Conversations with God

Finding God, or to express it better, cultivating a relationship with God has been a bit like trying to find Nemo in a vast wilderness. Finding church fellowship and finding myself was the easy part. Finding the place where and how God wants me has been fraught with difficulty, it isn’t easy swimming against the tide. 

Having been afflicted by multiple traumas has tested my faith to its limits. But my journey towards restoration in this season has needed more than what I have been able to do humanly. Knowing that I can not do this work independently of God has been revelatory and liberating. Knowing that I can partner with this amazing God has helped me to deepen my faith in a way I once thought inconceivable – how could I know what I did not know? 

Increasingly, I liken it to falling in love, or the birth of a new baby.  It is a love that is unconditional, unimaginable and it is available to one and all. It is like a whole new dimension. It has to be experienced since no amount of intellectual power can bring this into being. For me, a good news story hinges not so much on one event but the unraveling of this new dimension, a new way of seeing, a new way of being. “Wearing God’s glasses”. 

I have no right to happiness but I do have the right to be the full expression of my self, the multi layered, gifted and messy version of me that I am co authoring and co creating with God. It is not so much about finding but surrendering and yielding to God’s will. A prayerful and meditative disposition is helping me to foster grace and humility. This requires a vow of commitment. It is an act of human and spiritual discipline. Not just on a Sunday, not just in response to enfolding events but in every breath, every thought, every dream, every decision and every action. By yielding to God in prayer and in service, God finds you, God finds me, God finds us. Abba Daddy finds us in those moments and in those lives when we each peer into heaven. Little Nemo was never truly lost but in his wandering and in his wondering, he grew into himself. A loving, spirit filled child of God.

These sentiments are, at this point of my journey, best captured in this beautiful piece of music: https://youtu.be/rwLHr9vNwcQ God sometimes speaks to me through the medium of music and other languages. The lyrics in this exquisite video are helpfully shown in Spanish and English. I hope this good news story will bring you comfort, strength and inspiration to those that pray for and seek it. 

I Am With You.

Your brother,

James

Thought for the day – Stillness

I once heard someone tell me that you should “grow where you’re planted”. Those words have never truly left me. When I take a closer look at myself, my home, my family, my neighbourhood, I am filled with a deeper sense of stillness. The roots I have planted here run very deep. They are an invitation for me to grow, not to move. The following passage from John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress seems very apt:


Excerpts on the Slough of Despond and Giant Despair

“Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough that was in the midst of the plain: and they being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.

PLIABLE: Then said Pliable, Ah, neighbor Christian, where are you now?

CHRISTIAN: Truly, said Christian, I do not know.

PLIABLE: At this Pliable began to be offended, and angrily said to his fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect between this and our journey’s end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me. And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two, and got out of the mire on that side of the slough which was next to his own house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.

Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Despond alone; but still he endeavored to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, and next to the wicket-gate; the which he did, but could not get out because of the burden that was upon his back: but I beheld in my dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked him what he did there.

CHRISTIAN: Sir, said Christian, I was bid to go this way by a man called Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder gate, that I might escape the wrath to come. And as I was going thither, I fell in here.

HELP: But why did not you look for the steps?

CHRISTIAN: Fear followed me so hard that I fled the next way, and fell in.

HELP: Then, said he, Give me thine hand: so he gave him his hand, and he drew him out,Psalm 40:2, and he set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way.

Then I stepped to him that plucked him out, and said, “Sir, wherefore, since over this place is the way from the city of Destruction to yonder gate, is it, that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with more security?” And he said unto me, “This miry slough is such a place as cannot be mended: it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough of Despond; for still, as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there arise in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place: and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.”

Mi Amor

© Vladi Samodarov | Dreamstime.com

Candles of harmony flicker in evening’s hue,
Libran blue, how I feel about you.
Slow burning serenity over troubled water.
Your values I can neither question nor falter.

A slow start if I recall,
Into emptiness we wouldn’t fall.
Soft Spanish eyes, so deep and brown,
In that special place, I can now be found.

Relationships had to be endured,
So when I found you, I could be assured.
On first sight of you, my chin hit the floor!
To save face, I was half-ignored,
But in your presence, I was fully absorbed.

How I hungered for your first kiss,
In my youth, you were sorely missed.
Now they fall upon me like a shower,
And buds of joy burst into flower.

Cloud nine,
That giggly heart of mine.
Loneliness, that swine.
Now having fun is fine,
Your sweet love, so divine.

15th March 1998

I have a confession; it’s about a dog!

