Ashes to ashes

Growing up lent was marked out by the presence of fish on Friday and the giving up of things. It seemed all stick and no carrot. Good thing I liked salmon and tuna. For a few years, my evangelical self shunned all things lent as unnecessary to my faith – it was all browbeating and no grace I piously thought. My arrogance was part naïveté and part bluster. But over the last few years, lent has again found a place in my life. Lent reminds Continue reading →

Textiles: Warmth and the brownish knitted sweater

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell That brownish knitted sweater. I needed it. It was that beautiful wool against my skin or it was going to be hiding under the covers for the rest of the day. It had been a gift to my aunt many years ago. So long that she hadn’t realised it had found Continue reading →

What My Grandmother Taught me About Living and Dying Well

Shortly before she passed away, I was sitting in my grandmother’s bedroom and talking with her. I asked her – a staunch Catholic who had been receiving communion weekly in her home during her illness – if she wanted me to pray for her, or with her. She said firmly: I have no use for all the extra words. I pray one prayer each day. It’s a simple prayer, but it says everything I need to say to God. I pondered the simplicity and confidence Continue reading →

Healing Silence

The quiet of the early morning is broken by a trilling sound. Is it a native bird or some kind of rooster? It begins to find its voice about 0530h. I’m usually awake before then. I find calm in the darkness of the early morning hours. I write. More now than for a while. I’m cliched in the way that my writing is affected by my emotional state. For a while there I felt like I was writing about in circles; so engrossed was I Continue reading →

To the Australian Church on International Women’s Day #IWD

I’ve not heard of any church based events exploring, reflecting on, or in any way marking international women’s day. I could be wrong – there could be hundreds of them I don’t know about. This piece is a reflection following a discussion where a group of (largely male) evangelical Christians were discussing International Women’s day. The general consensus was that it was unnecessary to mark it, and perhaps unhealthy. It was a UN event, not a church one. Moreover, it risks being an exercise in Continue reading →

This is not the most important dress

Kylie Minogue was once a nun. She was a bride of Christ. It was on TV, but that’s real enough, isn’t it? I’m sure there are other things which the Church and Kylie Minogue have in common, but this is one. You see, the Church is referred to as the bride of Christ. Indeed, the Church is pictured in the new testament as the bride of Christ being made beautiful for the bridegroom. It’s a complex image. But this idea of a Bride being made Continue reading →

On being a word-toting rebel

Are you a rebel without a cause? Do you fight with words instead of fists? Writers of books, blogging gurus, and professors alike often advise that the best way to capture an audience is to argue against something. You must have a counter-point, they say, for you to get attention. There must be an argument, a thesis, which will anchor your paper. I teach my students the importance of a strong thesis in order to write a persuasive argument. However, what I struggle with is Continue reading →

Yearning for Christmas

You know when you are anxious and shaking and scared that the very worst thing you can imagine is actually happening and it does happen and it is terrible and you feel horrible, and yet in the midst of it you see god’s grace, and you know your worth isn’t it flawlessness but in faithfulness, and it isn’t in making people happy, but in seeking to honour your calling and your daily work. It’s been an exceptionally trying few weeks and I am tired and Continue reading →

Fragments on Seeking a Church Community

Over the last 18 months I visited a number of churches as I sought to transition from the UK to Australia. In part because I wanted to reflect without concern that I might hurt the feelings of those I visited with, I chose the more obtuse form of poetic fragments. It was a beautiful exercise for me to reflect on church visits and meeting new people in this way – and i find that I can recall the larger context for each fragment quite easily. Continue reading →