Daily Reflections Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 January 2022 | Jo Bennett Andrew Terrill Photography The Earth Beneath My Feet "Moving on, always moving on; it was what made The Walk a walk. But how foolish it seemed when I’d found what I was looking for. I wondered if I’d ever find a way to ease the conflict of it. Could I learn to fully enjoy each place, but not cling; to celebrate each moment, and then let it go?" The Earth Beneath My Feet (Andrew Terrill, 1997) Andrew's books describe his 7,000-mile solo wilderness walk into the heart of wild nature. O God, as light returns to the north of our planet, we celebrate the earth beneath our feet. At the start of a new year, we reaffirm our walk with you. Help us to engage with the conflict: between joy in the place to which you have brought us, and letting go, in order to move on to the next stage of the journey you are inviting us to take with you. --- Friday 14 January | Jo Bennett The Christmas tree has returned to its outdoor home. It entered our bright indoor space briefly with its greenness and fragrance. But surely it must have been relieved to be stripped of its baubles and to find its roots back in the cool darkness of the winter garden. Perhaps it would like us to reflect that its garden home is in fact our real home also. A place of eternal greenness and life, whether dark or light. --- Thursday 13 January 2022 | Jo Bennett Two bishops Bishop Hilary, whom the Church remembers each year on 13 January, was born at Poitiers, (west central France) in about the year 315. He was elected bishop of the city in 350 and was caught up in the theological controversies of the 4th century, which may have led to him spending 4 years in exile. Despite his reputation as a polemicist, Hilary also sought to show that sometimes the difference between certain doctrines and orthodox beliefs was in the words rather than the ideas. About 1,600 years later, another bishop, Krister Stendahl, Bishop of Stockholm, Sweden (1984 to 1988) was credited with creating "three rules of religious understanding", which are worth reflecting on: (1) When you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies. (2) Don't compare your best to their worst. (3) Leave room for "holy envy" (by which Stendahl meant a willingness to recognize elements in another religious tradition that you admire, and that you wish could, in some way, be reflected in your own religious tradition). --- Wednesday 12 January | Canon Graham Bennett Aelred of Hexham In the 12th century, at the same time as our Cathedral was being built, the Cistercians were building Rievaulx Abbey in what is now North Yorkshire. Aelred, who was son of an Anglo-Saxon priest (priests could still marry at that time but their offspring could not become priests), discovered the Abbey in 1134 and, attracted by the rigour of its life sought admission to the community. Later, when he was novice master, he wrote “The Mirror of Charity” as a guide for the novices. He recorded, “Our food is scanty, our garments rough; our drink is from the stream and our sleep upon our book… Everywhere peace, everywhere serenity, and a marvellous freedom from the tumult of the world.” “The day before yesterday, as I was walking the round of the cloister of the monastery, the brethren were sitting around forming as it were a most loving crown … I found no-one whom I did not love, and no-one by whom, I felt sure, I was not loved. I felt such joy that it surpassed all the delights of the world.” At the end of his life, when he had been made Abbot, he wrote a treatise “On Spiritual Friendship”. “No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of all our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share our happiness in time of joy.” May we in our churches know the peace, joy and friendship that Aelred experienced. --- Tuesday 11 January | Canon Graham Bennett Mary Slessor and the Church in Nigeria Almost half (94.5 million) of the population of Nigeria are Christians. Mary Slessor, whom we remember today, would be delighted to know of this growth. She was a missionary in the 19th Century who adapted her ways to the culture of the people she worked with and was much loved. She would however be saddened by this extract from the Anglican Church of Nigeria’s website although encouraged by their strong faith. “Christians in Northern Nigeria face intense persecution with little or no hope for justice and liberty. While the world celebrates the coming of the Prince of Peace and the joy of the world, many families in central and north-eastern Nigeria are in mourning, losing their relations to attacks by radical Islamist groups. Many are constantly on the run, refugees like the baby Jesus when Herod sought to kill him. Yet we sing 'Joy to the world the Lord is come' because greater is He that is in us' than the forces of darkness around us. We know that Jesus, the Lamb that was slain, has given us victory over fear and death. He is the comforter in our sorrows who gives the Peace the world does not understand.” --- Monday 10 January | Canon Graham Bennett William Laud Archbishop Laud lived in the 17th century at a time when the nation was deeply divided. His time is a reminder to us of the dreadful consequences of inflexibility. At that time the high churchmen, like Laud, and the low church Puritans both believed