Today I am extremely honoured to be receiving an Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Through my book, CBBC programme and my blog I have endeavoured to bear testimony to Jesus as my sustainer, Lord and saviour in the hope it will bring encouragement to others.
As you all know silence is my natural habitat. But usually I am surrounded by noise and chatter. Whilst I love being part of all the hubbub of family and school life, I also cherish time to be quiet and still with Jesus.
In lockdown we have gone for a walk every day, and at some point in the walk we have set the timer for 2 minutes so that we can be still and quiet. Being silent and still in God’s presence surrounded by His creation has been a blessing to us all, and one of the highlights of my day.
Exploring different aspects of our walk I have written two contrasting poems, a freeform poem for the beginning of the walk, and a Terza Rima sonnet for our time in the woods. Below there is also a small relaxation piece I have written to accompany the 2 minutes I recorded in the woods the other day, in the hope it will bless you too.
Like a faulty tap we splutter from the door,
Flailing limbs, squeezing, hopping, stamping,
“Wait for me!” Shambolic convergence,
Wheelchair propelled uphill, the nucleus
Of heavy heads full of:
Virus, news, statistics, death.
Pausing to marvel at lambs gambolling,
Frolicking, blissfully unaware in creation’s
Continuing, unremitting, unabating
Travelling the road, sisters rambling on,
Wellies stomping the tarmac river,
Questions flowing in unending curiosity:
What flower is this?
But how is the virus spreading?
Why is a buttercup different to celandine?
Will Jon-Jon be ok?
Reconnecting Walk (A Terza Rima Sonnet)
As guests upon the path we lightly tread,
Stooping under boughs of sentinel oak,
Bluebell’s rippling lake before us spread.
Empty; we immerse and plunge in to soak
Our wearied encumbered souls breathe deep,
At senses banquet, rejuvenate hope.
Silencing internal noise, outward speech,
Retuning to birdsongs insistent call,
Faint hearts are slowed as the Creator seeps
His natural balm our bodies enthral,
The soft peace of His whisper transcends,
Harmonised by insect’s tiny waltz,
Hearing, “Everything shall be well with all,”
As guests upon the path we lightly tread.
First get yourself comfy either sitting or lying down. Then as you become aware of your breathing imagine you are exhaling out all your worries and everything that jostles and fills your mind and feel yourself relax. Be aware of your body starting at your toes let them become still, floppy and heavy allow that feeling to work its way up slowly in to your feet ,ankles, legs taking your time let it gradually carry on up into your body, arms, neck and head. As you inhale, bringing life to your body, imagine it is the breath of God filling you and making you new. Allow yourself to be renewed by Him.
Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and the birthday of the church, and it felt especially weird not to be in the church building, but of course just because we can’t meet in person doesn’t mean church is cancelled. So yesterday we listened to a radio service, watched our church on Facebook live, listened to a family prayer adventure podcast and joined a celebration event on Zoom. Thank goodness for modern technology enabling us to celebrate together!
With church happening in our homes it is perhaps easier to transfer the messages of Jesus from the service into our lives, though being with immediate family 24/7 it is sometimes more challenging to put it into practice!
This year I got a dose of my own medicine. Prior to lockdown even being on the horizon, I was asked to write a minute’s reflection on ‘offer’ for the Thy Kingdom Come initiative. Watching the finished result, voiced over ably by my sister Susannah and my friend Alaric, I realised I needed to hear and understand again how God’s Holy Spirit can transform our offering however meagre it may be. For me at the moment that means offering God what I can without being able to go out and meet people, trying to be a vessel for Jesus’ love within the limitations of the situation we are in.
My prayer is that we will all be filled with more of the Holy Spirit at this time.