Every year everything I have ever learned in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss whose other side is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know. Mary Oliver: In Blackwater Woods I was listening to Radio 3 over breakfast on Wednesday. Bryn Terfel was interviewed and … Continue reading Lass auch Dir die Brust bewegen, Liebchen, höre mich!
[Please read Part 1 first.] 2. Living in a Desert A hospital is parallel universe. Even as a member of staff it is possible to be admitted by the front doors and have an extended stay, being able to wash, have a haircut, buy food, enjoy café society, eat, and even sleep there – as … Continue reading Evanescence (II)
To keep death before one's eyes daily. Rule of St Benedict, Chapter IV 1. The Hospital is a Desert As I have written here before, I was a hospital chaplain for about 8 years. It was difficult work and I struggled, but I count this time as a blessing. I encountered God on many occasions. … Continue reading Evanescence (I)
The God of the Bible is ever an elusive one. The only guarantee of divine availability is God's own promise to be present to those who empty themselves in perfect trust.Belden Lane The Solace of Fierce Landscapes p.63 God, I have been thinking about trusting You, and what trust means, for some months, if not … Continue reading Trust Me
Prayer is a subversive activity. It involves a more or less open act of defiance against any claim by the current regime. Eugene Peterson: The Contemplative Pastor, p.10 The 'claim of the current regime' is multiple and multiply overwhelming: improve: today's achievement is never good enough tomorrow (something I learnt from working in the NHS); … Continue reading Prayer in the intersticies
I go to a patient in a side room. This elderly lady, about whom I know nothing, is dying and, as it turns out, has less that 24 hours left to live. She is unconscious, lying on her side, one eye and her mouth slightly open, breathing softly, unresponsive to my voice or gentle touch. … Continue reading A Fall of Snow
In the last few days, I have sat with two people with failing memories. One could not remember that their spouse had died in the last few hours, could not remember being there, the time and place, the last conversation. The other, who plaintively, anxiously asks for a sibling who visits every afternoon with a … Continue reading Failure of Memory
When they fetch up in hospital because of an illness or old age, some religious people ask, "Why is this happening to me?" and might add "I've been a good person." Some have never thought about their mortality. Illness takes them by surprise. They have made no preparation. Illness and death is an affront to … Continue reading On illness and punishment