their view of the faith is the right and only one and should be imposed on all other believers. The Puritan suffered at Laud’s hand while he was in power and when they gained the upper hand they beheaded him. This attitude that “I am right and all must conform to my ways” continues to thrive on our planet and is particularly destructive when mixed with religion. Religions believe they have trust of eternal truths. Every Sunday Anglicans say the creed which states what the Church believes and those words were written by Councils of the Church to contrast with and oppose teachings that could not could not be accepted. This statement of faith is necessary but the danger is that there is only a short step from disagreement with others to persecution of them. Interestingly today’s reading at morning prayer is of Jesus driving out the money changers from the temple. He had strong views about what was appropriate for that building and acted upon those views. But in the end, rather than instigate an armed rebellion to institute his kingdom, he submitted himself to his opponents, was crucified and, through that way of submission, won a greater victory. Let us pray today for the hearts of all people to have sympathy for those with whom they disagree, for humility to listen to other views, for an acceptance that none of us fully knows the mind of God. --- Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 January | Canon Graham Bennett The Baptism of Christ Image shows stained glass from the East Window of the Lady Chapel Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21,22 In his baptism Jesus identified himself with the people in order to be the representative of the people. In our baptism we identify ourselves with Jesus, with his death and resurrection. Luke tells us that Jesus’ baptism was followed by Jesus praying. He opened a door to the Father and holds it open for us that we may pray to the Father too. The Son was affirmed at his baptism in three ways. First heaven was opened and a long-awaited event was revealed. Second the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus to equip him for his ministry. Bultmann comments “There is not so much as a word about the inner experience of Jesus.… Matthew and Luke are quite right to take Mark’s story as the description of an objective happening”. Third is the declaration from heaven “You are my Son…”. The Trinity was working together in harmony to reveal the Son to the world. Heaven has been opened, the Father and the Spirit have affirmed Jesus as the Son and through his work we now have full fellowship with them in our prayers. --- Friday 7 January | Bridget Swan, Reader The dog end of the year. Nature has turned the colour of mud. All the excitement is over. Christmas is gone, all the presents opened, paper and trees thrown away, the light is dull and depressing. Even the sales can’t cheer us up, who wants to get ill? Dear Lord of the weather, helps us when the air pressure hurts our hips, and the gloom penetrates our minds. Show us your perpetual light and beauty. Amen --- Thursday 6 January | Bridget Swan, Reader Epiphany O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face. Amen --- Wednesday 5 January | Bridget Swan, Reader This moody picture is of the Solway Firth between Cumbria and Scotland. The sea is very mysterious; it is pulled up and down daily by the moon, which is a strange thought. The deep ocean is pulled up by pressure changes in the atmosphere and causes storms. Which is more local, but just as strange. The sea moves around the world in currents. And we know more about that because a ship carrying rubber ducks was wrecked, and oceanographers could see them! Lord, help us to see how great is creation in the little things, the large things, and the silly things. Give us time to contemplate your greatness. Amen --- Tuesday 4 January | Bridget Swan, Reader This is a picture of Chapter minutes from some time ago! Today’s chapter clerk will be relieved he no longer has to hand - write them in Gothic script with a quill.This book is now part of the Cathedral’s valuable archive. In Christmas season we celebrate something still more valuable, priceless in fact. And even older. We celebrate the coming of the Word of God; that is, Jesus, the Christ. Dear Lord, we don’t have to handle Jesus with white cotton gloves, or keep him at a distance. Help us to value him none the less, and to include him in our lives, every day, all the time. Amen --- Monday 3 January | Revd Janet Bellamy As the New Year festivities end, we turn towards whatever lies before us. Hopes, fears, joyful expectation, emotional exhaustion, exuberant energy, despair, faith in the power of love …. let us bring it in all its complex confusion to the source of that love and life: O Breath of Life, who flows in all creation, may the light of your presence fill the universe, your way of being come, your desire be done, in this and all realms of existence. Bring forth the nourishment we need for this day. Forgive the failures that bind us, as we let go of our hold on the failures of others. And let us not be satisfied with the surface of life, but deliver us from wrong paths. For you are abundant life, creative unity, and glorious harmony, through all time and beyond. Amen From the Society of Mary and Martha --- Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 