Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Unborn Child

Image of a ten week old Foetus by Suparna Sinha

Before Birth
I knew nothing
I grew
Miraculously in a watery pool
I was alive and yet was not born
I was asleep yet did not dream
I was safe
Protected in my warm tomb
I was at the beginning
Of a new life
I did not understand
And after the calm dark world
Suddenly I was thrust
into light and fear.

As the theme for December has been children I thought I would finish with this anonymous verse from an undated and unknown source which I had pasted into my scrapbook sometime in the 1980's.
It made me think, I hope it reaches out to you too.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Ask, Seek, Knock.

Old  Door, Parish Church of St.Thomas the Martyr, Oxford, England.  Photo. Bill Nichols

And so I say to you:  Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find: knock, and the door will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to him who knocks.

Would any of you fathers give his son a snake when he asks for a fish?

Or would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children.  How much more, then, the Father in Heaven will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

                     'Good News For Modern Man', Luke 11: 9 - 13     (see also Matthew 7: 7 - 12 )

When I was a child I remember having two picture postcards - one with a picture of a closed door with the above quotation and another with a picture of Jesus surrounded by children with the quotation from Luke 18: 15-17 (see my blog for the 20th. December).  When I was unhappy they were my comfort and promise for the future.  I no longer have the cards but I have the memory.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Peace and Joy

I would like to wish everyone Peace and Joy this Christmas

Mir i radost' v eto Rozhdestvo

Frieden und Feude dieses Weihnachten

Myri radist' v tse Risdvo
Pokoj i Radose to Boze Narodzenie

Paix et la Joie ce Noel
Vrede en Vreugde deze Kerst

Santi aura Khusi isa Krisamasa
Pace e gioia questo Natale

Paz y alegria en esta Navidad
Eirini kai Chara afta ta Christougenna

Pax et gaudium hoc Natalis

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Suffer the Little Children

Some people brought their babies to Jesus to have Him place His hands on them.  But the disciples scolded them for doing so.
But Jesus called the children to Him, and said: "Let the children come to me!  Do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Remember this!  Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."

                                                              Good News For Modern Man - Luke 18.15-17

Please pray for all the children  suffering through violence, conflict and war.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Your Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

                                  From 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, 11 December 2014

God's Lent Child

Red sandstone memorial.  Photo by MMB

"I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine," God said -
"For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years
or forty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back
Take care of him for Me?"

"He'll bring his charms to gladden you
And (should his stay be brief) -
You'll have all your memories
As a solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught below
I want this child to learn."

"I've looked this whole world over
In my search for teachers true
And from the things that crowd life's lane
I have chosen YOU.
Now will you give him all your love
Nor think the labour vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?"

"I fancied that I heard them say,
Dear God - Thy will be done,
For all the joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we'll run.
We will shelter him with tenderness
We'll love him for while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.
But should Thy Angels call for him
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand."


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Take My Life

Take My Life  (1874)

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it thine:
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is thine own:
It shall be thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for thee.

Frances R. Havergal (1836-1879)  English religious poet and hymn writer.            

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Camphill Prayers 3

Be present at our table, Lord,
Be here and everywhere adored.
Thy creatures bless,
and grant that we
May feast in paradise with Thee.


Bread does not nourish thee,
What feedeth thee in bread
Is God's eternal Word,
His Spirit and His life.


Earth who has given all this to us,
Sun who has ripened all this for us,
O earth so dear, O Sun so dear,
We never shall forget you here.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014


When I was young I always asked -
When and how and what and why?
How many stars? Why skylarks sing?
How far away the sky?

When I grew up I did not like
The questions youth asked me:
How can I know the truth of God?
How solve this mystery?

When will the world have justice?
When will the world see peace?
How can a loving God allow
Cruelty to increase?

Now I am old; my hair is white;
I totter on the brink.
No questions come to taunt me now.
I only have to think....

Where will I go, when I go?
What will happen to me?
What is salvation, nirvana, moksha?
What then will I see?

A voice comes through the cloud ahead -
A voice so clear and true -
'Relax, my friend, my dear old friend,
I will take care of you.'

So now I do not ask or wonder,
I do not even think.
I just relax in His dear arms,
From His sweet peace I drink.

                                             Fr Roger Lesser - Catholic priest in India.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Thought for Today

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.

                               Wm. Wordsworth.  Ode - Intimations of Immortality (1807) st.7

A pebble, thrown into the mighty sea,
Sinks, and disturbs not its tranquillity:
No ocean, but a shallow pool, the man,
Whom very little wrong disquiet can.

