Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Limber hill












Beggars bridge – Glaisdale North Yorkshire, earlier this year and in better weather.

Extremely slippy this morning, cars were struggling to negotiate the minor roads, the melting snow had frozen to a sheet of glass, but determined drivers spun on; this all reminded me of a youthful pastime.

Just beyond Beggars bridge is the steepest road in England – Limber hill’s gradient is 1-in-3 and back in the 60’s there was a polite notice at the bottom of the hill, “Stop your vehicle and engage first gear”. These were the days before synchromesh gears and foolhardy drivers would charge at the hill, expecting to reach the top. We would sit at the river side and watch the cars approaching, guessing; will he make it or won’t he? Such laughter as the embarrassed driver reversed back down the hill.

There was also much fun to be had beyond Ashley house and the tennis courts, for this is where we would take our bikes. We would push our rickety old two wheelers as far up the bank as we dared and free wheeled all the way to “The Travellers Rest inn” – all this and sliding down the Nab till our jeans were as green as the bracken.

Note to evening office: Main roads are usually clear but we will not reach home until we negotiate the slippery side roads.

P1060307Bellwood house Ugthorpe – built by my Gt Grandfather

Monday, 28 December 2009



Early morning mist is clearing, revealing woodland and home; for those awakening in the houses below it must seem a bleak looking day. The air is crisp and to see so far in the clear light is encouraging, this is a morning walk before the snow we have today.

I don’t often amaze myself but recently a friend recommended a book “The Christmas Mystery” by Jostein Gaarder – I read this book in less than a week, which for me is unheard of. Some of the quotes that will remain with me are :-

“But it is important to be happy about the little you have. However little it is, it's infinitely more than nothing”.

“There are two ways of becoming wise. One is to travel out into the world and see as much as possible of God's creation. The other is to put down roots in one spot and to study everything that happens there in as much detail as you can. The trouble is that it's impossible to do both at the same time”.

“God's kingdom is open to everyone, even people who travel without a ticket”.

Regarding the lovely wild flowers – the angel nodded mysteriously “They are part of the glory of heaven that has strayed down to earth” he explained. “You se there is so much glory in heaven that it can easily spill over”.

This book reveals more than just a Christmas mystery and as it came to the closing chapters, I did not want it to end; I didn’t want to know the answers, I was more than happy with the story itself.

Note to evening office: something revealed is not necessarily earth shattering.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Cards


I am surrounded by Christmas cards, address’s, lists of contacts; and there are so many. Already the postman has delivered a good bundle of greetings and wishes of good health this festive season. Each one is a moment in itself, full of memories and longing to be wherever they are. Recapturing times of laughter and tears – deep feelings of belonging to so many places and times, it sets the emotions in a spin. Primarily guilt, I should have spoken to this person sooner – has it really been a year since we wrote to each other.

I believe there is a knowing between such folk, that - if needs must - we would be there for each other; as it is – what is pressing, are other matters and they need to be attended to. However, it is good to escape to the daily visit of the postman and indulge in affectionate memories.

Note to evening office: I thank the Lord that I have the capacity to love to the level that I am – and that is sufficient for the plan He has for me.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Brer Rabbit


I decided to purchase a Brer Rabbit story book as a birthday present for someone special; there's nothing strange about that? This all began when I was talking to a young mother who was separated from her 7-year old son and struggling making ends meet. She wanted to buy him something nice for Christmas but clearly hadn’t the money to spare; the boy had almost everything he wanted, this was not something she could compete with. I tried to hint for her to make something but art & craft were not her thing.

I began to tell her about my Aunt Celia and how we would go down each night to fasten in the chickens, her bedtime stories were famous to many of us children and I’m sure many more after us. She had time for us and made us feel special; after all the Christmas presents are gone and forgotten, its about those who made you feel special.

My Aunt Celia is also my godmother and it is her birthday next week, so the Brer Rabbit book is for her. A book to say thank you for all the bedtime stories, even the night she threw my teddy to me and burst my nose! Perhaps it was Aunt Celia that inspired my story telling.

Note to morning office: Help me make someone feel special today.


Thursday, 10 December 2009


Music by Ennio Morricone – Gabriel’s oboe.

Gabriel, second in the rank of archangels, one of seven angels who stand ever-ready to enter the presence of God and be his messenger to mankind. He interpreted for Daniel the vision of the Ram and the He-goat, which foretold the destruction of the Persian empire. According to tradition he announced to Joachim and Anna the impending conception St Mary the virgin and told Zacharias that he would become the father of St John the Baptist.  His supreme task was as the angel of the Annunciation when he was sent to tell Mary that she was the woman chosen to bear Jesus. Although not named, Gabriel is also assumed to be the angel who announced the birth of Samson to his mother and the one who brought glad tidings at the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds. According to tradition it was Gabriel who comforted Jesus during his agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He is also revered in Islam because he dictated the Koran to Mahomet.

It is said that it is Gabriel that will sound the horn to announce the end of time. Advent, (coming) a time of expectant waiting and preparation.

Note to morning office: Am I ready?

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas rush


Pier twirl

Inevitably we all get caught up in the rush towards Christmas, there is no escape – (even in a friary).

