if you're in london maybe see you there? it's also open all week at various times. a few of the guys involved are training with us at cms - wonderful to see their creativity.
if you're in london maybe see you there? it's also open all week at various times. a few of the guys involved are training with us at cms - wonderful to see their creativity.
next saturday tend sees grace focus on prayer drawing inspiration from st teresa of avila who many attribute to be one of the key inspirations in contemplative prayer. we now have a cycle of services at grace that flow through a focus on art | word | bread and wine | prayer. a couple of years back i curated a service inspired by john of the cross which i really enjoyed doing and has lingered with me ever since (and indeed i subjected students at ripon college cuddesdon to a eucharist inspired by the same last december) - i guess this is a similar kind of thing though the set up will not be quite so elaborate.
one of the images she use for prayer is that it is like preparing a garden for god hence the imagery and title - if you are coming we will be having a garden theme so do bring a few plants, compost, food waste, tools or any other such items! there will be space for prayer… looking forward to it though i'll be racing back from leicester where i am speaking at a day on vocation (which i am also looking forward to). it starts at 8pm at st marys ealing and there's a café afterwards so plan to stick around.
it was lovely this week to get a few days retreat/silence/space for prayer. i found st clare's portiuncula on the web through the retreats web site. it is hosted by a fransiscan sisters community. the space itself has five rooms (hermitages) with a gorgeous view over the valley. the building is about 10 years old, beautifully designed with a lovely fountain in the centre that symbolises the overflowing of god's love for the world, and a chapel. it also has a peace garden with a gorgeous labyrinth in the chartres design. one morning when i walked this labyrinth it was so frosty that after each step the coldness of the stone left a frosty footprint as you can see in the photo. each day i met with one of the nuns to chat about how i was doing which was also helpful. i mostly tried to be silent and walk and pray and think but i did read chesterton's biography of st francis while i was there which was a good companion. it was a great way to head into lent...
i got to interview steve bevans at our cms conversations day on mission spirituality and here is the first part. steve has such wisdom about mission - it's always a privilege to hear him sharing it. this is posted at the cms pioneer blog. if you want to hear more about the pioneer training come along to an open day on march 3. good news is that we have just heard that we will be publishing a follow up book to the pioneer gift on the theme of pioneering spirituality - out autumn 2015 - which will have a chapter from steve.
am planning to head over to see martin daws and gav mart on tour on oct 15 in kingston. join us...
singer songwriter and arts curator gavin mart, + young person's poet laureate for wales martin daws - are coming to Kingston with a creative acoustic set that explores what
'it' is at the heart of the artist.
through expressions in songwriting, music, poetry and spoken word gav and martin explore the following questions:
how does the artist express their yearning for an understanding of something bigger?
what does god mean through the eyes of the artist today?
what is 'it' that triggers our creativity?
how is god understood in contemporary culture?
how can we connect with and support local artists within our communities?
i am looking forward to october 14 when we have a day at cms on pioneering spirituality. this follows on from the day we had last year. that was so good we ended up producing the pioneer gift. there are several speakers and workshop leaders. i am particularly chuffed that steve bevans will be with us as he is one of my heroes... the idea of the day is to push out conversation and thinking about pioneering mission about which we are learning lots and have lots more questions. i hope too that we will simultaneously begin to pull together some resources around pioneering spirituality. we'll keep you posted.
following the last worship trick which was music out of the ground, grace produced an amazing labyrinth type experience at greenbelt on the saturday called event horizon (i wasn't involved as i had a ton of other thing going on at greenbelt). it made use of a perfect location for it with an installation called orpheus which slopes down geometrically to a pool of water. the photos are better than a description. there were 8 stopping points on postcards on the journey down and 8 on the way back. and along the way were pieces of music to listen to. it was amazing. and steve has added all of the reflections here along with a description and a set of photos. so a definite worship trick to add to the series 4.
proost now has a us site at proost.us!
for years we have had this cool little thing in the uk called proost which is home to wonderful inspiring resources that have been produced from artists and communities doing creative things. this includes movies, books of authentic liturgies, music, experiences such as the labyrinth and so on. but to access the resources you no longer have to come to the uk site and negotiate foreign currency of pounds - it's all in dollars.
