Saturday, 21 February 2015

Into the Wilderness of Wisdom

It would appear that my job is getting easier, or at least the creative side of it does. I seem to have to do less and less as time goes by. All I seemingly have to do these days is observe and pay attention and perhaps discern and then piece together.

Every Monday morning when I awaken from my dreamless sleep I do so with ideas already formed or at least forming as to what I wish to explore and create in worship for the coming Sunday. It seems my part in the creative interchange is lessening. For the whole of last Sunday I was being fed by every interaction right throughout the day. It began with the first conversation I had when I arrived at Urmston and one or two I had at the end of worship. It continued as I arrived at Altrincham, through Aled’s comments about the Bodhisattva as he delivered the reading I’d given him and other conversations I had as we shared tea and biscuits. It continued as I interacted with a rich tapestry of people throughout the day and into the night. Last Sunday was one of those beautifully rich and deep days, when I just felt spoken to all day long. It brought to mind the following by Robert Walsh

“I moved through the experience with my attention alternating between the present moment and a future time, when I would be back home, telling the story. It’s what preachers call homiletic consciousness, which means going through life thinking, Can I use this in a sermon? But it’s not just preachers who do it. I imagine a painter would do the same. Or a poet. Or a novelist, teacher, composer, or a storyteller – anyone who uses the experiences of life in order to give something to someone else.”

Every time I engaged with someone that day I found myself smiling as it seemed everyone was touching that place deep in the soul of me…Just beautiful…

After leading worship I attended a friend’s son’s Christening. Well actually I attended the reception afterwards at “The Yard” in Alderly Edge, what a beautiful venue. As I arrived I was chatting with folk who asked me about an element of the service that had caused them to pause and feel a little uncomfortable. It was held at a local Anglican Church and during it those participating were asked “Do you renounce Satan and all his works and all his empty promises?”. I was asked what I thought of this and what I thought of Satan. I was asked “do you believe in Satan?” Good golly how do you answer that? Well I said I don’t believe in a being by that name. That said I don’t believe in a personified God either, God as a kind of super person. I then went on to say that perhaps this tempter this questioner that is given many names is really that other silent voice that we hear that separates us from one another and from our better selves and of course that power that is Greater than all and yet present in each, that I name God.

We then engaged in a long conversation about our attempts to live more openly and connectedly, more spiritually and less selfishly and how this is a challenge each and every day. He then left me in peace to enjoy the gathering of friends who were there to celebrate this beautiful gift of a new child that had been welcomed into the family of life.

The conversation beautifully reminded me of the blessings and the curses of my work. I do get to engage in the most fascinating conversations, but also I am rarely allowed to just shake off my shoes and have a laugh. This is partly my own fault, due to the curses of the old homiletic consciousness. I left smiling at so much of what I had experienced with the many friends old and new that I get to share my life with.

We have now entered the season of Lent. I hope you all enjoyed your pancakes on Tuesday. On what some still call Shrove Tuesday, or as many prefer to call it “Pancake Day”, or as I prefer to call it “Flat Yorkshire Pudding Day”…How do you eat yours?

The following day “Ash Wednesday”, for Christians, marks the beginning of 40 days of fasting and self-sacrifice that lead up to Easter, the day of re-birth re-newal and new beginnings.

In the account found in Matthews Gospel, Jesus is “led by the spirit” into the wilderness, a place of transformation and temptation. He is taken to the pinnacle of the temple and to the top of a high mountain. Here he is offered the world, but rejects the allure of an easier showier more obvious path. Instead he chooses the road less travelled, the heroes path. He is tempted by “Satan” but resists the temptation.

This is a universal tale; many of the great sages went on similar journeys, before embarking on their missions to bring healing to their people. The Buddha had to leave the comforts of home, abandon his weeping family, shave his head and don the robes of a world renouncing ascetic when he began his journey to discover a cure for the pain of the world. Long before his revelations Muhammad use to retreat to Mount Hira, outside of Mecca, where he fasted, performed spiritual exercises and gave alms to the poor. He did this in an attempt to discover a remedy for the troubles of his time. When Ghandi began his mission he left the comforts of the elite in which he had lived his whole life and travelled to India carefully observing the plight of the ordinary people.