When charging down a hill on a bike with poor brakes, we would use our feet to stop and get into trouble for scuffing our shoes. Arriving late to a party with wind swept hair,  clothing wet and crumpled; makes us feel like turning round and missing it completely.

 The event is already prepared for us, it is our presence that is required; not our presents.

Monday, 7 December 2009



A strange dream last night, I saw the Earth in the night sky from my kitchen window. Apart from being in the kitchen I knew I had not left planet Earth and that in fact I was looking at a mirage effect; a reflection of Earth from somewhere out in the solar system. The vision captivated me and I wanted to rush for the camera, though I knew it may last for only a few seconds.

What are dreams all about? Well I am not into analysing that kind of stuff! However, the thought of being able to look at ourselves (given this momentary window) is something to ponder on - at least for today.

Have a great week. – David..

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Getting ahead


Its the time of year when I wish I had done more preparation. The Christmas card list should be there to pick up, complete with current address and post codes. As it is I will be, once again relying on my poor memory and hoping not to forget anyone.

Efforts to re-organise my diary have been successful, I now use Outlook and keep appointments that before, too often escaped me. However, this did not extend to my home/ personal life and Tuesday caught me out once again; these are my worst nightmares, letting people down, seeming that I don’t care. Back to the drawing board and I am now running a dual calendar in Outlook (what an amazing program) and nothing should be lost; I can even print out a month ahead and drop it into my filo-fax.

Br Cyril makes me smile, he tends to wear multiple layers of vest, shirt, jersey and cardigans; this reminds me of Aunt Mary. She would potter around in more skins than an onion and would say “well, if I gets ta hot I can all’as tak yan off” [Yorkshire dialect]. Its not long ago that there was no such thing as central heating or even electric lights, carrying a candle to bed with a hot water bottle was common. Doing a little Christmas shopping last night I looked at the new LED TV screens; the picture quality is incredible. Only two or three years ago the in thing was Plasma or LCD – 38 years ago, TV’s were powered by glass valves and colour was still a new idea. What next? I hear 3D TV is in the offing.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Eye water



Early morning at the friary and I thought I had better do a little ironing (we are a little behind in that department). iPod plugged in and the rest of the world slipped into another space.

My good friend Dana wrote recently about tears and I had to say to her this is not a common state for me. Perhaps it was the music – The Priests, Pie Jesu. There is something about Latin, sung and with such emotion; my eyes filled up and I didn’t know why. I am of an age that still remembers the Latin Mass, Benediction and Corpus Christi marches through the town. This emotional water is more than just nostalgia, more than reminiscing;  my feelings were that of the communion of saints.

Note to morning office: Communion of saints extends to those still with us; who shall we meet today?

Friday, 27 November 2009



Thank You for Your goodness, Ever Giving God,
for the goodness of this place and work,
for the goodness of one another,
for the goodness of all creation,
and even for our own goodness,
all of which is merely a part of Yours.

You volunteer Your Love to us, freely and without limit,
You volunteer to come among us as a human being in Jesus.
You volunteer to be wherever the pain is,
wherever people are poor, rejected, ignorant, and alone.
You volunteer to be on both sides of everything.
And You have taught us how resurrection happens.

We do not serve here because we think the Centre is perfect,
but because we know You are perfect.
We do not work here for any material gain,
but for the coming of the Reign of God in all hearts.
We volunteer our lives because You did it first:
You are the Great Outpouring God,
You are the Eternal Yes of Jesus,
You are the Abiding Presence of Spirit in all things.

We offer this prayer in thanksgiving
because You are first praying
in us, through us, and with us.


A prayer for volunteers Richard Rhor – seemed right to pray this at the end of a busy day at the project and I am sure we will use it often…

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Young - Simplicity



Spending time with the very young is priceless and this one 3-year old was just more than special. Its that questioning time, when everything is why and just as you think all is well; there's another question. The question that really caught me off my guard was something that came while he was doing something else and quite out of the blue “where is grandma” the house went silent for a moment, then “she’s in heaven with Jesus”. The little boy replied “but I want her back” and that was all we heard from him. This lingered long with me, as adults we deal with loss and know what to say and when best to say nothing at all. There really is nothing wrong with saying “I want her back”.

Much later in the day, a stream of questions – “where is heaven, does grandma have a house there, who is Jesus” and “has he always lived there”. My answers were futile, try as I might they lead only to more questions; this young boy was searching me and my knowledge of the above – “do children go to heaven”; help! I felt inadequate and lacking in simple answers, I don’t usually have this difficulty when talking to teens and older folk; I guess they already have some preconceived ideas that I can work with, but this is a child – pure and simple. Jesus words regarding the teaching of children were firm and Matt 18

P10602092He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Note to morning office: may I think before I teach and speak to the child inside.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The heritage of Quoits

Father and son, Andrew and John White at Fylingthorpe Open North of England Championship on June 9th, 1979.
Mr. White beat Andrew this game to go onto the semi-final against George Hutton of the Fylingthorpe Club.
Andrew will have led off and put a ringer on.  Mr. White is attempting to top the ringer by throwing a flat quoit.

