Refugees: a poem by Brian Bilston

Refugees can be read two ways. Every refugee story can be read two ways. Usual media accounts tell the story such as “migrants have been prevented” – or, as here, “Illegals have landed”. Little is told of the desperate back stories of the refugees. Their voice is unheard.

Refugees can be read two ways. It can be read as if you don’t care. And it can be read as if you do. You can read it from top to bottom, or you can turn the world upside down and read it from bottom to top, depending on how you read the world. This poem can be read two ways. That is the way with this poem exploring two very different ways of reading the situation.

Brian Bilston is known as the Twitter Laureate. You can find more of his poems at his Poetry Laboetry

Brexit – made in England, led by donkeys

Brexit shambles and uncertainty continues as the government suffers another humiliating defeat. Parliament struggles to find a way through an impasse which bears the stamp “made in England” – not made in Britain.

What was dreamed up by some in England (and set alight by papers) has drawn other nations in. Not only Scotland and Northern Ireland and, of course, Wales, but the other 27 nations of the EU. We seem to have forgotten the trouble we are putting these other nations in. What time and money this all must have cost! How distracting from other challenges facing us!

Slowly options are being narrowed down. There are very few people who want us to leave without a deal, and hopefully Parliament will take that option off the table today. And then there become two. There’s either the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been so decisively voted down in Parliament. The EU are insistent that there can be no other. But it does seem that would risk so much and there is no way of knowing what future trade deals there would be, or what manufacturing base would vote “remain” and remain, or what the effect of unravelling institutions for peace and research development. Or there is the deal which we already have as members of the EU.

Sadly Parliament has been unable to find a way through the impasse. It isn’t helped by the fact that truth is “spun” and so often not told. Parliament should be a safe container for our differences. Ideally those we elect represent our differences in that space and work to resolve them so that we can remain committed to one another. I fear what will happen if this safe space no longer works, what will happen if there is a further vote, whether that be a General Election or a second referendum. But I am beginning to see that that is what is going to happen. The people are going to be the ones with the casting vote. I dread the strife on our streets and in families. But it might have to come to this. It seems we have a choice between two:

  1. The Withdrawal agreement
  2. The deal we already have.

There is the third option of the deal which we can never have – that dreamt up by those in Never Never Land. It seems to boil down to a choice of two. The first is a vote to leave. The second is a vote to remain.

Oh no, not that again.

And where will our political parties lead us? The Conservatives are surely cornered as the Brexit party. But what about Labour? Now all options are looking exhausted, (and Parliament has been right to exhaust them), they surely now have to campaign at last on the deal we already have, which is in those two political and economic unions in which there is always room for improvement and reform – that is, the UK and the EU.

Credit to Teresa May. She voted remain but has worked tirelessly to deliver the vote of the referendum. And credit all those involved in both sides of the negotiations. They have tried to find a way – but perhaps there never was a way that would leave our nation any better off.

March 13th 2019

PS thanks to the billboard campaign @bydonkeys, as, for example, shown in the photo above.

Sunflowers weeping

kiefer_hortus_conclusus.990x0

The sunflowers weep. Anselm Kiefer has done several paintings of sunflowers. He was born in 1945 in Germany, two months before the end of the war. It is hard to imagine the state of mind of the German nation at that time – on the edge of a shameful defeat, confronting the horrors of their totalitarian regime and, of course, the Holocaust. How does a society ever recover from sinking that abysmally low?

Anselm Kiefer has been determined to confront  his culture’s dark past. Here, the sunflower weeps. The sunflower looks so different in Kiefer’s work to the glory of its portrayal by Van Gogh. In Kiefer’s work, the sunflower stands for the national shame. Once proud and tall, the sunflower hangs its head in shame and disgrace – and weeps.

We can see the tears falling – they are the sunflowers going to seed. The seed is watering the earth for a new cycle of life – for a better season.

I was hoping to use this picture in a sermon – (particularly appropriate for Holocaust Memorial Day). I asked myself, “is Kiefer a Christian?”. Then I thought, “what is the point of that question?”, and “what an ugly question to be asking”. In that question there is a “as opposed to what?” – as in “if he is not a Christian then what is he?”. It becomes “Is he a Christian – (as opposed to a Jew)?” See what I mean. It’s an ugly question, particularly on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Kiefer is an artist in the business of lament and hope. There are plenty of others – largely inspired by the Jewish artists and prophets of the Hebrew scriptures.

