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Category Archives: meditation

Painting the future

Time & Eternity

 

The artist opened her paint box, dampened her brush and started. Before her was a handsome half-timbered house complete with moat and gatehouse. She worked on in that hot summer’s day. The picture developed but did not show the many visitors who trooped passed. She disliked their intrusion with garish tops and shorts into this piece of Tudor history.

Then she sighted an old man in straw hat and linen jacket stop and gaze at the house. He was perfect for inclusion just at the bridge over the moat.
Soon she finished her work as the shadows drifted towards afternoon. So, she collected her gear and arose. To her surprise, there beside her was the gentleman she had portrayed.

 

They talked, and she asked if he knew the house well.

‘Yes’ he replied ‘many years ago I lived here’.
‘My uncle once owned it and I stayed each summer as a boy ‘. ‘Do you miss it?’ asked the artist.

‘Yes, but you can’t turn the clocks back. Now it’s the property of the tourists who pay for the upkeep’.

 

He paused and said: ‘Why don’t you paint it again including the visitors-that’s the picture of the future?’

 

A few minutes later he left with the first picture and the painter started again remembering that time runs in only one direction.

 

 

 

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Summer Postcards

Here are some reflections I wrote last summer on time, change and hope.

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Click here to read this collection in Wattpad.

 

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Going backwards with Starbucks

As I sat in the Starbucks today I had a sudden realisation. For a quickA_small_cup_of_coffee glance around confirmed that I was the only ‘leisure’ coffee drinker in the place. Since in this coffee house outside the Metro Centre in Newcastle, the customers were all surrounded by laptops, netbooks and phones. Business meetings predominated but singletons tapped furiously on keyboards surrounded by A4 pads creating undoubtedly the next… Starbucks

 

It seems then that these specialist coffee outlets have rediscovered the Georgian Coffee House. Actually the first coffee house in England was established in Oxford in 1652. However the idea soon spread to London. In time they became business hubs with no less than Lloyds of London, the London Stock Exchange, Christies and Sotherby’s all having their origins in these establishments. Whether they had the same bored and surly staff that I encountered in Starbucks today history doesn’t make unclear.

 

However, the earlier Restoration coffee houses had another clientele; because in that turbulent era they were the centres of political agitation and dissention. So much so, Charles II was all for closing them down. A reputation they were to reinvent in 19th Century Europe where they brought artist, writers and intellectuals together for discussion and debate. Now if Starbucks and its ilk were do that, we may indeed see a revisiting of something else – fresh thought to go with the fresh coffee.

 

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Fishermen among Men

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Yesterday I was wandering around the harbour at Arbroath – that’s a small town with a long tradition of fishing here in eastern Scotland. Despite being pulled in every direction by my dog, I chatted to a fisherman mending his creels. Apparently, it has been a bad year what with the poor catches and the storms damaging his gear. In fact, pointing to a mound of creels he said every one had needed mending.

It turns out that these fishermen can have down as many as a thousand creels at a time. These original net-boxes are roped together in groups and are lifted about every 4 days. As a result it must be a full time job just heaving up the their buoyed lines, replacing bait and mending the damage. Work that seems to go on in all weathers despite the dangers.

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And that makes me realise how lucky I am to be behind a screen being creative. Yet I wonder what I am not maintaining today?

 

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Eulogies to Life

Today I heard another eulogy at a memorial service. With time you pick up certain patterns. Firstly there is a broad outline of the life celebrated. Then we hear  the funny stories – the little events that bring smiles of remembrance and love. But there is always mention of the trials and tribulations faced and usually conquered. The whole story of each life then is a mixture, an amalgam and a pastiche that is bitter sweet.

Well this afternoon’s service included the playing of the theme from Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse – a British detective series based around Oxford. And for the first time I noticed the depth of this music. It was a bitter-sweet tune which seemed to encapsulate not just the funny and the sad but the mystery, contradiction and enigma which is  life. I was going to comment of this fact. But left it, for the music had spoken the better for me.

 

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A vexing day

Yesterday was a vexing day! By all accounts it was a vexing day. It started with my car not just failing its annual road test, it also requires a very expensive repair. This bad news was followed by a series of meetings each with its vexing moments. and all this was punctuated by those silent calls probably spewing out from call centres with dubious purpose.

 

Yet through out the various annoyances,  I saw something else. It was flashes of people in need. In fact, folk more vexed than I was and with much better reason.

 

The day ended with me watching ‘My house in Umbria’ in between phone calls. It is a gentle comedy which nevertheless deals with many difficult life issues. And in it we see the various characters dealing with their own and others’ brokenness. In the end, it is their mutual acceptance of what sometimes is vexing beyond solution that they find acceptance – they find healing – they find contentment at least for the day.

 

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A Marketing Strategy

Luke 10.1-9

Acts 3.1-10

Not so long ago Black & Decker were preparing for a large promotional campaign. And to get the angle just right for their advertising, they sent out market researchers to find what ‘Joe Soap’ actually wanted. They returned with the discouraging news that people didn’t want drills they wanted holes. In other words, they weren’t interested in power tools only what they can do for them.

Now that was not a surprising discovery really. Few of us get on a bus to have a ride in a Van Hool special – we get on to go somewhere. And here is an important point for the church. Because it is often said that those in church don’t want to evangelise others they just what full and vibrant services. On the other hand, those outside Christianity don’t want uninvited missionaries selling them religion on their door-steps. Where then is the answer?….

To read the full sermon, please click here.

 

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