Quoits is a game I never got round to playing seriously, we used to lark about as kids and made our own pitch now and then; to others this was a very serious game and competition between village teams and individuals was keen. Older cousins and uncles would head out on an evening to a quoits match, this would usually involve a glass of beer or two and therefore attract us as spectators. The photo above is John White playing off against his son Andrew, Andrew turned out to be as good a player as his dad and beating him to the pin on a number of occasions. I am grateful to Ian McDonald of Grosmont and his pictures on Amber Online; these were taken in 1979.

There used to be a very special occasion, generally around this time of year. This was the Quoits handicap (Fr Pat Bluett trophy) a chance for any new comer to steal a prize. I remember my first time at the “Ugthorpe Quoits night”, apart from the players prizes there were the winners of the raffle, domino drive; why do I mention all that? Well first up to sing is the winner of the trophy (while the trophy itself is being filled up behind the bar); thenThe Danby and District League Open Quoits Championship.
Winner John White (right) celebrating, accompanied by Ed White on the piano accordion.
The League championship was held during '79 at the Rifle Club Ground, Whitby.  Whitby Rifle Club, on the west side of Whitby, has a splendid rifle range as well as 3 outdoor quoit grounds and 2 indoor grounds.
The indoor grounds allow a winter quoit league of nine five-a-side teams to thrive. come the other prize winners each with a song of their choosing. The trophy begins its trip round the room, each person drinking the health of the winner. Now I have to say I was only a mere 17-years (or was it 16) and I was on strict instructions from my dad to only wet my lips on the cup. Once all the prize winners had sung it fell on the last one to nominate the next singer; there was no escape. Dad would sing his favourite Irish song Mush, Mush, Mush tural-i-addy and as years went by and many more Quoits nights it became impossible for me to leave without singing “thee Dad’s song”. There was so much more than the strange metal ring thrown from one end of the pitch to the other, much more than the strange terms – Gater – Frenchman – Hill-up – Trig-man. This is a farming community, handing down skills in the field, in sport and socialising; looking back now, we learned a lot considering we didn’t play.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Long journey home


It was a long trek last week to Kent, another funeral and another mix of feelings.

My travelling companion was a indeed a Kentish maid, born in Bromley and now living in North Yorkshire. The long haul was lightened with my iPod. A while ago I discovered the shuffle mode (Wow)! having Gregorian Chant music followed by Classical then Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues. This did not seem to phase my companion as she sang along with the 60’s – 70’s Pop. I do wonder if we could be fitted with a Pause/ Fast forward/ Rewind button – now the Shuffle would be an interesting option; I can relate to that. Life is more shuffle than anything else but I think I like it that way… ?


Heading south on the A1 just past Grantham, we decided to find a service station for coffee and a rest. I knew I had just passed one and decided a smaller services would be just fine; particularly as I needed to stop soon! In the distance I could see a petrol station on the northbound side and then spotted a tall advertising tower on the opposite side; great, looks like this will do us. I began to slow down and not wanting to miss the slip road I began to indicate and pull off. Here we are I said, this will do…. What a surprise, I had turned off into what I could now see as “The Sexy Store” Perhaps not! I could not get back onto the A1 quick enough; but we did laugh (a lot).

The return journey was without event, lots of music (À la shuffle) such as Blue Guitar by Hayward/ Lodge. A tiring week but not without its smiles.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Visiting Spain

A time to get away from the norm, step out of the routine and allow ones self to be carried along a different road. In the way of Pip, I would perhaps choose five words:-






I do of course need to inclde a sixth - Friends; because without these, the rest would have been a little boring.
Cheers all.


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Family - friends

A recent funeral and gathering of family, it is noticeable how the uncles and aunts are greatly out-numbered by the cousins; meeting cousins I had not seen in 20 plus years was staggering. Familiar faces that I struggle to see the child I remember, but then as the conversation takes hold and we recapture the old stories of holidays and expeditions, it all comes back (well, most of it).
Ken who we used to live next door to us in Middlesbrough over 47-years ago, we moved away when I was only 8 and I am sure I have not seen him since.

I can't quite get over Andrew and how alike he is to our paternal grand father, even following his footsteps in joinery. I sincerely hope we can keep in touch, though I know my weakness in this area.
We deal very well with things close up but once in the distance they seem unreachable; cousins from all corners of the UK, Jamaica and a man made floating island just off the coast of Mexico "Joyskey" - Rishi and I had a great chat about past and future.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Armour of God

This is a long story but really just wanted to share this prayer, it was almost 20-years ago when I was first given it and was out of print then. I have a picture that for years now has matched this (opposite); drawn by a young man I worked with for some time. We talked a lot about the armour of God.

Heavenly Father, I desire to be obedient by being strong in the Lord and the power of Your might. I see that this is Your will and purpose for me. I recognize that it is essential to put on the armor that You have provided, and I do so now with gratitude and praise that You have provided all I need to stand in victory against Satan and his kingdom. Grant me wisdom to discern the tactics and sneakiness of Satan’s strategy against me. Enable me to wrestle in victory against the princes, powers, rulers, and wicked spirits who carry the battle of darkness against me. I delight to take the armor You have provided and by faith to put it on as effective spiritual protection against the spiritual forces of darkness.

