Finding freedom!

Flying in the light.

At this time of coronovirus and lockdown restrictions, life can seem a bit heavy. In the west of Scotland, we are not to leave our houses unless it is necessary, and it can feel a bit as if we are in prison, unable to do the things we would normally do, to meet up with friends, or go to the theatre.

In comparison with many, we are so fortunate. We are not in a refugee camp in Kenya, or in prison for our faith. We have so many things to be grateful for.

I suppose this is where perspective comes in. It is so easy to focus on the things that we cannot do, and be downcast. However God calls us to focus on what is possible, and the choices we can make.

For people who are carers though, I think this is a particularly tough season. Many support services have been cut, day centres and respite opportunities are often closed or limited. Caring for a loved one with mental health issue, a chronic condition or a disability, can be exhausting at the best of times, a 24 hour a day job. Listening in the night to meet the needs of some one who is ill, or might wander, means that feeling of never being able to relax for a second.

When I was looking after Colin, I could never anticipate his needs, or when I should be involved. He was proud and independent- he often didn’t want help. He resented it. Yet on occasion, intervention seemed the lesser of two evils. So hard, as a spouse, to deliver person centred care, and to ensure his dignity. For many carers, your anticipation of risk, means you can’t rest, because you are seeking to keep everyone safe.

If we are feeling trapped, whether because of personal circumstances or covid restrictions, the Christian faith can make such a difference. There is a beautiful verse: ‘ where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ 2 Corinthians 3: 17

We are reminded that God releases us from our chains, He heals the broken hearted, He puts the lonely in families, He lifts up those who are down. He gives strength, insight and patience when it is needed. God is so tender hearted towards His children- He sees our struggles, and comes alongside us, to release us from what binds us, and to set us free. Our spirits can dance and soar, even in the midst of burdens and cares.

And so, dear friend, whatever might be weighing on your spirit, I pray that you can find freedom in the Holy spirit of God, who cleanses and heals us, and inspires us and brings life.

Let us pray, Lord God, at times our burdens are so heavy, we feel weighed down and trapped. But Lord Jesus, You shine your light into our darkness. You forgive our shortcomings, You open our eyes to the beautiful, the small acts of kindness. Holy spirit of God, bring us to a place of freedom, where we can soar like the eagle, and enjoy the exhilaration of the fresh air and the warmth of the sunshine. May we always know an inner freedom, that enables us to be, and to have space and identity. Help us to appreciate and explore this freedom, Amen.

Changing colours of autumn.

This weekend, the weather has been glorious, and the colours rich and vibrant. The soft autumn sunshine, azure skies and soft clouds floating by are idyllic. The sun has been surprisingly warm, and if you find a sheltered spot, it is like being touched by the love of God.

Yet the message of all of this, is that the seasons are changing, that the leaves are starting to turn, and then to fall, sometimes gently, sometimes in a stormy frenzy of whirl.

Autumn brings hope, because it reminds us that change can be beautiful. As human beings, we often seem stuck, stuck in grief or trauma or illness. We get used to it, and forget that there is another way to live.

Jesus was always on the move, going to different places, meeting new people, praying, challenging people as to how they could follow him. He was never static. So we too are called to be open to learning, to explore our creativity, to deepen our spirituality, to be fashioned into the very image of Christ. The Holy spirit is ever at work within us.

When we enjoy the changing autumn colours, I think God is also inviting us to change- to somehow find deeper healing from the past, and the courage to move on. This seems to be slow, painstaking work. We complain as the leaves fall, as there is so much to let go of, regrets, old patterns of thinking, difficult memories, dark hurts. Yet if the tree lies bare for a winter, by spring there is new life, new growth, new colour.

For all those entranced by the melancholy beauty of autumn, may we allow God to search our souls, guide our thoughts, to help us to choose wisely, to establish a new rhythm of life. It might be a painful transition involving reflection and self awareness, but my prayer for all of us, is that we are able to keep going forward

Let us pray, Lord Jesus, we strive to go forward, to move on from the past, but unbidden memories can force their way to the surface. Cleanse us by your holy spirit, and give us the vision of better things that are to come, of new growth and energy. And on days when it just seems too hard, may we just rest in the warmth of your love, and find your gift of deep, healing peace in your rays of light. Thankyou Father God, that we can rest with you, to marvel at Your beauty, and be in communion with You, Amen.