Two more small entries in my scrap-book.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saint Hilda

Saint Hilda (or Hild) of Whitby (c614 - 680), born an Anglo-Saxon princess, 2nd. daughter of Hereric, nephew of Edwin of Northumbria, and his wife Breguswith. She was an important figure in the conversion of the English to Christianity She is the Patron Saint of learning and culture, particularly poetry.
The Venerable Bede tells us that she died on 17th.November 680AD so in the Roman Catholic Church her feast-day is the 17th., but in some of the Anglican Communion it is the 18th. and in the Church of England it is the 19th. of November.  Whichever date you choose please celebrate, and learn more about, the life of Saint Hilda.

O God whose blessed Son became poor that we through His poverty might be rich: deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that, following the example of Thy servant Hilda, we may serve Thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the world to come.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

O God of peace, by whose grace the Abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church.  Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and Thy gracious will be done through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


                                               Photo of Mount Everest by Kerem Barut

God, the mountains point to your glory.
Their vastness and wildness remind me of your power and my weakness.
I trust in your protection and your guidance.
Your love reaches into the skies.

                                        Marcus Braybrooke (Clergyman, interfaith activist and author)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday

Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK; services and parades are being held at Cenotaphs and War Memorials all around the country.  Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) or Veterans' Day in the USA is on Tuesday 11th..

Poppy Cascade, MetroCentre Gateshead. Photo by MMB

     "We Shall Keep the Faith."  (November1918)

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of the dead,
Fear not that ye have died for nought,
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

Written by Moina Belle Michael (1869-1944)  US professor and humanitarian who conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in World War 1.

The poem was inspired after reading John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Field"  (see my blog of November 11th.2013)

White Poppy for Peace

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

In All Shrines

O Spirit, I worship Thee in all shrines.  Into the temple of peace come Thou, O Lord of Joy!  Enter my shrine of meditation, O Bliss God, Sanctify me with Thy presence.

Eternal Allah, hover over the lone minaret of my holy aspiration.  The mosque of my mind exudes a frankincense of stillness.

On the altar of my inner vihara I place flowers of desirelessness.  Their chaste beauty is Thine, O Spirit.

In a tabernacle not made with hands, I bow before the sacred ark and vow to keep Thy commandments.

Heavenly Father, in an invisible church built of devotion granite, receive Thou my humble heart offerings, daily renewed by prayer.

                                                             Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952)

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The day Thou gavest,Lord

A family member, in the USA, shared on Facebook that a local school had stopped pupils from holding a prayer meeting before morning lessons because of the objection of the parent of one of the pupils.  No one was obliged to join in.  I understand that the School Board have now reversed that decision.  Common sense has prevailed.
This brought me to reflect on my own school days (1941-51) when the whole school would gather in the hall for morning prayers before lessons and then gathered again at the end of the afternoon for a prayer and a hymn.
In one school I attended the last hymn of the day was always the same - it was sung in a quiet, gentle way after which we filed out in silence.  This is the hymn I so fondly remember.

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
the darkness falls at Thy behest;
to Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy Church unsleeping,
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping,
and rests not now by day or night.

As o'er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun, that bids us rest, is waking
our brethren 'neath the western sky,
and hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord: Thy throne shall never,
like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

                                                             John Ellerton (1826-93)

Monday, 27 October 2014

Only God I saw

In the market, in the cloister, only God I saw,
In the valley and on the mountain, only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favour and in fortune - only God I saw.
In prayer and in fasting, in praise and contemplation,
In the religion of the Prophet - only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes, only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes, I saw most clearly,
But when I looked with God's eyes, only God I saw.
I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo! I was the All-Living, only God I saw.

                                                           by an 11th. century Sufi poet.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Our Mother

This is the statue of Diana of Ephasus in the Sir John Soan Museum,London which inspired the following words by Norman Iles as published in She magazine April 1986.

Our Mother, which art in earth,
Heart-loved is thy name.
Thy kindness come, thy way be known,
On earth, as in sea and sky.
Give us this day thy daily bread,
And encourage us to our fruition,
As we encourage our own children.
Lead us into happiness,
And deliver us from despair.
For thine is the creation,
The power, and the beauty,
For women, and men,Forever.

                                         Artemis and Fawn.  Statue in the Vatican collection.
                               The Greek Goddess Artemis was known to the Romans as Diana.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Beatitudes for Friends of the Deaf

Blessed are they who seem to know
            That lip-reading is difficult and slow.
Blessed are they who shake my hand
            And write notes to help me understand.
Blessed are they who know that I long
            To hear voices, music and song.
Blessed are they who seem to see
            When I'm lost in a group of two or three.
Blessed are they who take time out
            To explain to me what they're talking about.
Blessed are they who are patient and kind,
            That gives me comfort and peace of mind.
Blessed are they who have a smile,
            That makes my life more worthwhile.
Blessed are they who make it known
            By faith in God's promise "I'll not walk alone".
Blessed are they who understand
            As I journey to that City "not made with hands".