Leadership Styles and a Political Divide

I’ve just been rereading this book. It is so full of wisdom and good sense for leadership.

Grits and Grains

lamdin

Sometimes you hear bells ringing all the while through reading a book. There was so many chimes in Finding Your Leadership Styleby Keith Lamdin – so many “just so” moments”, so many reminders of other reading – and I so agreed with the direction of Keith Lamdin’s travel.

Two women staffing a train tea trolley lead Lamdin’s book. While passengers on a delayed train were getting upset about missing their connections these “trolley assistants read the emotional climate of the passengers on the train and knew that they needed to stay calm”. They led in that moment offering “something different from those more familiar teachings about leadership, vision and motivation”. Their example demands a second look at “leadership” and suggests that leadership is for all types, leadership is not something special and that all of us have natural ability to lead others – though some make better leaders than others. Lamdin writes:

“leadership…

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Broken: stunning, timely and beautiful BBC drama

For “Broken” read “broke”.
For “Broken” read “society terribly broken”.
For “Broken” read “heartbreaking”.
For “Broken” read “compassion”.

Broken is a six part drama by Jimmy McGovern set in the north of England (filmed in Liverpool). It is Daniel Blake-bleak. You can watch it on BBC iPlayer.

There are many great performances. Sean Bean makes an excellent priest (playing Father Michael Kerrigan) and Anna Friel plays the part of a single mother well past the end of her tether. They do “broken” very well.

We only get hints about the reasons for Father Michael’s brokenness. He has been shamed and shaming and he is willing to break himself for the rest of his life. We see his brokenness mending as he seeks to make amends for his past, and we see the brokenness around him mending through his offering.

The parish could be any urban area in northern England. It is poverty stricken. The people walk, they don’t drive. The shops are closed. The only shops left open are the betting shops – their gaming machines having bled the community dry reducing people to dire debt and desperation.

Sam Wollaston, in his review for the Guardian, is right when he says: “This is a portrait of poverty in forgotten Britain, minimum pay and zero hours, crisis, debt and desperation.”

This is where people live and where they stay. Father Michael also sounds like a man who isn’t going anywhere. He has a strong regional accent. He sounds as if he comes from somewhere. It isn’t surprising that the priest and people love one another dearly. They might be from different places, but they both belong somewhere – as opposed to the urban metropolitans who could belong anywhere and often can’t be trusted because of that. (See note below about the Anywhere and Somewhere tribes.)

Father Michael is the person people turn to – they rely on him. They trust him above all others. But he is not the “heroic leader”. He is wounded himself, shamed and vulnerable, hoping for heaven. He is unassuming, self-effacing. He knows “it’s easy to forget Christ’s here, giving us strength, easing our pain,” and so he lights a candle as he invites people to open the heart of their troubles.

I could be critical. It is very clerical. But is that liberalism speaking? Is that the criticism of a metropolitan who could belong anywhere. There is no criticism from the people who are THERE, broken. He can be trusted. He is there. He is on their side utterly. They need someone to be on their side. The institutions they should be able to rely on repeatedly let them down. They need his ministry.

Christina played by Anna Friel is desperately poor. Just when we think she can go no lower her mother with whom she lives (and who helps share the living costs) dies. She pretends that she is still alive so she can claim her mother’s next pension payment. She’s arrested. Father Michael goes to court as her character witness. He calls her “this wonderful woman” who does everything for her children. I have no doubt that anybody would ever have called her “wonderful” before, but there was evident integrity in Father Michael’s statement. He uncovered the truth through his love and practical wisdom.

There is a moving scene n the confessional. A woman confesses that she is going to kill herself because she has stolen a vast amount from her employer (to feed her gambling addition). She recognises Father Michael’s vulnerability and witnesses his own confession.

We need more drama like this. We need to know more about people like Christina. We need to understand how wonderful they are. We need her to have more of a say in our national life. We need more priests like Sean Bean. We need more people to know they are “wonderful”. We need as much as ever to find our way through brokenness, and we need our Prime Ministers to learn from the witness of the faithful ministers in our broken communities.

