Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

A Tale of Two Cats – Part 1

We have had two cats, Emily and Cuthbert, since they were 7 weeks old. Their tenth birthday was last November. They were brothers from the same litter – Emily is a boy, but was named by a 3 year old friend…it is a long story…

On Thursday 26 June 2014, Cuthbert didn’t come home for breakfast. This was not unusual – we thought he was probably out catching mice on a sunny day and would appear later.

Sadly, he has never come home and we have no idea what happened to him. We miss him a lot, as he was such a big character and such a friendly cat.

Cuthbert in tray

The Disappearing Year


Water going down a plughole

2014 is disappearing, like water down a plug hole. I have never known a year go so quickly.

That is probably why I am just catching up with blog writing at the end of September, when my last post was at Easter.

In my job, the summer is usually a quieter time – but it has not been so this year. I try not to use the language of ‘being busy’ and I work hard to manage my time so that I don’t get into the’ busy trap’ but this year has been full – full of weddings, funerals, people, visiting friends and family, sharing in joys and sorrows and trying to keep on top of emails and desk work. These are mostly good things, but life has been full and I am tired.

Holidays have been short and scarce this year too. I want to take holidays, and try to take them, but in my current role I have to arrange cover for all my services and commitments before I can go away, and that has not worked out. There is simply no one to do that here. I have some possibilities for next year, so hopefully that will change.


Priestly Duties

I am enjoying discovering the poetry of Stewart Henderson at the moment.

This one is for my clergy friends in this week after Easter:

Written for Eric Delve 23.5.96

What should a priest be?
All things to all –
male, female and genderless
What should a priest be?
reverent and relaxed
vibrant in youth
assured through the middle years
divine sage when ageing

What should a priest be?
accessible and incorruptible
abstemious, yet full of celebration,
informed, but not threateningly so,
and far above
the passing soufflé of fashion

What should a priest be?
an authority on singleness
Solomon-like on the labyrinth
of human sexuality
excellent with young marrieds,
old marrieds, were marrieds, never
marrieds, shouldn’t have marrieds,
those who live together, those who live
apart, and those
who don’t live anywhere
respectfully mindful of senior
citizens and war veterans,
familiar with the ravages of arthritis,
osteoporosis, post-natal depression,
anorexia, whooping-cough and nits.

What should a priest be?
all-round family person
counsellor, but not officially because
of the recent changes in legislation,
teacher, expositor, confessor,
entertainer, juggler,
good with children, and
possibly sea-lions,
empathetic towards pressure groups

What should a priest be?
on nodding terms with
Freud, Jung, St John of the Cross,
The Scott Report, The Rave Culture,
The Internet, the Lottery, BSE, and
Anthea Turner,
pre-modern, fairly modern,
post-modern, and, ideally,
Secondary-modern –
if called to the inner city

What should a priest be?
charismatic, if needs must,
but quietly so,
evangelical, and thoroughly
meditative, mystical, but not
New Age.
Liberal, and so open to other voices,
traditionalist, reformer and revolutionary
and hopefully, not on medication
unless for an old sporting injury.

Note to congregations:
If your priest actually fulfils all of the above, and then enters the pulpit one Sunday morning wearing nothing but a shower-cap, a fez, and declares: ‘I’m the King and Queen of Venus, and we shall now sing the next hymn in Latvian, take your partners, please’. –
Let it pass.

Like you and I,
they too sew the thin thread of humanity,
Remember Jesus in the Garden –
beside Himself?

So, what does a priest do?
mostly stays awake
at Deanery synods
tries not to annoy the Bishop
too much
visits hospices, administers comfort,
conducts weddings, christenings –
not necessarily in that order,
takes funerals
consecrates the elderly to the grave
buries children, and babies,
feels completely helpless beside
the swaying family of a suicide.

What does a priest do?
tries to colour in God
uses words to explain miracles
which is like teaching
a millipede to sing, but
even more difficult.

What does a priest do?
answers the phone
when sometimes they’d rather not
occasionally errs and strays
into tabloid titillation,
prays for Her Majesty’s Government

What does a priest do?
tends the flock through time,
oil and incense,
would secretly like each PCC
to commence
with a mud-pie making contest
sometimes falls asleep when praying
yearns, like us, for
heart-rushing deliverance

What does a priest do?
has rows with their family
wants to inhale Heaven
stares at bluebells
attempts to convey the mad love of God
would like to ice-skate with crocodiles
and hear the roses when they pray.