January | Revd Janet Bellamy The Church marks the New Year with the festival of the naming and circumcision of Jesus, commemorating Mary and Joseph taking him to the Temple to fulfil Jewish rituals. The name Jesus means Yahweh (God) saves. Malcolm Guite reflects on the profound significance of this event in this sonnet: I name you now, from whom all names derive Who uttered forth the name of everything, And in that naming made the world alive, Sprung from the breath and essence of your being. The very Word that gave us words to speak, You drank in language with your mother’s milk And learned through touch before you learned to talk, You wove our week-day world, and still one week Within that world, you took your saving name, A given name, the gift of that good angel, Whose Gospel breathes in good news for us all. We call your name that we might hear a call That carries from your cradle to our graves Yeshua, Living Jesus,Yahweh Saves. May our New Year be blessed by this assurance and hope. --- Friday 31 December | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows Nativity at Night, Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Artiz Alamo Stock Photo As the old year reaches its end, this painting of the radiance of the Christ-child enables us to reflect further upon the mystery of the Incarnation and to pray that the light of Christ may illuminate the year that is to come. Let the Light of Christ shine in the dark places of our hearts in the dark alleys of our cities in the dark rejected places deep within us in the dank cold of our estrangements in the dark places between the stars on the blindness of our foolishness… Eternal God, guide by the light of your Son, the nations of the earth, that the whole world may behold your glory; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Jim Cotter --- Thursday 30 December | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows Bleddfa Church For some, the experience of the last few days will have been a joyous time of family gathering, reunion and celebration. For others it will have been lonely, a disappointment, a time of conflict or a time when grief is exacerbated. A prayer from Jim Cotter as we face the uncertainties of the New Year, whether with excitement or trepidation: Be present, Spirit of God, within us, your dwelling place and home, that our homes, communities and churches may be places where all darkness is penetrated by your light, all troubles calmed by your peace, all evil redeemed by your love, all pain transformed in your suffering, and all dying glorified in your risen life --- Wednesday 29 December | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury (1118 - 1170) Image from the Shrine of St Thomas featuring Thomas Becket (right) We pray today for Archbishop Welby and for all who minister and worship at Canterbury today Lord God, who gave grace to your servant Thomas Becket to put aside all earthly fear and be faithful even to death: grant that we, disregarding worldly esteem, may fight all wrong, uphold your rule, and serve you to our life's end ; through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you. Amen --- Tuesday 28 December | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge HOLY INNOCENTS Sleep, little baby, sleep; The holy Angels love thee; And guard thy bed, and keep A blessed watch above thee. No spirit can come near Nor evil beast to harm thee: Sleep, sweet, devoid of fear Where nothing need alarm thee. The love which doth not sleep, The eternal Arms around thee: The shepherd of the sheep In perfect love hath found thee. Sleep through the holy night, Christ-kept from snare and sorrow, Until thou wake to light And love and warmth tomorrow. Christina Rossetti --- Monday 27 December | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Stained glass detail from the church of St John the Evangelist in Cowley, which is the chapel of St Stephen's House c. Lawrence OP Flickr JOHN, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST Merciful Lord, cast your bright beams of light upon the Church; that being enlightened by the teaching of you blessed apostle and evangelist, Saint John, we may so walk in the light of your truth that we may at last attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ your incarnate Son, out Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. --- Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 December | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Manger It happened as had been told.It could not have been otherwise.“Lying in a manger,” the voice had said.Mangers were familiar to us.We had watched as boysThe carpenter shaping, smoothingThe stubborn wood. HereWe were at homeAmong the things we understood.Lying in a manger he was.His face wrinkled like thatOf my own son. HurtlingFrom terror to tenderness,From angels’ song to baby’s crying,I touched the strong wood,Needing reassurance in a nightThat had suddenly broken asunderWith the full glory of day. Sheila Reid --- Friday 24 December | The Very Revd Sarah Brown Today, we pause to prepare our hearts for a beautiful celebration of God’s birth on earth as our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. May our minds be clear to focus upon Him and the gift of our Salvation. May the same thrill and anticipation that filled Mary consume us and draw us close to God and one another. May