Tag Archives: providence

27 June: A shared table.

I had been sitting at the garden table, taking tea with Mrs Turnstone and Grandson No 2, but they had to go to find his parents. I sipped on.

I feel I have short-changed you, dear readers, because the central character in this story does not appear in the feature photograph, but she would have been even more camera shy than Mrs T is, and I was enjoying her company too much to send her packing by pulling out my phone.

She is one of the hen sparrows that nest in the roof of next-door-but-one. The landlord could do with fixing the roof but will have to wait now until the breeding season is over. The sparrow flew down to the table and attacked one side of the sliver of cake; these was a waspy looking creature opposite who probably would have posed for a photo, but Mrs Sparrow is not that bold, so what you get to see is a sliver of cake, slightly ragged at the edges. I got a shared meal with Mrs Sparrow, an uninvited guest.

Not that she sees it that way. As far as she is concerned, we humans are part of God’s providence (Luke 12:6). Food was provided, and food was accepted. She tucked in herself before taking a beakful home. At some point later the cake fell to the floor and was scattered across the flagstones; but it grew too dark for photography, and by the time a tardy human drags himself downstairs tomorrow morning, the crumbs will be gone.

I expect this bird is one of those that help themselves to Mrs Turnstone’s sphagnum moss, leaving her hanging baskets denuded; I daresay, too, she knows about the flowers pecked to ribbons for their sweet petals and nectar. Some things just have to be forgiven.

Other translations have swallow for turtle; turtle being the turtle dove of course. Not as noisy as our local collared doves, I imagine.

How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of host! 
My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. 
My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. 
For the sparrow hath found herself a house, 
and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones: 
Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, 
my king and my God. 

Psalm 83(84) 2-4

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26 June: Today this is my vocation, XI: the Lord’s Prayer.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Audemus dicerePater Noster.”*—canon of the mass.

      There is a bolder way,
There is a wilder enterprise than this
All-human iteration day by day.
Courage, mankind!  Restore Him what is His.

      Out of His mouth were given
These phrases.  O replace them whence they came.
He, only, knows our inconceivable “Heaven,”
Our hidden “Father,” and the unspoken “Name”;

      Our “trespasses,” our “bread,”
The “will” inexorable yet implored;
The miracle-words that are and are not said,
Charged with the unknown purpose of their Lord.

      “Forgive,” “give,” “lead us not”—
Speak them by Him, O man the unaware,
Speak by that dear tongue, though thou know not what,
Shuddering through the paradox of prayer.


Alice Meynell, from A Father of Women and other poems, Burns & Oates, London, 1917

* We dare to say ‘Our Father’. The words would have been recited in Latin in 1917.

A warning against taking ourselves and our assumed virtues without a good pinch of salt. We only begin to see what the Lord’s Prayer means when we put the words back onto his tongue, avoiding our short-sighted, self-serving distortions.

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24 July, Little Flowers of Saint Francis LII: the courteous gentleman, 1.

 

footwash

How Jesu Christ, the blessed One, at the prayer of St Francis, let convert a rich and gentle knight and become a brother, the which had shewn great honour and liberality unto Saint Francis

Saint Francis, the servant of Christ, coming late one evening to the house of a great gentleman and powerful, was received of him to lodge therein, both he and his companion, as if they were angels of God, with exceeding great courtesy and devotion: for the which cause Saint Francis was greatly touched with love for him, bethinking him how at their coming into the house he had embraced and kissed them lovingly, and then had washed their feet and wiped and humbly kissed them, and had kindled a great fire and made ready the table with much good food, and whilst they ate, he served them always with a joyful countenance. 

Now, when that Saint Francis and his companion had eaten, this gentle man said: “Behold, my father, I offer to thee myself and all my goods; so oft as ye have need of tunic or mantle or aught beside, buy them and I will pay for them; and behold, I am ready to provide your every need, since by the grace of God am I able, seeing that I abound in all temporal goods; and therefore, for the love of God, that hath given them me, I do good unto His poor right willingly.”

Whereby Saint Francis, seeing in him such gentle courtesy and friendliness, and so liberal an offering, conceived in his heart great love towards him.