the big deal (and you guys love both big and deal) is that you can subscribe for a hundred dollars for a year and that enables you to log in to the back end of the site and download anything you like.
we have some friends in the usa but not enough! so if you know about us do spread the word - in many ways this is still a hidden gem. but thought you'd like to know...
chris has posted a series of 12 dispatches/short poems that he wrote and has posted on cliff tops at the start of such retreats. they are totally wonderful both for retreat and/or pilgrimage. the reason i have added them on pilgrimage is that i happen to have a series on the go for that and they seem to connect with the wild places and wild spirituality akin to the irish pilgrimage.
here's the first and go here to find all twelve...
There are rumours-
Like smoke signals blurred in desert wind
He is here
Not in metaphor
Not whipped up in the collective madness of charismata
Not just politely suggested by the high drama of religious ritual-
With mud on his shoes...
this statue of a pilgrim is at clonmacnoise in ireland. the site was at the crossroads of the east/west road and the shannon river i.e. bang in the middle of the trade routes. it was founded by st ciaron who only lived there for a year or so but a community was there for hundreds of years (and was ransacked over 40 times by various groups but somehow kept starting over again). this statue reminded me of the one i had seen on lindisfarne a couple of years ago - so powerful and evocative.
i have not done much pilgrimage. i have done plenty of retreats. but they are very different things. a retreat is space and silence and reflection and prayer. a pilgrimage (at least in a group) is conversation, journey, stories, exploration, laughter, prayer, community, place (and guiness!).
at the heart of this pilgrimage was a quest to try and connect with the wild spirit of irish christianity, and to be inspired by the stories and lives of some of the saints. we'd travel to the place, touch, taste, see, experience, imagine it, and hear the stories of the place. we'd have some of our own space at each place, and in several of the places would pray together and reflect on how the stories connected with our own stories. depending on how people like to process things conversations, journalling, group times, reading and some spiritual direction were all part of the mix.
i first came up with the idea for this trip when i read about michael mitton and russ parker's trip to wales a couple of years back. michael's poems caught my imagination and i felt there was something in the stories of the saints that resonated with me, and perhaps with pioneers today. michael and russ agreed to lead a trip for a group of us and so we benfitted so much from their experience and wisdom.
michael wrote a couple of new poems on this trip which he has added to his pages - i can't seem to link directly - so go to his site and click on books and select poems from the drop down menu. here's one of his new ones about sennach whose island we sailed round in a surging sea where we were graced with the site of the fins of a school of dolphins which was amazing
Sennach founded a monastery on the island of Illauntannig, just north of Castlegregory on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Visitors to the island can still see the remains of the monastic community, including some beehive cells, a cross, church and burial ground. Access to the island is not easy!
Your hand that clutches the rim of your coracle
is the same that gently lifts its blessing
on your isle.
Such swells and currents don’t disturb you
for you dream them in your salty sleep.
You feel the surges of God in these waters
divine heaves and sighs
signs of the yearnings of God;
glimpses of the grace of God
in the fin of a passing dophin.
Is that why you set sail to this island
and built your tent from its rough earth?
I see you there, your blistered hand lifting dark stones
one upon the other
transforming these cold rocks into a vibrant home.
This your dysart, beckoning the surf of God
to break over the dry, dry land.
Oh Lord, when I settle too much on my mainland
take me back to these waters.
Let me feel again the movements of the great sea
the surgings of your restless heart.
Let me see the glittering surf
your life breaking through the waters my soul at last in tune with yours.
the feeling captured in the last verse is what i experienced on the pilgrimage - a longing and stirring for the same kind of wild spirit to be at work in me and indeed in cms pioneers and the church. we're tentatively planning another trip for pioneers next year. give me a shout if you are interested.
i have written a reflection for christine sine as part of her lent series over at godspace on giving space for soulwork. here's an extract...