I wonder how many priests, having watched this, will be left wondering how far they have moved from their calling – going somewhere else. And I wonder how many will be left wondering whether they are called to be priests – at any rate, whether they are good enough to be a friend broken for others somewhere just like that.

NOTE: David Goodhart in The Road to Somewhere: the populist revolt and the future of politics (2017) claims that there are two tribes, the Anywheres and the Somewheres. The Anywheres are light in their attachments “to larger group identities, including national ones; they value autonomy and self-realisation before stability, community and tradition”.  The Somewheres are grounded in place, uneasy with the modern world, experiencing change as loss. Goodhart used this theory to explain Brexit decision.

Notes heard above The Noise of Time

The Noise of TimeI don’t read that much but every now and then I come across something that takes my breath away. Julian Barnes, through his book The Noise of Time, has me intrigued with the noise of time. This is a poetic book that is well crafted and beautifully composed. It tells us the time and the time is telling. It is a short book in which a lot of time is told in a short time. It is a time of terror.

I read this book for the first time at the end of Holy Week, through the three days known as the TriDuum, Maundy Thursday through till Holy Saturday – the short time it took to tell so much of time. I was attentive to the noises of that other time told through three days: the crushing noise of religious and political authority almost overpowering a more faithful and resilient strain.

There are three main characters in The Noise of Time. There’s the “author” who is the one who remembers. There’s Shostakovich, who is the one who hears. And there is the one less than human, Power deformed. Arguably there is a cast of three in the Triduum. There’s the one who remembers (the witnesses), the one who hears (on the cross) and the ones Power deformed (who know not what they do).

Running through my mind while I read this book were lines from a poem by Anna Lightart called The Second Music:

Now I understand that there are two melodies playing,
one below the other, one easier to hear, the other

lower, steady, perhaps more faithful for being less heard
yet always present.

The Noise of Time is a book full of threes – if you like, there are three hands: an hour hand, minute hand and second hand. The three chapters measure three movements: On the LandingOn the Plane and In the Car. 

There are three brands of cigarettes (Kazbeks, Belamors, Herzegovinas). There are three vodka glasses for three vodka drinkers (the perfect number for vodka drinking). There are three wives (Nina, Margarita and Irina). There are three ways to destroy your soul: “by what others did to you, by what others made you do to yourself, and by what you voluntarily chose to do to yourself”. (p.181)

There are three Conversations with Power and there are three leap years twelve years apart from each other (1936, 1948 and 1960). This is the time frame of a crushing history. It is a history which crushes the human spirit and twists arts and artists to the ends of empire, turning them into cowards – which threatened to be a life’s work (being a coward, just to survive).

“It was not easy being a coward. Being a hero was much easier than being a coward. To be a hero, you only had to be brave for a moment – when you took out the gun, threw the bomb, pressed the detonator, did away with the tyrant, and with yourself as well. To be a coward was to embark on a career that lasted a lifetime. You couldn’t ever relax. You had to anticipate the next occasion when you would have to make excuses for yourself, dither, cringe, reacquaint yourself with the taste of rubber boots and the state of your fallen, abject character. Being a coward required pertinacity, persistence, a refusal to change – which made it, in a way, a kind of courage. He smiled to himself and lit another cigarette. The pleasures of irony had not yet deserted him.” (p.171)

Dimitiri Shostakovich was one of the major composers of the twentieth century. I’m no musician but I do know that there are usually four movements to a symphony. That is music’s shape. In his threes, is Barnes describing the way in which totalitarianism deforms truth and beauty? There is the hint of a fourth movement in the opening and closing of the book in epigraph and coda. In these there are the three characters on stage (it’s a station platform). There’s one who remembers, there’s one who hears and there’s one who is a vulgar “half man” (reduced by the noise of time to being less than himself, a mere “technique of survival”. The one who remembered, remembers the vodka and remembers how the one who heard pricked up his ears as he heard the notes of the clinking vodka glasses.

This is what was remembered:

“They were in the middle of Russia, in the middle of a war, in the middle of all kinds of suffering within that war. There was a long station platform, on which the sun had just come up. There was a man, half a man really, wheeling himself along on a trolley, attached to it by a rope threaded through the top of his trousers. The two passengers had a bottle of vodka. They descended from the train. The beggar stopped singing his filthy song. Dimitri Dmitrievich held the bottle, he the glasses. Dimitri Dmitrievich poured vodka into each glass …

He was no barman, and the level of vodka in each glass was slightly different …

But Dimitri Dmitrievich was listening , and hearing as he always did. So when the three glasses with their different levels came together in a single chink, he had smiled, and put his head on one side so that the sunlight flashed briefly off his spectacles, and murmured, “A triad”.

