Showing posts from October, 2018

Curtains and windows

This post is scheduled for Hallowe’en, when there are closed curtains and decorated windows. My starting point is a photo I took. Walking into the mainly unlit building for a weekday Morning Prayer at the back of the church with participants sitting in a circle, I was surprised to see the curtain behind the choir stalls lit up. I quickly positioned myself for a photo of it. A couple of minutes later the relative positions of the sun and the church were such that it was in semi-darkness again. It was an unexpected moment, which could have easily been missed. My helpful phone keeps asking me if I wish to adjust the lighting – as if that wasn’t the whole point of the photo. The choir stalls in St Bees Priory Church I began to think about curtains in general. It is not a theme that has been suggested at the local ACW writing group I attend, although the current one of Darkness is not unrelated. The curtain in the picture screens the choir from the Lady Chapel. It also stops s

Got the Block?

Something simple today, aimed at those of us who have days where writing is hard. We're blocked, stumped, pulling our hair out (if we have any), struggling, un-inspired etc. Some memes of encouragement. None are copyrighted, so take which ones are helpful and put them on your desktop, or keep them in a handy folder to peruse at your leisure. And finally, if your day is just too bad for words, look at this. Have a good write.

Keeping It Simple Is Definitely Not Stupid

I’m not fond of the acronym, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), as there’s nothing stupid about "direct" writing. Keeping it simple is much harder to do than whoever invented that acronym supposed. I guess it is meant to imply the other person IS stupid for not keeping it simple but the reality is you have to edit hard to get your prose to the state where it reads as if it has been written effortlessly.  In my honest opinion, keeping your writing simple is never a stupid thing to do.  Pixabay image. You then repeat the process until you reach the point where you cannot improve the work. Sometimes you reach the point of being heartily sick of it but that’s another story.  It shows it's time to take a break and come back to it later and look at it again with a fresh perspective.  The distance away from it does help.  Some editing is definitely needed here!  Pixabay image! I learned a long time ago when someone makes something look easy, whether it is writi

A Faith Family Tree by Trevor Thorn

Faithful Heritage Down through five-score generations someone passed on belief for me:  at first, maybe a disciple who walked beside Christ, strong and free, inspired by the love of the Master agog with miracles seen fervent in faith; bold after Christ’s death proclaiming New Life, not a dream.   I give thanks for this faith-filled lineage as the message was handed on, through my forbears, or friends, or through clerics; and sometime through children, in song with a simple delight in Christ’s stories, and a wonderful sense of the grace  in the actions and love of a Saviour who’s called me, that New Life, to embrace. Thoughts behind ‘Faithful Heritage’ For several years now particularly at All Saints’-tide, I have marveled that, if I could trace it, there would be a genealogy of believers who have passed on the faith in every generation since Jesus lived with us on earth, until it reached me. In my case my parents, grandparents and, I think

What's in a word? A reflection by Tracy Williamson

The thought came to me today, 'What's in a word?' A voice, a short explosion of sound; one syllable, two, three or four A second of hanging in the air Resonating Then gone. A mark upon a page, letters, shapes sounds,  a line upon a computer. A word - not much in itself But when joined in familial bonding, one linked to another, Dominoes of words together, rising  to create a dynasty Falling to shatter a world. A name, a fact, a description, an action, a hint of something more. What's in a word? Emotion, heart, love, creation, desire, cruelty, passion, power His Word in me. His Word in me Yet I am deaf and words are meaningless to me When spoken. Yet I love them And miss them And my heart longs to be part of them. And so, when I speak words And write them My heart leaps, for His call to me is to give His Word away To speak His power, love and grace into being And to write it There is that word that comes and goes so quickly It may as well

Location, location, location... by Eve Lockett

Last month, we spent a week in a small cottage not far from St Ives in Cornwall. During the one wet day of our holiday we visited Barbara Hepworth’s studio and garden to enjoy her sculptures and pick up the atmosphere of the place where she worked. It happened we arrived just as a guide was beginning her talk, and we joined the group, steaming gently as we  dried out. Hepworth’s own writings express how her relationship with nature, and St Ives in particular, was integral to her work. She discovered in St Ives a likeness to the North Yorkshire coast where she holidayed as a child, but with the additional quality of Cornish light. The seashore, the cliffs, the pebbles, the waves and the sky all provided her with endless inspiration. She also created her own unique and exquisite garden to complement her sculptures. In the mild Cornish climate, Hepworth was able to work outdoors on her sculpting all  year round. This love of the world around her was bound up with her underst

Treasure in the mundane - by Eileen Padmore

In the final weeks of our course on personal spiritual development, we were encouraged to attempt a 'retreat in daily life'.  Week six guided us to pray for the grace, ' that I may recognise him in all aspects of my life'. 'Great', thought I – in ignorance.  My mind went into sensory overdrive. Yes!  I would take time out, surrounded by butterfly hopping sun drenched flowers, aromatic herbs, chattering birds, trickling streams ..... somewhere in the fabulous Yorkshire Dales ........ steaming mug of fresh coffee in hand ...... That was before I actually read the four set Bible passages and reflected on the dramatic newspaper headlines those ancient events and teachings might generate today: 'Toe-Rag tax collector pays back huge dividends.' 'Meal for one feeds 5,000.' 'Ten lepers claim magic cure.' 'Crank preacher says sell all now and gamble on the hereafter.' Not exactly accurate reporting, but the news got distorted

