Iona Abbey Capital Appeal news
The Iona Abbey Capital Appeal hits the halfway mark, from Appeal Coordinator Christine Jones
Thanks to your support the Capital Appeal has burst through the halfway mark with a total of £1,381,600 raised. We are so grateful for your part in helping to achieve this crucial point with such a significant project.
Thank you for all you have been doing in Family Groups to support the Appeal. There have been generous personal commitments and some interesting and ambitious initiatives are emerging. At the end of January, Associates gather and we hope to engage their significant support. John Bell has kindly offered four fundraising evenings in his ‘quiet time’! The spring Coracle will feature Iona stories; as always, those stories go well beyond the wood and stone. A lot is happening – so please continue to spread the word. Thank you.
– Christine Jones, Iona Abbey Capital Appeal Coordinator: [email protected]
Iona folk © Martin Johnstone. Used with permission
‘Holy and humorous: an evening of light entertainment with John Bell’
‘Holy and humorous’ is open to all, especially to anyone who believes there is no fun in faith.
Admission £10 (refreshments provided) with all proceeds going to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal.
10th February, 7pm, at Westborough Methodist Church, Scarborough, YO11 1TS
16th February, 7pm, at Falkirk Trinity, Manse Place, FK1 1JN
23rd February, 7pm, at St Paul’s Church, Scotforth Road, Lancaster, LA1 4ST
24th February, 7pm, at Heswall URC 199 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 7SE
For more info: [email protected]
John Bell is a member and resource worker of the Iona Community. He is an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland, a hymn writer and occasional broadcaster who works in all continents.
Iona Abbey Capital Appeal – work on Iona progressing!
As part of Phase one of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, workpeople are now busy installing a lift – to create access for all – and altering office space. A couple photos below of some of the work going on.
Prayer of the Iona Community
O God, who gave to your servant Columba
the gifts of courage, faith and cheerfulness,
and sent people forth from Iona
to carry the word of your gospel to every creature:
grant, we pray, a like spirit to your church,
even at this present time.
Further in all things the purpose of our community,
that hidden things may be revealed to us,
and new ways found to touch the hearts of all.
May we preserve with each other
sincere charity and peace,
and if it be your will
grant that this place of your abiding be continued still
to be a sanctuary and a light.
Through Jesus Christ.
Iona work photos ©
Re-energised to be on the front line: an Iona story, by Satish Kumar
I walked there but even if you go by train, take the boat to Mull, then the Iona boat, you begin to feel that you are arriving at the edge of the world … and it’s so peaceful, quiet, serene … Iona is pure and if you go with a pure heart your fear, anxiety, anger and pride melts away. These things do not last at Iona. I felt at home at Iona … It’s a peaceful place but not a passive place. It’s an active place where you can be renewed, invigorated and inspired to communicate with the world. When you go back, whether to Glasgow or London or wherever you come from, to work for transformation, for justice and peace, for equity in the world … all that George MacLeod stood for, you will have new energy and new inspiration. I feel personally that when I went to Iona I was re-energised to be on the frontline.