During their own times in the wilderness the great sages found their answers. Through taking the road less travelled, the hard road, the difficult road, the answers came to them. They discovered the knowledge they needed to impact positively on their people in their time and place. They returned with wisdom to share.

This is the spiritual life in its essence. It is often the hardest most difficult path and it can certainly appear to be the loneliest, one filled with temptations. That said it is the one where the answers are usually found.

The great sages pointed to the “Way” in which salvation or liberation could be attained for each and every one of us. Now of course they weren’t exactly the same but there were certainly parallels in which the “Way” could be trod. They each carried with them wisdom which they did not want to keep selfishly for themselves they wanted to pass on to all of us, so that we could each create the “kin-dom” of God within our own lives and communities. For the wisdom is pretty meaningless unless you give it away.

The recently deceased liberal theologian Marcus Borg in his book “Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings” claims that both Jesus and the Buddha “…were teachers of the way less traveled. 'Way' or 'path' imagery is central to both bodies of teaching. The way of the Buddha is enshrined in the four noble truths of Buddhism, the fourth of which is 'the eightfold path.' Jesus spoke regularly of 'the way.' Moreover, according to the book of Acts, the earliest name for the Jesus movement was 'the Way.' The Gospel of John thus only takes this image one step further in speaking of Jesus as the incarnation of 'the way…'

According to Borg they both pointed to new ways of seeing life, they both wanted to radically change the perception of those they came into contact with. Christian imagery talks about once being blind and now being able to see, about scales falling from eyes of new truths being revealed of being released from old prejudices and pride. While Buddhism talks of enlightenment which means to see differently.

They both taught transformation. In Buddhism this is seen as a liberation from suffering through learning to let go instead of grasping at everything. While Jesus turned around the perceived wisdom of the day through his aphorism such as those who empty themselves will be exalted, and those who exalt themselves will be emptied; those who make themselves last will be first, and the first last. He also claimed that the Christian concept of taking up your cross and the dying of self were similar to the Buddhist concept of letting go. That they were both about being born to a new way of being.

He highlighted that compassion was at the core of both teachings. Stating that this is the way of a Bodhisattva and that this is what Paul has called “Love” the primary fruit of the spirit and the greatest of all spiritual gifts. In fact Borg claimed that “…one might even say that becoming a bodhisattva is the goal of the fully developed Christian life."

In my last blogspot You are the Light of the World I wrote of how we all fall short of what we can be, that we lose our way, that we forget what we can be at the best of times, that we are distracted or tempted away from the path of enlightenment and spiritual freedom, often by self-seeking voices, in the hustle and bustle of our daily living.

Jesus and the great sages of ancient times went into the wilderness, into the emptiness, the loneliness and the silence. This is something that is nearly impossible to do in our time and place. The voices that distract and tempt we who live today seem louder and the wild seems harder to find. Where is the wilderness to wander off alone into and to find the silence to really listen? How do we find the space to see the world with new vision? How do we move away from the need to grasp at things and hold on to what we think is ours, even if that’s just our wisdom or what we think we know? How do we find ways to live more compassionately in our daily interactions with one another? How do we find ways to truly become “The light of the world”, the Bodhisattva who through our lives shows others the way?

Well I believe it begins by making space for vision. It means perhaps by creating a sense of wilderness in our own lives. We need wilderness, a time to get lost perhaps in order to discover the wisdom that is available to us all and then to return renewed and refreshed so we can offer something to our world. As Marcel Proust said “We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us.”

So this is what I am attempting to do this Lent. I’m not giving things up and I’m not even spending my time giving, well no more than I would normally. I am instead spending time making space. Something that can at times feel so difficult. My life is too full at times, all our lives are too full at times. We need more space, we time away alone in the wild, in the wilderness where we can reach those difficult turbulent places and discover what it is we are truly here for. A time to let go of what hold us back and return refreshed and renewed ready to give back to our world on the day of new beginnings. A time for new vision, a time for transformation and a time for love and renewed compassion, but first of all I believe that we all need a little time in the wild.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

You are the light of the world

"...You are the light of the world..."