And that was what the one who remembered had remembered. War, fear, poverty, typhus and filth, yet in the middle of it, above it and beneath it and through it all, Dimitri Dmitrievich had heard a perfect triad… a triad put together by three not very clean vodka glasses and their contents was a sound that rang clear of the noise of time, and would outlive everyone and everything. And perhaps, finally, this was all that mattered.” (p.196)

So the tragedy is told in The Noise of Time. There is a lot of time told in a short time. In one moment there is a note of beauty, a sound of music ringing above the noise of time, testimony to the human spirit, crushed, humiliated for so much of the time. There is the sounding of hope.

“Art belongs to everybody and nobody. Art belongs to all time and no time. Art belongs to those who create it and those who savour it. Art no more belongs to the People and the Party than it once belonged to the aristocracy and the patron. Art is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time.” (p.97)

Training Champions of the Human Race

Yusra Mardini
Notes for a sermon for Christ the King, Birkenhead, August 14th 2016 (Proper 15C, Ordinary 20C, Pentecost +13)

Have you been watching the Olympics?  It’s too easy to watch too much isn’t it? What have been your highlights?

Did you see Yusra Mardini win her 200 metre freestyle swimming heat? Yusra was swimming for the Refugee Olympic team. She got such a cheer. She won her heat, though didn’t qualify for the semi finals because others had swum faster than her.

Yusra is 18 years old. She was born in Damascus, a Syrian Christian and represented Syria in 2012. Her family’s house was destroyed and the roof of her training pool was blown off. She and her sister Sarah decided to flee Syria last summer. They reached Lebanon, then Turkey, and then boarded a boat for Greece. There were 20 of them in a dinghy designed for six. The boat was soon in trouble with the motor failing after 30 minutes. There were only four swimmers in the boat: Yusra, her sister and two others. They had to get out and pushed and pulled for 3 hours until they bought the boat to shore on Lesbos and the lives of the people on board so saving the lives of all their fellow passengers.

Last August, after 25 days, she arrived in Berlin. She gets up at 4 o’clock every morning to train before going to school. That has been her training schedule. That is how she arrived at the Olympics.

Also in the swimming pool was Adam Peaty, our first swimming gold medal since 1988. He’s from Uttoxeter. He used to be scared of water. You couldn’t tell could you?

Besides his own dedication – his story is one of immense and sacrificial support by his mother, the rest of the family and his neighbours – as they have struggled to make the money to pay for the petrol to get him to his training.

His response to winning: “I’m proud to have pushed the boundaries of the human race.” Are we pushing the boundaries of the human race? And if we are thinking to ourselves how old we are, that we are too frail, there will be the Paralympians coming along next month to shame our outlook. And if we are thinking that we are unfit then we have to open our ears and hearts to the good news that God’s love helps us fit for the kingdom, not our strength.

Are any of you successful athletes? Or maybe you’re not medal winners, but you’ve got a life of achievement because of the work that you have put in – you’ve brought up children, you’ve supported a sick relative, you’ve ….

Or, perhaps more of us are conscious of our failings, the missed opportunities, inability to keep our resolve – losing our way in lives full of regrets. Me too.

 

Our first reading (Hebrews 11:29-12:2) gives honourable mentions to many people – to the prostitute Rahab, to Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets – those who administered justice, those whose weakness was turned to strength, those who endured torture, imprisonment and persecution – destitute, ill-treated, homeless. They are all commended for their faith.

The letter is written in the past tense, but the honourable mention is intended to embrace those who now administer justice, those who endure torture, imprisonment and persecution, those whose faith is commendable. They are all champions of the human race – and we are all encouraged to run with them for a podium finish – at the right hand of God. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1f)

 

We have all been introduced to the pool in our baptism. It might be a long time since we swam in those waters but perhaps it’s worth casting our minds to our baptisms and the call to swim in those waters. That is the training pool for future champions – champions of the human race.