Satish Kumar, from Iona of My Heart, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications (to be published in early 2018, with royalties going to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal)
Iona heart © David Coleman
Iona, Camas, Glasgow
Camas Open Weeks in 2018 – family week, gardening weeks – and more
10-15 March: Tree Planting Week – Help us plant our new woodland! We have been busy fundraising for a deer fence to protect the trees, the fence is now up and it’s time to plant! We will be aiming to plant nearly 4000 trees with the help of volunteers from New Caledonian Woodlands, the Woodland Trust and you! (£200)
26-31 March: Work Week – Come and help us get Camas up and running for the 2018 season. With a variety of jobs from painting to sewing and mending there is a task for all ages and abilities. The week is mixed with plenty of free time to explore the local area and beautiful beaches. (£200)
2-7 April: Family Week – Spend a week living in community with other families in the remote Camas bay. We will be offering a range of activities including kayaking, climbing, trips to the beach and to Iona as well as cooking, time in the garden or reading your book by the sea. (£250 adult, £100 under 16)
16-21 April: Poetry and Place – Land and sea, the relationship between history and geography and community, all the things that go to make up a sense of place, have always been a source of inspiration for poetry. What better place than Camas, which has all of these in abundance, to spend a few days letting the creative juices flow. For anyone – experienced writers or beginners – who has ever felt they have a poem in them! Facilitated by Kathy Galloway. (£250)
7-12 May: Garden Week – A week at Camas getting your hands in the soil! Spend time in the Camas garden helping us set up for the season to come. A mixture of work, rest and play with garden tasks, walks to beaches, trip to Iona, kayaking and lots of tea and cake to keep you going! Suitable for all ages and abilities. (£250)
8-13 October: Garden Week – A week at Camas getting your hands in the soil! Spend time in the Camas garden helping put the gardens to bed for winter. A mixture of work, rest and play with garden tasks, walks to beaches, trip to Iona, kayaking and lots of tea and cake to keep you going! Suitable for all ages and abilities. (£250)
15-20 October: Work Week – Come and help us get Camas tidied away for the winter season. With a variety of jobs from painting to sewing and mending there is a job for all ages and abilities. The week is mixed with plenty of free time to explore the local area and beautiful beaches. (£200)
For enquiries and booking information, please contact Carol at: [email protected]
Camas folk © David Coleman
Easter on Iona: Kissed-Pierced-Hidden-Revealed: Seeing God’s Passion from Gethsemane to Glory, with Dr Debbie Lewer, 28th March-2nd April, from the Iona Community Programme team
Drawing on visual art from the Middle Ages to the present we will look at how artists working in all kinds of circumstances – from power to poverty, the mainstream to the margins – have responded to Christ’s Passion and resurrection. Through these encounters with intimate moments of human love and failure, pain, loss, doubt and astonishing revelation, we ourselves are drawn into fresh ways of seeing the most important story there is in the life of faith.
Debbie Lewer is an art historian, Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Glasgow and a regular speaker in churches, theological colleges and at festivals and retreats on the rich relationship between art and faith.
There will also be the opportunity to join in a whole range of special services for Holy Week at Iona Abbey and other locations on the island.
Venue: St Columba Hotel, Isle of Iona
Price: From £649 per person, includes full board
and programme charge
Booking online or by phone:
t: 44 (0) 1681 700 304
Photo of Debbie Lewer ©
Seasonal encounters with the Iona Community 2018, St Columba Hotel, Iona, from the Iona Community Programme team
28th March – 2nd April
‘Kissed-Pierced-Hidden-Revealed: Seeing God’s Passion
from Gethsemane to Glory’,
Dr Debbie Lewer
22nd – 27th October
‘Following the Celtic Way’,
Professor Ian Bradley
27th October – 1st November
‘Enthusiasm, Entropy and Ecology: A New look at the Psalms’,
Rev. John Bell
1st – 6th November
‘Adventures with God: An Introduction to the Gifts and
Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola’,
Rev. Alison Marshall
Venue: St Columba Hotel, Isle of Iona
Price: From £649 per person, per course, includes full board
and programme charge
Booking online or by phone:
t: 44 (0) 1681 700 304
Wild Goose Publications: Resources for Lent and Easter
weeWONDERBOX, from WGRG and the Iona Community Programme Team
February 2018 events and gatherings:
Mon 5th at 7.30-9.15pm: The Wee Music Box: ‘Bang the Drum’
Wed 7th at 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Liturgy
Wed 14th at 1.30-4.30pm: Dust & Ashes – Lenten Urban Retreat
Wed 14th at 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Liturgy
Wed 14th at 7.00-9.00pm: Pandora’s Box
Sat 17th at 10.00am-1.00pm: Urban Pilgrimage: with Kathy Galloway
Wed 21st at 6.00-7.00pm: Wee Weekly Liturgy
Wed 28th at 6.00-7.00pm: Liturgy of Prayers for Healing and Laying on of Hands
Members, associates and friends
‘Just walk to Jerusalem’, by associate member Naomi Message in Cambridge
Naomi and Robin Message are associate members of the Iona Community, and have recently returned from an Amos Trust five-month walk from London to Jerusalem. They walked over 3000 km to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, in penance for the part Britain has played in the unjust situation in the region, and in solidarity with all who work for justice and peace. The walk culminated in a week in the West Bank and the Negev, meeting locals and visiting projects working to support Palestinians. (Ed.)