We are all fractured and wounded, more perhaps than we know or like to admit and it is far easier to keep the front stage shiny and bright rather than risk have a look back stage and God forbid make ourselves vulnerable by allowing others to come and have a look back stage. But this journey towards the brokenness of our inner selves is essential if we are to become more fully who we are, which is our life’s work. We talk about this with students as ‘soulwork’. Lent it seems to me is a season that is a gift to us to do some of this journey, this paying attention and soulwork. see here for full article
there are so many resources around for lent now - my advice is to pick one thing and stick with that! if you want to see the things i have linked to over the years i have tagged anything with lent so you can scroll through.
christine sine is prolific in producing resources for both advent and lent. she has a whole range of stuff going on including a new book, lots of blogging and guest bloggers (i will be one), and this 40+ ideas for lent and holy week
we (jenny and i) have janet morley's book with poems for lent to look through at home.
grace are going to be reading through an altar in the world (not especially a lent book but lent is a season for reflecting on what it means to follow christ so will do nicely).
a book i think would be wonderful too is ian adams running over rocks. see beloved life for a whole load of resources around what ian and gail are up to...
make the most of the season anyway!
cms is the community i am a member of. 40 days of yes is another lent resource if you would like something to reflect particularly on mission. i have used it before and i am pretty certain have blogged about it before. but it's another great lent resource and mark berry will be adding a weekly reflection too... oh and it's free!
following oin from my first post about lent resources on proost, we have published another! and it's a first on proost for andy freeman - francis: stories and reflections
This new devotional book comes from Andy's love of St. Francis and includes creative rewritings of the stories of Francis mixed with practical activities, prayers and reflections. There are forty daily devotions in all so it is perfect to accompany Lent but also can be used at any time throughout the year. The book is also accompanied by five original drawings from Andy's daughter Jess.
i always like to have something on the go daily in lent and if you too like that then this fits the bill.
i have neglected to blog about proost here for a while. we have had a bundle of new resources of late. lent has become a really strong season for creativity in worship and spirituality for those on the alternative/emerging end of things. we have gradually built up quite a collection. anyway here's the latest proost news which outlines some resources old and new…
Lent was once described as the "bright sadness". It's a season which embraces every human emotion and every spiritual experience. In this time we learn to hope in pain, to become at peace in turmoil. At Lent we learn to find God in all things. We hope some of the resources available on Proost will help you in this journey.
This month we're launching a wonderful new book by Tim Watson. Old Lost and Broken Dreams is a beautifully moving journey through pain, disappointment and loss through poems, litanies, blessings and prayers. This is a wonderfully inspiring book to help you through Lent as Tim's inspiration is St. John of the Cross' idea of the Dark Night of the Soul - that somehow at our weakest point we learn new maturity in our understanding of God. Tim writes
"And as we journey through life as people of faith we will face all kinds of challenges. Perhaps we will find ourselves feeling like isolated prophets. Perhaps sometimes we will feel like Thomas after the resurrection. Sometimes we will have more questions than answers. Sometimes we will have to wait doggedly for the voice of God or for the leading of the Holy Spirit."
I want to recommend this book to all of you. I found it deeply inspiring as I read the manuscript before publication and I've come back to the poems and prayers again and again since then. I'll be looking to use a poem or prayer each day to help me through Lent. Do take a look.
As well as Tim's new book there are lots of resources in our Lent section of the website. A particularly popular resource is Si Smith's 40 and it's accompanying 40 Book by Si and Chris Goan. These are two inspiring interactions with the story of Jesus in the wilderness with moving words and beautiful illustrations. Each Lent we find loads of people download this resource and love it, coming back to it each year.
Another great resource is Cave by Harry Baker. This is all about seeking God alone and echoes the yearnings and challenges we all find in solitude and isolation. Harry's poetry is incredibly popular and this one is a Proost favourite.
At Lent we often find people seek out Pocket Liturgies on the site to help their community or church travel through the season together. Making Communion from Grace is one of the most popular in this line of Liturgies. Making Communion is the second set of Liturgies from Grace but specifically explores Communion and is packed with creative, innovative approaches to the church's most ancient rite. It also has a long introduction which helpfully shares Grace's story and how they have negotiated a creative approach within the Church of England.
As well as these individual resources you may want to explore the other areas of the website. A Get it Allsubscription is a great way to do this, enabling you to get your hands on everything on the site for one whole year. Why not sign up today?
