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?

 

Read More

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:

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

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:

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

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

Read More

Morning Bell: Mercy series

‘The mercy of God is not an abstract idea’ says Pope Francis ‘but a concrete reality’. This series of Morning Bell is exploring the concept and the reality of mercy, and how the practice of mercy might reshape us and the world for good.

Text for the series is from Misericordiae Vultus – the declaration in which Pope Francis called for a Year of Mercy. Images for the series are all from a recent visit we made to the city of Liverpool, and many feature the wonderful Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King.

 

mercy flyer

 

In pausing together for stillness and prayer each day we hope that we may each find mercy reaching out to us as we reach out our own hands in mercy to others…

Grace, mercy and peace to you

Ian & Gail

 

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

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / Eyeem

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 3Flyer for Spring-Summer 2016 gigs

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

Morning Bell: The Fire of Your Love – series for Pentecost and Trinity

This series for Ascensiontide, Pentecost and the start of the Trinity season is titled The Fire of Your Love. Text for the series is comprised of lines from Morning Prayer for these seasons in Church of England Common Worship. This short period in the Church year marks Jesus’ ascent into heaven, the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ first followers, and the revelation of God as Holy Trinity. It encourages us to accept feelings of absence and unknowing, allowing them to deepen our anticipation and to open ourselves into faith, into experience, into integration and into the fire of God’s love.

 

Pentecost:Trinity flyer

 

The images for the series are all artworks by France-based artist Jon White, who describes his work as being ‘rooted in the understanding that the beautiful, broken, chaotic and mundane experiences of life present opportunities for creative inspiration and expression; the world around us inviting us to respond creatively.’ In 2014 Jon spent three months in New York as an apprentice in the traditional Japanese art form Nihonga with internationally renowned artist, writer and speaker Makoto Fujiumura. Many of the images in the series are examples of Jon’s Nihonga work.

We hope that in the quiet beauty of Jon’s art, and in the text of daily prayer, we will together find ourselves being drawn deeper into the fire of God’s love, the Love that heals us and heals the world…

Ian & Gail

 

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

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / Eyeem

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 3Flyer for Spring-Summer 2016 gigs

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

morning bell: 40 Invitations – series for Easter

This new series for the Easter season titled 40 Invitations runs from Resurrection Sunday until Ascension day. It draws on themes and phrases from the stories told in the gospels about the resurrection of Jesus, inviting us to live in the spirit of resurrection here and now. The core of each of these 40 reflections was written in real time in Easter 2015 as Ian attempted to let the resurrection story work on him. And the heart of each invitation remains here as it was written then, retaining the raw surprise of the Easter experience. We hope that you will find something of yourself here.

 

Peace Be With You flyer

 

Images for the series were taken by Ian on Iona and Mull. We hope that they convey something of the vibrancy of the resurrection possibility.

If you enjoy this series the full text and additional images are available to download now from Proost. This Easter season may you discover the resurrected Jesus already living around you and within you. And so may everything change for good…

Ian & Gail

 

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

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / Eyeem

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3Flyer for Spring-Summer 2016 gigs

 

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!

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

morning bell: 40 Temptations – series for Lent

We begin a new series for the season of Lent: 40 Temptations. This series draws on the gospel accounts of the testing and temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. In this series Ian has re-imagined the temptations that we might face as taunts that might throw us off balance. In our experience there is an element of truth in each taunt – but if we face them with honesty we may discover, in the grace of God, the gift of some greater reality.

 

40 Temptations square cover

 

 

Ian wrote a reflection based on these 40 Temptations ‘in real time’ each day in Lent last year – the full text and images are available to download now from online publisher Proost. The images for the series are all made from photographs reflecting the bleak beauty of our urban landscape.

This series is demanding – perhaps as it should be in Lent. Please be kind to yourself, and take a break should you need one. As we pray and reflect together with Morning Bell may we find all the strength and grace we need to allow this season to do its work of preparation and transformation within us…

Ian & Gail

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

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / Eyeem

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3Flyer for Spring 2016 gigs

 

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!

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

Morning Bell: Lament series

January 27 is Holocaust Memorial day, a day to remember the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides that continue today. In Morning Bell this solemn moment marks the beginning of a series ‘Lament’ in which we aim to create space to lament all the death-dealing activity that continues to be perpetrated.

Lament is the necessary first step to enable our participation in change for good, by recognising the reality of what has happened. Through attention to lament – and in the grace of God – some renewed sense of hope may, in time, emerge.

 

Lament 1

 

The text for the series is from a lamentation by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah on the downfall of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians at the beginning of the 6th century BC. The images for the series were taken by Ian and Gail in Berlin in 2015.

In lament, may grace and peace be yours,
and hope renewed…
Ian & Gail

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

Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Flickr / Eyeem

 

Unfurling cover final - Version 3Flyer for Spring 2016 gigs

 

If you find Morning Bell helpful please considering making a donation towards our work via the donate button at the bottom of this page. Friends and supporters we are very grateful for all your help and encouragement!

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