March 2009

strong-paper-shredderThe Shredder

Sorry to bore you with the ongoing saga of moving – but the process has uncovered all kinds of delights! In a cuboard long since forgotton I uncovered historical documents of mind blowing insignificance!  Here are some examples:

  • Details of all the cars I have ever owned – six in total – including my first one which was a bight blue mini.
  • a box of papers relating to holidays with enough sun cream to cover Jersey.
  • every pay slip I ever got from the Church Commissioners. My first in July 1986 paid me the amazing sum of £390 after tax!
  • Cheque book stubbs in  glorious abundance.

Well – sad I hear you shout – but I wonder what is lurking in your loft?

Solution – to the shredder and the therapeutic delights of watching all that paper tear into strips ready for the recycling.

Stressed? Get a shredder – it will change your life…….



My parents arrives this weekend to say good bye to good old Brum and especially dear old Temple Balsall. I decided to park their bag safely in the car and go for a wander. My attempt to buy a copy of Pesvner failed and I couldnt spot anything else interesting on the New shlves of Borders. Do people ever use all those cookery books I wonder? The book entitled Grow your own drugs is a BBC Two series –  what next I thought especially as the lad on the front cover looked hardly old enough to drive! Now this is a sign of old age.

While in the Bull Ring we went to see Selfridges. My mother was shocked at the price if jumpers and Dad just irritated by the endless procession of young assistants asking if if needed any help. We escaped to the foodhall to see the piles of chocolate eggs and other array of goodies.

Then to the outside to see the extraordinary shape of this building reflecting he sunshine. I think of the transformation of this city over these past two decades….. and wonder what else will emerge?



a lion of courage


When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox:

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


Mary Oliver, When death comes.


Regular readers of  my blog will know of my interest and enthusiasm for art! One of the tasks of the removals people will be to safe guard a number of images that have become life enhancing for me on my spiritual journey.

In St Mary’s Church some  years ago we embarked on the hanging of a piece of work by Nigel Dwyer which has  power, wisdom and fraglity. It speaks of love and pain, of sacrifice and possiblity.


In all my time at St marys over the past ten years this is something that I take some pride and pleasure in. Come and see it for yourself and I hope that the image will shcok you into thinking again about what this most central of images to faith might mean for you.

And if you want to learn more about Nigel and his work visit his web site:

and enjoy!!




Amidst the perplexing world of economics I came across this piece which is worth reflecting on.



The past months have seen the most chaotic and severe malfunction of the banking system since the 1920s, writes Sabina Alkire as she offers a Christian perspective on the economic climate.

Billions of pounds have been wiped off stock markets worldwide, and Governments throughout the world acknowledge that the financial system is on the verge of meltdown. 
The dismay of the media has been evident in their language. The Wall Street Journal spoke of ‘financial carnage’ and derivatives as ‘weapons of mass destruction’; The Financial Times of ‘hurricanes’ and ‘shifting tectonic plates’. As people who read the papers and watch the news in the presence of the living God, we are now in a position to reflect on money, and our attitudes towards it as Christians.
And the fundamental point is that we need not be terrified; as people of faith we need never be terrified ‘for nothing can separate us from the love of God’. 
Objectively, there are legitimate causes for concern. We genuinely do not know the impact that the crash will have on the economy and our lives. It may pass us by, or it may re-chart our days. Terror comes from that uncertainty and fear blended with a loss of control. We don’t even know if we will understand what has happened. So we pause to listen beyond the media, into the stillness. The dominant view, portrayed by the media is that the crash is totally unrelated to matters of faith and prayer, and to the habits of God. It is a malfunction of a human system because of human error. Is this accurate? If true, we would have one part of our life in which we could live as persons of faith – family, justice, church – and a different part, not lived under the shadow of the living God, where we would make necessary decisions on savings and investments, pensions and mortgages. We have fallen into this habit of interior division as a society – but do we need to? 
All of you will know of the buses and taxis in developing countries decorated with Jesus or a cross to remind the driver and passengers that the vehicle remains under divine review. That may seem superstitious, but underlying it is an important acknowledgement. For our faith does not recognise a total divide; it teaches that God’s will and purpose and wisdom extends with piercing relevance across all our lives, relational and financial. In Proverbs we are urged to seek wisdom and understanding ‘for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold’. The psalmist echoes the priority of God’s wisdom: ‘The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.’
So the first point is that if the economy is not cut off from the living God, then we need not be afraid, for the wisdom we have known is and will be true. A second point is rather more mundane: even if the economy is coming down around our ears, we will still come to church. It’s what people do in crises. We come because at church we still have one another, and we help and hope and pray together and find a way through. We will remember too those who are not merely worried, but perched on the margins of survival. We know we are not alone, and together we are strengthened and encouraged to reach out in faith and love and service – not close down in terror and dismay.
The third point is that if wisdom is true, then it may have some insights into this situation we can draw upon. Some Christians are interpreting the financial downturn as a divine tantrum about greed and materialism by an emotionally unstable God. I do not agree, but I think we have some serious correcting to do, and that human excess has directly created the present situation.
At the heart of the problems is not greed but denial. Financiers wanted to believe the numbers; but the numbers were wrong. The system failed because in the end truth prevailed. Going forward, we need to encourage and reward truth rather than denial. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians describes how he hides nothing: ‘We refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.’
One of the reasons that people believe the economy was distanced from God is that it appeared that a different set of rules operated there, where lies were acceptable, ambition was required, and cunning alone deserved reward.
But it was not so; there is one wisdom, stretching across the whole of life. And there is life in such wisdom.
The Revd Sabina Alkire is Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, an economist and an associate priest.

On Monday I wrote about Terry Frost – and then came across this excellent Obit which is worth reading:



I beg you…. to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or

books written in a very foriegn language. Don’t search for the answers

which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to

live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now.

Perhaps the someday far in the future you will gradually, without ever

noticing it, live your way into the future.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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