt a little confused by the chilly weather, nevertheless are into romance and are singing their wee hearts out to each other, hoping to find a mate.

The joy of renewed life.  Of that which has been dead coming back to life. Of course, in nature, it has only appeared dead over the winter as plants hibernated to avoid dropping dead with the cold. 

But today is Good Friday. Having been sick, I’ve missed the usual walks through this Holy Week which I like to do. I like to remember what Jesus did for me. I want to make sure that my gratitude is as real and as full as it should be. But I missed the services, and the walk with the cross.

This morning, though, as I stared out of my prayer alcove window, there glinting in the sun were 3 telephone poles, looking like 3 crosses. 

There are many ways of remembering what Jesus did for us. They don’t all involve going to church or hanging out with church people.

May God renew his life in you over this Easter weekend. May his hope rise within you as the sap rises within the plants and trees. May you know the peace of Christ deep within your heart, as your voice joins the ebullient birds’ chorus. Happy Easter.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Snow in the morning. Sun sporadically throughout the day. I’m told that the warmer temperatures in the arctic regions have caused the jet stream to sink lower than usual, globally speaking, thus allowing these icy winter winds to carry on. And on. And on.

We’re all longing for that jet stream to shift upwards, protecting us from the frigid blasts and allowing the warm air from the south to move in. 

We can’t do anything about it, but wait.

We went to a dinner party the other night where we got more than we expected. Just about everyone there was exposed to a virulent virus which is nasty and tenacious and has laid us all out for days on end. 

We can complain. Drink weak tea and eat homemade chicken soup made by a dear friend. 

We can’t do anything more than that. Just wait.

What comes out of situations like these? Greater empathy for those who suffer long-term. Hopefully, more patience. One of the virtues God admires. 

Well, as I go to curl up again by the fire and try to keep my lunch down, I pray that the Lord will give me patience and a special word during this time. May my ears be more attentive to his voice, as I rest and recover.

Saturday, 23 March 2013


I was looking at my photos from a trip to Israel last March, and uploaded one of the Sea of Galilee as the desktop of my laptop. Now I can dream and remember, and imagine Jesus and his friends seeing the same sight, perhaps many times. 

It’s the breakthrough of the light that I find so breath-taking. It was dawning a rather stormy day, and we were due to go out on one of the Jesus boats in the picture. Perhaps a storm would brew up suddenly, like it did when Jesus was crossing the Sea a couple of times, recorded in the Bible. 

In the event, it didn’t. We had a calm boat trip and I found it amazing to be in nature, where Jesus was. So much more moving than being in a man-made church full of gold and glitz erected over a probable holy site. 

We are having grim weather here in the UK. Unseasonal they say, for March, though I don’t know. In nearly forty years of living here, I think I’ve gone through plenty of Marches where the weather continued to feel more wintry than spring-like. Snow, gales, ice. It can feel pretty grey and cloudy.

This morning, though, I received an email from a childhood friend, an echo down the corridors of time and space. A long and welcome communication full of memories and thoughts about our relationship and relationships with those we have loved and lost. An encouraging note – something we all need.

It was like the sunshine breaking through the clouds. The glory from heaven to earth. Jesus is closer to you than you think.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Tarantulas for Tea

A family of four boys in Cambodia, looking much younger than their teenage years due to malnutrition. They took the presenter out to catch dinner with them – tarantulas. 

I watched, mesmerised and horrified at the same time. They were so skilled at avoiding the deadly sting. So excited as they each caught their own dinner. One tarantula. Then it was the turn of the television presenter. Carefully he caught his spider, amidst the raucous laughter of the four watching boys. Then they headed home – which resembled a campsite.

Mother had returned from work while they were out, and cooked up some rice. Then came the moment of truth, and the western presenter gingerly held his barbecued tarantula aloft and bit into what resembled the bloated body. He said it was delicious. 

One man’s tarantula is another man’s crab – not that different in appearance.

He was investigating the protein sources as yet untapped in the world and which require much less resource-depletion than, say cows, and discovering that many people are already surviving on diets of insects – red ant omelettes, cricket stews, bbq’d spiders. 

I’ve become much more aware of every scrap of food I waste. The bottoms of the broccoli stalks. The carrot peelings. Bread crusts that have gone hard. 

The Lord has made a world rich in food resources, bursting with possibilities for feeding the people he created and whom he loves. 

I just need to get over my prejudices. Or become a veggie.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sunlight on Snow

It’s mid-March and I’m ready to see some daffodils. They’re growing; the crocus and snowdrops are blooming somewhere beneath the downy duvet of snow. It’s time to throw that duvet off.

But as I look out the window now, there is white stuff drifting down from on high, backlit from a sun hidden somewhere beyond the clouds. Despite the cold, despite the white-covered fields, there is a sort of sense that spring is just waiting to break through.

Sometimes my life feels like that. Maybe the winter of inactivity, or of no-growth, has felt long, and my muscles are aching to be flexed. I’ve been waiting fairly patiently for a break-through in one aspect or another, but the waiting period seems to stretch on beyond the horizon.

And yet, there is a rising sense of anticipation that the waiting is drawing to a close. Like the sap rising in the trees at this time of year, the preparation for something wonderful is just about complete, and whatever it is, it’s going to be good.

Good because God is going to be in it. I don’t want to do anything that God isn’t happy about. I only want to be doing those things which he’s designed me to do. 

So I will wait on, holding back until that golden moment when he breaks through and a whole new horizon is revealed.

What a great God we have!