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Lifting the spirits

by Michael Ford last modified 07 Sep, 2021 03:56 PM

Prose and poetry from our parishes and schools.

Church is changing- Lifting the spirits

to email us a suitable poem or piece of writing.


Added 7th September 2021:
Hymns for all occasions from News and Notes, the magazine of Bodenham, Britford, Charlton All Saints, Nunton and Odstock

  • The Contractor's Hymn: The Church's One Foundation
  • The Decorator’s Hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • The Dentist's Hymn: Crown Him with Many Crowns
  • The Doctor's Hymn: The Great Physician
  • The Electrician's Hymn: Send the Light
  • The Estate Agent's Hymn: I've got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop
  • The Golfer's Hymn: There's a Green Hill Far Away
  • The Gossip's Hymn: Pass It On
  • The Massage Therapists' Hymn: He Touched Me
  • The Optometrist's Hymn: Open My Eyes That I Might See
  • The Politician's Hymn: Standing on the Promises
  • The Shopper's Hymn: Sweet Bye and Bye
  • The Tailor's Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy
  • The Tax Hymn: I Surrender All
  • The Weatherman’s Hymn: There Shall Be Showers of Blessings

More parish humour here.

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Added 30th June 2021: 
Our classic misprints page has been updated with church notices that didn’t quite come out right:

The minister is going on holiday next Saturday. Could all missionary boxes be handed into the vicarage by Friday evening, at the latest.

Ladies, when you have emptied the teapot, please stand upside down in the sink.

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Added 7th May 2021: Smile Lines from Dorchester
Our thanks to Dorchester Benefice Magazine Editor Margaret Morrissey, who sent in a selection of Smile Lines to keep our spirits up. These have been added to our Humour page, and are also available from the magazine website.


man had his second dose of vaccine at the vaccination centre. Shortly afterwards, he began to have blurred vision and struggled to get home. He rang the vaccination centre and asked if he should go straight to the hospital for help. He was told not to go to the hospital, but instead to return at once to the vaccination centre and pick up his glasses...

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Added 25th March 2021:
Our classic misprints page has been updated.

Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield and Holt makes a 'how to make a video' video
The benefice video team says: "We began making videos in the very first few days of lockdown as a way for us to join together as church in a time when we all needed to know, and be reminded of, God’s truth and love amid extraordinary circumstances. Through our online services we hoped to build community amid social distancing and to encourage church families, while reaching out to people we didn’t yet know. We’ve been creative and we’ve had to be innovative. We’ve tried new things and substantially expanded our tech capabilities. We’re very much learning but what has been achieved is amazing. Well done churches and well done team! Now our YouTube channel is moving into an exciting new season. Our aim is to connect people to God (and each other) mid-week. There are some exciting new projects ahead. The way we have begun this new season is with a bit of fun! It seems appropriate. So head over to our channel to watch the “how to make a video” video for a laugh and some very helpful tips on filming yourself. We enjoyed being bit silly, and hope that you will laugh and maybe even consider making a video for us. Anyone can do it! Watch it here.

A late-1940s joke from an ex-Christ Church choirboy, sent in by Robert Webb:
The local Vicar arrived for our weekly Bible study class with an impish smile on his face. He said, “I’m going to ask a question about one of the parables, you will write down your answers, and the winner will get half a crown. The question is: Who was most disappointed at the return of the prodigal son?”
He collected our answers, and said that we were all wrong. It was not the elder brother.
It was the fatted calf!

Saying it with daffodils

Saying it with daffodils
Team Rector Sarah Pix says: "On Mothering Sunday weekend, St Mary’s Ferndown and All Saints Hampreston gave out 400 bunches of daffodils to local care homes and to the people of Ferndown as a sign of hope. It was so well received! Incredible response on local Facebook pages."

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Added 12th March 2021:

'Five Church Ladies...'
Codford's Revd Margaret Collins says: "Last week 4 LPAs and myself had a particularly "clunky" Zoom church meeting during which we managed to link up with a lady in her 80s who had not yet used Zoom, then we couldn't explain to her how to switch on her video. I later commented that it was like 'Ten Green Bottles' as one by one we kept losing people - but they did reappear! After the meeting, one member wrote this poem to the tune of Ten Green Bottles!"