In a recent “Living the Questions” we explored “Sacred Places & Sacred Spaces”. Now during the evening the use of the word “sacred”, was questioned, by one of those present. It was suggested that while some places touched us deeply they were no more sacred than anywhere else. Special places yes, but not necessarily sacred. One or two others felt the same way too. As the evening went on a fascinating conversation developed, of which it was wonderful to be a part of.

To quote Wendell Berry "There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places." I believe that all life is sacred and yet, like Wendell Berry I do think that there have been times in human history when we have desecrated certain times and places. That said such places in time have once again become sacred. I do believe we can consecrate such places again. It got me thinking about ways in which this might be achieved. It also got me thinking about ways in which we can create sacred spaces in and around our being. How we can perhaps create sacredness in the way we interact with life and one another. How do we bless the world and the spaces in which we live, by the way that we live?

This got me thinking of blessing and ways in which we can bring blessings to life in our daily interactions. How we can bless one another and the world in which we live and breathe. How we can bring that eternal and loving spirit to life that I name God, in places where the light has seemingly gone out. We see so much of our inhumanity, of our darkness, in life. You can turn on the news any night of the week to see evidence of this.

How can we bring some of the light into our world? I do not believe that we are corrupt and wrong in our very nature. I do believe that if nurtured correctly a human can bring that divine aspect within us to life. We humans can become a blessing.

Now this got me thinking about “Blessings”. I wondered what a blessing is? Who or what can give a blessing? What form do blessings take? As I sat there thinking about blessings I received a wonderful message from Lizzie Roper. She sent a piece written on the role of humour in the Muslim tradition. It discussed Nasrudin the archetype of the Holy Fool that can be found in virtually every religious tradition. Through his foolishness Nasrudin helps us to see beyond the confines of our often small minds. His blessing is that he shakes those who engage with him out of their often rigid belief systems.

Now the piece ended with this wonderful line. “Blessed are the flexible for they will never be bent out of shape.” How true is this? And yet so often in life we can be so inflexible and therefore if something goes against our perceived understanding we can become so easily bent out of shape.

The line "Blessed are the flexible..." brought to mind those beautiful words from the “Sermon on Mount” in Matthews Gospel, often referred to as the Beatitudes. Here I believe we hear the central theme of Jesus' ministry, his core teachings. Here we hear the blessings, the Good News that he brings. Here we are being shown how we can ourselves become blessings to our world. Here we are being shown how we can create a sacred space in our way being and doing. Here we are being shown the way…

Matthew 5 vv 3-10

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely* on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Last Sunday after leading worship I was asked by an occasional attender “what do Unitarians think about sin?” I paused for a moment and then began by explaining that this was an impossible question to answer as I do not speak for all Unitarians. I then went on to explain what I believe about sin. I believe in sin in the sense that no one is perfect and that we all fall short from time to time. As I learnt a while back in the original Hebrew the word for sin in scripture meant to miss the mark or really to forget. In this sense to forget who we truly are. To sin is to basically fail to live up to what you are capable of being. So in that sense I suspect that we are all sinners, I know I am, I have never managed to consistently live up to what I am capable of being. I truly am imperfect, in the sense that I am incomplete. Imperfect coming from imperfectus, meaning incomplete, not meaning that there is something wrong with me, at the core of me.

Having said this I do not believe in “Original Sin” I do not believe that we are fallen by our very nature, quite the opposite. I find that what we do is forget that we have the divine aspect within our earth bound bodies and thus fall short of what we are capable of being. We can all do better, I know I can.

So yes I do believe in sin, just not "Original Sin". Instead I believe in “Original Blessing”, so beautifully described in the writings of Matthew Fox. Fox highlights that before “The Fall” in the second chapter of Genesis there is originally goodness and blessing found in the metaphorical creation story of Genesis I. Remember! At the end of each day, God “Looked at what he had done, and it was good…all of it was very good!” I think if we move beyond a literal understanding of the creation mythos that something deeply important is being revealed here about the nature of life itself. That life is a blessing in and of itself, it truly is the greatest gift of all.