our spirits cry out, “Glory to God!” with the host of angels who first delivered the good news of great joy to awe-struck shepherds. As we reflect on the extraordinary prophecies foretelling His birth centuries before the event, may we have the faith to see on this side of the Cross what prophets saw and heard through God’s promises and visions. Immanuel, God with Us, Prince of Peace, the Son of God, Messiah—may all that He is saturate our senses and fill our hearts with gratitude and worship as we bow before the Manger and offer our hearts. God is with us. --- Thursday 23 December | The Very Revd Sarah Brown O Emmanuel “O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of Nations and their Saviour: come, and save us, O Lord our God!” Today’s antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons before we reach the Eve of Christmas. Emmanuel- God with us- was a completely radical fulfilment of the Messianic prophecies. The idea that the Messiah might be God himself was unexpected to the Jewish world to put it mildly! Emmanuel offers a new theology of God sharing every hardship and experience of humanity in his own flesh. We call it incarnation. And we call Jesus ‘our Lord and our God.’ It is the crowning acclamation of faith at the end of a long season of prophetic anticipation. Postscript: O… Sapienta! Adonai! Radix Jesse! Clavis David! Oriens! Rex Gentium! Emmanuel! The first letters of each acclamation give the acronym SARCORE. Read backwards it spells ERO CRAS, Latin for ‘Tomorrow I will be (there)’ which is an interesting thought. Happy Christmas. --- Wednesday 22 December | The Very Revd Sarah Brown O Rex Gentium “O King of the nations (Gentiles) and desired of all. you are the cornerstone that binds two into one: Come and save humankind whom you formed out of clay.” This antiphon describes how Jesus binds together Jew and Gentile as one. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29) We see the wall dividing Jew and Gentile torn down. Christ makes it clear that He unites all in a new dispensation, one which supersedes the old. We might wonder how true this is as we look on a world full of Anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, misogyny, modern slavery and the like. But what we so easily miss is that these changes have already been made in Christ. The unity is realised in Him but most of us have not learned to live it yet. --- Tuesday 21 December | The Very Revd Sarah Brown O Oriens O Dawn, Radiance of the Light Eternal and Sun of Justice; come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death It can hardly be coincidence that the Sun image of this antiphon landed on the winter solstice. Those Medieval Scholars knew a thing or two! As the Sun ebbs to its weakest point so the Sun of Justice rises and will never dim. Jesus calls himself both the Light and the Life and the imagery is clear. The Sun is essential for both and so is the Son. In the song of Zechariah- known as the Benedictus and taken directly from Luke 1:78-79 we recognise the “Oriens ex alto”, the ‘dayspring from on high’, which shall burst forth and shine on all those who sit in darkness. The message today is the end of darkness, the end of shadow, even the end of death. The coming Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness, will dispel them all. --- Monday 20 December | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image: Harrowing of Hell by Benvenuto di Giovanni, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons “O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!” Today’s Advent antiphon emphasizes that Jesus’ coming is like a key for us. The prophet Isaiah tells us of a growing authority of David's throne and kingdom which will culminate in an outpouring of love and care when the blind will see and those prisoners in the deepest, darkest dungeons of whatever misery human existence provides will be brought freely into the light. Jesus is Key of David, because through him we have access to that Kingdom of God in all its light and blessing. Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth, Lead me from despair to hope,from fear to trust. Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace, Let peace fill our beings, our world and our universe. Prayer based on ‘Prayer for Peace’ (1981) by Satish Kumar --- Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 December | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin “O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us and delay no longer.” The Advent ‘O’ antiphon for December 19 is O Radix Jesse, O Root of Jesse. It is a reference to Jesus’ lineage, which stretches back to King David and his father, Jesse. Jesus, the Messiah, represents new hope, a new shoot budding from “the stump of Jesse’s tree” (Isaiah 11:1). This picture is of a celebrated medieval wooden carving of Jesse dreaming of his descendants; from his chest comes the stem that we see growing and flowering down the generations in the window above him. It is in the Priory Church of St Mary, Abergavenny. Lord, Jesse carried many people in his heart and in his dreams. Look in mercy on me and those I carry in my heart and dreams. You are my deepest root and my hope for all the world is in you. As we pass through the darkest days of the year and a time of darkness for all people on Earth, keep alive our hopes and