When to take off the mask?

We have got used to wearing masks!

In these covid 19 influenced days, we are getting used to wearing masks in many situations- shops, dentists, churches etc. We know that this helps prevent the spread of the virus to others, so it is so worthwhile, even if its a bit uncomfortable.

However, in our society, it feels as if most of us are wearing a mask of some sort that prevents people seeing who we are, not just physically, but spiritually. When asked how we are, we often say that we are fine, when we feel anything but. We are often editing information to share with others, so we don’t say too much.

The American pastor Rick Warren says this: ‘ wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.’

The kind of mask Rick is talking about, is a mask that we hide behind, that stops others knowing who we truly are. We often like to pretend that our life is going better than it is, that our job is great, that our relationships are harmonious, that we are in a good place. We often don’t want to make ourselves look vulnerable to others by saying that we are in debt, or are wrestling with self doubt or depressed, or struggling as a parent. We don’t know how people will react, and so we tend to hide.

We can all wear a mask, but at times, the weight of keeping up the pretense is overwhelming and destructive. Sometimes the secret is too big, when it comes to illness or addiction or domestic abuse. I think that some families of veterans know this pressure, because they are trying to pretend that everything is going OK, rather than admit that their much loved person has destructive behaviours. People try to be loyal, little knowing that becoming a codependent is not going to do good for anyone in the long run.

In John’s gospel chapter 8, Jesus says: “you are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” v 31 and 32.

Pretending to be what we are not, is a stressful burden. It is often driven by fear and insecurity. If I tell the truth, will people still respect me, will they still talk to me? It is such a strain to live with. The amazing thing us that God knows the truth about us, even our most dark secrets, and He still loves us. How incredible is that? And being able to be real with God in prayer, helps us to find that freedom we crave. Freedom to admit the truth, however difficult, and even to get the support that is needed.

For many people, struggling under the strain of pretending, please trust your worries to God. He will not reject you or abandoned you, rather He looks upon you with love and grace. He shows compassion on the weary and the hurting, and seeks to guide us, and to help us. God can be trusted!

I understand a little of this, as telling Colin’s story has been one of the hardest thing I have ever done, and at times people don’t like what I am saying. Yet being authentic, is the only way I can come to terms with all that has happened, and to seek to heal, and to find a new way forward. The truth is setting me free, although it us a gradual process, and I am so impatient.

So we might need to keep our covid preventative mask on, but to take our soul mask off. We have to ask God for wisdom, to discern if there are people we can trust to do this with. Being honest is such a relief, and helps us find our healing. My prayer is that each of us reaches out for help when we need it. May God give us courage, and bless us all with that loving friend or safe person that we can talk to, let us pray.

Gracious God, You are Loving, a God of integrity and grace, look upon your children with mercy, for we tie ourselves in knots with pretence and lies, and self doubt. Lord Jesus, give us courage to tell you the truth about our past, about our struggles, and to find the forgiveness and healing we seek. Holy spirit where you dwell there is freedom. Free us, and our loved ones from lies and deception, and help us find the support that us most needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen

‘ the banality of evil’

Eating the apple- it looked delicious!

Recently I watched the 2012 film ‘ Hannah Arendt’. It was a film about the political theorist covering the 1962 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichman, and one of the phrases she uses as she watches the trial is ‘ the banality of evil’. She is asking questions about who is responsible when things go wrong, and bureaucrats argue that they were just following orders.

It reminded me of a deeply troubling book I read many years ago ‘ people of the lie’ by Scott Peck. He spoke of case studies he had been involved in, where all the family members seemed ‘ nice’ on the outside, but at times had deeply damaged others by verbal manipulations and a basic denial of their humanity. It could be subtle, but people often lied, consciously or unconsciously, and this could cause devastating harm to others

It made me think about how trauma and harm can be not just big dramatic events, but a hundred small things. Things that can seem petty, but have a cumulative effect. When I listened to Colin talking about his days in the military, the damage was not just from the horrendous acts of violence, but also from small seemingly insignificant details, that became deeply symbolic of the emotional cost of what took place.