Fox claims that through this creating energy we are continually invited into a co-creating relationship and are called therefore to engage in the on going blessing that is life. He states, in ‘Original Blessing’ that “Blessing involves relationship: one does not bless without investing something of oneself into the receiver of one’s blessing. And one does not receive blessing oblivious of its gracious giver. A blessing spirituality is a relating spirituality. And if it is true that all creation flows from a single, loving source, then all creation is blessed and is a blessing…”

Original Blessing is saying that we all flow from what the 12th century mystic Hildegard of Bingen has described as “Original Wisdom” and that the trouble is that we have forgotten this. The sin if you like is really that we have forgotten what we are formed from, the one original source. Therefore when we remember this and become at one with it we become a blessing to our world and create an environment, a sacred space, in which we can create further blessings.

Matthew Fox's understanding of "Original Blessing" speaks to me, to the very core of my being. It shows me that the key to becoming a blessing is to remember from what we originally came, what we are formed from and what we are capable of being. We can all be blessings and give blessings to one another. It does not require special training or to be a special or Holy person. We are all Holy if we would but just let that aspect of ourselves come to light.

In the sermon on the mount Jesus says "You are the light of the world..." how many of us truly believe this? How many of us truly believe that we are formed from love and that this light is their within us. how many of us feel more comfortable seeing ourselves as somehow wrong deep down within  and therefore capable of not much. Rather than bearers of the light who have somehow forgotten that we have that divine aspect deep down within.

Now some of us seem so far from this state at times that this light has virtually gone out. It is those amongst us who perhaps need blessing more than anyone else and yet often they are the ones we fear to touch. Should we give up on them, cast them aside? I don’t think so, for as John O’Donhue has said no life is unreachable we can touch those deeper aspects of one another we can connect soul to soul. You see when we bless we are engaging in the original blessing that brought about life. We are becoming co-creators in this process. By blessing we are affecting what unfolds. All life matters, everything we do and do not do matters.

Below is the beautiful poem “If you knew” by Ellen Bass. Here she describes a way to live with blessing. How to bless every person in our daily interactions, ways in which we can recognise one another’s sacred uniqueness. So often in the busyness of life we fail to do this, we miss what is there.

"If You Knew" by Ellen Bass

What if you knew you'd be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line's crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn't signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won't say Thank you, I don't remember
they're going to die.

A friend told me she'd been with her aunt.
They'd just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt's powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon's spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

Now just imagine what life might be like if we lived as Ellen Bass describes in her poem. What if  we attempted to see the people we interact with day by day this way, as both fragile and mortal. Perhaps if we truly recognised one another as we truly are we might bless one another as the waiter did in the poem. Not by doing anything special or Holy, just by recognising one another’s sacred humanity. That I believe is to truly bless.

We can begin to bless one another. We can create a sacred space in and around our being. We can become co-creators in that original blessing that formed life. We just need to remember who we are; we just need to remember the original wisdom and our world can then perhaps once again become very good indeed.

I'm going to end this little chip of a blessing with with the following by Monica Cummings

“Bless a Stranger with a Smile” by Monica Cummings

Take time each day to remember you are a part of the interconnected web of life. Bless a stranger with a smile. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you. And take a moment every day, beginning today, to give thanks for all that you have.

May you have the strength, courage, and commitment to begin or continue the rewarding journey of self-understanding. May you have the wisdom to forgive yourselves, the grace to ask for forgiveness, and the compassion to forgive others.

You are the co-creator of your life. It’s up to you. Forgive your trespasses as you forgive those who trespass against you. May you live your beliefs and feel at one with everyone and everything.

Blessing upon you,
Blessings upon me,
Blessings upon every living thing,
Blessed Be.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Looking for like hearted people

In Bringing God Home: A Traveler's Guide" Forrest Church wrote

"Universalism is an exacting gospel. Taken seriously, no theology is more challenging-morally, spiritually, or intellectually: to love your enemy as yourself; to see your tears in another's eyes; to respect and even embrace otherness, rather than merely to tolerate or, even worse, dismiss it. None of this comes naturally to us. We are weaned on the rational presumption that if two people disagree, only one can be right. This works better in mathematics than it does in theology; Universalism reminds us of that. Yet even to approximate the Universalist ideal remains devilishly difficult in actual practice. Given the natural human tendency toward division, Universalists run the constant temptation to backslide in their faith. One can lapse and become a bad or lazy Universalist as effortlessly as others become ice-cream social Presbyterians or nominal Catholics."

