Tea and Theology




Have you ever been frustrated by a disruption to your day? Your plans fail not because of your actions, but because of something completely outside of your control. Many of us would see this as a negative thing, I’m sure, but what about positive disruption? My ministerial training was centred around a benedictine pattern of prayer; in practice this often meant that just when I was getting somewhere with my latest essay, I needed to stop to go and pray.


This took some getting used to and, initially at least, I failed to see the positives of this pattern of prayer. Slowly though I began to see that, when I did return to my work, I had a fresh perspective. I had benefitted from taking time away, and was developing a greater anticipation for prayer, thus what I had first seen as an unwelcome disruption had become a welcome one.

I began this week with a Lectio Poetica Quiet Day at Launde Abbey. Whilst I was looking forward to this, I was concerned about how little space there was for ‘work’ in my diary. During the Quiet Day we were invited to ‘walk out’ a poem, or recite it whilst walking to find it’s rhythm and the disruptions within that rhythm. I focused on the following poem, and found myself disrupted by it!

The Agony

Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings
Walk’d with a staff to heaven, and traced fountains
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sin and Love.

Who would know Sin? Let him repair
Unto Mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man, so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skin, his garments, bloody be.
Sin is that Press and Vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruel food through every vein.

Who knows not love, let him assay,
And taste that juice, which on the cross a pike
Did set again abroach; then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love is that liquor sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I as wine.

George Herbert

Part of the disruption was that I had got completely engrossed in the poem that I forgot to pay attention to where I was walking and found myself lost in the middle of a forest, with no idea of how to get out and no phone reception to find out which direction I should be headed in!


There was much more to this disruption however; as the last two lines heavily imprinted on my heart I became aware of all of the ideas I had wanted to bring to my churches, and watched them slowly float away!


Fundamentally I saw that ministry is about two things, Sin (or Good News) and Love, and I was in danger of making it about so much more! The disruption here was incredibly liberating!



The next day I had my first curates training day – another reason to be concerned about the ‘work’ that I could not do. I laughed therefore when the person introducing the day said that the intention was to disrupt the routines that we were inevitably already building! What if it were not only routines that were disrupted, but also attitudes, stereotypes and preconceptions? My weekly poem, The Dolls House Day, explores this notion in a little more depth.


I love my diary, and organising my time in order to not miss anything and ensure that I have enough time put aside for all that I need to do – but I wonder whether it is possible to be too organised? Am I still leaving time for God to guide, for opportunistic encounters, and to just be present in parish?


Equally no matter how organised I am, mistakes still happen, and things are still miscommunicated at times causing some sort of disruption. This happened before my training day with an interment of ashes service which had not been booked in. It did all still happen though, and all was well.


A regular form of disruption are road works, preventing people from getting where they need to be in the time that they need to get there. Whilst at times such delays could be avoided, is there something important about being made to slow down from the fast pace of our world? Might we see something that would otherwise pass us by?


One final disruption this week has affected gardening plans – I cannot control the rain! I have become aware of a refreshing, pleasing feeling which comes after the rain. Perhaps it doesn’t matter so much if the grass doesn’t get cut for another few days, and I can use the extra space to be attentive to the beauty and refreshment around me!

The Wardrobe

Many live in wardrobes afraid to come out,
to wear their hearts on their sleeves
and let the world see the real ‘them’ inside.
They are ever aware of the need to hide,
to curtail and rail, all that is perceived
as those garishly clashly cast off items.

The wardrobe life is tiring and troublesome,
this existence remains ever part of them.
It’s like Grannie’s 1970s knitted tank top – odd
when paired with a beautiful new pencil skirt!
These clashing styles affront the fashionistas,
yet tank tops draw together to make their own love.

Once that clash becomes clear, their presence
in this chic fashion sphere is far from near!
There they represent rejects and has-beens,
old knee-length boots long since free of fancy.
Incognito tank tops venturing from other wardrobes,
spot pencil skirts and swiftly climb back inside.

The clerical collar is a rarity for the fashionistas.
Few long after that which attracts disdain,
provoking wearers to be prophetically political.
Dare I wear the tank top with the pencil skirt?
Have I the courage to take up the collar and leave
the closeted wardrobe in this unlikely mix of styles?

What if I were accepted by fashionistas,
able to preach love and affirmation?
Might this mean acceptance for all creation?
Would I still be able to hang with has-beens?
Could they see how the collar and skirt enhance
that tank top long since worn and part of me?


#698 #ohashi translates as #chopsticks and #bridge in #Japanese. I began the day listening to #bridgeovertroubledwater #forgrenfell and was thinking about what and who might act as a bridge in troubled times. This beautiful song encourages #hope and #solidarity and felt to me like an #actoflove – a #bridge in more ways than one!

Take time 

#660 #lookingback #lookingahead Taking time to share the things we love with the people we love in the midst of #changingtimes 


#586 #sabbath from #LentChallenge – a nice reminder that #love costs nothing. 


#582 #day1 of #LentChallenge with @bible_society #love as #sacrifice…How would you photograph love?

Salt and Light


#558 I preached at our #eucharistservice this morning on being #saltandlight and Jesus coming to #fulfilthelaw. #Salt was a valuable commodity in Palestine in Jesus’ time. It was valued for its potential to purify, preserve and lend flavour to all things. #Purity reminds us to be mindful of our standards of honesty, diligence at work, contentiousness, and moral standards. The #preserving quality of salt was likened by a Roman historian and philosopher to putting the soul back into the body – I love that! It serves as a reminder for us to preserve ourselves from corruption. #Flavour speaks of the vividness or radiance of life. If we are living as Christ calls us to, with Christ at the centre of our being, we will be radiant – we will shine with the reflection of Jesus’ light!  Saint Augustine said “Love God and do what you like.” This sounds flippant but when you realise the way God loves you, the only option is to answer that love – this is the greatest task in life and more binding than any obligations of law. I pray that we may find our flavour and radiance, that we will shine with the reflection of Jesus’ light though our words and deeds this week. Amen.


#545 #perspective #seethingsdifferently #redeeminglove 

Hearts of glass

#539 A #preciousgift given long ago seems to have broken beyond repair – it’s upsetting when important #symbols of our #love and #affections are #damaged. I’ve been reminded of the importance of our feelings, and looking after one another, whatever damage falls around us.

Human hearts of love
Fragile yet beautiful glass
Easily broken…

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