For Eve in the garden of Eden, we are told that she had complete freedom to do anything, except eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the serpent knew how to tempt her, to distort what God said, and she saw the apple looked delicious. What could be the harm? Just a complete breakdown of trust.

We are all rebellious, we all make mistakes, and the logical consequence of this, is that we all contribute to the darkness in the land. Everytime we verbally put some one down, we don’t challenge injustice, we collude with untruths, we are part of the problem.

Sometimes when we look at conflict and war in the world, we think it doesn’t affect us, as it is geographically far away. Yet the interconnectedness of international relations, means that there is usually an element of responsibility somewhere, in terms of our history, influence, selling of weapons and financial interests. We often turn away from any responsibility to get involved, and that has consequences.

I don’t want to make you feel down, but maybe we all need to reflect on our own contribution to misunderstanding, conflict and institutional evil. We need to discern when to speak out, to challenge the corporate giant, the corrupt government, to be willing to pray, to lobby, to speak. We have a responsibility to do so. Even if one situation was influenced to do something better, that would be so worthwhile.

Let us pray, and choose to act.

Dear God, You are Good and Holy, and we are so rebellious and selfish, often choosing to protect ourselves, at the cost of others, choosing to be blind to the consequences. Lord Jesus, forgive our pride and lies and self interest, in our relationships, whether intimate or international. Open our eyes to your truth, and give us courage to act. Holy spirit, keep us from temptation, help us not to compromise with the ways of the world,and help us speak out for Your kingdom values. May we not collude with evil, but choose to always walk in the light, for Your glory’s sake, Amen.

The anguish of war movies.

Under fire

When I first wanted to start understand my late husband Colin better, as well as listening to his military experiences, we watched some war movies together. This was to give me more insight as to what war could feel like.

Over time, we watched movies like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse now, Letters from Iwo Jima. At the time, I felt this was really useful, helping me realise the confusion, brutality, senselessness and anguish of violence and conflict. Another film that was particularly memorable and disturbing was Jacob’s  ladder, thinking of the delusions and sheer hell of war.

Whilst these films enabled us to talk through issues of war, justice, the horror of impossible choices, the loss of humanity involved in battle, I think they often retramatised my husband rather than helped him. They reminded him of duty, comradery and courage, but also reinforced all the nightmares of darkness and pain and questioning.

At this point in time, I can’t  bear to watch any of these movies any more. They just speak to me of the senselessness and savagery of combat, which brings overwhelming sorrow and anguish. The cries of the wounded and maimed seem to echo forever in my head.

And so I look to Jesus for guidance. Our Saviour personally experienced the worst cruelty and violence of humanity, yet His love was never diminished or tarnished. He kept forgiving, was full of goodness, kept working for an eternal kingdom of truth, goodness, justice and peace.

In different seasons of our lives, different things are helpful. Films, plays, books can all remind us of the moral complexities of conflict, their longlasting and often devastating impact on individuals and communities. There are theological and philosophical challenges as to what constitutes a ‘ just war’. Having any understanding or insight into each context, helps us pray and campaign and protest, as our conscience leads us.

I am struck by the extent to which I felt, and can still feel as if I was in some of these military conflicts with my husband, because of all the memories he shared. PTSD is not just experienced by veterans, but also often by their families. This vicarious trauma, is because of their exposure to repeated stories and re enactments of violence and suffering.

My concern therefore is that veterans and their families get the support they need to work through these traumas, and find a self worth, understanding, healing and peace. These can come through various trauma therapies, and ultimately from Jesus Christ, as our Healer and the Lover of our souls.

Meantime, we also need to find balance, by focusing on the good, the brightness of sunshine, the joy of a pet, the taste of a good meal, the encouragement and prayers of a friend, the inspiration of the Holy spirit.

I remember the words from Philippians chapter 4, where Paul writes: ‘finally dear friends, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things’. As a corollary to thinking of the darkness and barbarism of humanity, we need to remember the light and beauty and nobility, and so these words speak to my soul.