In June 2017, I gave up my job as a youth worker, and set off to walk 3,300 km from London to Jerusalem. The walk passed through 11 countries, took five months, and involved over 100 people. It was designed to coincide with several important anniversaries: we left London on 10th June, 50 years after the occupation of the West Bank began, and arrived in Jerusalem on 2nd November, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration when, as author and journalist Arthur Koestler put it, ‘One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.’ We were also commemorating 10 years since the siege of Gaza began. It was an initiative of the Amos Trust, a small human rights organisation who have close links with the Iona Community through the Iona Call and Kairos Britain.
I first became interested in Israel/Palestine while working for the Iona Community and Christian Aid Scotland in my gap year. During my subsequent theology degree, I was able to study the issues from a religious viewpoint, which deepened my interest and my desire to get involved somehow. I first visited Palestine in 2015 with the Amos Trust, and came away determined to find a way to do something about the injustices we had seen firsthand. We met inspirational people like Sahar, an Israeli activist who had been imprisoned repeatedly for refusing to serve in the Israeli military, and Amal, a Palestinian Christian who, despite repeated provocation from settler neighbours who dug up her olive trees and destroyed her wells, ‘refused to be enemies’ and worked hard to promote reconciliation.
When we heard about Amos’ plans to mark the Balfour Declaration with this totally mad, impossible-sounding walk, my husband Robin and I jumped at the chance! We both gave up our jobs, rented out our house and set off with much trepidation. Various injuries I had meant I genuinely wasn’t sure if I’d even make it out of Britain – but we, along with seven other incredible individuals aged between 18 and 65, made it to Jerusalem!
Our walk took us over the Alps, through the stunning countryside of Albania and the slightly-less-stunning dual carriageways of Turkey, to Istanbul, from where we flew to Jordan (crossing Syria sadly being out of the question) before entering Palestine via the Allenby bridge. Along the way we were met with the most extraordinary acts of hospitality, from the lady in France who let us eat in her front garden and provided cups of tea (‘it’s my contribution to peace,’ she said), to the family in Italy who welcomed us into the shade of their trees, picking fresh fruit and sharing homemade cake, to the man who ran after us up a hill in Turkey to check we weren’t lost.
We were walking in penance for the role played by Britain in creating the unjust situation which exists now; in solidarity with all those who work for peace, justice and reconciliation; and in hope that one day, all people in the Holy Land will live in peace, as neighbours, with full, equal rights.
The welcome we received in Palestine was overwhelming. We spent the final week in the West Bank and the Negev, meeting locals and visiting projects supported by the Amos Trust. Seeing the hardships faced daily by Palestinians put our own challenge into perspective; receiving their heartfelt thanks felt slightly uncomfortable, to be honest, in light of the historical role played by Britain in the region – but hearing people say, ‘we see that not everyone thinks like your government’, ‘we don’t feel alone’, and ‘what you have done is a human thing’, made every kilometre worthwhile.
In the village of Umm al-Khair I had the privilege of having tea with a Bedouin family. Sitting on the floor of their tent, with very little shared language between us, the daughter of the family suddenly looked at me, pointed at the TV, and then back to me again. ‘She wants to know if it’s you she’s seen on TV,’ her brother explained. Palestinian TV had picked up our story and had been following us for a few days. When I nodded that I was one of the walkers she had heard about, she ran to me, threw her arms around me and kissed me. ‘Thank you,’ she said. In that moment, this crazy act of solidarity made sense, and I promised to return home and share all the stories of suffering, endurance and hope that I had encountered.
Photo of Naomi Message and friend ©
The Storm that Saved a City, film featuring member Raymond Young
‘On 15 January 1968, thousands of homes were damaged when 100-mile-an-hour winds tore through the Central belt in Scotland. Twenty people lost their lives amid devastating scenes. But the storm shook up Scotland’s biggest city in another way, too. It inspired a rethink about Glasgow’s tenements. For 100 years, the city had been destroying unfit houses for new ones – but it wasn’t solving the problem. It took the storm, a group of young architects and some strong-willed residents to save their city from the bulldozer. And it brought forward the transformation of Glasgow – from Britain’s biggest slum to the cultural capital of Europe.’ (From The Storm that Saved a City)
Member Raymond Young was one of those young architects and features in this excellent film, which was recently shown on the BBC. Go to 44:08 for Raymond’s contribution:
Raymond also tells this story of transformation in his book Annie’s Loo: The Govan Origins of Scotland’s Community Based Housing Associations, Argyll Publishing, 2013.