The icing on the cake

Like the profanest of mockers of a cake Psalm 35:16, RSV margin Cake conflict The middle section of Mari Howard’s novel Baby, Baby , features four cakes, all made in the manse of the fundamentalist pastor, Alisdair Mullins. His wife Fee bakes the first one, an angel cake, as dessert for her son Max’s homecoming tea, but its end is untimely: the twin younger brothers steal it and eat it in their treehouse. The second cake is a replacement for the first, made, to general admiration, by Max’s girlfriend Jenny, after Fee has developed a migraine. The third cake is a chocolate one baked by Fee for late-night supper, but it is hijacked by Alisdair to be served at a session of baptismal counselling with his protégés Colin and Rachel. Happily the others in the manse get to eat the remains of it at supper time, though by then Jenny is bemused by what seems to be an evangelical cake obsession. Alongside all this the last cake is having an even more dramatic career. It is a ric

Letter to the weary - by Helen Murray

Hey. You there. Feeling overwhelmed; weighed down. This is for you.  I know that you're so, so tired.  I know that you've got static in your head right now; thoughts going round and round and I know that it's all jumbled up and confused and you've given up trying to make sense of things. I know that you feel that everything is going wrong and that you're further than ever from where you want to be. I know that you're exhausted trying to keep up with your racing thoughts as you struggle to work out what to do next; what to say, where to go, what to think, what your next move should be.  I have a message for you.  You're not on your own. I know what you're going through and I am right there with you, even in the dark. I never lose my way, and I will not allow you to be lost either, because you are my beloved child.  '...even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.&

Lost in Translation? by Emily Owen

         Last week, I was in Albania. I have friends who are missionaries there and, during my time with them, they asked me to speak to a group about faith and disability and writing. I have experience in all three. What I don’t have experience in is speaking Albanian. Many who came to hear me would not understand English. We needed an interpreter… The day before I was due to give these sessions, the lady who would be interpreting for me met with me, at her request. We spent time together, discussing how we could work together the following day. I needed her help and guidance; I’ve never spoken via an interpreter in this way before.  The interpreter had one main thing for me to remember: stop speaking after a couple of sentences, so she could translate. Then I was to say another couple of sentences and pause again. Etc etc. In the event, I found stopping after saying so little quite difficult – at first. I soon got the hang of it. I have a reputation for being a tal

The beauty of Canada - a travel blog

A typical scene in the Rockies 21." And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds.... 29.  'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit seed in it...  31.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good... the sixth day."              Genesis 1      We spent most of last month in Canada, a country that had been on my bucket list for years and finally we decided to 'push the boat out'.   Not literally, but we did board the Star Princess from Whittier in Alaska for a 7 night cruise. After a day at sea we spent several hours at the Hubbard Glacier which, although retreating, is still five miles wide. One of my favourite authors, Lesley Pearce in her book 'Gypsy' describes the heroine's hazard journey across Alaska in search of gold.  The story came alive as we ventured the way of the pioneers whose stories and characters were included in the plot. Our a

NaNoWriMo Prep

I'm sure most of you have heard of NaNoWriMo and know that it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Their website tells us that in San Fransisco in 1999, twenty one people took part in the very first challenge. The challenge being, to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That's 1667 a day, or 2000 a day if you want a day off each week. In 2017 there were over 400,000 participants in the November challenge, in six continents. The interactive site and forums are financed by fundraising amongst the participants and sponsorship by a number of writing and publishing based companies. There's merchandise available to buy, and a host of online support groups; as well as 'municipal leaders' who support individuals across the participating regions. There's a whole separate website devoted to younger participants. To 'win' NaNoWriMo, all you have to do is reach the 50,000 word target within the 30 days. There are also two other challenges during the year - CampNaN

Rediscovering the Joy, by Georgie Tennant

Writing can be a serious business.   If you are dogged by deadlines and your inbox contains an influx of demanding emails from editors, publishers, marketing managers, it can be hard to keep the pure joy of writing alive.   I am not yet in a position to have experienced any of the above – but, as last summer approached, I was struck by a realisation: everything I had written recently was serious and hard-hitting. This was understandable – I have walked paths of pain and loss and writing can be cathartic.   Seeing others connect with it, too, is somehow redemptive.   But sometimes, you need to put all that aside and rediscover the joy. For the first time, last year, I booked myself onto the ACW annual writing weekend at the beautiful Scargill House in North Yorkshire.   As I left work for the weekend, a colleague spoke some wise words: “I know your writing helps you work things through,” she said, “but try to enjoy yourself – write something just for fun, just for you.”   Her wor