Let us pray, Dear Father God, you look upon us with the mercy and kindness of a beloved parent. On this earth, we fight and squabble, we often loose sight of our humanity, we use torture and violence all to easily, especially in times of conflict and war. Lord Jesus, please forgive us, heal us, restore our humanity, bless our veterans and families, and give us wisdom as to when war is ever necessary. Holy spirit, help us to notice the good, the pure, the lovely things in our midst, and to find our peace, Amen

A convergence of sorrow and love.

Light and shade

In life sometimes there can be the juxtaposition of too many sorrows. The loss of a loved one, of a job, of a dream, all coming at the same time. There are so many things that can cause people to mourn, not just our personal circumstances, but the loss of certainty, a wailing over injustice, a deep sorrow at the state of the world. In this time of pandemic, turbulent international politics and horrendous poverty and injustice, we have so many reasons for sorrow.

Walking in the valley of the shadow can be scary and lonely. There are so many dark places on the path, which are unexpected and unnerving. Yet it is when we are under pressure, that we call out to our Saviour, when we find out what it means to have him walk beside us on that path.

One of my favourite verses is from Isaiah chapter 43: ‘ I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places’. I often ponder what this means, but it seems to be that it is only when everything goes wrong, and you feel overwhelmed, that the beauty of Jesus’s presence can be truly felt and appreciated. Somehow it is only through being in the darkness, that we find out who we really are, and the discover the blessing of God’s grace to us. For He never turns His back on us, and when we are weak, He holds us up, and encourages us each step of the way.

And do there is a convergence of sorrow and love, for it us only in the deepest despair, that we experience the tender and transformative love of God, His Holy spirit refining our characters, so the dross is burned away, and only the gold comes forth. We are changed forever, with such an overwhelming waterfall of love flowing over us, that we are cleansed and strengthened and inspired.

The cross points to this deep truth, because in this place of human cruelty and barbarism and pain, Jesus lived out the love of God, revealing concern for his followers, forgiveness for the sinner, and a trust that he could commit his spirit to His heavenly Father. The cross is the most powerful and moving expression of love, because it is when Jesus is desolate and separated from his heavenly father, we see the extent of his self giving love for all.

This encourages our hearts, for when we are burdened looking after a loved one who is chronically unwell, or when we are struggling with pain and ill health, and life seems colourless and drab, that is when Christ’s presence gives us new strength, when we feel appreciation of a random act of kindness, when we are gently drawn into an experience of love that defies all description. In the darkest moment, God can bring a revelation of His grace, which whispers to our souls a word of peace.

I feel really thankful, that even in my worst days, God was there. Even when it seemed no- one understood, God listened. Even when all seemed lost, God was faithful. We are so blessed.

I remember the words of that great hymn ‘ when I survey the wondrous cross’ and the third verse says this: ‘ see from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down; did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?’

May we pray, Gracious God, we give thanks that even on the most drab and empty days, in the midst of our unmittigating sorrow, You reveal to us the depth of Your love in Christ, that convergence of sorrow and love on the cross, and you meet with us, and through your holy spirit breathe new strength and life into our souls. Your amazing love demands all we have, gladly given in love and service,and so we declare our love and devotion for You anew, Amen.

The scream of trauma.

Edward Munch The scream

When considering the state of the world just now, the scream of trauma seems to reverberate across every land- the child in the refugee camp, the parent unable to feed their child, the person subject to sexual violence, the individual unjustly incarcerated. For no fault of their own, often  people end up caught in cross fire, suffering anguish which can damage and break a spirit. It can be so overwhelming to contemplate, and so we often switch off by not watching the news, saying that these scenes are too much to bear.

As a Christian, I can’t pretend these things are not happening, whether it is the war veteran struggling with violent memories, of the human rights lawyer in a Chinese prison, or a survivor of abuse. Some days I can’t do much, others I can pray, write letters, campaign, give.

Jesus never turns his back on those who cry to him, he understands mocking, physical assault, trauma, to feel alone in the darkness. On the cross he cried:                                             My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’        Matthew 27:46

In Isaiah 42: 3 the prophet says:                ‘ a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuffout’                                                           and this reminds us of the tender care of God, for those who are hurting and feel bruised by life’s tribulations. God has a deep concern for those who are suffering, and in anguish.