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Added 12th February 2021:

Lost Words, snowdrops and bluebells
Wiltshire's Longford CE VC Primary School has been spreading Christian cheer through art and poetry. Read More…

"Keep your fork"
Why would a terminally-ill woman ask to be buried with a fork in her hand? Read More…

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Added 8th January 2021:

Anne Baker, MBE
In the New Year’s Honours, Anne Baker of Harnham has been awarded the MBE for her fundraising work for charity. Now aged 106, she has been involved in raising money for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) for over 50 years. Read More...

Ruth Barber, Trowbridge
Merry Lockdown Christmas, and a Happy Lockdown New YearThere are several pages of downloadable humour and cartoons via each link. 

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Added 5th September 2020:

A Chaplet of Transfiguration
A chaplet is a crowning wreath
made of flowers or thorns
we are the makers.
God help us;
we tell each chaplet bead
day by day
as life is told.

New set of poems from Alan Amos here.

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Added 31st July 2020:

Sometimes we need a reminder to smile or laugh. With this in mind, here is a 22-second clip to hopefully do just that -

The Disco Goats.

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Added 23rd July 2020:

Wool's World Record Attempt

Wool's World Record Attempt
Parish Editor Sue Bartlett says: "Some of the ladies of Wool WI have been busy attempting a Guinness World Record on the Largest Dorset Button in the World. We have recently finished the button and had it measured at 2.202 metres and it is now hanging in the KoW building at the Durberville Hall. All the evidence has been sent to GWR and we await their findings, it can take between 12 and 14 weeks." Watch this space!

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Added 3rd July 2020:

'Do not breathe lightly into that tight chest'
Dai Woolridge, Poet and Creative Development Specialist at Bible Society, has filmed a spoken-word response to the Covid-19 pandemic, inspired by Dylan Thomas and based on Job 33:4, "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." The YouTube clip is  here, and his blog is here.

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Added 19th June 2020:

This week we are lifting your spirits with this simple song of hope courtesy Heather Waldsax, and a lovely picture for you posted by Branksome St Aldhem Church in Poole with the comment "Lockdown haircut. Father Pip mowed the grass in the Church Hall garden. It was a bit long!" Send your Lifting the Spirits pictures, songs, poems and prose to

Added 5th June 2020:

Broadstone's June Webber sent in a poem, 'Wind and Fire', for Pentecost (read it here),

and the Revd Sue Hart from Warminster posted a different kind of poem for Pentecost on social media, referencing the disciples in the upper room and the tragedy of George Floyd.

Gillian Clarke, from West Moors in Dorset says:

"I thought you might enjoy the Lockdown Psalms, written by our daughter Catherine.

"They have brought a bit of light relief to a lot of people and created a bit of a diversion as people try a sing-along with different chants - the pointing brings out some of the words and phrases to particularly humorous effect!"

Professor Catherine Clarke is from the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

1. I have dwelt long in the house of
lockdown: I have enclosed myself in the
habitation of Netflix and groaning.
2. They have set me my bounds which I
shall not pass: I keep the statutes and
observe the laws.
3. I entered into the supermarket, but it was
barren: its plenty was turned into empty
shelves, and there was no toilet paper in it.
4. Neither were there delivery slots by day
nor by night: verily, not even from Ocado.
5. [2nd part] Deliver us from the wilderness
of delivery: and deliver our deliveries unto
6. I am become a stranger unto the pub, and
unto the office: even an alien unto Pizza
7. The sun ariseth, and I go forth to work
and to my labour: even in my pyjamas until
the evening.
8. I am weary of Zoom, my throat is dry: it
melteth away like wax as my broadband


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Added 15th May 2020:

The Revd Heather Smith, who has permission to Officiate in the Benefice of Bromham and Rowde wrote to say:

"Feeling frustrated a couple of weeks ago while reading a book about pilgrimages to sacred mountains, I decided to make a pilgrimage from my house to the church in the village here in Bromham. It is about a quarter of a mile away!

"We are publishing a thought for the day every day on our benefice Facebook page and I published this account of my journey over 4 days.

"Bromham is surrounded by market gardening and there are many fields of vegetables within the village itself, separating groups of houses - hence my reference to Santiago de Compostela."