Image


Online Confession #1

Confessor

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It’s a long time since my last confession and the first one on this here web site. I hope you don’t mind but I just couldn’t be arsed to go down to church.”

Father Ted

“Why haven’t you accepted my Friend request? Anyway, please carry on…”

Confessor

“Oh yes; my confession. It’s a very grave matter altogether Father and one I fear may be beyond divine redemption. “

Father Ted

“I’m all ears.”

Confessor

“Well Father, I have indulged gratuitously on a certain cartoon character since, well, when I was a mere whippersnapper.  I’m sorry I haven’t mentioned this before but I’ve only just started to come to terms with this canine obsession, thanks to some therapy.”

Father Ted

“How was that?”

Confessor

“What, the exorbitant cost of therapy, or the matter of my obsession?”

Pregnant pause in the confessional proceedings.

“Are you there Father?    Father?”

Father Ted

“Did you get my friend request?” asks the slightly disgruntled confidant.

Confessor

“I did Father.”

Father Ted

“Continue my son.”

Confessor

“I love Scooby Doo. Actually.”

Father Ted

“Did you say Scooby Doo? That dopey but lovable sleuth from the 1970’s?”

Confessor

“Yes I did sir. From back in the day.”

Father Ted

Sharp intake of breath.

“That’s going to cost you at least one Our Father and two Hail Mary’s”.

Confessor

“Shite.”

Father Ted

“Make that three Hail Mary’s. ”

Confessor

“Where was I?”

Father Ted

“In the 1970’s.”

Confessor

“Oh yes. Scooby. Well Father, it’s like this. It’s not like I love Scooby the way I love my children, or my family, or my beloved Luton Town Football Club, or X Factor, blogging, stuff like that..”

Father Ted

“…and the Church.”

Confessor

“Of course Father. And the Holy Apostolic Church.”

Father Ted

“Ok, I’ve just downgraded your penance to One Our Father and two Hail Mary’s. Continue my son.”

Confessor

“It’s nothing weird Father. I mean it’s not like this other blogger I met recently. She confessed to meeting a man on a blind date who enjoyed sleeping with his dog in the buff. Because that is just wrong Father, on so many levels.”

Father Ted

“Have you met my dog, Francisco?”

Confessor

“Is that the Jack Russell Terrier Father? The one that once peed on Mrs Brady’s handbag.”

Father Ted

“We don’t talk about Mrs Brady. I’ll hear no mention of that woman’s name here. Not in this virtual confessional. Not in my parish!”

The atmosphere clears.

“Anyway, Francisco has now got his own Facebook page. He’s got more friends than me! Loads of muts from across the parish and some much further afield. Even His Holiness the Pope!”

Confessor

“Jeyz!! Christ on a bike!!!”

Father Ted

“Blasphemy boy! You’re up to one Our Father and five Hail Mary’s. Careful now.”

Confessor

“Where was I?”

Father Ted

“The serious matter of sleeping naked with dogs. Down with that sort of thing now.”

Confessor

“Oh yes Father. But that was just to show how innocent my love was for Scooby.”

Father Ted

“Go on boy.” In a lightly patronising sort of way.

Confessor

“No Father, it’s more than that. One of the great things about being a dad is you get to relive some of your childhood. And for me, one of the highlights of my school day was not just eating my friends unfinished lunches on the bus home, not just flirting with Tara (because I would be arrested if I tried to do that now) …but it was arriving home in time for the next episode. And you know what Father, I love seeing my children now huddled together on the sofa and gleefully watching Scooby Doo in the same way I used to. There’s something comforting about that. It’s like the meeting of generations sharing a common interest. Do you know what I mean Father.”

Father Ted

“Yes my son. That’s a surprisingly deep level of insight given the subject matter.  G’wan now.”

Confessor

“Sure, I know Scooby is not everyone’s mug of cappuccino with sprinkles on the top.”

Father Ted

“Mine’s a mug of PG tea. Which reminds me…..”

“Mrs Brady!!!!!! Can you put the fecking kettle on now.”

Confessor

“Like I was saying Father. There were the ridiculously predictable plots, Fred’s infatuation for Daphne…not to mention Velma’s shocking lack of dress sense.”

Father Ted

“Don’t get me started.” Nodding in sympathy.

Confessor

“And I guess if it were real life, there would be concerns about Shaggy’s unkempt appearance, his strange swagger. And some might say that Scooby sets a bad example to kids what with his overeating and all. I mean, Scooby snacks aren’t exactly very healthy. Some parents today might say that leads to obesity.”