So if some one has suffered trauma and abuse, what can we do? There are many routes in different circumstances, judicially involving the police or safeguarding where appropriate, and counselling, prayer and specialist help.

Last year I had the privilege of listening to Dr Bruce Perry talking about childhood trauma, and then reading one of his books ‘ The boy who was raised as a dog’. The book gives different case studies of traumatised children, and offers different approaches as to what helps. It is a hard but beautiful and deeply emotional read.

Dr Perry recounts true case histories of children, and tells us of the impact their trauma has had on their brain development. This in itself is such a detailed area of neuroscience, with so much to learn. And the things that can help bring healing are empathy, understanding, connectiveness, healthy relationships and love.

And so, when we think of that scream of pain echoing round the world, we pray for a powerful wave of God’s love in Christ, to heal and bring forgiveness, trust and places of safety, where people can find restoration and grace. And God often uses doctors, such as Dr Perry, and so many others, to bring understanding and healing for so many. We are thankful for all who work in neuroscience and psychiatry to bring support and help to others. And we are thankful for the wider trauma therapists also, for the wisdom and insight they bring. We need to be discerning in this area, but also to be thankful for God’s healing power in body, mind and soul.

Let us pray, Gracious God, You created this world to reflect the harmony of the trinity, but instead we fight and exploit and tear apart. Forgive us for our cruelty and greed. Lord Jesus may there be many wise healers, who heal not just with medicine, but with prayer and empathy, understanding and love. Holy Spirit, help us not to turn away from disturbing screams, from ourselves and from others, but help us to be honest, and through tears and lament, to find our healing, Amen.

A legacy of wonder- the ice cubes are dancing!

We have had a beautiful weekend- my amazing son Andrew has become 21 years old. For a mum, you wonder where all the years went- they pass so quickly in a whirl.

It has been a very emotional time. We are so sad that Colin – Andrew’s dad isn’t here to celebrate with us, nor Colin’s parents. So much loss, and a big gaping hole in our lives. Having tried to write a little about Colin’s life too, my soul is full of the things that went wrong, times of illness and irritation.

However I also wrote some personal notes about Andrew’s life as he grew up, just now and again, to remember some of the details of his childhood. And at the weekend, I reread these, and it has been so healing. It reminded me of Andrew’s courage, his complete independence as a small boy, his determination, his quirky sense of humour, his insights, his patience. Andrew has an amazing turn of phrase- like when he was small, and he looked at his orange juice one hot day, and said ‘ the ice cubes are dancing’ Once you hear this, ice cubes are never the same again, they move and clink and dance to an unheard beat. It is seeing the wonder in the ordinary.

And so, even as I look back over the years, and grieve the losses and pain of my husband’s disability, so I have been reminded of the moments of mercy and wonder in every day. I am so privileged to have a son, who has always done his own thing, and who has brought us such joy. Whether it is his love of cars and their engines, or his insights into science fiction, or his infectious enjoyment of waterfights, our lives were always full.

And I think of Jesus saying of his sheep in John chapter 10 verse 10a: ‘I have come that they might have life, and gave it to the full.’ Jesus gives us the gift of life, with its sorrows and splashes of light, to experience the sadneses of life, and moments of connection and inspiration that are so ethereal it makes you cry.

And so today, I am full of a deep gratitude, for the vivid reminder that in the midst of uncertainty and illness, God blessed us as a family with a beautiful life together- however uproarious and chaotic it looked! And Colin’s legacy lives on in Andrew’s hard work, strength, loyalty, insight and humour.

May we value our children, and all our loved ones, and tell them what they mean to us, and savour every moment we have with them. May we always pray and encourage them, so that a legacy of wonder and love, can be passed down. Let us pray

Dear God, Creator of all things, You share with us all that You are, love, mercy, goodness and truth, forgiveness, wonder and joy- as Jesus demonstrates, life in all its fullness. Life can be bittersweet, but may your holy spirit keep our hearts from becoming hard, and enable us always to see the wonder around us, and to share that dance and legacy of love with others, Amen.

Joy in the journey

Surges of activity and then rest.

