Thursday, 25 October 2012

Moment to Shine

18th June 2012 and the Olympic flame came through Redcar & Cleveland. My part in this flames journey was to carry it just 300 metres through the town where I work, Saltburn.
It is very difficult to explain in words just how I felt (excited just didn’t come close). The bus behind me had a banner “Your moment to shine” and it was just a moment but packed with pride and so many people cheering through the streets.

This flame had started its journey in Greece and ignited from the rays of the sun; this was a very special flame that was not going to be allowed to go out. Coca Cola called us Future Flames and I felt that was right as I work with young people and they are our future today. The torch is beautiful and holds 8,000 holes; one for every torch bearer and for the 8,000 mile journey this flame makes to the Olympic games in London. The triangular shape of the burner holds two Olympic mottoes:
  1. Stronger, Faster, Higher – in our endeavours
  2. Respect, Excellence, Friendship – for each other
The second of these calls for respect in how we compete/ live. Then to do everything with excellence, which is not always to be the best but to do what ever we do, the best we can. Often I am asked if I will sell the torch and how much it is worth, we usually reach a point in the discussion when it is agreed that the torch is valuable beyond just money. Money cannot buy friendship and we should treasure our friends because their value is priceless.

Soon it was time to pass the flame to Gerry who came rushing up to meet me; he was so excited and shook my hand firmly. This was the end of my time with the flame; someone else must now carry it further. There was learning to be had here, that for something to go on – I had to let go, to pass it on to the next man; my moment to shine was over but the flame can and does live on within all torch bearers; we just love to tell the story. The Olympics are about inspiring a generation and working with young people, I would like to think I can play a part in inspiring them to achieve their dreams, do what ever they do with excellence and value their friendships.

The best way to predict the future – is to create it.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


It is often in the simplest of tasks, thoughts emerge that become challenges, ideas or solutions; where do they come from? I know most of my best ideas for resources, teaching or preaching, tend to formulate early in the morning while shaving. 

Clearly nothing comes from nothing so there must be a seed of thought, something that kicks it off. A word or phrase heard, an observation questioning, why does that happen that way? Listening to our mixture of emotions and wondering why they are knitted this way? There is a spiritual dimension too that seems external, yet personal at its core. If nothing comes from nothing, then our thoughts have purpose and should not be disregarded as random nonsense. 

I immerse myself in the quiet, appearing to be deep in thought; expecting at any minute a revelation that would drive me forward. I am now learning to continue with the practical and to be more aware of my thoughts, a little bit like solving a crossword puzzle.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Runswick Bay N Yorks
The evening is still and as I stand in the quiet, distant sounds are clear to me. It is as if there is a circle of silence, that stretches for a mile or so. Beyond that, sounds are coming through the stillness; this whole experience, which is out of the ordinary, prompts me to be part of the quiet.

It is within the stillness, that the noise of the day begins to make sense and I recognise I need the quiet, and the solitude, to balance the turbulence each day brings.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


Value comes at a price.

A Pearl is created from an irritation; a grain of sand, an errant particle of food or a worm. The irritation is coated with nacre (mother or pearl) as a defence mechanism; to produce a pearl of great price.

“The most beautiful pearl is nothing more, in fact, than the brilliant sarcophagus of a worm.”

Raphael Dubois

Value comes from the least expected, not rejected.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stress free pockets

Find stress free pockets.
Train journeys, buses, walking to-from meetings, washing up (haha).
These pockets of stress free air are provided for us to step into with an awareness of their purpose; without that, it just becomes another process.

Waiting for buses or trains, queues no matter how small - where do you go in your mind; coming up for air may be the freshest air you have inhaled because you have time to taste it.
You are knowing the benefit to your well-being of each breath - blowing out the stress and breathing in the peace.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

In the balance

Age advances and as it does, the number of things we want to achieve grows. The space around us is littered with half started projects and interests; books, models, art and practical. The drawing board is so full, it is difficult to distinguish one item from another, until our gaze rests for a moment in one place; the guilt of non-completion. The drawing board extends to many places, cupboards, drawers, boxes and envelopes; it is as if they appear of their own accord to point out our limitations and weaknesses.

If I were to feel different about the unimportant things I have not completed or thought about starting and never got round to it. Is it just my head that is full of wanting to know more about everything; what would it profit me to know so much? Discarding the unimportant to focus on completion of what is important, seems a better plan.

It is difficult, perhaps not impossible to balance two round pencils, one across  the length of the other; the round surfaces are permanently on the move, rolling this way and that. [try it]. Six sided pencils are much easier to balance once the centre is found, we balance on the flat surfaces. The round surface has an infinite number of points, each one pushing the other as the challenge of balancing becomes an impossibility.