dreams and give us all your blessing. --- Friday 17 December | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘O Sapientia’ O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge! Advent concludes with the seven ‘O’ antiphons used at the beginning and ending of Magnificat each day. The first is O Sapientia (O Wisdom), today. It reminds us of the ancient Jewish tradition of personifying Wisdom as a female agent in God’s work of creation, ‘daily His delight’. Sadly, wisdom isn’t always ours in the festal season when we are tempted to spend money we haven’t got or to eat and drink unwisely. Teach me, good Lord, the virtue of simplicity in my daily life and habits: To pretend no more than I am; To desire no more than I need; To spend no more than I can afford; To consume no more than is just; That I may be complete yet lacking in nothing, after the example of my Saviour Jesus Christ, who for our sakes became poor that he might make many rich. Prayer by Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr --- Thursday 16 December | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows Harald Sohlberg, Winter Night in the Mountains, 1901 We enter the darkest days of the year, yet they have a special beauty all of their own. Darkness is as necessary to life as light, and in it we view things – like the stars – we cannot see in the light of day. What blessing can I find in the darkness of winter nights? What light do I find to enlighten my way? Living God,you have lit the day with the sun’s lightand the midnight with shining stars.Lighten our hearts with the bright beamsof the Sun of Righteousnessrisen with healing in his wings,Jesus Christ our Lord.And so preserve us in the doing of your will,that at the last we may shineas the stars for ever;through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Prayer is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000, 2005 --- Wednesday 15 December | William Talbot-Ponsonby From the middle of the third century onwards, many Christians moved to the Egyptian desert to live a life of solitude and devotion to God. This started in part as a response to the persecution of Christians by Decius, but continued after the conversion of Constantine. These early desert elders had many of their thoughts and sayings collected, including by John Cassian who in turn influenced St Benedict. They still provide much inspiration in our own approach to prayer, but also to how we interpret humanity: “Our life and death is with our neighbour. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against Christ.”St Antony --- Tuesday 14 December | William Talbot-Ponsonby St John of the Cross Today is the lesser festival of St John of the Cross, a 16th Century Spanish mystic and writer. He was recruited by Teresa of Avila to help extend her reforms to the male side of the Carmelite order. His writings combine poetic imagination with theological knowledge from the tradition of St Thomas Aquinas. His best known work was Noche obscura del alma, ‘The Dark Night of the Soul’, where he described the soul’s progress in seeking union with God. By dark of blessed night,In secrecy, for no one saw meAnd I regarded nothing,My only light and guideThe one that in my heart was burning. This guided, led me onMore surely than the radiance of noonTo where there waited oneWho was to me well known,And in a place where no one came in view. --- Monday 13 December | William Talbot-Ponsonby Image shows Lucy, martyr, 304 Lucy was a young girl martyred in the terrible Diocletian persecutions of 303-4. Her tomb is in a Catacomb in Syracuse, Sicily. While stories of her persecution have been embellished over time, it was based on the martyrdom of a young girl who gave her life for the sake of the gospel. Her feast day was celebrated on the shortest day of the year until the Gregorian reform of the calendar; this, and her name (derived from Lux, meaning ‘light’) mean that her feast day is often associated with a festival of light, especially in Scandinavia. God our redeemer, who gave light to the world that was in darkness by the healing power of the Saviour’s cross: shed that light on us, we pray, that with your martyr Lucy we may, by the purity of our lives, reflect the light of Christ and, by the merits of his passion, come to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. --- Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 December | William Talbot-Ponsonby Our Lady of Guadalupe In 1531, a series of visions of Our Lady were experienced by an indigenous Mexican peasant, Juan Diego and his uncle, Juan Bernadino. These culminated in a vision to Juan Bernadino on December 12, where he was miraculously cured from what was thought to be his deathbed. Juan Diego was given roses to carry to the Bishop of Mexico as a sign; when he opened his robe to show these roses, they fell to the ground in an image of Mary. This was seen as a sign that Mary, and God who sent her, accepts all people. It led to the conversion of up to nine million indigenous Mexicans to Catholicism. “Let not your heart be disturbed… Am I not here, who is your Mother?Are you not under my protection?Am I not your health?Are you not happily within my fold?What else do you wish?Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.” Our Lady of Guadalupe --- Friday 10 December | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Today is Human Rights Day. Let us celebrate the fundamental rights we share with one another, and safeguard the rights of our fellow human beings. We pray for the United Nations Organisation and other international organisations which serve peace and understanding, that they may be strong in helping settle differences fairly, with respect for the rights of people, and without recourse to violence; we pray for political leaders who negotiate peace, that they may learn to trust each other and that the agreements they achieve may be respected. We pray for the superpowers that they may be aware of the value and responsibility of each nation in the family of nations and that they may turn from the paths that could lead to war. Amen --- Thursday 9 December | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Image shows Auschwitz Concentration Camp Today is the Day of Commemoration of the Victims of Genocide. We remember all those who lost their lives as a result of discrimination and persecution. We pray for a world in which no one is victimised because of their race, creed, colour, sexuality or physical or mental disability. Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But, do not remember all of the suffering they have inflicted on us: instead remember the fruits we have borne because of this suffering – our fellowship, our loyalty to one another, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown from this trouble. When our persecutors come to be judged by you, let all of these fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness. Source unknown. (Found in the clothing of a dead child at Ravensbruck concentration camp). --- Wednesday 8 December | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett On the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we honour her as the mother of our Lord. This feast, dating from the seventh century, is celebrated in both the eastern and western Church. It ‘acknowledges the preparation by God of his people to receive their Saviour and Lord, putting heaven in ordinary and showing that mortal flesh can indeed bring Christ into the world.’ Eternal God, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as we rejoice in his coming as our Saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes as our Judge; for he is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. --- Tuesday 7 December | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Ambrose. Born in Trier in 339, Ambrose came from an aristocratic family; by 374 he had become governor of northern Italy, his headquarters in Milan. Whilst trying to bring peace to the Christian community riven by doctrinal disputes, either side trying to get their man elected as bishop, Ambrose, known and respected by all, found himself being urged to accept the role of bishop, even though he was not yet baptised. He finally accepted, after the Christian community took up the cry, “Ambrose for bishop”, he was baptised and consecrated. Ambrose proved to be a worthy bishop, a powerful teacher and preacher, who wasn’t afraid to stand up to state interference in church and faith matters. He died on this day in 397. God of hosts, who called Ambrose from the governor’s throne to be a bishop in your Church and an intrepid champion of your faithful people: mercifully grant that, as he did not fear to rebuke rulers, so we, with like courage, may contend for the faith we have received; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. --- Monday 6 December | Jo Bennett The shepherds at the manger from the Lady Chapel reredos, Hereford Cathedral A Polish friend was telling me about their midnight Mass on 24-25 December. "It's called Pasterka," she said. Afterwards I looked in my Polish dictionary and was momentarily puzzled to find the translation 'shepherdess'. But then my mind turned to the Christmas shepherds and I realised that at midnight that night they were out on the hillside with their flocks. So at midnight on Christmas Eve, Polish Catholics are "sitting with the shepherds", hearing again the good news of Christ's birth. I doubt if Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (who died on this day in 343), ever ventured as far north as Poland. But I wonder if occasionally, as he took up his bishop's pastoral crook on Christmas Eve to minister to his human sheep, he thought of those first shepherds and wished he could sit with them for an hour on the dark hillside near Bethlehem. --- Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 December | Jo Bennett St John of Damascus John Damascene was born in 675 or 676, about the time when our own Putta became the first Bishop of Hereford. John died on this day in 749. There are some beautiful icons of him, but I rather like this image, from the Nuremberg Chronicles, in which he has the appearance of the polymath he apparently was – interested in everything. He wrote many hymns still sung in Greek, some of which have been translated into English, including this Christmas one: Bethlehem rejoices!Hark the voices clear,Singing in the starlightNearer and more near. Unto God be glory,Peace to men be given;This His will who dwellethIn the heights of heaven. Heaven cannot contain Him,Nor the bounds of earth,Yet, oh glorious mystery!Virgin gives Him birth.Now the light arisethIn the darkened skies,Now the proud are humbledAnd the lowly