I confidently take the loin girdle of truth that You offer me. I take Him who is the truth as my strength and protection. I reject Satan’s lies and deceiving ways to gain advantage against me. Grant me discernment and wisdom to recognize the subtle deceiving ways in which Satan seeks to cause me to accept his lies as truth. I desire to believe only the truth, to live the truth, to speak the truth, and to know the truth. I worship and praise You that You lead me only in the ways of truth. Thank You that Satan cannot stand against the bold use of truth.

Thank You for the breastplate of righteousness which you offer me. I eagerly accept it and put it on as my protection.Thank You for reminding me again that all of my righteousness comes from You. I embrace that righteousness which is mine by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His righteousness that is mine through justification. I reject and repudiate all trust in my own righteousness which is as filthy rags. I ask You to cleanse me of all the times I have counted my own goodness as being acceptable before You. I bring the righteousness of my Lord directly against all of Satan’s workings against me. I express my desire to walk in righteousness before God today. By faith I appropriate the righteousness of Christ and invite Him to walk in His holiness in my life today that I might experience His righteousness in total context of ordinary living. I count upon the righteousness of my Lord to be my protection. I know that Satan must retreat from before the righteousness of God.

Thank You, Lord, for the sandals of peace You have provided. I desire that my feet should stand on the solid rock of the peace that You have provided. I claim the peace with God which is mine through justification. I desire the peace of God which touches my emotions and feelings through prayer and sanctification (Phil 4:6). Thank You that as I walk in obedience to You that the God of peace promises to walk with me (Phil 4:9), that as the God of peace You are putting Satan under my feet (Ro 16:20). I will share this good news of peace with all others today that Your Spirit will bring into my life and witness. Thank You that You have not given me the spirit of fear but of love and power and a sound mind (2 Ti 1:7). Thank You that Satan cannot stand against Your peace.

Eagerly, Lord, I lift up the shield of faith against all the blazing missiles that Satan and his hosts fire at me. I recognize that You are my shield and that in Your incarnation and crucifixion You took the arrows of Satan which I deserved. By faith .1 count upon You to shield me from above and beneath; on my right and my left; in front of me and behind me, that I might be protected, walled in, encapsulated by You that Satan may gain no way to hurt or destroy me from fulfilling Your will today. I am willing that any fiery darts of Satan You wish to touch me should do so, but I shall look upon them as refining fires permitted in Your providence for my refining and glory (1 Pet 1). Thank You, Lord, that You are a complete and perfect shield and that Satan cannot touch me apart from Your sovereign purpose.

I recognize that my mind is a particular target of Satan’s deceiving ways. I take from You the helmet of salvation. I cover my mind, my thoughts. with Your salvation. I recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is my salvation. I helmet my head with Him. I invite His mind to be in me. Let me think His thoughts. feel His love and compassion. and discern His will and leading in all things. Let my mind be occupied with the continuing, daily, saving work of my Lord in and through my life. May the salvation of my Lord meet and defeat all Satanic thoughts that come to my mind.

With joy I take hold upon the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I affirm that Your Word is the trustworthy, infallible Word of God. I choose to believe it and to live in its truth and power. Grant me the love for Your Word which comes from the Holy Spirit. Forgive and cleanse me from the sin of neglecting Your Word. Enable me to memorize it and to meditate upon its truth. Grant me proficient recall and skill in using Your Word against all of Satan’s subtle attacks against me, even as my Lord Jesus Christ used the Word against Satan. Enable me to use Your Word not only to defend me from Satan, but also to claim its promises and to wield the sword strong against Satan to defeat him, to push him back, to take away from him ground he claims, and to win great victories for my God through Your Word. Thank You that, Satan must retreat from Your Word applied, against him.
Thank You, dear Lord, for prayer. Help me to keep this armor well oiled with prayer. I desire to pray at all times with depth and intensity as the Holy Spirit leads me. I reject all fleshly praying as sin. I trust the Holy Spirit to enable me, to intercede for me and through me. Grant me great supplication and burden for others in God’s family of blood-washed saints. Enable me to see their needs and to assist them through prayer as the enemy attacks them. All of these petitions, intercessions, and words of praise I offer up before the true and living God in the name and worthy merit of my Lord Jesus Christ.



Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Missing but still here

The empty chair seems to have been here for such a long time. My lack of writing was not intentional or relating to the chair post (although it could seem that way). So here we are in September and the harvest is almost in, the weather has been good and I seem to notice more growth this year in trees, hedges and shrubs. The hedge in the rear garden is long in need of cutting - hopefully the weather holds and all can be tidied before the fall.

It has been a month of busyness and at one point felt like moving house, sorting boxes of stuff that had been put away for years; some clearing out and making of space. This was all prompted by an unexpected visitor Brother Simon who will be with us for a while; perhaps he will help with the hedge?

Spent a lovely morning with a family who were celebrating a 50th birthday, I was there to help out taking photos of the group, from children to grand parents. This is not my field but I enjoyed it and they were very pleased with the results. I learned a lot too.

Note to evening office: Don't imagine you can't do something; give it a go and accept we all have to learn things.

Friday, 7 August 2009

An Empty Chair

An Empty Chair.
Yes you were expected.
This chair is a “one size fits all” so No-one is excluded.
Sit a while, rest your legs – No charge.

Look around and take in the sight – No charge.