Life should become slower and my experience should be working for me, to be effective in the areas that are most important and content in not being active in others.

Note to morning office: Lord - help me find the flat areas in my life that support my balance in all things.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Olympic Torch

A few months ago now, at an inter-church meeting, a lady announced she had nominated me to run with the Olympic torch (me, run)? I hesitated and said yes that it was OK.
Time went by and the voting process went in my favour; this was starting to get worrying. You see, I am not an athlete and in everything I do, I like to be in the background; I have always said, I prefer to be behind the scenes, not a front man. The day came when my email confirmed I was to run with the flame and in the town where I work, people seemed so happy for me and I would not want to let them down.

I was thinking this morning how God has a sense of humour, throwing me into a place where for a short while, all eyes will be on me. As the day itself draws nearer, I am actually getting more excited and really looking forward to it (what a change). I enjoyed so much talking to year six recently in the local primary school; they had such wonderful questions and again it centred on me with the torch. I asked them if they ever got birthday cards from uncles or aunts far off? Almost all of them put their hand up; I asked what was important, the card or the postman? Also, what was important, the picture on the card or what your uncle wrote inside; children know the answers.

A bonus to this run (walk) is that I get to keep my Olympic torch as it is the flame that is passed from person to person; strange how such a simple act of sharing this light, draws such a large crowd of people. I have been invited to talk to young people at the youth club of my old parish next month (with the torch). Can't wait now - so excited - so much to share - haven't we all?

Monday, 21 May 2012

One thing I know: ... ...

Lindisfarne (Holy Island)
 Another few days spent in Northumberland; just wonderful, then back to work.
I was closing up the project tonight and a young person hung back, he said he had a question. It was the kind of question that he already knew the answer but wondered if I knew too. I was able to answer honestly and I saw the surprise on his face when I said I had never heard of that before. I smiled and said, despite my age, there are many things I do not know; I went on to quote Socrates "as for me, all I know is that I know nothing"; he looked blank at me so I tried to continue.

If I understand that I know nothing, then that puts me in a better position.
Listening to someone's opinion or subject of conversation, I try to make a match from my knowledge database and when I do, I lock onto it and then assume I know all there is to know about the subject and promptly switch off to the other persons dialogue. The result of this natural process is that I learn nothing.
I tried a few ways to explain this but the young man still looked blank, perhaps one day he will grasp these words of wisdom.

Oh yes, the question was regarding a fairground item by which one could win a cigar and the term I also had never heard - "Close but no cigar".

Note to evening office: Keep me empty so I may receive.

Beadnell Bay

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Self reflection

A time this week for some more writing and progress with the book. The main character has journeyed into his past during the course of the day and brought forth a statement that will be the kernel of change, challenging his core belief structure.

There are more things that puzzle me, than that which I understand, and often I know that I know not; but I choose to continue in my not knowing, rather than delve into the why of it all.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A view into life

Edward Pearson (granddad) wrote this card to his daughter on the occasion of her birthday; he sent it from Cologne July 3rd 1919. The words at the bottom of the picture "Ein Blick ins Leben" (A view into life). The post card was among items gathered from mums house, like many more they were not in one particular place but interlaced with cards and photos of past and present. I really can't remember where the WW1 field compass came from, I am sure it does not have a family connection and more likely to be something I picked up in a shop when a boy.

Though these items are bound by the year 1919, they have not been left frozen in time but included in our moments of review. Our spirituality should not be frozen but warmly interlaced as part of our present moments, enabling completeness. Reading the words to Edwards dearest daughter brings out a warm glow and a view into life we would not normally see.

Each day we have opportunities to view into life and see people, situations in a different light. The picture above was composed for a photography competition around the subject Something old; I got more than just second place as it gave me the possibility to view life from different perspectives and that it is better to interweave than to segregate.

Thanks Granddad.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


Springtime and change is all around us, ponds laden with frog spawn new buds on the trees and faint brush strokes of green among the hedgerows. It is difficult not to notice change on this scale, the whole of creation it seems to be on the move. I think I was around 7-years old when I first caught a frog and kept it in a bucket in the back yard, eventually my parents encouraged me to let it go and on our way to Ugthorpe, Freddy was released into a small stream at Guisborough. The photo above was taken while walking through Guisborough woods last weekend; who knows? it may be one of Freddy's descendants.

I have been suffering with back pain recently and our housekeeper Mrs Johnson suggested a long soak in the bath with some herbal bubbles; I usually shower so the thoughts of a bath never enter my head. Mrs J prepared the bath and called me when it was ready, a room full of steam and the smell of lavender was quite inviting. It was during this long soak that i began to wonder when did I grow so tall? My toes just under the taps and my shoulders resting securely at the other end; now I am only 5foot 4inches but thinking back I was always known as shrimp, so when did I grow? Growing up in Warwick Street Middlesbrough, we didn't have a bathroom and each Saturday night the old metal bathtub would be brought in and filled with hot water. I had my own enamel tin bath (the one that was used to carry the washing); bath time was great in front of the fire. But the question is still there, when did I grow?