rise.Oh boundless and mysterious God, as we wait eagerly for the light of Christ to arise in our darkened skies, we look earnestly for that new world in which the proud find humility and the lowly rise to the place where you dwell and your will is done. --- Friday 3 December 2021 | Jo Bennett Winter apple trees near Breinton, Herefordshire St Francis Xavier was born at the castle of Xavier in Spanish Navarre in 1506. With Ignatius of Loyola, he was one of the group of seven founding members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Taking the good news of Christ overseas was key to their vocation, and Frances travelled throughout Asia establishing churches in various countries. He was on his way to China when he died on board ship on this day in 1552. Surely he would often have been heartened by these words from Revelation 22, the New Testament reading at Evening Prayer today: "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Lamb of God, may the water of life that flows from your throne nourish trees of life to give abundant fruit and leaves for the healing of the nations of our world. --- Thursday 2 December 2021 | Jo Bennett Dismantling the tomato plants Lord, I have reached that stage in my life when there sometimes seems to be more dismantling than planting. May there still be a fragrance in the leaves and the joy of a basketful of slowly ripening fruit to show for it. Amen. --- Wednesday 1 December | Canon Graham Bennett Charles de Foucauld In 1901 Charles de Foucauld went to Algeria, where he led a hermit’s life. There he studied the language of the Tuaregs and compiled dictionaries. However his chief occupations were prayer, penance, and works of charity which won him the admiration and love of the French soldiers as well as of the Muslim desert tribes, though he did not obtain conversions. This day in 1916 he was assassinated for reasons which remain obscure, but were probably in connection local religious wars. After his death the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart were founded and based their life on a rule he had written. A little later later the Little Brothers of Jesus also follow his rule. “As for me, I will do a small retreat next week, of only a few days, among the Jesuit Fathers, in Clamart.” “This search for a life that conforms to Yours, where I can share completely Your abjection, Your poverty, Your humble labour, Your burial, Your darkness, was found so clearly drawn in my last retreat in Clamart.” As we remember those who live a hermit life today let us give thanks for their prayers as they bear the pain of the world before God in solitude. --- Tuesday 30 November | Canon Graham Bennett St Andrew's Day Saint Andrew in the west window of Hereford Cathedral A poem written by Jo Bennett on Saint Andrew’s Day 1995: Homecoming It is St Andrew’s day and I am stripped of zeal. The train slows; From the hills already Dawn's late fingers reach along the fields And draw across the dusk, Shrouding the bare integrity of the advent trees. This morning I had listened hopefully To the brittle clarity of a bird's song in the empty air. Later, by the carriage window, I remember turning my head At a cautious brightening Of the midday mist. But now I step half-drowsy from the train Gathering the patchwork of my faith around me. Send me no more messengers. Drop gently down night heavens from above; Within the embracing cloud There is a fine rain falling. --- Monday 29 November | Canon Graham Bennett The Preaching Cross at Blackfriars Friary, Widemarsh Street, Hereford As we pray and give thanks for the missionary work of the church today let us remember those early saints who brought the gospel to the British Isles, Patrick, Cuthbert, Aiden, Augustine and Hereford’s own bishop Putta. In our prayers we pray for the church around the world as it shares the good news of the gospel of Christ, is engaged in bringing Christ’s healing love, physical, mental and spiritual, sharing knowledge through education and defending the rights of the poor. We ask a special blessing on those who, following Christ’s instruction to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19), have moved to a different country from their own to work with the church there. --- Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 November | Canon Graham Bennett A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. Christ Triumphant Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell – have been traditional themes for Advent meditation. We think on these things, not in fear, but in joyful expectation of the final revelation of Christ’s victory over sin and death that he has already accomplished through his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay; give new courage to your people, who trust in your love. By your coming, raise us to share in the joy of your kingdom on earth as in heaven, where you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. --- Friday 26 November | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita The sign, if you’re not familiar with it, means “is not equal to”. There is a great deal of inequality in the world. It’s not just that countries are different, or that people are different. It’s not just that our experiences are different, which they are. Human beings seem to have an inbuilt sense of “It isn’t fair”. And it isn’t. Lord, keep