For these times

Sometimes my unconscious seems to help me process things by giving me a song to sing.

A Brian Wilson song from the Beach Boys’ sublime Pet Sounds album has been surfacing recently. Its words on my lips. The core and final line on repeat.
I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.

Reflecting on the Brexit process and the Trump presidency, the CEO of the International Rescue Committee of the Red Cross and former Labour politician David Miliband has recently suggested that in the UK and USA “our politics and government are setting new standards for dysfunction.” It’s hard to disagree. And around the world every day new standards for dysfunction appear to be set that are evermore destructive to people, to human culture and to the planet.

So I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.

 

 

And I think about disappearing to the hills.
I imagine shipping my family to somewhere civilised.
To a place where people are kind to each other,
welcoming to the stranger,
and good to the earth and her creatures.
Where beauty is loved, knowledge is valued, and mystery is embraced;
where public office is held with dignity and humility;
and where our life together is not treated as a competition
but as shared journey for the benefit of all.

Dream on, you might say.
And so with Brian Wilson, I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.

But as I sing the song I sense a greater truth at work.
A growing realisation that you and I were made for these very times.
That these demanding times (and of course demanding times are nothing new for so many)
are exactly the times for which we were made.

That these are the times and these the places in which we are meant to live and to offer ourselves,
called to be kind to each other,
to welcome the stranger,
and to be good to the earth and her creatures.
Where we love beauty, value knowledge, and embrace mystery;
where we hold any responsibility with dignity and humility;
and treat life together as a shared journey
for the benefit of us all.

The world only changes for the better to the extent that we give ourselves to it with our love.

In the tradition in which I find home the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth affirmed the old Jewish belief that true life comes through loving God and loving neighbour. Loving people – being tender to each other – and loving the Source of All Being – nurturing love for the Wonder, however we do that –
are choices we can make, wherever we are today. We can and must help to reshape the world for good, here and now, where we are.

This will always be costly. But also a source of delight. One of Jesus’ core wisdom sayings – the Beatitudes – puts it like this:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Friends, what if you and I were made for these times?

 

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Morning Bell: Seeking Stillness

We find much of our meaning and sense of self through our actions – through the stuff we make, the actions we take, the things we do. That’s natural, and fine as far it goes. But our true sense of identity is to be found in a deeper place of stillness. We need to discover how to nurture patterns of stillness and movement, of prayer and action, which reshape us, and help us to bring goodness to the world. To venture in this direction will be at the same time both wonderful and disturbing. Stillness is one of the most demanding – and therefore least visited – places on the map of human existence. But it is full of promise.

 

 

The text for the series draws on reflections by Ian on  the practice of stillness in Running Over Rocks. The images for the series are all of an artwork that Ian has come to experience as an icon of stillness – one with which he spends some time most days when in Cambridge in his own attempts to be still and to pray – Daze IV by Antony Gormley, on the Sidgwick Campus of Cambridge University.

Inevitably perhaps we focus on Jesus’ words and actions, but running through the gospels we find at the heart of his practice a consistent commitment to stillness. In the spirit of the Christ may we find the stillness we seek around us and – crucially – within us, wherever we are.

Grace and peace to you for the journey into stillness and action for a better world…
Ian & Gail

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If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

 

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morning bell: 3000 series

Earlier this year we realised that sometime around now we must be posting the 3000th Morning Bell! We began sending it out as a text message in 2008, converting it in 2012 into a visual image. In the next few months we’ll be returning to some of our earlier visual series, and sharing some vintage Morning Bells. Thank you for traveling with us, whatever the point at which you joined us.

 

 

 

Our aim remains as it was at the beginning, in the spirit of the praying monastics to enter stillness on even the busiest of days, seeking that still point of our belovedness from which everything tough may be faced, and from which everything good can emerge.

This start to the 3000 series features a series of images and text originally  posted in September 2012. The photos for the series are a mix from Andrea Harding and Ian Adams, and feature the holy islands of  Lindisfarne and Iona. The text invites us to follow Jesus the Christ in the spirit and footsteps of saints of those islands such as Aidan and Cuthbert. The bell on the 3000 Morning Bells image is at Westcott House Cambridge.

Grace and peace to you for the ongoing journey…
Ian & Gail

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

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If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

 

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Morning Bell: Thy Kingdom Come

Our series for the period from Ascension day until Pentecost is taking the theme Thy Kingdom Come, joining in with a global prayer movement which has grown out of an invitation of the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England to engage in prayer. Thy Kingdom Come is now an international and ecumenical call to prayer. In praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ says Archbishop Justin, we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.