News from associate John McCall in China
From a longer letter:
I began the first day of 2018 in Nanjing, China. Once again this year I am teaching at a two-week intensive course at Jiangsu Seminary here.
Since I have been teaching here for a number of years, many of my former students are now serving churches throughout this big province. This year I was fortunate to visit a district where a number of my former students are serving. They were delighted to be together on Saturday and Sunday. We worshiped together, we prayed together, we laughed and cried together. I was moved by their stories of seeking to be Christ’s salt and light in the dramatic change of today’s China.
Tomorrow I will resume my class on the Holy Spirit. We meet for five hours each day, and I have been impressed by the students’ questions in an educational culture where the teacher does not often encourage questions. What a privilege it is to see how the Holy Spirit is at work in this land. Today I visited the churches of one of my students and the welcome was wonderful. We ate fruit, drank tea and I listened to the stories of how God has transformed their lives.
Yesterday and today the pollution was registered as dangerous. When the two young evangelists picked me up yesterday at 6:30am to drive me to the rural area, we could hardly see the car in front of us because of the smog. I pray for the children whose lungs are developing in this polluted air …
May God’s grace fill your days in 2018,
Photo from John McCall ©
The Iona Abbey coracle and coracle spirituality, by associate Paul Heppleston
‘On the window ledge to the left of the Abbey altar has been a model of the kind of vessel Columba might have used. But there is now a newer coracle in the Abbey. It’s a much smaller version of Columba’s, based on the same principles, designed for just one person and similar to those still used today by fishermen on the major rivers of south-west Wales. It was made in 2006 by Paul Heppleston, a long-time associate of the Iona Community, and brought from the Peak District to the Abbey in July 2017 …’
For the story of that coracle and a reflection on coracle spirituality:
Photo of Paul Hepplestone and coracle ©
Spiritual Beings or Economic Tools: Just Who Are We?: a new book by associate Peter Strother, from John Hunt Publishing
‘Many times, we ask: Is the way we live really the way we want to live? But just how many times do we question whether it reflects who we are deep inside? Most of us sense, at whatever conscious level, that it doesn’t. How could it, living under the all-pervasive pressures of such a faithless, fearful economic system as we do. Yet what do most of us do about it?
Peter Strother explores these questions by confronting the psychological schism and alienation of our times. He goes directly into our homes and workplaces, our collective mindsets and everyday addictions, our personal identities and personal relationships. Spiritual Beings or Economic Tools …? seeks to guide us in empowering and daring directions using original, diverse approaches, finally reconnecting us to the spiritual source of who we are.’
‘This is a perceptive, thought-provoking and timely book with real substance to it. Peter Strother’s analysis of our current situation will resonate with many readers, who will be grateful for a literate description of inner and outer landscapes that is both accurate and original. His naming of a spiritual malaise and his commitment to finding a way out of it will elicit many unspoken or shouted amens.’
– Ron Ferguson, columnist, novelist, author of the best-selling biography of George MacLeod and former Leader of Iona Community
‘Peter Strother’s writing is powerful, challenging and yet deeply comforting, speaking to our time – a time when many lives are confused and uncertain. It has a real ring of truth about it, relating to the situation many people find themselves in today. Globalisation and technology have brought the human race great possibilities but also increased our vulnerability, creating a restless generation which Peter addresses in his book with insight and tenderness. It is a book for those who believe in God and those who find any kind of belief almost impossible. Many will find in it a real sense of hope for their lives. Peter is a gifted writer with much to say and I hope this book is widely valued.’
– Dr Peter Millar, author of books on spirituality and global issues, including A Time to Mend
Or contact associate Peter Strother to order: [email protected]
A thank you from member Ian M Fraser
Ian M Fraser would like to thank folk for all the cards and good wishes he received on his 100th birthday. He says he can’t answer everyone but is ‘hugely grateful and appreciative of the goodwill of members, associates and friends’.
About member Ian M Fraser:
Ian M Fraser has been a pastor-labourer in heavy industry, a parish minister, Warden of Scottish Churches House, an Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Dean and Head of the Department of Mission at Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. He is the author of numerous books, including Strange Fire, A Storehouse of Kingdom Things, and Reinventing Theology as the People’s Work (Wild Goose Publications), which is used as a standard theological sourcebook throughout the world.