Read Heather's pilgrimage during lockdown here.

And Martin Wroe is offering a Blessing for a Zoom Meeting for those of us who are spending much of our time 'zooming' at the moment.

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Added 7th May 2020:

A joke from Bishop Karen, for the IT- aware/ wary among us...

A shepherd was looking after his sheep one day on the side of a deserted road, when suddenly a brand-new racing car screeches to a halt. The driver, dressed in a designer suit, designer shoes, designer sunglasses, designer watch, and a designer tie, gets out and asks the shepherd, ‘If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?’

The shepherd looks at the young man and then looks at the large flock of sheep grazing and replies ‘Okay’. The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to his mobile, enters a NASA website, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database with 60 excel tables with logarithms and pivot tables and then prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech mini-printer. He turns to the shepherd and says, ‘You have exactly 1,586 sheep here.’

Rather surprised the shepherd says, ‘That’s correct, you can have your sheep.’ The young man takes the animal and puts it in the back of his car. Just as the man is about to drive off, the shepherd asks him: ‘If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?’
The young man answers ‘Yes, why not?’

The shepherd says, ‘You are an IT consultant’.
‘How did you know?’ asks the young man.

‘Very simple’ answers the shepherd ‘Firstly you came here without being called. Secondly you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew, and thirdly you don’t understand anything about my business. Now please can I have my dog back?’

Read Bishop Karen's sermon here.

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Added 1st May 2020:

Bob Kenway has sent in 'Corvid 20 – a Rural Ride'. Read it here.

While Geoffrey Murray has given us a wonderful reflection on Herdwick Sheep, St George's Cathedral in Perth, and the call of God the Shepherd. If you want to know how they all link together, click here.

Bell ringers from the Calne Branch of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild have provided us with a lovely cartoon to raise a smile: click here. The illustrations are by Hilary Downham Sawyer and the words are by Jane Ridgwell.

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Added 24th April 2020:

Ann Douglas has sent us a very topical poem called 'The virus that stole Easter'. Click here to read it.

Richard Trahair, who was our Diocesan Property Secretary for 31 years has sent us a poem for Easter entitled 'Crucifixion and Resurrection'. Read it here.

Submitted by Chris Cox: 'The Easter Flower', by Claude McKay

Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;

Alone, without a hint of guardian leaf!
Just like a fragile bell of silver rime,
It burst the tomb for freedom sweet and brief
In the young pregnant year at Eastertime;

And many thought it was a sacred sign,
And some called it the resurrection flower;
And I, a pagan, worshiped at its shrine,
Yielding my heart unto its perfumed power.

Two short Easter poems by Alan Amos:

From our isolation
we zoom to the Cross,
see one another's faces,
smiles, tears not far away,
joining the Christ in his isolation
finding ourselves reduced to silence
by the exposed anatomy of love.

Easter candle, burning bright
chase away the shades of night
from our hearts and minds today
“Christ is risen !” let us say.

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Added 9th April 2020:

Submitted by David Durston: 'Sepulchre', by George Herbert

The poem Sepulchre comes at the end of a collection of poems on the suffering and death of Jesus, which includes Good Friday, and is followed by poems on Easter. It is a poem for the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, often called Holy Saturday. It is a meditation on the burial of Jesus in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. The poem is built around the comparison between the stone tomb and our hard hearts – hearts of stone.

O blessed bodie ! Whither art thou thrown ?
No lodging for thee, but a cold, hard stone ?
So many hearts on earth, and yet not one
Receive thee ?

Sure there is room within our hearts good store;
For they can lodge transgressions by the score:
Thousands of toys dwell there, yet out of doore
They leave thee.

But that which shows them large, shows them unfit.
What ever sinne did this pure rock commit,
Which holds thee now ? Who hath indited it
Of murder ?

Where our hard hearts have took up stones to brain thee,
And missing this, most falsely did arraigne thee ;
Onely these stones in quiet entertain thee,
And order.

And as of old, the law by heav’nly art
Was writ in stone, so thou, which also art
The letter of the word, find’st no fit heart
To hold thee.

Yet do we still persist as we began,
And so should perish, but that nothing can,
Though it be cold, hard, foul, from loving man
Withhold thee.