 

 

The images for the series are all from a visit Ian made in 2016 to Norwich and Norfolk. Ian has written a blog post for Thy Kingdom Come, asking What happens when we pray Thy Kingdom Come?

May this Ascensiontide be a season in which our love for Jesus the Christ is deepened, and our prayer renewed…
Grace and peace to you
Ian & Gail

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

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If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

 

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Morning Bell: Easter Anthems

Our series for Easter explores how the resurrection of Jesus might change us and reshape the world for good. Is it possible that in some way we may encounter and find new hope in the risen Christ?

 

 

Ian’s images for the series are of a sculpture we love – made by Kathleen Scott, wife of the explorer – situated in the grounds of the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge. The model for the sculpture was A W Lawrence, younger bother of T E ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’

The text for the series is taken from three canticles or songs of the Church – the Easter Anthems, the Victimae Paschali  – A Song of the Resurrection, and A Song of Christ’s Appearing.

May the hope and wonder of the Christ’s resurrection be a gift to you this Easter season…

Grace and peace to you
Ian & Gail

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

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If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

 

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Morning Bell: Wilderness Taunts

Our series for Lent 2017 uses images from Ian’s new book Wilderness Taunts: revealing your light. This began as a personal journey in which Ian re-imagined the temptations faced by Jesus as taunts that might throw us off balance – critical voices from external sources and from within ourselves. His experience was that when faced with honesty and openness, the truth of these taunts, however disturbing, also begins to reveal some deeper truth. In the darkness, our light is revealed…

 

 

The full text reflecting on each taunt, together with additional images are in the book. Thank you for sharing the spiritual path with us. May grace, peace and light find you this Lent…

Ian & Gail

 

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

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Morning Bell – Unfurling Devotions

As winter continues we return to the Devotions haiku series from Ian’s Unfurling poem collection. These short poems have emerged from Ian’s experience of attempting to be still, to be present and to pray. We think of this as a daily practice of devotion to the presence of God and to the essence of being human.

 

 

Most of the time this practice of devotion feels very ordinary; it often feels tough; but is just occasionally blissful. We hope that you will enjoy spending time in the company of these poems, and be curious about whatever unfurls… The photographs for the series are all being taken this winter in Cambridge.

Thank you for sharing the spiritual path with us. May grace, peace and light find you…

Ian & Gail

 

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

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a new book – Wilderness Taunts

We are delighted to let you know that Ian has a new book out now on Canterbury Press. Wilderness Taunts: revealing your light began as a personal journey through Lent, shared each day on Morning Bell. Ian re-imagined the temptations faced by Jesus as taunts that might throw us off balance – critical voices from external sources and from within ourselves. His experience was that when faced with honesty and openness, the truth of these taunts, however disturbing, also begins to reveal some deeper truth. In the darkness, our light is revealed…

 

 
Wilderness Taunts is a series of 40 meditations in Ian’s words and photos, drawing on those original experiences. We hope that this book may be a gift to you in Lent and beyond, helping you to always find the light within you…

Grace and peace to you
Ian & Gail

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Morning Bell: Seeking Light

As winter begins we find ourselves Seeking Light in advancing darkness. This series of Morning Bell seeks to open up ways for us to discover the light within and through the darkness. It draws on Ian’s new publication Seeking Light now available on Proost. The text for the series was written in real time last Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, and represents a personal journey through these winter seasons.

 

seekinglight-flyer

 

The photographs for the series were all taken in winter on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall.

Thank you for sharing the spiritual path with us. May grace, peace and light find you…

Ian & Gail

 

There are various other ways to access Morning Bell each day:

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3

Ian’s latest collection of poems Unfurling is out now in paperback and e-format on Canterbury Press, also via your local bookshop, via Kindle and all usual online sources including Book Depository with free delivery world-wide.

Read More

new publication: Seeking Light

 

Ian has a new publication out – Seeking Light – available now for download from online publisher Proost. In words and images Seeking Light explores a spiritual path through Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

 

publicity-image-seeking-light

One of the many gifts of Christmas is its capacity to nurture within us an openness to new possibilities coming into being, unseen, unlikely, unnoticed. Closer than we may imagine, something new is always being birthed. God coming towards us, God with us, God within us. A stream of light spilling under the door of darkness. May we not miss the wonder of this moment… See all of Ian’s Proost publications here.

 

We all blossom in the presence of one who sees the good in us and who can coax the best out of us…
(Desmond Tutu). Explore Gail’s life-coaching and spiritual mentoring here.

 

And booking is now open for our 2017 retreats: Oxford in May, Scargill in June and Ammerdown in August. We hope you can join us!

Grace and peace to you

Gail & Ian

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