Try not to think; try to dream – No charge.

Time is all we have; make good use of it,
and that’s right – No charge.

You do not need to be anyone special to use this chair – but of course, you are special.

An empty chair in a home may denote someone missing.

How many homeless young people are there in the UK?
In a year, 75,000 young people had to seek help from services because they were homeless. That means 1 in 100 young people in the UK experienced homelessness.
What are the effects of homelessness?

Homeless young people have poorer mental and physical health than other young people. They are more likely to have alcohol and drug problems. Many homeless young people are not in education, employment or training
because they are homeless.
Who is homeless?

According to the Government: • 19% of young people accepted as homeless by local authorities are aged 16—18 • 31% are aged 19 or 20
• 50% are 21 to 25 Young people from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be homeless — especially in London.
Why are young people becoming homeless?

The main cause of homelessness in the UK is family breakdown, usually between young people and their parents or step-parents.
Many homeless young people have experienced long-term conflict in the home, often involving violence.

Statistics from the Centrepoint homeless poster 2009.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

High places

Sunday afternoon and a walk on the beach, no intention as to how far to walk; just half an hour, then turn around. Choosing to walk on the wet sand is easier on the legs but I'm really not into power walking. Tide is a little way out to the right and away off to the left are the grassy sand dunes, the wind in my face is whipping up the fine sand and pushing patterns across the wet hoof prints left by this mornings gallop. Stones and shells catch my eye but I resist to pick up any, this is a time with no particular purpose.

After a week of focusing on things close-up, its good to get out into the open and see things from a distance. Keeping with a nautical theme, a navigator would rely on his sextant and compass but also take heed of the man in the crows nest and the one swinging the lead. It makes sense to go to the high places and check our direction, get out of the traffic jams and head for the open road.

Something woke me last night at just after 3am, wide awake I decided on a cup of tea and tip-toed downstairs. Through the east window I caught sight of Jupiter, and the sky beneath it already becoming day; to the south was Venus and a host of bright stars. If I had only been awakened to see this sight, it was worth it. I was tempted to stay up and watch the sunrise, (but not for long) .. .

There is a certain awe when we realise we are minute in comparison to the universe around us, the cosmos, mountains and sandy beaches. How often great discoveries are made when we see ourselves as insignificant in comparison, to that, which we can see but not always understand.

Note to evening office: Jesus taught by example to get away to the high places; go and take time on your own, away from things close-up.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Ham & Spam

Who decided to use the word browse when it comes to using the Internet? I may browse in the library, a museum, a park or a shop where the intention is not to buy; but I would not regard the Internet as a place to leisurely browse. Mostly it is a place to be on your guard, watchful of wrong turns and misleading quotes. It is packed with information, which should be verified and used with discernment. The World Wide Web - remember Shakespeare's words "Oh what a tangled Web We Weave when first we practice to deceive" (meaning) this spills over into our email Inbox and out into our daily conversations, affecting our values and belief structures.

My main motivation being that of a teacher is therefore not to criticise this amazing phenomena. The ability to share so much through words, pictures, sound and movement is awesome, as something barely dreamed of half a lifetime ago. I am reminded of the words of a famous super hero "With great power comes great responsibility." From the security of our anonymous keyboard interface we can choose to accept that responsibility or perpetuate distractions and blame it on the Internet. Come on guys! we know the difference between Ham and Spam (with no intention of belittling such a wonderful thing as spam fritters). There are real people out there and we all know very little, despite the WWW. Many of us use Facebook, My Space, MSN and Blog sites, communication has never been easier but much is lost in translation.

My thanks to Henry for allowing me to use the photo from his website: Flagstaffotos.Com.Au

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Open diary - Empty head

A page in my diary void of text, indicating a quiet week without engagements; "Not on your life!" This may well have been a totally manic week of unplanned urgent events, a chain reaction of people, needs and support. Can we be too busy to be effective, too attentive to notice or too talkative to hear?

I always regard my memory as poor and unreliable, often letting me down in the worst ways. We laugh and joke about it being an age thing but I wonder about that. Just as any data base, the more information we have the longer it takes to search. The difference between us and a PC is that we get to choose the answer, which may or may not be correct. My head by now must be overflowing with fact and fiction, no wonder I get confused. I manage to backup my PC to storage discs and file somewhere till I need them; I hear there is a great PC in the clouds providing online data storage that you can access from the web or your mobile...

Just like my diary, the data needs to be put in first; more time in what is already a busy day/ week. If only there was a way to download my thoughts, archive my ideas and store my engagements. My perception of the way things used to be, was more time to do the things that matter and less busyness. Often it is good to look back and see how others coped with what I am sure was the same as today. Time was always found to share, tell stories, listen, teach and learn; a time for emptyness, to recolect and reflect; make plans and dream. If these precious times are squeezed out of our life, no wonder we struggle to cope.

Note to morning office: Lord find me in the emptyness of the day, that I may share the things that are important to me. Draw me into that secure moment in time, that I may need nothing but you; and be compelled to return, time after time.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Habit is Habit

The word addiction often calls up negative images of drink, drugs and self destructive ways of life. Yet addiction is a behaviour, an action; something we become dependant upon and cannot imagine living without.