More on 'Sepulchre' here

Submitted by the Revd Jonathan Plows: ‘Thin Places', by Jenny Bridgman

"We do not leave unchanged
If change is to become ourselves.
Ahead: a thousand moments of transfiguration,
Each one a death - and resurrection - in itself,
As we are both transformed and transform,
Sacred moment by sacred moment."

“May the world come through all this lastingly transformed for the better.”

Poems by Alan Amos:

Virus 1
Ancient blight
found in new form
what is your purpose
in what you do ?
“I come to cull,
to kill but sparingly,
to take my portion
of the first-born
now grown old;
once I am done
my measure replete
I will depart, for a season.”
But virus you have told
me what you do, not why.
“My purpose is life -
my own life
my self-propagation;
you think me beastly cruel
but to myself
I am most beautiful;
some of old beheld my form
and called me by my true name,
Be gone, ancient psychopath,
be gone !
Give place to those
who explore
beauty in others.

Virus 2
Death, my master, gave me leave
To try my tricks
On poor humanity.
“First, make them shut down
all temples, shrines, places of worship
lest the sacred come to them with thoughts of rescue;
second, drive them into hiding in their homes
third, torment them with the unmet needs
of children and partners.
Let them run around in desperate imprisonment,
gnashing their teeth !”

It seemed to work…. but then
the sacred came to life in human hearts;
home extended itself globally
in conversation;
children and partners explored
their common childhood
telling stories
turning cartwheels in the gardens;
what next ?
O death, I am truly vexed !

Symbols for the time of Virus
The writer asked “ what symbols
speak to us
in this virus time ?”
So I asked myself,
and from the depths
there spouted up
Jonah’s whale.

Why you ?
I ask
“Why not ?”
says he.
“I come at times to teach
those who run away
and those who fear ;
my belly has plenty of room
for such as you.”
So what can you teach us for this time ?
“Well you could start by saying a Psalm or two
Jonah found that most helpful,
but I recommend
making them up for yourselves -
much more relevant.”
I know the Psalms kept the church going
for a thousand years,
but we live in different times.
“Yes - your insatiable search for entertainment;
nothing much I can provide on that front.
but I can teach you three fair things :
Faith, trust, endurance”
That’s all very well, but I didn’t
call you up for moral lessons.
“YOU didn’t call me up at all.
I come when I come,
I go when I go.”
Well what about these three fair things ?
“Faith grasp hold of what you have known; the one who gave
life will give life again;
Trust : the souls of the righteous are of good effect
many are walking your hospital wards;
Endurance: you know for Jonah, it was no picnic;
only when he learnt to step outside
the circle of self-preoccupation
did he see the “eject” button neatly placed
under my ribcage. Just remember
when you walk on terra firma once again,
you have been in the belly of the whale.
What a missed opportunity if you don’t start over again,
over again to live the unspoken word”
The unspoken word ?
“Love” said the whale,
and with a whoosh and
and a ginornmous splash
he regained the depths;
I look around, and all is still and calm
as if someone, somewhere is waiting.

From Bob Kenway in Calne and Blackland:
One of the things people have said they are missed locally is the sound of bells. As bell ringers aren’t ringing in church towers at the moment I thought you might be able to use a picture poem that I wrote for an Eastertide Deanery ringers’ service a few years back.

Click here for 'The Omega Bell: toll and carol'.

The Revd Kirsty Clarke, Team Vicar in the Shaftesbury Team Ministry has put together a collection of her own poems based on the Stations of the Cross for personal use during Holy Week.

Read them here.

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Added 1st April 2020:

Prayer poems by Alan Amos:

A locked church

Ah my dear Lord, the church is locked
but let my heart be open to your presence;
there let us make, you and I,
your Easter garden;
plant it with flowers,
and let the heavy stone be rolled away.

A locked church, 2

Unlock my heart, three-personned God
and with your strength
secure the way;
now push aside
all that resists your might
for only then will I be changed
and see afresh
your true, unfathomless
After John Donne


Attached to news
it curls its tendrils round our lives
Invades and squeezes,
gradually distorts.

Christ is our news
who makes for us each day
all things new

Attached to him,
we find him close to us,
like breath within us
bringing life to every part.