                                                   Anon - from my big green scrap-book.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


" But the fourth kind of healing is produced through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This does not depend on contact, nor on sight, nor upon presence; it is not dependent upon any condition.  Whether the disease be light or severe, whether there be a contact of bodies or not, whether a personal connection be established between the sick person and the healer or not, this healing takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit."

                          Extract from 'Baha'i Revelation' - writings of  'Abdu'l-Baha.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Prayer for those who live Alone

I live alone dear Lord, stay by my side.
In all my daily needs, be thou my guide.
Grant me good health, for that indeed I pray,
To carry out my work, from day to day.
Keep pure my mind, my thoughts, my every deed.
Let me be kind, unselfish in my neighbours needs.
Spare me from fire, from flood, malicious tongues,
From thieves, from fear, from evil ones.
If sickness or an accident befall,
Then humbly Lord, I pray, be thou my call,
And when I'm feeling low or in despair,
Lift up my head and help me in my prayer.
I live alone dear Lord, yet have no fear
Because I feel your presence ever near.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Four Kinds of Merit

There was a rich man who used to invite all the Brahmans of the neighbourhood to his house, and, giving them rich gifts, offered great sacrifices to the gods.

And the Blessed One said: "If a man each month repeat a thousand sacrifices and give offerings without ceasing, he is not equal to him who but for one moment fixes his mind upon righteousness."

The world-honoured Buddha continued: "There are four kinds of offering: first, when the gifts are large and the merit is small; secondly, when the gifts are small and the merit small; thirdly, when the gifts are small and the merit large; and fourthly, when the gifts are large and the merit is also large."

"The first is the case of the deluded man who takes away life for the purpose of sacrificing to the gods, accompanied by carousing and feasting.  Here the gifts are great, but the merit is small indeed."

"The gifts are small and the merit is also small, when from covetousness and an evil heart a man keeps to himself a part of that he intends to offer."

"The merit is great, however, while the gift is small, when a man makes his offering from love and with a desire to grow in wisdom and in kindness."

"Lastly, the gift is large and the merit is large, when a wealthy man, in an unselfish spirit and with the wisdom of a Buddha, gives donations and founds institutions for the best of mankind to enlighten the minds of his fellow-men and to administer unto their needs."

                                                                   Extract from the Gospel of the Buddha

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Gifts from the Holy Spirit

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them.
There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served.
There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to everyone for all services.
Each one is given some proof of the Spirit's presence for the good of all.
The Spirit gives one man a message of wisdom, while to another man the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge.
One and the same Spirit gives faith to one man, while to another man he gives the power to heal.
The Spirit gives one man the power to work miracles; to another, the gift of speaking God's message; and to yet another the ability to tell the difference between gifts that come from the Spirit and those that do not.  To one man he gives the ability to speak with strange sounds; to another he gives the ability to explain what these sounds mean.
But one and the same Spirit who does all this; he gives a different gift to each man, as he wishes.

1 Corinthians Ch.12 v 4-11   'Good News for Modern Man (1971 edition)

Monday, 29 September 2014


In the Christian Church September 29th. is the Feast Day of Saint Michael the Archangel; it is also a significant day in the Camphill year.  St.Michael is the Warrior Angel, adversary of Satan and patron of Knights during the Middle Ages.
In England and Wales it is a Quarter Day.  This was traditionally any of the four days in the year on which rents were paid, leases began and expired and servants and farm-labourers were formally engaged and dismissed.
The Quarter Days are Lady Day (25 March), Midsummer Day (24 June), Michaelmas (29 Sept.) and Christmas Day (25 Dec.).  Scotland and the USA have different dates.

                Tiffany Window - 'St.Michael' - Fyvie Parish Church, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The Guardian Angel

Thou angel of God who hast charge of me
From the dear Father of mercifulness,
The shepherding kind of the fold of the saints
To make round about me this night;

Drive from me every temptation and danger,
Surround me on the sea of unrighteousness,
And in the narrows, crooks and straits,
Keep thou my coracle, keep it always.

Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
And be a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight, and forever.

I am tired and I a stranger,
Lead thou me to the land of  Angels;
For me it is a time to go home
To the court of Christ, to the peace of heaven.

                                                               from the Carmina Gadelica

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Today is the Feast Day of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, probably better known as Padre Pio.
He was born May 25th. 1887 and died September 23rd. 1968.