The use of drugs, alcohol and substances are intended for a high, when in reality they take us to a low. I began to wonder (as I do), if it is our intention to reach a low state, a state of vulnerable incapability; to remove our inhibitions, to cast off our worry and concern for tomorrow, to enter into an emptiness - void of feelings, conscious thought or movement.

I stretched this thought a little further, is it the substance or the induced state that becomes the drive to the habit and what is the need in us that draws us to find this state in so many ways? In the search of these ways, we are found wanting; they are not life giving. Our need is not escapism but an emptying of self - to become self with our creator God, to recognise our vulnerability and incapability in relation to this immense universe. To place our worries and concern of he who formed us; this is life giving. When we find a reason for doing things, sometimes the will and the way to change becomes easier; one step at a time.

Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. Mark Twain.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Retreat & treat

This weekends retreat was quite amazing, so much went into it and much deep stuff came out. I should not be surprised by peoples creativity, depth of thought and profound statements; for are we not all part of the glory of creation. The part that touched me most were the letters from a friend; four letters, which as individuals, we opened one at a time. It took us through a journey of relationship with someone who knew us intimately and loved us unconditionally; something I cannot describe (it had to be experienced).

The labyrinth laid out under the trees with fir cones raining down and the sunlight glistening through the branches, a time of quiet reflection as we draw close to the centre, into God - to be sent out. Later in the day we chose a picture, mine was of two hands, joined together, holding each other and we were to write a Haiku. These were indeed profound:

The purpose of existence is an existence for eternity.

To hold tight to what you know is the way. To touch in, to feel, to be.

Perhaps we did not adhere to the rules of Haiku but that was not important. Evening prayer saw us up on a hillside where we lit lanterns, that filled with hot air went soaring into the evening sky. This was not without some sense of concern for local campers, trees and sheep; however, they rose swiftly in the still air, drifting one by one into the distance. Much laughter, good sharing, supporting and caring; special times with special people.

I found this weekend also, a quotation to go with my contribution to the art project (Creation). This will be four photographs; Air, Water, Fire and Earth and the quotation from Nicholas Cusanus (14th century mystic)

The celestial realm is no purer expression of God than the terrestial. In fact, the created order in its entirity consists of God's unfolding what he is "enfolded".

Monday, 6 July 2009

Strike the Flag

Brother Michael knows a thing or two about computers and is apt to tell you all about them, given the chance. It seems the word flag comes up in the realms of programming, a flag is set waiting for something to happen and responds within nano seconds. Other terms are used such as If, Then, Else and electronic devices called Gates. This is all very interesting but at breakfast? Br M went on to give lots of examples of everyday things, just to make sure I understood; I took my coffee and went for a walk down the garden.

These flags I thought, have only one task and that is to respond in a certain way to to a particular event, which may happen many times or only once. I had a picture in my mind of the world, full of flags, every person had a number of flags, many flags set and waiting; no-one seemed to be aware of these flags and they did not hinder their movement. Each flag had been carefully set to respond in nano seconds to a given situation, event, word or action and each response could be justified by its owner.

In programming a computer we have a set way of working, there can be only two choices, therefore the flag system works well. Our lives and how we interact with each other has many choices and to adopt the flag system sets only one response to a given word, action or situation. Is it that we can't be bothered to think through our responses before setting in motion our reaction?

Note to morning office: What would the world look like without flags?

Sunday, 28 June 2009


A train of thought can move so fast, from some random beginning, through links and jerks; pausing briefly to check anything but direction. This seems to be more than a regular occurrence for me, perhaps I should have been an engine driver; or a signal box man!

Today was no exception with a glace at the word Spitfire I was off; bottle of beer, aircraft, seagull and car. A friend of mine a few years ago was restoring a Spitfire sports car; now I have a lot of time for someone who restores things... This got me thinking more.

To restore something (the dictionary says) is to bring back to an original condition. It must take great pains, care and attention to detail; referring to the makers original specification, using authentic parts or at least, made using the same methods. It would be so much easier to replicate with another material, using modern process; plastic does not have the same ring.

It takes I think a special man or woman to restore a clock, a car, furniture, a picture; a dwelling place. We would say, a labour of love for surely without a love for the restoration, work would never begin. I am in awe of a person who, taking pains over what to anyone else would be a ridiculous amount of time, to bring back something to its true original glory. This is something we can appreciate but not understand, imagine and dream but never get round to doing. It must be really fulfilling to restore something.

Note to evening office: Help me see what needs restoring; find me the tools and materials, and I'll find the time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Yorkshire Flu

Coughs, sneezes, a croaky voice and a feeling like I can't be bothered; yes its Yorkshire flu. So dear blog land, forgive the absence and I will be back with you soon.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Though friends are far off, and their travels take them along different paths; I know we are still on the same road and so often they are so close, I could touch them.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Some folk do - no matter what.

Occasionally I glimpse into another dimension and I am utterly amazed. The height the width and the depth of that person takes not only my breath but my sense of understanding. When I see commitment of one person to another in the midst of what seems to be impossible situations; I stand back in awe.

There is something very special happening, and sharing in this is both a humbling and challenging experience. Beyond ritual, beyond love, beyond spirituality; at the core of who we are - we let it out. Jesus sermon on the mount comes to mind and no doubt you bible scholars will come back and add to this?