The Interim

Jesus of carpenter’s shop
with plane and chisel, hammer and nails
getting on with things without fuss
doing the necessary,
bearing on shoulder
the plank’s weight shared with Joseph;
sweeping aside the sawdust
delighting in light reflecting
off a polished surface.
Jesus, called by Mary to eat
taking his inner prayer with him to table
breaking bread with family
putting down for now plane and chisel
Hammer and nails.

A Lenten Antiphon for our times:
Advancing from tedium to Te Deum we praise thee, O Lord !

Journey into space

‘Journey into space’ BBC
was all the rage when I was ten;
now through my laptop screen
( a concept unknown then )
I enter daily a different domain,
travel into communications
otherwise impossible,
orbit the globe;
at the press of a key
space is unlocked for me
while under “lockdown.”

Eden reborn

Paradise is a garden, Eden reborn;
Let’s work in our gardens,
digging towards Easter,
Hoping to a catch a glimpse there
of the gardener.

To an African Violet

A wonder you survived
our many absences!
I quite expected on return
to find you lifeless,
shrivelled up.
But somewhere within your African heart
you know endurance.
Sunlover that you are,
your leaves now are parted;
a bud seeks its way to worship
showing the path for others.
My friend Michael Oram who has recently returned from a tree-planting visit to South Sudan says that this poem , for him "captures the character and bodily being of Bishop Francis Loyo."

The work of thy fingers

Now that pollution’s mask has cleared away
partly for an instant
we see the work of thy fingers,
the multitude of stars;

O that within, these fingers might be working still,
Moulding, reshaping
With tenderness refiguring
What we are
And what we may be.

From Alan McIntosh in Weymouth: March 2020 (Braving The Covid-19 Threat)

‘And not expecting pardon/Hardened in heart anew/But glad to have sat under/Thunder and rain with you/And grateful too/For sunlight on the garden’. Louis MacNeice, ‘The Sunlight On The Garden.’

Daily the death count rises.
Silently the Virus scatters
Poisoning the airwaves.
Our lives are in tatters;
The high streets are deserted.
Home is our safe horizon.

But Spring does not know.
Sunlight thaws out our gardens.
Blackbirds build a nest in the bush;
Sparrows skitter to and fro
Amongst the yellow forsythia.
Generous daisies donate the grass.

The daily news is grim.
The PM wears a haunted look.
Even the churches are locked.
Children are learning from home.
At home we light our candles,
Sing an isolated hymn.

But Spring does not know.
Blossoms confetti the breeze;
Leaves are dressing the young trees.
Birds praise each new strange dawn.
The Sun insists: ‘New life must grow!’
Spring breathes, released from pollution.

No bells toll for the dying;
Burials are private, for the dead.
Yet we sense a linking of hands.
Our neighbours have names and will be fed.
Key workers brave the Viral dread.
We applaud and pray on Time’s slow sand.

But Spring does not know.
The swallows will soon arrive.
The tide washes in and goes out again.
Roots drink the underground flow.
Young bees sip at the garden flowers.
‘New life!’ the Sun seems to proclaim.

From Neil Harding:

[After Mark 6:45]

I too have kept a little ship at sea
In those cold grey hours before the dawn
When human spirits reach their lowest ebb,
Companions faces yet shadows in the dark
Where shows no sign, no rim of light; that herald
Of the day, is not yet come to touch the eastern sky 
And silver up the sea with promise of the dawn.

I have kept with others the loneliest watch: 
Moments when it seems that day will never come
No promise then that ever night will end;  
Long hours before the sun’s first touch, in 
Which we humans fear most easily what 
Is half seen, half understood, by the ebbing tide
Of night chilled spirits in those cold grey hours.

Troubles come as to the sailor, so in life, to wake
Our fears when calm has ebbed away and life seems
A storm tossed sea with full contrary winds.  Is there
No dawn; must we face them in our darkest hour? 
Have we then companions whose faces are not shadows 
In the night but real enough to calm and turn us 
To a tide of hope from whence our peace returns.