Ian is one of the original members of the Iona Community who helped George MacLeod to rebuild the common life and the Abbey buildings on the isle of Iona. Throughout his life Ian has travelled the world, alone and with his wife, Margaret, visiting basic Christian communities. He has walked alongside slum dwellers in India and Haiti; Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutionaries; priests, nuns and catechists facing arrest and/or death in Central and South America; and small farming and fishing communities in the Philippines.
A tribute to member Barry Cummings
Member Barry Cummings died on 28 December, 2017. Our love and sympathy goes to his wife and fellow Community member, Pat, and all their family. A full tribute to Barry will appear in a future Coracle.
The thirty-first day
I remember those who have died:
those who were part of my living
those who live on in my life.
God of the elements, You inhabit me:
family and friends and strangers are at home in me,
stars and planets dance in my bones and blood.
I am me,
and yet I am more than me;
I remember, I learn, I dream,
I touch death and life.
God of eternity,
comfort your people,
living and dying.
Quicken us with wonder,
salt us with justice and integrity,
welcome us with love.
– Ruth Burgess, from Acorns and Archangels, Wild Goose
Barry and Bonnie at the north end of Iona, photo ©
Upcoming Iona Community gatherings
Iona in the South West gathering: Saturday, 3rd March 2018, South Street Baptist Church, Exeter, from member David Osborne
Saturday, 3rd March 2018, 11.00am till 4.00pm, South Street Baptist Church, Exeter, EX1 1EB
Theme: ‘Poverty: what can we do?’
Food banks, drop-ins, small charities, debt counselling, benefits advice … many of us are involved with these one way or another, giving or receiving. At this gathering we will share our experiences and learn from each other. With the help of Church Action on Poverty we will try to look beyond these responses at some of the bigger issues and think about what we can do to close the gap.
This day is for everyone who is involved with or interested in the Iona Community, and for anyone else who is concerned about poverty.
The day will include worship in the Iona-Community-style, music, a bring-and-share lunch, a bookstall, information, discussion and Iona Community news from the South West and beyond.
There is no charge, but please make a contribution towards the cost if you can: suggestion £7.
So we can ensure we have enough space and adequate materials, please book: drosborne[email protected]
If you are travelling by car and can offer a lift, please say. And bring something for lunch which can be shared with others.
Gathering of geese, by David Coleman ©
East Scotland Regional Plenary 2018: Saturday, 3rd March 2018, Norton Park Conference Centre, Edinburgh, from member Ewan Aitken
3rd March 2018, 10am till 3.30pm, Norton Park Conference Centre, 57 Albion Rd, EH7 5Q
Plenary theme: ‘The art of engaging those with whom we disagree’
Speakers include Alison Swinfen, Iona Community member, poet and campaigner on refugee rights; Eurig Scandrett, Iona Community member and activist on Palestine/Israel; and Simon Bateson, founder of the Take One Action Film Festival, with contributions from Simon Barrow, Iona Community member and director of Ekklesia; Diane Marr, Manager of Cyrenians Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution; and others.
A simple lunch will be provided by Cyrenians, a charity working to stop homelessness; cost will be pay as you feel with any surplus going to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal.
Please let me know if you wish to attend, by Feb 23rd, so I can plan for catering, etc: [email protected]
Gathering of geese, by David Coleman ©
‘Scriptural reasoning: Building stronger interfaith relations in difficult times’, Iona Community North West regional gathering, 3rd March 2018, Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester
‘Trident: Wise?’: Midlands Regional Event, Saturday, 17th March 2018, Priory Rooms Meeting and Conference Centre, Birmingham, from Canon and associate Christopher Hall
The Iona Community invites you to this Midlands Regional Event to hear Commander Rob Forsyth, RN Rtd, who commanded a Polaris nuclear submarine. He will explain the reasons why he is opposed to Trident.
Geese in flight, by David Coleman ©
Lord Mayor’s Annual Peace Lecture 2017, by friend of the Iona Community Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher
Paul Oestreicher delivered this lecture in Coventry Cathedral on 13 November 2017.
‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their
nuclear weapons into MRI scanners.
