Author Archive

The most important things

March 5, 2018

onionsWho is to say what is important and what isn’t? My diary for this week is full of interesting meetings and varied plans.

Yesterday though, I met a neighbour in the supermarket and we had a conversation, whilst standing by the onions, about grief and bereavement and kindness. The conversation lasted only a couple of minutes, but I guess it may turn out to be the most important thing of my week.

We spend so much time planning and being busy, and then these tiny gems of opportunity come our way in the most ordinary of situations, and we are given a choice – to recognise the value of the moment or to rush on past.


Life comes back

February 28, 2018

winter 2018London rarely sees snow, so yesterday and today have a magical quality with quite a good falling of powdery snow lying across most of the city. It is beautiful! It is also a reminder that winter hasn’t gone yet – the signs of spring are there but the cold has certainly returned!

The spring flowers peeping out through the snow in our garden are a good Lenten reminder. Sometimes life can get a bit buried, a bit overwhelmed and frozen – we can feel that we are in the depths of winter. These little signs of life through the frozen earth tell us that the pull of Spring is stronger – Life comes back. Lent ends in resurrection.


The world is DEFINITELY getting better

February 4, 2018

I know someone who is a profound pessimist. Life, the world and even their cup is at least half empty, getting worse, going to the dogs! I, on the other hand, am an optimist… I am full of hope. I almost can’t help hoping. I naturally see the potential in things and find it easy to find a positive side to life.

Another thing that my friends know about me – I hate plastic. Mostly I hate it because it gets everywhere and causes such pollution and destruction, but I also hate it because it is so unavoidable. (Recently I discovered that there is even plastic in teabags!)

Turtle and Plastic in the Ocean

Imagine then the effect on me of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 documentary series – the incredible and at times jaw-dropping beauty of the planet and the impact of plastics even in the deepest parts of our oceans. I think all who have seen that documentary series must surely have been incredibly moved by it.

Which brings me to the title of this post – as human beings we seem capable of immense destruction and carelessness, but also of tremendous compassion and a capacity to change

. Here in the UK countless companies, individuals and even the government have begun the steps towards change – who knows whether we will as a world community have the courage of our convictions, but our growing awareness is a great sign of hope!

At peace with myself

January 27, 2018

One of our neighbours suffers with chronic illness and from time to time calls round to have a coffee and a chat. Recently we were having a conversation about my ministry with young people, and as I explained some of what my work involves we began to talk about the challenge that many young people face in coming to a sense of their own self worth.

The conversation moved on to how and where we find meaning and purpose in our lives, and how many of us define ourselves by what we do. For my neighbour living with chronic illness, ‘doing’ and achieving are very limited. Their sense of purpose has to be rooted somehow in their own inherent value as a person.

This got me thinking about illness, infirmity, memory loss, old age… and the challenge of coming to a sense of inner worth which does not rely on any external. This isn’t a task for our old age but one that we must begin from early on… constantly challenging all that says ‘I am only worthy if I can be productive’.

Our faith tells us over and over again that we are loved, forgiven, chosen and called; that we don’t need to earn Gods love; and that we can never fall beyond it. The Spiritual Exercises invite us to rest in that realisation, letting our action and service be a response of love rather than a required sacrifice.


As We Are – praying the First Week of the Exercises

January 24, 2018

The Principle and Foundation begins the Exercises of St Ignatius, leading us to a deep understanding of who we are and what we are created for.

Then as we move through the First Week (and Week is a fairly loose term meaning something more akin to ‘period of time’ than actually 7 days!) we look at ourselves AS WE ARE – coming to recognise and accept ourselves as both sinful, flawed individuals and individuals who are personally loved by God.

The recognition that God loves me the way I am, rather than a false sense that God would love me if I were more perfect, holy, kind etc frees me. And this freedom leads me to gratitude and a desire to respond to the love I experience.