I first read about him in a biography I borrowed some forty or more years ago; it made a deep impression on me which still remains to this day.  [ Do find a good biography and read it yourself with an open mind.]  In particular I recall his many spiritual gifts which determined my own search over the years for my own pathway.  On many occasions when praying for healing for someone I ask for Padre Pio to intercede and to send his own healing.  

                                                    Picture of Padre Pio by Fczarnowski.

Prayer of Padre Pio after Communion

Stay with me Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget You.  You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.
Stay with me Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.
Stay with me Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and my life passes; death, judgement,eternity approaches.  It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You.  It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows.  O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile.
Stay with me tonight Jesus, in life with all it's dangers.  I need You.
Let me recognise You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes I ask this of You.
Stay with me Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Amish - Rules of a Godly Life

Finally, be friendly to all and a burden for no one.
Live Holy before God; before yourself, moderately; before you neighbours, honestly.
Let your life be modest and reserved, your manner courteous, your admonitions friendly, your forgiveness willing, your promise true, your speech wise, and share gladly the bounties you receive..


There is no true wealth beyond a man's need.
                                                                          Kahlil Gibran


                                A quick dip into my big green scrapbook.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Centre of the Soul

                              'The Centre of the Soul' - Watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

All that is can form itself into individual droplets of consciousness.  Because you are part of all that is, you have literally always been, yet there was the instant when that individual energy current that is you was formed.  Consider that the ocean is God.  It has always been.  Now reach in and grab a cup full of water.  In that instant, the cup becomes individual, but it has always been, has it not?  This is the case with your soul.  There was the instant when you became a cup of energy, but it was of an immortal original Being.

You have always been because what it is that you are is God, or Divine Intelligence, but God takes on individual forms, droplets, reducing its power to small particles of individual consciousness.  It is a massive reduction of power, yet the power is as full in that droplet as it is in the whole.  It is as immortal and as creative and as expressive but in its tinier form its energy is reduced appropriately to its form.  As that little form grows in power, in self-hood, in its own consciousness of self, it becomes larger and more God-like. Then it becomes God.

You are both individual and one with all that is.

                                                     Extract from "The Seat of the Soul" by Gary Zukov.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Open my eyes that I may see.

Open my eyes that I may see,
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Help me to set the higher self free,
So shall I serve and worship Thee.

      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my eyes, illumine me;
      Spirit Divine.

Open my ears that I may hear,
Voices of truth, serene and clear,
And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,
Discord and strife will disappear.

      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my eyes, illumine me;
      Spirit Divine.

Open my mouth, and let me bear
Witness unceasing to Thy care;
Open my heart, and teach me to share
Love, with Thy children everywhere.

      Silently now I wait for Thee,
      Ready my God, Thy will to see,
      Open my eyes, illumine me;
      Spirit Divine.

                              Words and music by Clara H Scott (b1841 Illinois - d1897 Iowa)

This is the version we have sung for a number of years which is slightly different to the two other versions I have found on the web.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


                                                          Albrecht Durer  (1471 - 1528)

Prayer is indeed the soul's sincere desire, and few of us find our miracles, because we cannot discover what we want the most.  And sometimes we never start to find out until our whole world crashes and we are forced to look at life from a new angle, one which we perhaps see for the first time only when God says "No!".

When disappointments come, there are two things we must question before we question God or His purposes.  No matter how great our longing or how fervently we pray, when God says no, we must question our desires and ourselves.  Many times, we should ask not what is wrong with our prayers but what is wrong with us.

We would not be realistic, however, unless we faced the fact that while our desires may be right, and we ourselves fully worthy of receiving that for which we pray, still God may say no.  Why?

Sadly enough, very often only time alone can give us the reason.  But if, along with the cry, which comes to all of us sooner or later:  "Why, God, why?"...... we can give the simple affirmation, "There is some reason, and one day I shall find it", we can save ourselves untold heartbreak.

 Besides no or yes, there is a third answer God often gives us when we pray.  Time and again, when I used to ask my mother for some gift, "we'll see", she would say, "just be patient and do all you can do about it, and then we'll see".

So I think God answers us - many times.

But other times what happens depends, ultimately, on how much we work with God, with any and with all of the manifold powers through which He works.  Thomas Edison said, "We don't know the millionth part of one per cent about anything.  We don't know what water is.  We don't know what electricity is.  We don't know what heat is.  We have a lot of hypotheses about these things but that is all.  But we do not let our ignorance about these things deprive us of their use".

So with Prayer.  We really don't know the millionth part of one per cent about it.  But what we do know is enough to enable us to use it, and through it, to let God use us.

