Running as a metaphor for life

runningThe title sounds a bit more pretentious than I mean this post to be! I have signed up for the Bristol half-marathon in September. Don’t ask me why or how it happened, but it happened. Those of you who know me a little, know that I am a reasonably strong cyclist, but not a very good runner. Even the adjective ‘average’ sounds like a far-fetched compliment when it comes down to my running.

However,  I have found that my ‘training’ so far has given me lots of food for thought. It has made me think why it is that I so desperately want to give up at times, as well as made me challenge how I perceive myself. I guess some of these thoughts reflect experiences not unique to me, but common to some of us, so here they are.

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The weirdness of faith

bishopLast week the annual Met Gala took place. For those of you who don’t know what this is, and I have to admit, I was one of you until last week, it is more or less the Oscars of the fashion world. Each year, the event has a particular theme, and this year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

A quick Google Image search shows the most remarkable and extraordinary dresses and costumes, celebrating both fashion and in a way, the human body. Some costumes make explicit reference to Christianity, by including the mitres that Bishops wear, or by being covered with crosses. Ariana Grande even wore a gown printed with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. For others, at least to me, the connection seems harder to make. In any case, it is far more fashionable than what I’m usually wearing!

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For everything there is a season

For everything there is a season
A Reflection for May Day

seasonsThe first day of May, May Day, has been traditionally been marked as a day to celebrate the return of spring. Despite the chill, it was a glorious morning this year. At Marlborough College we were treated by the Chamber Choir singing the May Madrigals in Court from the Bradleian Arches. It was an opportunity to pause for just a few moments, listening to wonderfully sung music and feeling the warmth of the sun on our backs.

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We and those around us

Some thoughts about living in community

‘The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.’
Edith Stein (1891–1942)

For any community to thrive, whether it’s a town, a school, a business or even a nation, its members need to be able to live together and form meaningful relationships. It also requires an economy of giving and receiving, in which people take on particular roles and show a willingness to contribute to the flourishing of all. This, in turn, will only happen, if relationships are defined by trust, loyalty, and mutual fulfilment.

Community

To establish relationships of this nature, we need a sense of self-awareness, and I would like to suggest that, maybe paradoxically, we will obtain the truest perspective of ourselves if we are rooted in a flourishing community. For most of us, our first community in which we discover who we are consists of our family, and in later life school, university, workplace and neighbourhood provide a framework in which we find our own particular place. Continue reading “We and those around us”

The Nails

The Nails: A reflection for Good Friday

NailsHere we’re seeing an image of three nails. They are probably not that dissimilar in size to the ones that were used to crucify Jesus. The thought of that in itself is rather gruesome, and maybe some of us can bring to mind artwork or images depicting these nails and the wounds they caused.

Here, I would like us to briefly reflect on two thoughts, which are basically different sides of the same coin. For this I would like you to imagine holding one of these nails and feeling its weight. As we feel it’s weight and maybe it’s sharp point, the first thing I suggest to reflect on is the wounds we have sustained ourselves over time. Most of us will have at least one physical scar somewhere and a story to go with it.
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I will never leave you

I will never leave you
Jesus’ promise

The third and last of three reflections for Passiontide, based around the stories of Peter, Judas and Jesus, based on reflections for Good Friday, delivered at St George’s Preshute in 2017.

jesusHearing the Passion Gospel read this morning, it is hard to deny here that Jesus is aware of his own future, his death, whether it is imminent or not. Is that then the way to look at the Passion story: God’s plan unfolding, as a script being performed, whilst people like Mary, Peter and Judas play the part they have been allocated? Are they, and we, merely doing what has to be done for God’s plan to be fulfilled? In a way one could say that both Mary and Judas prepared Jesus for his burial: Mary by anointing him, and Judas by handing him over to those who would crucify him.

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Friend, do what you are here to do

Friend, do what you are here to do
The tragedy of Judas

The second of three reflections for Passiontide, based around the stories of Peter, Judas and Jesus. They are based on reflections for Good Friday, delivered at St George’s Preshute in 2017.

judasJesus said to Judas: Friend, do what you are here to do. There has been a lot of controversy over the role of Judas in Jesus’ passion. The fact that Jesus addresses Judas here as friend has either been understood to be ironic or as a sign that Jesus still cares about him. Maybe even more so, it has been debated if it was Judas’ God-given destiny to betray Jesus, or an act of free will? And in either case, was there still the possibility for redemption, either before or after Judas’ death? Or is he the prototype of evil, someone for whom there is no hope?

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