Note to evening office: Lord you are; let me be all that I am.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Fading light brings a burst of colour to the sky, I would like to think this was an emerging rainbow however I am sure you meterologists will find some latin name for it. For those with imagination, these are flaming wings of a messenger... I will leave the rest to you.

Full veiw of above..

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


A sunset is quite intoxicating, something holds us till the last drop of lustre has left the sky. The end of a day, a reflection or a sense of beauty in contrast to the chaos. Time to let go of the cares, allow them to dissolve with the fading light; tomorrow will have enough cares of its own.


Friday, 29 May 2009

Friends far off

I spoke to a good friend recently, who now lives far off. He was telling about the area, things he had done, we laughed, talked and shared our thoughts. "When are you coming to see us" he asked; "I have so much to show you".

Remembering when I was a boy and cousins would come to visit. I would watch excitedly at the bedroom window, counting the cars till they arrived. Out would come the toys and we would run around; I would show them secret hiding places and we would tell stories of our adventures. The table would be spread, and around five of us would squeeze onto the long stool.

Note to morning office: How excited are you my God, to hear of my adventures; and how much have you to show me.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Rievaulx and Dry stone walls

We have two bank holidays in May, the first, I went for a walk around Rievaulx Abbey; a magnificent building (even now). I tried to imagine the monks and life within the walls, times were very different then. Founded in 1132, Rievaulx went on to become the wealthiest monastery in England. (Rievaulx)

Cloisters, kitchens, refectory,oratory; all that was needed by the community of monks, were within the walls. These walls that have stood up to not only the dissolution but time and weather, to enable our modern day pilgrim to glimps into a way of life - prayer, work, study and rest.

Another day and another walk in the North Yorkshire Moors. Strewn across its length and bredth are dry stone walls, an art still kept by local folk and handed down for future generations. (walls) You have to marvel at the shear size of this task, to enclose fields and moorland. These are not preformed bricks but sandstone rocks of all shapes and sizes, all of them carted by horse to site and each one of them handled and chosen for its size and shape.

There are no rejects, each one is needed and necessary for the build, and no one stone is more important than another.

Note to evening office: That whatever I am, I am needed and it is the builder who places the stones.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

At the beginning of the day

O God, I find myself at the beginning of another day,
I do not know what it will bring,
Please help me to be ready for whatever it may be.
If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.
If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.
If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently
If I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.
I pray just for today, for these twenty-four hours,
for the ability to cooperate with others
according to the way Jesus taught us to live.
"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
May these words that he taught us become more than words.
Please free my thinking and feelings
and the thinking and feelings of others,
from all forms of self-will,
--- self-centredness, dishonesty, and deception.

Along with my brothers and sisters, I need this freedom
to make my choices today according to your desires.

Send your Spirit to inspire us in time of doubt and indecision so that, together, we can walk along your path. ..... Amen.

Monday, 18 May 2009

House keeper

I had thought about early morning walks with the camera and sitting with my feet up (Lord of the manor); it was not to be. After the basic chores were done, I checked the calendar, Visitor due Monday 18th. That put the cat in a spin, change the bed linen in the guest room and get out the dusters and polish; I love the smell of wood polish and probably went a little over the top. I have come to the conclusion, if you want a restful weekend; move out.

However, I did manage to read some, our local library managed to trace a copy of Peter Anson's memoirs "A roving recluse"; this was the caravan man I mentioned in an earlier blog. I can see I am going to enjoy his ramblings, his first recolection was Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee 1897. All is now back to normal, movement around the house and a sense of home.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Room to Rent

What a strange day, I have been left in sole charge of the friary this weekend; anything could happen! Am I to be trusted? - well the chores are almost done so I decided to stop for a coffee. Don't worry, I am a dab hand in the kitchen so I won't go hungry and I am expected up the road later tonight. I am invited by friends to share a meal (guess I will take a bottle of something); not sure if this was spontaneous or just a coincidence.

Part of me enjoys solitude and the other part craves community; usually the opposite of whatever is happening at the time. There will be nobody to get frustrated with and if anything goes wrong, its down to me I guess.. Will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Batty Bat

I had just taken a stroll down the garden; the sun has dipped below the distant hills. About this time of night we have a bat that flits around between the hedges and trees; I only ever see one at a time, though there must be more? How fast he fly's and I can only see him when he is silhouetted against the fading sky. He might as well be invisible or not there at all until he emerges against the light. These are not scary creatures but fascinating flights of speed and maneuverability; no time to see where you are going, they rely on sonar. . . . .!

Note to evening office: If I move into the light, I will be seen - I do not want to be invisible, but I do not want to be shot down - help Lord in my visibility.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

New places & heaven

I am feeling for them at the moment, a bunch of young people have had a great day out at the theme park, followed by a Christian rock concert. Now they are stuck on the motorway and not likley to be back till well after 2am. At least they are safe and sound; how did we manage without mobile phones? I have about a 30-minute journey to pick up our two, they must be shattered; I bet they sleep all day tomorrow.