Father Ted

“I think you might be taking it too seriously son. It’s a cartoon.”

Confessor

“But you know Father. That’s exactly why I do love Scooby and his friends. It’s the knowledge and comfort of a happy ending at a time when the media pursue the unhappy endings with their half empty glasses in tow. And the whole paranoia around stranger danger. When you were growing up, a stranger was a friend you had not yet met. Things have changed Father.”

Father Ted

“You may be onto something there. I’m thinking one Our Father will do you.”

Confessor

“But I’ll tell you something Father. I think it has helped me come to terms with those classic lines, like when the bad guy would say ‘And I would have done it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.’ Or when Shaggy says ‘Yikes!’ when he spots a very strangely attired monster. Or when Daphne shrieks ‘Jeepies!’.  And do you know what else gets inside you and kind of stays with you Father? It’s that light jolly music that accompanies the whole piece. I wish my life was as jolly and frivolous as that!”

Father Ted

“For sure.”

Confessor

“Every child needs a super hero. A super Scooby and a super mama and dadda. But who says that should end when you ‘grow up’? Who says, Father?”

Father Ted

“That’s surprisingly profound my son. But you now have kids of your own and I have my parish and my loyal friend, Francisco”.

“Mrs Brady!!!!! Is that tea ready yet?! I’m dying of thirst so I am!”

Confessor

“Well I didn’t have that many super heroes as a kid. I didn’t really like to idolise anything or anyone too much. But as a parent, it’s good to have these positive references to your childhood. Especially when you look back and see how hard life may have been for those who loved you.”

Father Ted

“Have you been on match.com son?”

Confessor

“Can’t say I have. Is that online dating Father?!”

Father Ted

“Well I recommend you get on there my son, a handsome fella like yourself with your beautiful daughters. What are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy yourself!”

Confessor

“Maybe you’re right Father. But where does that leave me with my penance?”

Father Ted

“I’ve been giving that some thought. After some careful consideration…and seeing how much you love children and animals, real and imaginary; I’m going to waive that Our Father. You know, I sometimes wonder if any of the original voice actors are still with us son. Or whether they passed away into obscurity, or perhaps, eventually, into paradise…into Scooby heaven. You know something? Even if there is no God, or no heaven, just those simple jolly thoughts put a smile on an old man’s face and a Shaggy style swagger in my step. God bless you my son. Go in Scooby peace.”

Father Ted and the Confessor

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Confessor

He shuts down the Parish portal.

And he logs on to Facebook.

Friend Request from Fr Ted – ACCEPTED.

6th October, 2013

My Perfect Fantasy

A loving heart searches through a meaningful gaze,
To security bound in love, not doubt.
Too many killing fields have been played,
There exist barren plains and a generation lost.
Futile backgrounds ground lovers into dust,
More than anything I want to earn your love and trust.

In love, please accept the power of your self,
Allowing love to flow freely between us.
I yearn happiness in so much haste,
But your love I seek not to waste.
Don’t leave me in mid-sentence,
Abandoned on an icy-cold seabed.

In search of peace and tranquil waters,
I feel warmth in your colourful sails.
A loving woman I so want to deserve,
In you, I see one I’d happily serve.
So don’t lose me in the rocky ravines,
Just lead me down a road to our dreams.

Fear not those families at war, negative in tone,
Doubt neither yourself, or the one who willingly seeks.
Protect your values, and hold fast to your dreams,
Amidst the gossiping swell, I don’t want you ‘alone’.
Leave skeletons buried, banished in history’s place,
For in our friendship, much love has already grown.

In all things I wish to build,
A foundation steadfast and true.
Through drudgery I wish not to descend.
To lavish you with kind love is what I desire.
By hurting you, part of me pretends,
The best for you in life is what I aspire.

In finding each other, our love will surpass,
Sentencing at a stroke those foolish endeavours.
Set your fears free and let love take its course,
Your beautiful warmth, I’ll cherish forever.
So let love fulfil its journey,
And be swept away by this magical force.

Let dreams weave their way around us,
And merrily dance the hillside.
Fostering a love that can care and nourish,
Disposing those voices that have lied.
From a den of despair,
To a nest we can replenish.

Don’t spurn me on this fruitful quest,
For its all my love I’d like to bequest.
Avoid feelings of self-doubt,
And have faith in your being.
Through this I hope you accept me wholly,
And give our love true meaning.