Those who get honourable mentions are commended for the race they ran even though they could hardly make out the tape. According to this letter to the Hebrews, God has planned something far better for us. I don’t know whether any of you have been to the dogs but the greyhounds race after the hare that has been set running. We have Jesus before us, to fix our eyes on, to follow.

Where Jesus goes, our eyes follow. That is where we set our sights. The highways and by-ways, the margins ………… “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Yusra Mardini, in an interview this week says that she has been overwhelmed by the support that she has had and that she hopes that she has “opened the world’s eyes to the plight of those who have been displaced” – which is where eyes will focus if they are fixed on Jesus because we know his time was/is for them and those like them who are strangers (even aliens) to the powers that be.

Jesus is the goal, but what about our training schedule?

The words of Psalm 90 shouted out to me this week:

The days of our life are three score years and ten, or if our strength endures, even four score; yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow, for they soon pass away and we are gone (verse 10)

How soon life passes. Before we know it we are at the end of our days, and we can easily become overwhelmed by the sense of opportunities missed. Life runs away with us. In this context the psalmist prays:

Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom (verse 12). Numbering our days means making our days count, whether we have 3 days, months, weeks, years. How shall we use the time that we have? Shall we train them on the human race we run?

The psalmist continues (verse 15), Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, and for the years in which we have seen adversity – a simple plea for a better time than the times wasted or suffered.

Part of my own training schedule is to pick up a poem each day. For me it’s like a protein shake – it builds me up and gives me energy. This poem I picked up this week is by Annie Dillard and is called How we Spend our Days  It is about how we manage our time, structure our time so it helps us keep a good time and a winning time.

How we spend our days
is, of course,
how we spend our lives.

What we do with this hour,
and that one,
is what we are doing.

A schedule
defends from chaos
and whim.

It is a net
for catching days.
It is a scaffolding

on which a worker
can stand
and labor with both hands

at sections of time.
A schedule is a mock-up
of reason and order –

willed, faked,
and so brought into being;
it is a peace and a haven

set into the wreck of time;
it is a lifeboat
on which you find yourself,

decades later,
still living.
Each day is the same,

so you remember
the series afterward
as a blurred and powerful pattern.

So what about a training schedule? (And what would go in that schedule?)

What about aiming for a good time? (And what a good time for you be?)

How about championing the human race and the whole of God’s creation?

 

 

 

Oh Yeah Now That’s a Table

George Messo's Blog

A man filled with life’s joy
Placed his keys on the table
Put down flowers in a copper bowl
Put down his milk, his eggs
Placed light coming from the window there
Sound of a bicycle, sound of a spinning wheel
He placed there the softness of weather and bread

On the table the man
Put things that occurred in his mind
Whatever he wanted to do in life
He placed it there
Who he loved, who he didn’t love

The man put them too on the table
Three times three equals nine
The man placed nine on the table
He was next to the window next to the sky
He reached out placed infinity on the table
For days he’d wanted to drink a beer
He put the pouring of beer onto the table
He put down his sleep his wakefulness
Placed there his fullness his hunger

Oh yeah…

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Holiday plans – some sermon notes for St Nicholas, Burton – Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Trinity 7

July 19th 2015  – some notes for sermon for St Nicholas, Burton

Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Trinity 7.

There is only one reading: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 (In my mind is the verse from Psalm 127, Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.) The other readings which could have been used are about God’s building (he doesn’t want David to build him a house, he wants to do the building for David – and all his house)

I thought we would plan some holiday this morning.

The run for the sun has begun – I think most schools finished on Friday. I distracted a boy when I was walking our dog the other morning. The boy was riding his bike to school. His trousers caught in the chain. I noticed he’d ripped them and asked if he would be in trouble. He said “no, it’s only another 3 days”.

Muslims have been holidaying this weekend. The sighting of the new moon heralded EID, marking the end of Ramadan.

It is time to be thinking of holidays.

First Choice and Thomas Cook could have lifted a verse from today’s gospel to sell us their holidays. “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”.

Do you ever catch yourself saying “I haven’t got time for this that or the other”? I suspect that as long as we are saying that we need to be hearing those words that Jesus spoke to his disciples – and what a week they’d had! EXPLAIN

We talk about “time poverty”, where we struggle to fit in all that we are committed to – work, family, interests – and with holidays we find time.