Don't think I cope too well when things take a sudden change in direction. I begin to think things, worry and wonder how best to fix things... The treasure hunt today went well but it would have been nice to see more people. While waiting I listened to pick of the pops I am guessing it was around 1967 as one of the songs was The Sloop John B. I was captured by another song I remember - I'm the Pied Piper by Crispian St Peters.

With your masquerading
And you
Always contemplating
What to do
In case heaven has found you
Can't you see
That it's all around you
So follow me

There was I looking out on the church car park, low walls and streets; somehow they looked different, as if this were a new place to me and I was looking at it for the first time. Weird, I know. It doesn't happen very often, but why? (I think traffic must be moving - I just got a text).

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Retro Pop

Mid morning coffee break and the friary has been empty all morning; nice. Chance to turn up the music and listen to some retro pop.

I was wondering whether the music influenced the attitude and behavior of the day or the other way round. It seemed the lyrics and general feel good of the music would have an effect on our way of life?

What came first? the Chicken McNugget or the Egg McMuffin??

By the way, do you recognise these guys?

Monday, 27 April 2009

Learning to fly

Sometimes I have a germ of an idea that rolls along and becomes something I can write about; writing puts flesh on the bones of the thought and often doesn't appear until the pen meets the paper. Most of my musings escape before I can rope then, lost in the mystical ether (just thought I would call it that, sounds better than fog). I seem to have a small cache/ memory, a train of events begin and before I am 3-4 carriages down, I have forgotten how I started (brother Cyril, we have more in common than I thought). So I have this little notebook of jottings and ideas; mostly for the book, which is going very slowly.

Sunday early morning and I was watching two blackbirds chasing each other over rooftops and fences. Their world exists of lampposts and aerials, chimneys and treetops; gravity for them is not an issue, they have no need of it. A bird of the air is in its element, I on the other hand am grounded on terra firma and gaze in wonder at effortless flight. Where is my element, in what do I shine? For mankind our element should be our capacity to love, but it seems the enemy is keeping this secret hidden..

Note to morning office: learning to fly requires stepping off some high point.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


eels like my head is up in the clouds at the moment....

I pondered earlier after washing up; watching the water go swirling down the sink. Is that what a Black Hole is like and can we see these phenomena in our every day events? I am on the scout for more of the same.

Will come back later and drop my picture in; problems with the Internet. My router died and the spare one is playing up. It's like trying to push through treacle. (Better).. A temporary fix to the broadband connection. How quickly we become reliant on something as simple as a light switch/ telephone/ Internet. Called an old friend today who I had not spoken to in a long time, so much has happened and 40 minutes was not enough to catch up to where we used to be. Selective points to try and summarise where we are now - sometimes think I do that with the Lord too.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Stress, anxiety, depression is a state we cannot fully understand, unless we have been there; and even then - what is understanding? We muddle through at best, follow suggestions and formulae in an effort to find something that works. Like a roller coaster, we can see the bend coming up but we cannot prepare for the forces against us as we go through that bend. A recent training course "mental health first aid! was very interesting, particularly as a close friend is going through this.

We journeyed together to church the other week, a big step for her; avoiding people and questions. Well meaning folk, pleased to see her and wanting to encourage. The early service was a good option, familiar in its ways and unlikely to have any surprises; tea & coffee is provided between the services for the comings and goings. At the final blessing I whispered to her "fancy a coffee"; "I think I'll just go straight home".

As we left we bumped into a lady just arriving, she asked the time of the next service and we suggested she went int the hall for a coffee first.
Sitting in the car we could see the lady, walking around the perimeter looking at the hall; she then sat on the wall, waiting.

Thats when it happened; my friend reached into who she is, a caring person that understands feelings. "Tell her, if she wants to go for a coffee, I will go with her" and that's what we did.

Note to morning office: help me to know me and work out of who I am.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Gift of Time

Sunday should not go without a mention; after service a friend came to me and said "I'm going to ask you a strange question". With a laugh I told him he would probably get a strange answer; he asked me if I had a wrist watch? Of course and I went on to show him and tell him how it is nothing special and I have had it some years now, the glass is scratched and will only wind the pointers one way. This winding is not a problem as in the fall it will wind back and the watch always gains a little - so winding back is no problem. March is a problem and I need to wind back 11-hours.

Clearly I did not go into such length about my old watch as my friend just held out his watch and said, "I would like you to have this". I was stunned and did not know what to say, I am used to there being a catch/ condition; there was none. This was a very good quality watch, I used to have one the same make many years ago. It seems my friend recieved a retirement gift, a special watch and must have pondered on what to do with his old one; most would keep it in a drawer for use on occasional days. He added, it's quartz and just had a new battery; I am not often lost for words - a simple thank you...

But it must be more than that for it has not left my thoughts since. Our possessions, all that we have - it is not what we have but what we do with it - letting go of possessions is not easy - how much stuff do I/we have in cupboards and drawers and if we could let go of them, then maybe - just maybe we could let go and be who we are created to be. New life indeed.

Note to evening office: do some clearing out.

Monday walk

Started out this morning at a bird hide and quickly realised
I am a photographer - not a bird watcher. I enjoy taking pictures of our feathered friends but conversation in that small shed was all about what they had seen and where. I think I was looking for a little peace and quiet; so off I went for a walk. Here are a selection of snaps.

Happy Easter.