This is the first of two updates you'll be getting from us this Lent as we have more new resources to launch shortly. Watch this space.
The Proost Team
i was back at st beunos at the weekend for another dose of silence which was like drinking. i found it quite easy to settle back into it. it was a guided retreat which means you have a conversation with a guide once a day. i can't remember what we were talking about that led to it but my guide showed me a painting by sieger koder of the table with christ's hands breaking bread at the front and faces looking towards him. the people round the table are a motley crew - i think they are something like a jew, a prostitute, a beggar, a misfit/clown, a scholar, a rich woman, a migrant. it's a lovely picture of christ's table filled with outsiders. on the wall behind is an image of the prodigal son with the father and son's embrace while the older brother looks on aloof...
i remember when we created the labyrinth at st pauls cathedral how surprised i was that lighting a candle on a laptop by clicking on it with a mouse felt right - it was conducive to prayer, it mediated a spiritual encounter. that was back in 2000 and the world of digital technology has changed enormously...
on saturday at grace at home in the world we were exploring ignatian spirituality and in the grace facebook page is a list of suggestions of resources for people to follow that up. we did an examen at grace and one that was mentioned was an app called examine which i have since added to my phone and intend to try and use. it enables you to do the ignatian examen and it tracks the previous 90 days so you can get a sense of the flow. i'll let you know how i find it. i am making it a worship trick - 50 in series 4.
but it got me wondering what apps people use for prayer and spirtuality on a regular basis. perhaps if you have some you use, you could leave a comment, a tweet, or facebook message? it might also be that you have ideas for an app?! in which case add those as well.
ian adams latest book running over rocks came out over the summer. i read it on holiday (our holiday started out sharing a meal with ian and gail before cycling from south to north devon so it was nice to catch up with ian as well). it's a lovely book of spiritual practices.
there are a number of reasons i like the book.
the first is that i think i have become more and more interested in how to live a life. that is perhaps a glaringly obvious thing to say. is there any other option? in the summer john drane was reflecting with some of our pioneer students that the old adage believe-belong-behave had been reconstructed some years back as belong-believe-behave but now the front foot is perhaps on behave-belong-believe. i can think of a thousand argumenst to have with that phrase anyway which is not the point - the point is that it reminded me that lifestyle or how to live out a life as a human, as a person, in community, following christ, that somehow makes a difference in the world is what many people are seeking after. in other words its a life that is embodied, lived, practised. i certainly am interested in a life of faith that enables me to live in a more christlike, prayerful way, paying attention to the world, god, others.
the second is that i think ian has a great way with language - he seems to talk about faith in a way that is open and welcoming and accessible and creative. i am sure he has thought hard and worked carefully on this. it's no mean feat.
the third is that the practices are really good and helpful. there are 52 in total and they are organised into sections - like earth and body, stillness and movement, possibility and so on. you can dive into any section or any practice. you could pick a practice each week of the year. i think it would make a good book for a community to go through in a season like lent. the practices are also a good mix of ancient tried and tested along with creative and fresh ideas. here's how ian describes practices in the intro
Practices are the earthy business of encountering ideas, then working out how they might take shape in us. They help us move from aspiration to reality. They work slowly over time. We shouldn't expect immediate results, but we can expect that through them the change for good that we seek will come, gradually forming something new within us.
the fourth is that ian has great wisdom. he has soaked himself in much of the understandings of those who have navigated the religious life and draws on it in a way that is accessible but has depth. the section of practices of descent is a good example.
the fifth is that ian has written a poem for each practice so there are over 50 poems which is a delightful addition.
practice takes practise - in other words this is not a book to read like i did - in a week! it's one to try out and practise. in my defence i have kept the book with my journal having read it so that i will come back to many of the practices. it reminds me a little bit of anthony de mello's book sadhana a way to god - which is a book i have come back to so many times with its spiritual exercises.
ian and gail are leading a retreat in may which looks like an absolute bargain if you would like a weekend to be introduced to some of the ideas.
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where i come across creative ideas, liturgies, movies, music tracks, service outlines or anything that strikes me, i add them as worship tricks. i started these in april 2002 when i first began blogging and they have built up over the years so that i am now on the third series. this has proved a pretty popular feature of the blog.