From Shirley Williams in Lyme Regis:

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
Kitty O'Meara, Wisconsin, 20th March 2020

And a reflection and poem by Chris Cox:

Be Rooted in Your Source

Jesus’ teaching on the subject of anxiety and worry is not always easy to implement. “Do not be anxious about your life” he said, “do not be anxious about tomorrow”. On one level we know he’s right; which of us, by being anxious “can add a single hour” to the span of our lives? But this isn’t easy. As our current circumstance has made clear, we appear to have little control over our physical existence and, although worrying about it is fruitless and tiresome at best and, at worst, can be utterly debilitating, we will worry for our families, our friends, our neighbours, our communities, and for ourselves.

But Jesus doesn’t leave it there, he tells us how we can move towards a different way of being. “Strive first for the kingdom of God” he tells us, for when we are rooted within the ‘kingdom of God’, feelings of fear and worry will no longer overwhelm and consume us. I find that I move closer to the ‘kingdom of God’, that divine reality which is forever here and now, in the silence and stillness of contemplative prayer. It is in the practice of contemplative prayer that I realise, in the words of Thomas Merton, that ‘God is hidden within me’ and, as Merton continues, ‘I find Him by hiding in the silence in which He is concealed’.

I wrote the following poem in 2009 during a retreat at the wonderful, and now sadly defunct, Ivy House Retreat Centre in Warminster:

Reflections before an Old Apple Tree in Ivy House Garden

This gnarled old tree knows nothing of worry.
Rooted in its source, the divine ground, it simply is.
Contorted branches, weathered and lichen crusted,
give shelter without heed or thought.
Thankful for the life enhancing rain
and patient with the zealous sun,
it does not question or fret.
Silent; yielding; it receives everything,
and quietly bears abundant fruit.

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Added 26th March 2020:

The Revd Colin Heber-Percy has been doing regular reflections for the Vale of Pewsey. Here's an extract:

It struck me that today our churches are in exile. The church services have been told to stop, and currently the church buildings are in lock-down. In the next weeks and months, we have the opportunity to remain in exile, or perhaps to turn our exile into an exodus.
History has shown that living in exile is always depressing, and often leads to despair and eventual diminishing numbers – while exodus opens us up to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the promises of God. Many movements of the Spirit, which have benefitted the whole life of the church, have begun with an exodus. Ahead is the ‘promised land’, and maybe we can turn the present exclusion to our advantage. Through a renewed sense of neighbourliness, altruism, and community (perhaps even with the help of social media) we can move from ‘exile’ to ‘exodus’. The weeks leading up to Easter, with the signs of ‘new life’ in nature all about us, is the time to start.

More on Facebook here;
Reflections archive here.

The Revd John Eade, from the Golden Cap Benefice, has kindly shared with us some wonderful poetry to carry us through the period from the beginning of Passiontide next Sunday, onto Palm Sunday and then through Holy Week into the glorious Easter season.

Collected poems here, with audio.

Chris Cox, a Licensed Lay Minister at St John & St Mary, Devizes, sent us this:

This morning, I was listening to a piece of music which contains the words'I am near you, I am near you, I am near you'. Afterwards, I was inspired to bring these words together. They are not my words, the source texts are Matthew 5:9, Matthew 28:20, Acts 7:48, and the Gospel of Thomas, sayings 77a and 59.

I Am With You

O Children of God,
I am with you, I am with you, I am with you.
The Most High does not dwell
in houses made by human hands,
I am with you, I am with you, I am with you.
O Children of God,
I am the light above everything.
I am everything.
I am with you, I am with you, I am with you.
Look at the living one,
I am with you always.

While the Revd Andy Muckle, Vicar of St Mary’s Parish Church West Moors in Dorset offers this:

Last Wednesday morning I would have celebrated the feast of St Joseph (technically falling tomorrow). A little over a year ago I was in the Holy Land with a group being led in pilgrimage by Bishop Nicholas. In Nazareth as you sit outside the enormous and impressive Church of the Annunciation (built over the cave where Mary received the earth shattering news from the Angel Gabriel) you can look a couple of hundred yards up the hill and there beyond a convent is the Church of St Joseph. The church is built over the supposed site of the place the holy family lived. As you approach the Church of St Joseph there is a small garden within which you find the statue below.