It got me thinking about my own ministry...Do I backslide in my own faith?

I recently spent a weekend away with a group of what some might call “like minded” friends at Great Hucklow. I almost didn’t go as I was recovering from gastric flu and I certainly wasn’t my usual vibrant self. I must have been bad as I couldn’t stomach the marvellous cooked breakfast on offer there.

Over the weekend we explored prayer and meditation and ways in which we might enhance our personal spiritual lives. It was based around the 11th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." It was wonderful to engage with different people, from all kinds of back grounds and differing spiritual beliefs. People who when they spoke of God, or a power greater than themselves, did not necessarily mean exactly the same thing. I didn’t do as much talking as I normally would at such events and spent most of the weekend just loving the company of these people and listening. Of course I did chime in from time to time, but mainly I listened.

Now one phrase I kept on hearing over the first evening was “Oh it’s so lovely to be with like-minded people”. I heard it from several people. I remember as I listened I thought I’m not sure that we are like-minded, we certainly don’t think about things in exactly the same way. I then thought I am not sure I would want to spend my time with like-minded people, people who thought just like me. They would drive me mad and no doubt bore me to death.

And then it dawned on me. While we may not be like-minded people we are certainly like-hearted. We may not think in the same way, but I suspect that we feel in the same way and we certainly seem to be searching for that same sense of connection and oneness. There was a true sense of unity in the group. We truly were there lovingly supporting and listening to one another, holding differing views about faith and God and spiritual practise but yet united in a common bond and search.

I think this is what I’ve been searching for all my life, not the horror of like-minded people, but the beauty of like hearted folk. It truly was heavenly and it lifted me out of myself and my worries about my physical well-being.

As I drove home in silence enjoying a beautiful winter scene a phrase entered my heart and rose up to my mind “You need not think alike to love alike”. It is a well-known phrase in Unitarian circles and it is certainly something that we aspire toward. Of course we all fall short of this ideal. It has been attributed to Francis David who is seen as the father of established Unitarianism and was the spiritual advisor to King John Sigismund of Transylvanin, the Unitarian king who pronounced an act of religious toleration the Edit of Torda in 1568.

Now while “We need not think alike to love alike” is a beautiful sentiment and certainly fits in with the principles of religious toleration, it would appear that there is no real evidence that Francis David ever actually uttered the words. There are arguments as to the original source some claim it was the non-Trinitarian martyr Michael Servetus where as others suggest it was more likely the father of Methodism JohnWesley, who asked in a sermon on “Catholic Spirit,” “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?”

Now personally I do not think it matters who first uttered the words. What matters is the meaning behind them and what has grown and developed from them. What matters to me is the spiritual depth at the core of these simple words. “We need not think alike to love alike.” Or to put it another way we need not be like minded to be like hearted. To me this is essence of the free religious faith that I have chosen to belong to. We are none creedal we do not declare a statement of faith and yet we are held together by a sense of love and understanding.

We are more than just a pluralistic movement at our best we uphold those ideals of universalism that Forrest Church spoke at the beginning of this blog. That said these are not easy ideals to live up to. They used to say “Reason, Freedom and Tolerance” but as Rev Stephen Lingwood has said this is not enough. To quote him:

“Love” Stephen Lingwood from “The Unitarian Life: Voices from the Past and Present

Freedom, reason, tolerance and pluralism aren’t enough, not on their own. We need a message to give to people, good News to preach. What good News can Unitarians give to the world? Just this: Love. A Holy Love that transforms, that is powerful and prophetic and justice-seeking. This message has always been at the heart of our faith: from Francis David, who said “you need not think alike to love alike”, to the Universalists who knew that nothing will ever separate anyone from the love of God, even today when Unitarians work to support the rights of gay couples because we know that love is always a blessing, regardless of gender.