                          Extract from  'There is no unanswered Prayer' by Margaret Blair Johnstone.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Saint Aidan

Tomorrow, 31st. of August, is the Feast Day of St.Aidan, born circa.590 and died at Bamburg on August 31st. 651 AD after 16 years as Archbishop of Lindisfarne.  He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria and is recognised as a Saint by the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglian Community, Lutherian Church, etc..
He is the Patron Saint of Northumbria and also of Fire-fighters.

                                                   St.Aidan statue at Lindisfarne Priory.
                                                     Photograph by Andrew Curtis.

"Death came to Aidan when he had completed sixteen years of his episcopate, while he was staying at a royal residence near the capital.  Having a church and lodging there, Aidan often used to go and stay at the place, travelling about the surrounding countryside to preach.  This was his practice at all the king's country-seats, for he had no personal possessions except his church and a few fields around it.  When he fell ill, a tent was erected for him on the west side of the church, so that the tent was actually attached to the church wall.
And so it happened that, as he drew his last breath, he was leaning against a post that buttressed the wall on the outside.  He passed away on the last day of August, in the seventeenth year of his episcopate, and his body was soon taken across to Lindisfarne Island and buried in the monks' cemetery.  When a larger church, dedicated to the most blessed Prince of the Apostles, was built there some while later, his bones were transferred to it and buried at the right side of the alter in accordance with the honours due to so great a prelate.
Finan, who also came from the Scottish island and monastery of Iona, succeeded him as bishop and held the office for a considerable time.  Some years later, Penda, King of the Mercians, came into these parts with an invading army and destroyed everything that he found with fire and sword; and he burned down the village and the church where Aidan had died.  But, in a wonderful manner, the beam against which he was leaning at his death was the only object untouched by the flames which devoured everything around it.  This miracle was noticed and a church was soon rebuilt on the same site, with the beam supporting the structure from the outside as before.  Sometime later in another fire, caused this time by carelessness, the village and church were again destroyed; but even on this occasion the beam remained undamaged.  For, although in a most extraordinary way the flames licked through the very holes of the pins that secured it to the building, they were not permitted to destroy the beam.  When the church was rebuilt for the third time, the beam was not employed as an outside support again, but was set up inside the church as a memorial of this miracle, so that those who entered might kneel there and ask God's mercy.  Since that day many are known to have obtained the grace of healing at this spot, and many have cut chips of wood from the beam and put them in water, by which means many have been cured of their diseases."

Extract from 'A History of the English Church and People' by the Venerable Bede. [673-735 AD]

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Soul Burst

                                         'Soul Burst' - watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

We give them back to Thee
Who gavest them to us,
Yet, as Thou dost not lose them in the giving,
So we have not lost them by their return.
Not as the world, givest, givest
Thou, O lover of Souls,
What Thou givest,
Thou takest not away,
For what is Thine is ours always if we are Thine.

And life is eternal,
And life is immortal,
And death is only a horizon,
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight.

                                                  by Margaret Crowe, Troon.

Taken from an article in 'The Argus' magazine of Kilmarnock Spiritualist Church, July 1978.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Spiralling Soul

                                        'Spiralling Soul' watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

If we become indifferent to doing good, our capacity to do good will diminish.  It is difficult to do something well.  It is still more difficult to put right something we have done wrong.  But it is altogether easy to destroy something.  it takes great time and effort to grow a tree, but it is easy to cut it down.  When it is dry and dead, it is impossible to bring it back to life.
If we do not make use of the spiritual faculties we have been given, then we will lose them.  This has happened to certain fishes living in the waters of dark caves.  They have lived so long in the darkness that they have become completely blind.  The same thing has happened to certain hermits I have met in the caves of Tibet.  There fore, do not let your spiritual sight grow dull, but make full use of all your spiritual faculties and strengthen them so that you are able to sense God's presence.
The pipe that carries fresh water is itself clean by the clear water that flows through it.  in the same way, we are kept clean and pure if we allow God's spirit to constantly flow through us for the benefit of others.

Every day of our lives is like a precious diamond.  Let us at least awake now, see the value of the days that remain and use them to acquire spiritual wealth.