Statue of Joseph

It is of course St Joseph. Look for a moment at the statue. What do you see?
I was struck at the time by St Joseph’s eyes. They seem so weary and so sad. His shoulders seem to bear the weight of the world and his body seems to almost rest upon his stick. His hurt at the news of Mary’s pregnancy is eating away at his heart of love. How? Why? Who?
Yet his burden will be lifted. The angel will visit him as well, almost in a repetition of the visit to Mary. He will be told amazing news as Mary received amazing news. He will be asked to shoulder a responsibility as Mary will bear the hope of the world. As Mary opens
her body and her soul and says ‘Here am I’, Joseph also must accept the word of God into his heart.
Jesus told us ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
Joseph through the message of the angel will lay his burdens upon God and put aside his earthly fears. He will lay down the troubles
of his heart and allow love to conquer fear. We too in these days are carrying many burdens and we may feel like Joseph in the statue,
worn down, sad and needing the solid earth to support our weight. May we find the strength to lay our burdens upon our loving Father and may we too let love conquer fear.

Finally, we have this reflection on social isolation from Stephen Tucker:

Self-imposed Isolation – help from the desert

The word ‘monk’ means in origin, one who lives alone. The first monks who lived like this came from Egypt. Many of them lived in single cells rather than in monastic communities, and they left a body of sayings which relate closely to our present experiences of being alone. Living alone generally, let alone in the present circumstances, gives raise to various thoughts and feelings which can be hard to cope with.
The monks often felt that they had embraced a state of permanent loss. Comparing their lives in their cells with their former lives in the world, they felt they had given up everything that provided them with a sense of self-worth. They felt both nostalgia and an enervating sadness, which cut them off from natural and simple enjoyment. This is the kind of grief which produces grievance.
At the same time, they felt a kind of spiritual boredom or listlessness. They lacked motivation. They found it easy to fritter away the time to avoid whatever their usual timetable required of them. And this in turn gave rise to a deep weariness, a sense of helplessness, a desire to give up, to criticise everyone and everything, to lose hope.
Perhaps some of this might sound familiar now to us.
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers provide a wide range of advice for dealing with such feelings, though sometimes the advice can seem odd.
"Go sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything."
"Go and sit in your cell and offer your body as a pledge to the walls of your cell."
A visitor said to a recluse, "Why are you sitting there?" " I am not sitting; I am on a journey" he replied.
The cell can be a place of confrontation; its importance lies in its ordinariness. The monks discovered that prayer means, first of all, making sure that you are really there. And the discipline of simply staying in your cell is intended to bring you face to face with yourself and your real needs and your capacities. If God is not here and now in this moment he is nowhere - presence to God is presence to self, staying at the point of pain or frustration or boredom to enter into healing. Find yourself in this place and give your whole self to yourself as a gift.
Of course, the monks didn’t have cell phones, lap tops, TV or radio. All they had was a mat to sit and sleep on, a table, a cupboard with few things to cook and eat with, a lamp and a few religious books. There was little to distract them except their thought and memories, their desires and fantasies, though these could be wholly distracting at times.
We have rather more distractions, but if in this time of enforced solitude, we end up watching more TV, exploring more of the Internet, eating more than usual, rearranging the furniture and doing more housework, we may be wasting a valuable opportunity. So, finding some time each day simply to accept the isolation, simply to sit with oneself, and pledge oneself to our set of walls, may prove surprising.
In a world which is now so mobile, so busy, so time consuming, having to stay by oneself in one place for a while may be spiritually significant as a way of getting back in touch with ourselves. And finding ourselves we will, of course, find God.

[After Mark 6:45]

I too have kept a little ship at sea

In those cold grey hours before the dawn

When human spirits reach their lowest ebb,

Companions faces yet shadows in the dark

Where shows no sign, no rim of light; that herald

Of the day, is not yet come to touch the eastern sky

And silver up the sea with promise of the dawn.


I have kept with others the loneliest watch:

Moments when it seems that day will never come

No promise then that ever night will end; 

Long hours before the sun’s first touch, in

Which we humans fear most easily what

Is half seen, half understood, by the ebbing tide

Of night chilled spirits in those cold grey hours


Troubles come as to the sailor, so in life, to wake

Our fears when calm has ebbed away and life seems

A storm tossed sea with full contrary winds.  Is there

No dawn; must we face them in our darkest hour?

Have we then companions whose faces are not shadows

In the night but real enough to calm and turn us

To a tide of hope from whence our peace returns.


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