Of course this is an ideal and certainly not an easy one to live up to. We can rationally think, believe, in ways that uphold “Freedom, reason, tolerance and pluralism” but to truly love and radically accept someone who appears different can be much harder. This involves the heart and a fully exposed and open one at that. In some ways it requires a vulnerable heart and that aint easy. What if they hurt us?

My ministerial mantra is “Come as you, exactly as you are…but do not expect to leave in exactly the same condition” This is an invitation to all, whether they’ve been here for ever or have just walked through the door. It is also an invitation to myself, because I know this aint easy. And just like everyone else I need to keep on leaving in a new condition.

One thing I love about the "Living the Questions" group I host is that increasingly over time people are coming as they, exploring with one another openly. They seem to be listening to one another too. Each time we meet this experience seems to grow. I witness true spiritual intimacy amongst this diverse group of people who are most certainly not like minded, but are increasingly like hearted. Each time we meet, we seem to leave in a slightly different condition, whatever subject we explore. People truly are coming as they, exactly as they are, wherever they are coming from.

It is hard to come as you truly are, to be who you truly are. Most folk fear that they will be rejected for being as they truly are, if they let others see the real them. No doubt it happens to every single one of us at one time or another. It is hard to say this is who I am, will you still love me and accept me anyway. Well actually maybe here in lays part of the problem. By saying this is who I am are we really showing who we are in a truly open sense. I actually think when we make such statements a barrier is already being formed without us even realising it. Surely it is better to show who we really are and this is about the heart more than the mind, this is about love rather than belief or disbelief, this is about deeds rather than creeds.

This brings to mind something I heard from a stand-up comedian many years ago. Now he never became famous and I used to see him wandering around the Fallowfield area of Manchester where I lived. He always looked like a bit of a loner, a little bit lost. He wasn’t even particularly funny, but something he said really stuck with me. Now it turns out he was gay and he talked about coming out to his mates about this and how he was full of fear initially but it went ok and they accepted him as he was, with just a bit of laddish humour. He then went on to talk about how he loved football, which was strange for a man originally from Hull. It’s a rugby town and Hull were not a big club then. Now I can’t tell the joke but the basic punchline was this he said it was much harder for him to come out to his hip cool, arty and gay friends and companions that he loved football and loved all that went with it than it was to come out to the football crowd that he was gay. He said these friends found it harder to accept his love of football, than for his football friends to accept him as a gay man.

As he told the tale I saw the sadness and the alienation in him, this sense that he didn’t quite belong. Every time I saw him wandering around, always alone I kind of sensed that feeling grow. Maybe I identified with him in some ways as for a lot of my life I felt this sense of alienation too. Maybe we all do, maybe everyone feels this sense that they don’t truly belong from time to time. Maybe it’s tough to come as we are, exactly as we are…maybe when we come we don’t expect to change either, maybe we think we will always leave in exactly the same condition.

My hope is that when people enter into the communities I serve that they feel that they can be who they are, exactly as they are. Warts and all and beauty spots too. I hope they find amongst us loving companionship and space to search and explore and open their hearts, minds and souls to something beyond the confines of themselves. I hope when they come, even if it is in despair, that when they leave they do so with a deeper sense of belonging and do not feel alone. I hope they find amongst us communities of like hearted, if not like-minded people.

For we may not think alike, but it is certainly our intention to love alike.

I am going to end this little chip of a blogspot with the following...

“One Love” by Hope Johnson

We are one,

A diverse group

Of proudly kindred spirits

Here, not by coincidence –

But because we choose to journey – together.

We are active and proactive

We care, deeply

We live our love, as best we can.

We ARE one

Working, Eating, Laughing,

Playing, Singing, Storytelling, Sharing and Rejoicing.

Getting to know each other.

Taking risks

Opening up.

Questioning, Seeking, Searching…

Trying to understand…


Making Mistakes

Paying Attention…

Asking Questions


Living our Answers

Learning to love our neighbours

Learning to love ourselves.

Apologizing and forgiving with humility

Being forgiven, through Grace.

Creating the Beloved Community – Together We are ONE.