Neither shall they learn war any more
(Micah 4:3, adapted) …
‘… The refuseniks are in good company. It is inconceivable that Jesus would bless the bomb. In his words: ‘They that take the sword shall die by the sword.’ … Then there were all those other prophets: not only Einstein, but Albert Schweitzer, the 20th century’s greatest Christian humanist; Martin Luther King; Pastor Martin Niemöller, who spent eight years as Hitler’s prisoner and then led the German peace movement; Lord Donald Soper and Lord George MacLeod; Desmond Tutu; Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker in New York’s Lower East Side, when not in prison; the poet Daniel Berrigan S.J. and his priest brother, in and out of prison; Dorothee Sölle, challenging protestant mystic; Kate Hudson, long-time General Secretary of CND; and the many, many with no public face but with a passion for peace …’
Trident photo © David Coleman
News and campaigns
Poverty Sunday, 11th February, 2018, from Church Action on Poverty (CAP)
‘For churches, Jesus initiated the act of making visible those who were overlooked.’ (Kathy Galloway)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus listened to people who were on the margins of his society. He made visible those who were overlooked, and gave them hope. Our churches are called to follow Jesus’ example: to listen to voices from the margins and make them heard, so that things can change. That’s what Church Action on Poverty’s campaigns and projects are for. On Church Action on Poverty Sunday, we invite you to learn about them and lend your support. Hold a collection or soup lunch – your donations can transform more churches through listening and engaging with people in poverty. Use our worship materials to reflect and pray for change. Our worship and fundraising pack is available now.
Fairtrade Fortnight, 26 February-11 March, from the Fairtrade Foundation
From the Fairtrade Foundation:
Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 runs from 26 February to 11 March and this year we’d like you to join us in supporting the farmers and workers who grow our food. With Fairtrade we have the power to change the world every day …
Hadeel: Fair trade Palestinian crafts
Hadeel is a Fair trade shop which aims to provide a sustainable source of income for craftspeople working with social enterprises in the West Bank, Gaza, as well as one in the Galilee and another in the Negev. Our work also helps to sustain infrastructures, as many of the producer groups also provide health, education and emergency services in their communities which lack any form of local government which might do this …
(Hadeel was originally set up by Iona Community members Carol and Colin Morton.)
Website and mail orders:
123 George Street
0131 225 1922
Photo from the Hadeel website © Hadeel
‘Playing our parts in transformation’: the latest message from Head of Christian Aid Scotland, Sally Foster-Fulton
Sally is also a member of the Iona Community.
Photo of Sally Foster-Fulton © Christian Aid
Peace witness at gates of Faslane, Saturday, May 26th, from member John Harvey and Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA)
There will be a peace witness event at the gates of Faslane on Saturday, May 26th, from 12.00 to 1.00pm. This will take the form of a service and a symbolic act of witness, followed by a picnic! More news to follow …
For more info, contact member John Harvey (see Members Book).
Stop the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Amnesty International
From Amnesty International:
Since the 25th August, more than 500,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar to nearby Bangladesh. Reports are flooding in of killings by the Myanmar security forces …
To you we shall return, a Lent prayer by member Jan Sutch Pickard
Mysterious God, morning, noon and night
reveal your creative power;
around us the whole earth cries glory.
Your presence beats in our blood, children of creation!
Yet we go on our way deaf to the larks above the track,
looking down into the mud and not up into the clear sky.
And, even then, we miss the myriad small signs of hope:
the crocus opening its heart to the sun,
colours of sea-washed stones, rainbows in the mist.
We despair so easily. We say: ‘Where is God in all this?’
And we deny it has any meaning. We say: ‘God is dead.’
We cannot find or feel the pulse of your life in us.
We put our shaky faith in things we have made,
we give cringing power to the institutions.
We give up on ourselves, saying: ‘We are no good.’
We live in a way that says: ‘There is no God.’
And the song of creation turns to dust and ashes on our lips.
Dust we are – and to dust we shall return.
But, in Jesus, you chose to share our human frailty,
to enter into our mortality in all its mystery,
to redeem this handful of dust.
We are yours – and to you we shall return. Amen
– Jan Sutch Pickard, from Eggs & Ashes: Practical & Liturgical Resources for Lent and Holy Week, Wild Goose Publications