We respond to change, generally after the event; how would it be if we were able to live the changes?

Friday, 23 March 2012

The old man

The action was a self portrait for a photo competition; nothing to do with creative writing, and here we are approaching another Easter and so little progress with the book. I have to point out quickly that the title of this post is not referring to me (though it certainly could) but to the writing desk/ bureau and book case. Throughout my memory years this piece of furniture has been referred to as "the old man". My paternal grand father (Edward) was a cabinet maker and served his apprenticeship at Harrison's Grosmont; his father (David) was an engine driver and lived by the river at Egton Bridge North Yorkshire. The old man can be dated as grand dad signed and dated the bottom left drawer October 1909. Harrison's had their own woodland in Grosmont and I expect that is where the timber would have originated.

The old man has purpose apart from being a thing of beauty, I always felt important and that I was doing something special, writing at  the desk when a small boy (one way at least to get my homework done). I wonder what grand dad would have thought about a laptop resting on the desk? He was a particular man, paying close attention to detail, the dovetail joints are as strong today as they were when he put them together; ageing has only added to the character even to the splashes of blue from the ink pots. Time spent in creation, be it wood working or writing is never wasted and serves purpose into the future.

Time has been invested in producing a piece of work that will be used in schools and youth centres; it is a piece of software entitled Life-SkillsLabyrinth (it is easier to give you this link than to begin to explain). In our work with young people, it was felt that many had missed some of the basic stepping stones of life and this is an attempt to replace them.

Note to morning office: Do not be afraid to put yourself into that which you create, that's how we get the best results.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Its for the birds

To be as free as a bird with all that sky, how must that feel? To rise on thermals and hold just one position, with only the slightest movement of the wings; to glide and turn effortlessly. Much more difficult for me to capture that with my camera, let alone imagine how it must feel. The truth of course is that this gull, is busy looking for food to sustain him, and spends most of the day doing just that. If we are honest, we probably have more free time than he ever will. I hear people say, "just give me 5-minutes" - "I never have time to myself" - "sorry I'm tied up at the moment". Trust me, life is not much different in the friary.

I love this picture, its all happening, taking to the air, landing, checking out the neighbours and the two at the bottom look like they are chatting; where do you figure in this group?

Brother Cyril is just standing, deep in thought, not sure even if the incoming tide will move him. Brother Michael however is the one at the bottom (facing front) probably giving instructions to the other who is trying not to hear. Where am I? I guess I would be the one at the edge left; swooping down and trying to decide whether to land or not.

Freedom is more a state of mind than a place to be, it takes practice, and it helps to have a place in mind. These birds gather at the waters edge, changing position with the ebb/ flow of the tide and maintain manoeuvres through land sea and sky.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Jupiter, Venus & Moon
This evening saw a clear sky, revealing the wonders of the heavens. A special night as Jupiter and Venus draw close together; joined by a new moon and within a hands-span of each other.

I try not to get too technical with my interest in astronomy, just to enjoy the splendour of these distant jewels is sufficient in itself. Its good though, to know their names, as we become familiar with their positions and the shapes; we interpret these as giants and beasts. Stories are brought together and shared through generations; such a shame that our new understanding leaves behind these colourful mysteries.

Looking at these bright giants and immediately behind us, Mars is rising over the horizon. Some will tell us of the significance of this alignment and how it will impact on our lives; how much time we spend in such discussions each day, and miss the beauty of the event itself.

Note to morning office: Each day to value the brightness of others.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Its good to visit friends, especially when you have not seen them for some time. So much catching up to do, much of the conversation is in blocks of random information mixed with intense emotion; desperately trying to share everything at once. With very close friends, the process is a little different; often it is just about looking at each other and knowing. Catching up with Pete & Catherine at Northumbria Community was just that.

The added bonus of this weekend was to meet up with folk not yet known and coming away feeling I had found yet more close friends; there is something special about Nether Springs that exist not in the bricks and mortar, for they have not long moved into their new aboding. The tree above is in the adjoining field at Nether Springs and looked magnificent in the early morning sun and we can only imagine the extent of its root structure, invisible to the eye though source of all that is necessary to sustain its reaching branches.

All Saints Church Skelton in Cleveland
 Closer to home we are caught up in our normal routines, friends and acquaintances take on a different role, and their value is often diminished.

The tree is of two parts and one cannot exist without the other, drawing nutrition from both the earth and the sun and divided only by a thin surface layer.