Wednesday, 27 April 2016

thou wast within

Conversion of St.Augustine
Fra Angelico

Belatedly I loved thee,
O Beauty so ancient and so new
belatedly I loved thee.
For see, thou wast within
and I was without,
and I sought thee out there.
Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly
among the lovely things thou hast made.
Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee.
These things kept me far from thee;
even though they were not at all
unless they were in thee.

The Confessions of St. Augustine

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

letter to Lulu

“To God how did you get invented? From Lulu xo ”

"Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn't expected.
I know he doesn't usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf.
Lots of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan"

Extract from a letter to Lulu, aged 6, written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, subsequently published in The Times on Good Friday 2011

image : Alice Christie

Monday, 25 April 2016

never give up prayer

Never give up prayer,
and should you find dryness and difficulty,
persevere in it for this very reason.
God often desires to see
what love your soul has,
and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.

St. John of the Cross

image : Alice Christie

Sunday, 24 April 2016

your continual help

Monasterio de San Jerónimo, Granada

Almighty God,
who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ
have overcome death
and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:
grant that, as by your grace going before us
you put into our minds good desires,
so by your continual help
we may bring them to good effect;
through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

[Collect : Fifth Sunday of Easter]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

image : Alice Christie

Friday, 22 April 2016

the infallible sign

Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

image : Alice Christie

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

his merciful ighe

Christ Pantocrator
Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

For not what thou arte,
ne what thou hast ben,
beholdeth God with his merciful ighe;
bot that that thou woldest be.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

thy sea is so great

O God, thy sea is so great
and my boat is so small.

"This Old Breton prayer was given to new submarine captains by Admiral Hyman Rickover who gave this brass plaque to the President. President Kennedy favored this quote and used it in his remarks at the dedication of the East Coast Memorial to the Missing at Sea, May 23, 1963. He kept the plaque on his desk in the Oval Office."

from the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Monday, 18 April 2016

a slow train

Train Landscape (1940)
Eric Ravilious

"I find myself perfectly content in a slow train that crawls through green fields stopping at every station. Just because the service is so slow and therefore in most people’s eyes bad, these trains are almost empty — I get through a lot of reading and sometimes say my prayers. A solitary train journey I find quite excellent for this purpose."

C.S. Lewis

Sunday, 17 April 2016

one flock

The Return of the Flock, Laren
Anton Mauve

Risen Christ,
faithful shepherd of your Father's sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.

[Collect : Fourth Sunday of Easter]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 15 April 2016

alone God sufficeth

Sound II
Anthony Gormley
Undercroft, Winchester Cathedral

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

from the breviary of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
translated by H. W. Longfellow

image : Alice Christie

Thursday, 14 April 2016


St. Mary's, Thorpe

When Father D arrivs at the altar to celebrate the service a little girl is walking beside him. He holds her up so that she can see us in the pews and introduces her: "This is my niece and today I am doing some emergency babysitting because her daddy is at a job interview." She looks at us with her great dark eyes and then sits in a tiny chair beside him and reads a book so quietly that we almost forget that she is there. Except that we don't because her presence is a source of light throughout the service. At the end she solemnly processes out, holding her uncle's hand, and we can hear the joyful sound of her chatter in the vestry.

Matthew 19.14
...Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me...for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

the timeless moment

St. Andrew's, Thornhaugh

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

extract from 'Little Gidding'
T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

fold me back to you

Leave me alone with God as much as may be.
As the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore,
Make me an island, set apart,
alone with you, God, holy to you.

Then with the turning of the tide
prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond,
the world that rushes in on me
till the waters come again and fold me back to you.

Prayer of St. Aidan (d. 651)

Monday, 11 April 2016

persevere in prayer

Horace Knowles
illustration © The British and Foreign Bible Society 1972

Persevere in prayer, with mind awake and thankful heart.

Letter of Paul to the Colossians 4.2
The New English Bible

Sunday, 10 April 2016

the sight of the risen Lord

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus
Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy

Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

[Collect : Third Sunday of Easter]

Friday, 8 April 2016

trew glory

Seascape with Storm Coming On
J M W Turner (1840)

Photo: © Tate, London 2016

O Lord God, when thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through His for the finishing of Thy work laid down His life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

This prayer, commonly known as 'Drake's Prayer' is based on an extract from a letter by Sir Francis Drake written from his ship ELIZABETH BONAVERTURE, lying at anchor at Cape Sakar on 17 May 1587. It was adapted by Eric Milner-White, Dean of York, for an anthology published by Oxford University Press in 1941.

Thursday, 7 April 2016


There was a new person in the congregation today. It was very touching to see how people tried to make him feel welcome without intruding. I wished I could share some of the peace that I have found in that sunlit space and I hope that he felt relief from whatever impulse made him open the door and step over the threshold.

Monday, 4 April 2016

the road ahead

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

Thomas Merton
Thoughts in Solitude

Sunday, 3 April 2016

open the doors of our hearts

Door, Salisbury Cathedral

Risen Christ,
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father.

[Collect : Second Sunday of Easter]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

image : Alice Christie

Saturday, 2 April 2016

a doorway into thanks

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Mary Oliver
Thirst (2006)

image : Alice Christie