To be continued.

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October 27: We have much to hope from the flowers.

rose.wild.scot1

“There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

Sherlock Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty”

I didn’t expect Sherlock Holmes to contribute to the blog either! Will.

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8 August, Traherne VI: Everything serves us more than we could imagine

Friday 24th (601x800)

Today Traherne’s meditation flows from the same source as Saint Francis and Pope Francis, who has taken much of his Laudato Si’!  from Patriarch Bartholomew. Creation is a gift to be prized, not priced! And, after a day of walking by the sea, I reflected that everything of ours was not in its proper place; I could have filled a few litter bags with discarded plastic if I’d had my litter-picker with me. Not a problem that Traherne could have imagined.

When things are ours in their proper places, nothing is needful but prizing to enjoy them. God therefore hath made it infinitely easy to enjoy, by making everything ours, and us able so easily to prize them.

Everything is ours that serves us in its place. The Sun serves us as much as is possible, and more than we could imagine. The Clouds and Stars minister unto us, the World surrounds us with beauty, the Air refresheth us, the Sea revives the earth and us. The Earth itself is better than gold because it produceth fruits and flowers.

And therefore in the beginning, was it made manifest to be mine, because Adam alone was made to enjoy it. By making one, and not a multitude, God evidently shewed one alone to be the end of the World and every one its enjoyer. For every one may enjoy it as much as he.

Picture from FMSL

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February 22: Little Flowers of Saint Francis XI: Brother Giles is cared for during a cold Lent 2.

bread

So Brother Giles and his companion gave themselves up to prayer, beseeching God with all their hearts that He would send them help in their great need. And God, who is all-pitiful, had regard unto their faith and devotion and simplicity and fervour, after this fashion.

A certain man that was looking towards the church in which Brother Giles and his companion were, being inspired of God, said within himself; « It may be that in yon church are some good persons doing penance, who by reason of the snow that hath so much fallen, cannot supply their needs, and by reason thereof may die of hunger.” And urged on by the Holy Spirit, he said: “Of a surety I will go and see whether my imagination be true or not”; and taking some bread and a bottle of wine, he set out upon his way; and with exceeding
great difficulty he came to the church aforesaid, where he found Brother Giles and his
companion praying most devoutly ; and they were so consumed with hunger that to all seeming they appeared rather to be dead men than alive, He had great compassion on them, and when they were refreshed and comforted, he returned and told unto his neighbours the
need and the distress of these brothers, and prevailed on them and prayed them for the love of God to make provision for them; so that many persons, following his example, brought them bread and wine and other needful viands, for the love of God; and all through that Lent they took such order among themselves that in their need they were provided for.

And Brother Giles pondering on the mercy of God and the charity of those folk, said to his companion: “My brother most dear, even now have we prayed unto God to provide for us in our need, and our prayers have been heard: wherefore it is fitting that we give Him thanks and glory, and pray for them that have nourished us with their alms, and for all Christian people!”

And for his great fervour and devotion, God gave such grace unto Brother Giles that many
through his example left this blind world, and many others whose hearts were not turned to the religious life, did much great penance in their own homes.

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21 April, Easter Friday: “Who are you?”

Easter Friday
Image from: http://fatherkevinestabrook.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/homily-easter-friday-2016.html

Jn 21:1-14

‘None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?”

I was wondering why such a question would even arise? Didn’t the disciples know what Jesus looked like after going around with him for three years?

Then it occurred to me that perhaps Jesus’ appearance was different after the Resurrection. After all, the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognise Him either. It was only Jesus’ familiar actions – breaking bread, feeding and caring for them, creating miracles of abundance that gave Him away.

The lesson from this for the disciples is that, from now on, the Christ will be recognised not by an individual physical appearance but by what he does. That is why He asks Peter to feed and care for the people of God, continuing His ministry. It applies to us, His followers, who continue His mission today. People should be able to recognise Christ in us by our actions: breaking bread in the Eucharist, feeding and caring for people, trusting in the Father’s providence for our needs.

I ask God to keep reminding me that my actions should always be those of Jesus, to witness that He is alive in the world today.

Amen – alleluia!

FMSL

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