There is a little part of the Disney film Moana which reminds me of this transformation when we understand God’s loving acceptance and forgiveness. In this clip we see Moana confront Te Kā, the demon who has morphed from the goddess Te Fiti when Te Fiti’s heart was stolen. As Moana sees the truth beyond the external demon she is enabled to restore the heart of Te Fiti. CLICK the LINK to watch the clip




January 17, 2018

do I 
listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
speaking to me
last words.

(The Gift: Poems by Hafiz.)
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

Listening is a skill, a gift, a spiritual discipline.

Deep listening requires that I step out of myself and hear a person not for what the conversation gives me (information, insight etc) but for what the person really wants to communicate. We are challenged in listening to constantly suspend judgement, presumption and expectation as we wait for the truth of the other to be revealed.

The poem by Hafiz speaks to me of the attitude of openness that is called for… to wait with longing for what the other person is going to reveal.

Of course listening isn’t only passive (or else the person may as well just talk to a wall!) – once we have heard then we are called back into ourselves as listener to offer our way of reflecting what we have heard as a gift for the other person. They receive their truth refracted through us… opened up in a different way for them.

New Year and a fresh opportunity

January 12, 2018

New-Years-Resolutions1So many of us begin the new year with great hopes and expectations. We set out with all sorts of plans to reform our lives, live justly, lose weight, have a balanced and healthy lifestyle, visit our friends, be kind to our neighbours etc etc etc

By mid-January we are exhausted and realise that it is going to be a bit more of an uphill struggle than we thought!

So are New Year’s Resolutions a waste of time? I don’t think so. I think that there is something wonderfully Ignatian about the idea of a new year’s resolution – they prompt us to get in touch with the person we desire to be (sometimes on a bit of a superficial level admittedly), they create a greater awareness of the way we really are, and they help us to realise that transformation isn’t easy and certainly can’t be done all on our own.

This new year lets stay with at least one of our resolutions, even if we fail and fail at it… let it teach us about the person we wish to be, and let it help us to act out of our best self. Let the failures be opportunities to turn to a greater reliance on God and let the successes bring us JOY!


January 8, 2018

Over the last couple of weeks we have focused at different points on the naming of Jesus;  Emmanuel – the God who is with us; wonderful counsellor; mighty God, prince of peace.

On January 3rd we celebrated the wonderful feast of the Holy name of Jesus – the One who Saves…

and then today, as we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus we hear God name Jesus as “my Beloved”. What a powerful moment this is in anyone’s life – to know themselves named as beloved.

As we begin this new year, may we live in the assurance that we, with and through Jesus are the beloved of God.



Incarnate presence

January 5, 2018

The homily in our parish at Christmas began something like this:

“At Christmas we don’t celebrate the coming of God into the world…”

Needless to say many of the parishioners sat up and paid attention!

The homily continued by reminding us;

God was always in the world. God was always present and could be encountered in the world. (We know the story of the burning bush, or the pillar of fire and cloud, of the still small voice in the gentle breeze…). No, at Christmas we recognise our dignity as human beings, children of God. We recognise that Christ is completely present within the world, within our humanity.  This recognition of the incarnate, indwelling God invites us to change our perspective ‘on everything and everyone…. every moment has the capacity to reveal God to us.

God is to be found in all things. I like this little quote from Rumi which speaks to me of the mystery of Christmas.

The source of now  is here – Rumi

Discernment – when unsure

November 20, 2017

Ignatius talks of three ‘times’ of discernment; the first refers to moments of great clarity; the second, to times of inner conflict between attraction to two or more good choices. The third ‘time’ that Ignatius refers to is when we don’t particularly feel drawn to one thing above another, in fact there seems to be little going on inside, and we can feel a bit lost in the decision we need to make.

Ignatius makes a number of suggestions to help move us from this state towards a decision.

The first help…advice

Consider a person you have never met before but who is trying to make this decision. What advice would you give to them? How might you talk with them about the decision.

Many of us are much better at advising others than at knowing what to do ourselves, so hearing the advice we would give can help us to move forward and follow our own advice!