How should a priest live?

How should we live?

As priests,
transformed by The Priest
that death prised open
so that he could be our priest
martyred, diaphanous and
matchless priest.

What should a priest be?
What should a priest do?
How should a priest live?

Stewart Henderson From ‘Limited Edition’ published by Plover Books

Easter Blessings

Wishing you a very Happy Easter.

May you experience the wonder of the empty tomb and the joy of knowing the risen Jesus for yourself.

(Pic from:


God who is Present in each Moment…

This is a poem I have been reading and pondering through Lent.

I shared it with a group of people from church recently. We talked about it and used it for our prayers. They were all in their 80s, and they all talked about learning to take time to be ‘mindful’ in life – to pause and acknowledge that God is present in each moment of our lives.

The Bright Field by R.S. Thomas

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

The theologian, Paula Gooder, uses this poem in her book, ‘Everyday God’, which picks up the theme of God in ordinary life, and is a helpful and very readable book.

PS I am just back from a retreat which was led by Paula Gooder, and was excellent. More of that in another post…

A Poem to Ponder

I came across this poem recently, and it has stayed with me.

I thought you might like to discover it too.

by Stuart Henderson

And He Who each day
reveals a new masterpiece in the sky
and Whose joy
can be seen in the eyelashes of a child
Who when he hears of our smug indifference
can whisper an ocean lashing fury
and talk tigers into padding roars.
This my God
Whose breath is in the wings of eagles
Whose power is etched in the crags of mountains
It is When I will meet
in Whose Presence I will find tulips and clouds
Kneeling martyrs and trees
the whole vast praising of his endless creation
and he will grant the uniqueness
that eluded me
in my earthly bartering with Satan
That day when He will erase the painful gasps of my ego
and I will sink my face into the wonder of his glory love
and I will watch planets converse with sparrows
On that day
when death is finally dead

A Japanese Zen Garden

A Japanese zen gardenI have been enjoying looking at pictures of Japanese dry landscape gardens, also known as Zen gardens. The varying combinations of circles and lines in their designs would work well as quilting patterns.

I am starting to work on that idea…more to follow…watch this space in a week or two.

An Encounter with the Police



I was pulled over by the police this morning in a village near home. Two cars with blue lights flashing surrounded me and 3 officers came up to the car when I stopped. They said that my number plate had shown up as a stolen car.

They then realised that it should be a fast Audi…

 and not an elderly Land Rover…

After checking over the car, they asked for ID, and all got very embarrassed when they saw I was a vicar.

They were then more embarrassed to discover that the number recognition software had read an 8 as a 6 on the numberplate (i.e. their detector has number dyslexia).

They waved me off saying, ‘well, it will be a good sermon story…’

Off Roading Vicar in the Dales

I had an unintentional off roading adventure last week.

The valley road along Swaledale is narrow and has steep banks down to the river in some parts. It has recently been resurfaced for the Tour de France race which is coming through in July, and this has been done with shiny, city-style tarmac – which has some grip when dry and not much grip when wet. It also does not allow water to soak through, so there is standing water on a lot of it.

Last week, we had some snow, and the water layer froze. I was driving slowly and carefully in the Land Rover, but ice can be tricky even with 4 wheel drive…I ended up driving down a muddy bank, and parking the Land Rover in some woodland by the river. This is where I ended up:


I was going very slowly and had time to decide where I was going to head for, so I managed to avoid the trees and park it in the mud. I am fine and the car only has very minor damage.

I walked back up the bank and hitched a lift home, and the next day the car was recovered by Jed and friends from Dorant 4×4 in Reeth: They have looked after me and the car, and have followed the Vicar’s 4×4 adventures, since I first bought a Land Rover from them. The pictures on this page were taken by them when they went to bring the car home.

Here is a picture of the recovery. Once they got it out of the mud, they were able to drive it home.


Water, Water, Everywhere…

Water, Water, Everywhere...

The news is full of storms and flooding and destruction caused by the weather. The people of the Somerset Levels have been hit very badly, and there seems no end to it.

I have been praying for all affected, but sometimes it is hard to find the words to pray for such big events.

The Psalms are often useful here. They contain ancient poetry, covering the whole range of human emotion:

From Psalm 13 – How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

From Psalm 46 –

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

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