For the disciples, the rest time they are given is a gift of Jesus – it’s how God cares for his people, then (after all they had been doing) and now (with all our business).

“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Sabbath

For one rabbi (Heschel), the Bible is more concerned with time than with space (history more than geography. It’s the time of rest that is more important than the place of rest.

For this rabbi, the Sabbath is a spirit that is lonely and that comes looking for us.

Let it come, I say. It’s not so much that we long for rest, as rest longs for us.

Heschel writes

  • that unless we learn how to relish the taste of rest we will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.
  • that the world’s survival depends on the holiness of the 7th day. The task is how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit.
  • “Six days we wrestle with the world. ringing profit from the earth: on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.”
  • that the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals – time that is our own, for us to walk around in

….. days of rest that are holidays that can make holy days ….

Letting Go and Letting Come

I don’t know about you, but my best ideas happen when I’m not working. It’s when I’m in the shower, or out walking, or just waking, or suddenly hearing or seeing. It’s when I’m not trying – it’s when I’ve let all that busyness go. And isn’t that ironic? It’s when we let go of our work, when we put down our clever, when we are off guard – that suddenly we realise – and we use words like “the idea came to me” – we aren’t doing anything, and the idea just came to me. This is what I have to do. This is how I have to be. This is what life is all about – it’s just come to me.

We need to sleep on things.

We have to let go …… to let come

It’s at holiday that we let go, and that we let come those things which transform the way we look at life and the way we live our life.

And so we should pray for those on holiday, for those planning a holiday, that those things which come to them do transform their lives, and that when the holiday ends it’s not a case of busyness as usual.

And we should pray for those who aren’t able to holiday, who can’t see their way to having a holiday – because they don’t think they can afford one, either because they haven’t got the time, or because they haven’t got the money. What should we pray for them? That they do find rest, that they do know that God wants them to rest, that he wants them to have holy days to sanctify their other days.

There is a quote that I love to repeat:

The world longs for the generosity of a well rested people (Wayne Muller)

Things come to well rested people. If rest is the ministry of God to us, it is not much of a stretch to think that those things that come to well rested people are what Paul describes as the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Gal 5:22f)

I dare say that they don’t come to those who don’t rest – because they haven’t let go to let come those gifts that so transform ourselves, relationships and society.

I also dare say that the contrasting works of the flesh (as listed by Paul – Gal 5) are seen as a result of an absence of rest. Check that out from your own experience and behaviour as I read through some from the list:  impurity, envy, drunkenness, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, factions.

I mentioned Ramadan earlier – I think it is worth us understanding more about Ramadan. Ramadan is a rest that Muslims plan for and look forward to – in spite of the rigorous disciplines that last for a month. Ramadan is a gift from God, a time of prayer, fasting and learning scripture. The intention is that they accept God’s gift, and that they learn and change as a result.

Our own gospel reading, inadvertently I think, gives us a clue about what rest does. It had been busy, and it goes on to be busy doesn’t it? They thought they’d escaped the crowds, but the crowds catch them up. But there is no compassion fatigue in Jesus. He doesn’t wince of flinch when he sees the great crowd. He has the generosity of a well rested man – who draws breath, who lets himself be wrapped in God’s sending love – of whom the evangelist is able to say “he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

The world longs for the generosity of a well rested people.

How can we help ourselves to rest? How can we encourage each other to find the rest that we need, and that those around us need us to have? This is holiday planning.

In rest, we discover what God is building. It’s a rather different market place than the ones that have been constructed by ourselves – that are for those with money (look at London). In the gospel, the tables are turned – the sick are laid in the market place – the poor, the needy ……..

Blessing of Rest (this is how God cares for his people – “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Curl this blessing
beneath your head
for a pillow.
Wrap it about yourself
for a blanket.
Lay it across your eyes
and for this moment
cease thinking about
what comes next,
what you will do
when you rise.

Let this blessing
gather itself to you
like the stillness
that descends
between your heartbeats,
the silence that comes
so briefly
but with a constancy
on which
your life depends.

Settle yourself
into the quiet
this blessing brings,
the hand it lays
upon your brow
the whispered word
it breathes into
your ear
telling you
all shall be well
all shall be well
and you can rest
now.

Jan Richardson: The Painted Prayerbook