                                                Extract from the teachings of Sundar Singh (1889-1929)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Soul Unfolds

                                    The Soul Unfolds - watercolour by Margaret M Brownlow

" Human beings are close to perfect, but only close.  The Unnameable created us in His image and likeness.  We are no more than an imitation of perfection.  To make us perfect, He would have had to rob us of our free spirit.  Only then would we be obedient.  But a human being without a free spirit is insignificant.  And so He took the risk of giving us free will.  It is that will that is going to destroy many of us"

                               Taken from 'In the Shadow of the Ark' by Anne Provost.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

On Strangers

He and His friends were in the grove of pines beyond my hedge, and He was talking to them.
I stood near the hedge and listened.  And I knew who He was, for His fame had reached these shores ere He Himself visited them.
When He ceased speaking I approached Him, and I said, 'Sir, come with these men and honour me and my roof.'
And He smiled upon me and said, 'Not this day, my friend.  Not this day.'
And there was a blessing in His words, and His voice enfolded me like a garment on a cold night.
Then He turned to His friends and said, 'Behold a man who deems us not strangers, and though he has not seen us ere this day, he bids us to his threshold.'
'Verily in my kingdom there are no strangers.  Our life is but the life of all other men, given us that we may know all men, and in that knowledge love them.'
'The deeds of all men are but our deeds, both the hidden and the revealed.'
I charge you not to be one self but rather many selves, the householder and the homeless, the ploughman and the sparrow that picks the grain ere it slumber in the earth, the giver who gives in gratitude, and the receiver who receives in pride and recognition.'
'The beauty of the day is not only in what you see, but in what other men see.'
'For this I have chosen you from among the many who have chosen me.'
Then He turned to me again and smiled and said, 'I say these things to you also, and you also shall remember them.'
Then I entreated Him and said,'Master, will you not visit my house?'
And He answered, 'I know your heart, and I have visited your larger house.'
And as He walked away with His disciples He said, 'Good night, and may your house be large enough to shelter all the wanderers of the land.'

                                                          From 'Jesus the Son of Man' by Kahlil Gibran

Please pray for the wanderers of all the lands.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Great Spirit

                                                      'Emanation of God' by  Limonc

Oh Great Spirit whose voice in the winds I hear and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
Before you I come, one of your many children, small and weak am I.
Your strength and wisdom I need.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my heart and hands respect all you have made, my ears clear to hear all you have taught my people and the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother, but to make me able to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Make me always ready to stand before you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when my life fades, as the fading sunset, my Spirit may stand before you without shame.

There are many variations of the above, this is from my scrapbook in which it is attributed to Apache Chief Little Horse. Another source merely says it is Native American. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Eternal God

Eternal God, before whose face we stand,
your earthly children, fashioned by your hand,
hear and behold us, for to you alone
all hearts are open, all our longings known:
so for our world and for ourselves we pray
the gift of peace, O Lord, in this our day.

We come with grief, with thankfulness and pride,
to hold in honour those who served and died;
we bring our hurt, our loneliness and loss,
to him who hung forsaken on the cross;
who, for our peace, our pains and sorrows bore,
and with the Father lives for evermore.

O Prince of Peace, who gave for us your life,
look down in pity on our sin and strife.
May this remembrance move our hearts to build
a peace enduring, and a hope fulfilled,
when every flag of tyranny is furled
and wars at last shall cease in all the world.

From earth's long tale of suffering here below
we pray the fragile flower of peace my grow,
till cloud and darkness vanish from our skies
to see the Sun of Righteousness arise.
When night is past and peace shall banish pain,
all shall be well, in God's eternal reign.

            by Timothy Dudley-Smith, (born 1926) former Bishop of Thetford, wrote ''Tell out my Soul''                              amongst his output of over 300 hymns.
                  This hymn was sung immediately after the poem ''The Cemetery'', see Blog
                   for 6th.August.

                                                 'Flower of Peace' photo by Kosebamse.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Commemoration of WW1

On Monday 4th. August we attended a Service of Commemoration of the 100th. anniversary of the first World War. It was a very moving service held at the Gateshead Metrocentre.
The following poem was read early on in the service.

The Cemetery

Behind that long and lonely trenched line
To which men come and go, where brave men die,
There is a yet unknown and unmarked shrine,
A broken plot, a soldiers cemetery.

There lie the flowers of youth, the men who scorned
To live (so died) when languished Liberty:
Across their graves flowerless and unadorned
Still scream the shells of each artillery.

When war shall cease this lonely unknown spot
Of many a pilgrimage will be the end,
And flowers will shine in this now barren plot
And fame upon it through the years descend:
But many a heart upon each simple cross
Will hang the grief, the memory of its loss.

by John William Streets, better known as Will Streets, born in Whitwell, Derbyshire.  Although academically and artistically gifted he began work as a coal-miner at the age of 14.  In August 1914 he joined the Sheffield City Battalion  (Sheffield Pals), he served in Egypt from late 1915 to early 1916.  The Battalion was transferred to the Western Front, by this time Will was a sergeant.  He was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st.July 1916, and subsequently went missing, his body was recovered exactly ten months later on the 1st. May 1917 and is now buried at Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps.
(ref. special memorial A.6 )

Saturday, 2 August 2014

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.  He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter-shop until he was thirty.  Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book.  He never held an office.  He never had a family or owned a house.  He didn't go to college.  He never visited a big city.  He never travelled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.  He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.  He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.