For mere stepping stones I warily tread,
They infect my heart with seeds of dread.
Offer me a stronger bridge to follow,
And a book that can be comfortably read.
In these chapters our love can wallow,
To the place of your dreams I’d like to be lead.

17th February 1997

China Doll

Delicate and pure
Externally demure.

Idolised her figure
Through punishing rigour.

Obsessed with her allure,
And the search for a ‘cure’.

Worshipped her visage,
A deception, a mirage.

Superficial and sweet,
The fantasy is complete.

Ever so patronising,
The pursuit agonising.

The love of an image,
To add to my baggage.

Amidst depths of pain,
Light bursts through the rain.

A china doll for sure.

Dublin 3rd June 1999

Castaway

Restlessness without bounds
echoing across ocean sound.
A ship on turbulent waters
without pilot, mate or anchor.
The heart does hanker;
its engine stutters and falters.

Merging with a vivid horizon
fuelled by its seductive tones.
Territory, coloured by each season
drowned by the clamour of reason.
Understanding the complex
will only confound and perplex.

Depths unchartered;
A mission over the seas
provides depth and meaning.
And a pilot, mate and anchor
on the ocean’s cut and thrust.
Leads me towards
peace, love and trust.

2nd December, 2001

Funky Chicken

Introduction

‘Everyone clap their hands. This song, goes out to our good friend, the amazing and marvellous chicken. Now I know that many of you, like me, have become acquainted with him over the past fortnight. But right now, I need some vocal support, so when I hold up the mike, I want you to make like a funky chicken whilst we sing the chorus.’

Verse 1
Whilst writing my journal
‘Chicky’ gets close and personal
A poultry meditation
But a new life situation

Chorus
Hey little chicken
Get out of my place
Right now I just need my own space!!

Verse 2
Whilst searching for meaning
My chicken is preening
Faced with life choices
All I hear is clucking voices

Chorus

Verse 3
In the corner of my vision
This bird’s on a mission
In search of some calling
Two spindly legs go walking

Chorus

Verse 4
Crazy thoughts start in my head
What would be good on sliced bread
An omelette would be egg-citing
But a chicken sandwich, appetizing

Chorus

Verse 5
My temperature is rising
This bird thing, surprising
My hut aint bijou
But this aint no children’s zoo!

Chorus

Verse 6
Disturbed in good karma
I make for the farmer
With not much vocabulary
I’ve a burden to carry
In no way of a word
He gave me the bird!!

Ending (thank goodness!)
‘One last time, people in the house,
Let’s hear it for Chicky’

Chorus
Hey little chicken
Get out of my place
Right now I just need my own space!!!

Performed in front of a startled looking audience
Written and Performed
By Rap Star J McK all the way from smoky London Town, England
Backed by DJ Ko, on Synth, hailing from the windy city, ChicaGo, US of A
Venue – Atsitsa,
Skyros Island,
Greece
September, 1999
http://www.skyros.com/skyros_island.htm

Please note: Evidence may yet soon come to light that will bring the one-hit wonder back down to earth…
for this was considered to be a grievous crime against the performing arts.

If you see this man, please feed him a chicken sandwich and
under no circumstances, let him go anywhere near a microphone.

Thank you 🙂

Cute but Astute

One eve as I sat and watched TV,
As night had all but fallen on me.
Was reduced to a state of semi-comatose,
Something only TV programmes can impose.

But in the corner of my right eye,
I sensed something waddle right by.
Now this feeling I have sensed before,
But have always chosen to merely ignore.

Through the patio window,
A sniffing hedgehog loitered; real slow.
Now these creatures may seem really cute,
But a prickly defence makes them astute.

For if you approach them in any way,
They will make like a ball,
But with one you can’t play!
So if TV makes you dull and downtrodden,
Remember the garden you had long forgotten.

24th July 1998

Homeward

To those of us who have strolled through fertile corridors,
And wondered how this world came to be,
Her sounds of freshness greet each passing action,
The sweet air restores lustre to my being,
As animal world springs to life to remind us of her glory.

Hindered by another world that waits impatiently to consume me,
Tainted; burdened by mankind’s greed and folly.
Tired and exhausted am I from frantic urban pace,
Its squalid queues, smells and other crimes,
Lead thee to yet more broken hearts.

Like lemmings bruising down the highway,
Only for yet more wasteful starts.
From that Monday-Friday drudgery they call modern ‘living’,
Thereof breed hedged cities, malls and urban sprawl,
Nurturing city satellites for headless urbanites to brawl.

Uproot them for rural splendour,
So once again, creatures of God can freely crawl.

December 1995