Dear friends, we are all on a journey from one place to another. For some of us, as lockdown restrictions ease, we have physically travelled. For all of us, we know that we are on a spiritual journey through life, taking us from experiences in the past into whatever lies ahead. There are many stony paths, diversions, hill tops and even dead ends, sometimes we are injured enough route, and we need so much guidance as we travel.

One of the wonderful things about God, is that He has promised to be with us. We want to learn from the past, to rejoice in the good, to learn from our mistakes, to find healing for the saddnesses, so we can continue on our journey. Often we reach a crossroads on the path, and have to work out our next step.

The famous words in Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5 and 6 say:

‘ Trust in the Lord with all your heart,  and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.’

Taking time to listen to God, to pray, to study His Word, to take time to reflect, so we can discerm the way ahead is so vital. And it is only knowing where we have come from, that helps us work out our next steps. Being more open and honest about my life in the past has been exhausting and scary, but hopefully eventually it might be liberating. The Holy Spirit sometimes takes us through the wilderness ( not our first choice of location!) yet the things we learn – our complete dependence on God for all things- couldn’t be experienced any other way.

In a conversation recently, some one said that they were ‘ plodding’ and sometimes there is a heaviness to our lives, we are just putting one foot in front of another.

A song from Michael Card encourages me, and it has the following lyrics:  ‘ There is a joy on the journey,             There’s a light we can love on the way.  There is a wonder and wildness to life,   And freedom for those who obey.’

Sometimes the jouney is uphill, and we are breathless and our muscles are sore. Sometimes we have to stop and rest for a while. Sometimes we have to check our compass, and go a different route. But with our Saviour with us, there is light and wonder and wildness on that journey, and paradoxically freedom from obedience. And a joy, even in the hardest of places.

Whether we are in a dark marsh, a rain soaked walk, or a mountaintop, may we somehow find joy on our journey, a thanksgiving for the process, and hope that our destination might bring better things.

Let us pray, Dear God, your people often set out on journeys, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David and so many others. We too are travelling through life, and sometimes the road is clear, but other times we are disorientated and in the dark. Be our Guide, Lord Jesus, and may we have courage to follow your Voice. May your Holy spirit help us find that freedom in obedience, that brings us thanksgiving and joy, Amen.

Sky- bringing a change of perspective!

A stunning and ever-changing expanse above.

In recent days, I have been visiting Skye, and noticed the soothing rhythm of the tides, the desolation of the mountainous landscape inspiring courage, and now the ethereal beauty of the light evoking reverence. The skies here are more than awesome! ( skies on Skye seems to be a bit of play on words!)

The light on the Cuillin mountains has often been dramatic, with shades of dark and black and grey. The sea bays are adorned with purple heather and yellow seaweed. And the seas reflect the colour of the skies- from dark and moody to brilliant cobalt blue, with every combination of cloud formation drifting across the top in different layers. You can be mesmerised just watching the sky change, moment by moment.

In psalm 19 it says:

‘The heavens proclaim the glory of God, the skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak, night after night, they make Him known. They speak without sound or word, their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the earth.’ NLT version

The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins says ‘ the earth is charged with the grandeur of God.’ and there is this sense of God’s majesty and creativity being revealed through His creation.

After the confinement of lockdown, and the trauma of individual stories and difficult experiences, to see the expansive sky above, opens up our horizons, and refreshes our soul. The intricate patterns of deep colours and cloud formations inspires us to look up, to be reminded that there is so much more to life than day to day practicalities. The beauty of the sky can take our breath away, can fill us with reverent thanksgiving for all tbat is good, can remind us that God is the original and most imaginative Artist ever !

If we are worn down by cares and worries, if our life can feel a little grey, may we be inspired to look up, and be reminded of the power and glory of God, and may this give us hope.

Let us pray, Eternal Father, Your Creation is magnificent, whether it is the vibrancy of stars in a jet black night, or white fluffy clouds on a bright blue morning. Lord Jesus, slow us down, and open our eyes wide, so we might notice your glory, and gain a new reverence for life. Holy spirit, grant us a new perspective on our priorities and opportunities, and encourage us to be more creative in how we live each day, to relish colour and form and light. In Jesus’ name, Amen