All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

God's Garden

The world is a beautiful garden,
The peoples the flowers therein,
Mixed colours to give us a contrast,
But similar under the skin.
Their cultures are many and varied,
Handed down over passage of time,
But each is a child of the Father,
A brother of yours and of mine.
So do try to study each other
In love and with every goodwill,
Share knowledge and all live together
As brothers, not seeking to kill.
Do not think that your class or your colour
Gives anyone privilege or right,
To think that he stands above others,
If you think so you stand not in Light.
Light opens the eyes of the faithful,
To show we are one brotherhood,
The family of God in His garden,
Dependent on Spiritual food.

                               Anon. (from my scrapbook in the mid 1970's)

                          Photo by REB, taken in the garden of Howick Hall, Northumberland.
This was the home of Prime Minister Charles, 2nd. Earl Grey, after whom the famous tea is named.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Consider the Lilies of the Field

Flowers preach to us if we will only hear:-
The rose saith in the dewy morn:
I am most fair;
Yet all my loveliness is born
Upon a thorn.
The poppy saith amid the corn:
Let but my scarlet head appear
And I am held in scorn;
Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
Within my cup of curious dyes.
The lilies say: Behold how we
Preach without words of purity.
The violets whisper from the shade
Which their own leaves have made:
Men scent our fragrance on the air,
Yet take no heed
Of humble lessons we would read.

But not alone the fairest flowers:
The merest grass
Along the roadside where we pass,
Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
Tell of His love who sends the dew,
The rain and sunshine too,
To nourish one small seed.
                                           by Christina Rossetti (1830-94)

           'The Annunciation' - Detail - by Leonardo da Vinci - photo courtesy The Yorck Project

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Our Lord's Prayer

A Healing Treatment
based on 
Our Lord's Prayer

by Georgiana Tree West

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Spirit Almighty, quickening and animating my whole being, perfect be the revelation of Thy Spirit in me.  All my cells are absorbing energy, health, strength, and new vitality from the power that dwells within me. Healing life flows through every cell, cleansing, purifying, and making me whole and well.

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.

Let the harmonizing power of divine love adjust all things perfectly as I move throughout this divinely ordered day.  Let me feel the peace of Thy presence within me and all around me.  Let me walk in the light of the Spirit which Thou hast given me.  Let Thy good and gracious will be done.  Let every problem be solved through the loving wisdom of Thy Mind working in and through all for the best good of all.

Give us this day our daily bread.

May I partake freely this day of the bread of life - the spiritual understanding that nourishes the soul.  I give thanks that there is ample provision for every need of soul and body.  Let me speak with the tongues of men and angels - with worldly wisdom and spiritual understanding - throughout this soul-satisfying day.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Let Thy forgiving love free me from all unhappy memories of the past.  Calm the turbulence of my thoughts; enable me to see through the problems of personality; and make me a radiating centre of love that shines forth to bless with understanding, compassion, tolerance, friendliness, kindness, loving helpfulness.

Leave us not in temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Free me from the temptation of negative thinking.  Let Thy presence within me guide me in controlling my thoughts and words.  I fear no evil as I let the Spirit Thou hast given me guide and protect me and call to my remembrance that

Thine is the kingdom and the power,
and the glory, for ever.  Amen

                                                                    Christ in Glory
                                               Pokerwork and acrylic on birch ply by REB
                                             Now in Lanchester Parish Church,Co.Durham

Saturday, 19 July 2014

My Prayer

O God !
Give me the power to wipe out pain,
To ease the lot of my fellow man,
And to make them smile again.
For in sickness there are many
Who know not thee,
Pray let Thy Revelation
Come through me.

O God !
Give me the strength to smooth the brow,
To ease the pain of an aching heart,
And to show the people how
In grief, they too,
Can turn to Thee,
Pray let Thy Revelation
Come through me.

O God !
Give me a light to lead the way,
To bring all Thy nearness
As we journey day by day,
And then, Thy Truth will make it plain
For all to see,
And we shall know, Thy Revelation
Comes from Thee.
                                            by Sam Taylor, Stoke-on-Trent.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Saint Swithun

    Today is St.Swithun's day. Saint Swithun (800-862) was an Anglo Saxon Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron Saint of Winchester Cathedral.  According to tradition the weather on his feast day will continue for forty days.

" St.Swithun's day if thou dost rain
  For forty days it will remain
  St.Swithun's day if thou be fair
  For forty days 'twill rain nae mare."
                                                             British weather lore proverb.

      St.Swithun's memorial Shrine at Winchester Cathedral.  Photo attrib. to

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Speak of Talking

'You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; and when you no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.
And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.  For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.  The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape.
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.  And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.
In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.

When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market-place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.  Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear; for his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered; when the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.'
                                  extract from 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Beatitudes for Friends of the Elderly

Blessed are they who understand,
            my faltering step and shaking hand,
Blessed, who know my ears today
            must strain to catch the things they say,
Blessed are they who seem to know
            my eyes are dim and my mind is slow,
Blessed are they who looked away
            when tea was spilled on the cloth that day,
Blessed are they with a cheery smile,
            who stopped to chat for a little while,
Blessed are they who never say .......
            "You've told that story twice today",
Blessed are they who make it known,
            that I'm loved, respected, and not alone,
And Blessed are they who ease the days
             of my journey Home in Loving Ways.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Healers Prayer

Let me be still, the silent depths of soul to know,
Oneness, with the cosmic pool of power bestow.
Visions in the cloistered temple of the mind
Each etched like pain, its outline clear defined.

Hold now, the stricken head with kindly hands
Ere warm compassion flows, its benediction lend
A pause, a restful haven in life's sea.
Let then the flood-gates open wide in love's name,

Spirit of God, come thou, use me.

                                           by Rev. John Barclay

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Lamp of the Body

No one when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, that those who come in may see the light.

The lamp of the body is the eye.  Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is full of light.  But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

If then you whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.

Luke - Chap.11 - v. New King James Version

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Great Spirit

                         'Appeal to the Great Spirit' - statue in Woodward Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
                                                            Photograph by Caleb Long

Great Spirit, you are everything,
and yet above everything.
You are first and always have been.
Through you our children will have strong hearts
and they will walk the straight path in a sacred manner.
Help me to walk the sacred path of life without difficulty
with my mind and heart continually fixed on you.

Lakota prayer St.Joseph's Indian School, Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Eyes of Soul

The news spread through the city and along the shore that Judah's king had come, and multitudes drew near to press his hand.

And Jesus said, I cannot show the king, unless you see with eyes of soul, because the kingdom of the king is in the soul.

And every soul a kingdom is.  There is a king for every man.

This king is love, and when this love becomes the greatest power in life, it is the Christ; so Christ is king.

And every one may have this Christ dwell in his soul, as Christ dwells in my soul.

The body is the temple of the king, and men may call a holy man a king.

He who will cleanse his mortal form and make it pure, so pure that love and righteousness may dwell unsullied side by side within its walls, is king.

The kings of earth are clothed in royal robes, and sit in state that men may stand in awe of them.

A king of heaven may wear a fisher's garb; may sit in mart of trade; may till the soil, or be a gleaner in the field; may be a slave in mortal chains;

May be adjudged a criminal by men; may languish in a prison cell; may die upon a cross.

Men seldom see what others truly are.  The human senses sense what seems to be, and that which seems to be and that which is, may be diverse in every way.

The carnal man beholds the outer man, which is the temple of the king, and worships at his shrine.

The man of God is pure in heart; he sees the king; he sees with eyes of soul:

And when he rises to the plane of Christine consciousness, he knows that he himself is king, is love, is Christ, and so is son of God.

You men of Galilee, prepare to meet your king.

And Jesus taught the people many lessons as he walked with them beside the sea.

                                     Chap.71 v.3-18 inc. from 'The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ' by Levi

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Saint Alban

Today is the Summer Solstice, in my location Sunrise was at 0428hrs. and Sunset will be at 2149hrs. giving a day length of 17.20hrs..

                                                Stained glass window in St.Alban's Cathedral.

Tomorrow, June 22nd., is the saint's day of Saint Alban - the first English martyr in Roman Britain - he was beheaded in the Roman city of Verulamium (now St.Albans,Hertfordshire,England) in the 3rd. century.

In the early 1970's I joined the pilgrimage to the shrine.  Groups from various churches in the area walked in from the the countryside carrying banners and crosses and met in the park below the Cathedral.  After refreshments we formed into one procession to the Abbey to circle the shrine before being seated for the service.  As we passed the shrine we tossed a flower onto it, by the time everyone had completed the circuit the shrine was covered and the scent of the flowers permeated the whole church.  Altogether an unforgettable experience.

A Prayer for St.Alban.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Alban triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death.  Grant to us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

I Am Not There

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there.  I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamonds glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Written by Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004) - American housewife and florist.