on pricking my conscience, so I never lose my sense of what is fair. And what is not. Amen --- Thursday 25 November | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita “We are pilgrims on a journey,” The servant song by Richard Gillard.Pilgrimages are of all sorts; to Santiago de Compostella, Rome, or to Glasgow for the COP 26 summit. But we are all pilgrims on the road, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, every day. May we always be aware of our own daily pilgrimage. “One more step along the road I go, One more step along the world I go”. As the song says, Lord, keep me travelling along with you. Amen --- Wednesday 24 November | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Image shows a yarn-bombed pillar-box in Avebury. I love to see yarn-bombing, it speaks of a kind of exuberant joy. I’ve seen bollards dressed as lighthouses in Fort William, trees strung with hearts in Malvern. I don’t have the imagination for that sort of thing, I just enjoy it. Dear Lord, thank you for those with the imagination and skills to give us joy. We thank you for all creatives, whatever they do. Amen --- Tuesday 23 November | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Clement Bishop of Rome, Martyred Approx AD100 Clement wrote a very early letter to the church at Corinth, which tells us a bit about how things were in the church at that time. He was martyred by being thrown into the sea with an anchor round his neck. Creator and father of eternity, whose martyr Clement bore witness with his blood to the love he proclaimed and the gospel that he preached; give us thankful hearts as we celebrate your faithfulness revealed to us in the lives of your saints, and strengthen us in our pilgrimage as we follow your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen --- Monday 22 November | Revd Janet Bellamy Some people give love but find it hard to receive it. Others receive it but find it hard to give it. This prayer reminds us of our need to give and to receive and of our total dependence on God as the source of all love. Mothering God From the moment I was born in Your mind, I’ve been Loved. Adored. Precious. As Your child, You cherish me. And You would protect me with a fierce love, like a Lioness with her cub. Inside of me, every day, there’s a part that needs to know I’m treasured like this, and protected by your fierce, tender Mother-Love. And though I will always be your child, I am no longer young. I walk strong on this earth. There are those who need my care and protection, precious ones I seek to protect. So as I engage with this world that need my own acts of love in ways that will exhaust me, wound me, and cause me to doubt myself… keep me in the secret knowledge of my belovedness. May it be tucked in, deep, safe in my heart. It is enough. From the Northumbrian Prayer Book --- Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 November | Revd Janet Bellamy Today is International Children’s Day; the special theme is the reversal of the negative effects of the impact of Covid-19 on children. The virus has exacerbated all the existing problems of poverty, lack of education or health care, migration and trafficking, further polarising the vast differences between the rich and poor in our world. It is hard not to feel helpless in the face of the enormity of these issues; but giving practical help where we can and keeping the world’s children in our thoughts and prayers is a valuable drop in the ocean. Let us enfold these children with our blessing Let us pray that the Spirit of God will watch over them, Loving them, holding them. From the threads of life that humanity shares, May God weave a covering of thoughts, love and prayer that will grow with them And always be there. (Adapted from a Christening prayer by Andy Raine) --- Friday 19 November | Revd Janet Bellamy As anti-bullying week ends, this evocative picture of the rainbow (God’s message of hope) meeting the wind turbines reminds us of the vital importance of new beginnings. So often in personal or in international climate change relationships we engage in blame and attack rather than in understanding and constructive dialogue. Etty Hillesum, who tragically died in Auschwitz, wrote this of the bullying and hatred she witnessed: “No-one is really ‘bad’ deep down. I should have liked to reach out to that bully with all his fears. I should like to trace the source of his panic, to drive him even deeper into himself….each of us must turn inward and destroy in ourselves all that we think we ought to destroy in others… Every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable.” What are the new beginnings I need to make, in my relationships, in my attitudes, in my behaviour? May I be granted the wisdom and courage to make them. --- Thursday 18 November | Revd Janet Bellamy This cheeky and inquisitive squirrel climbed up the wall to investigate the window! It reminded me of how important it is to remain curious and questioning of both our outer and inner worlds, even when the process is difficult and the answers are elusive. Rainer Maria Rilke put it this way: Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Do not search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, sometime far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way to the answer. What are the unresolved questions I am carrying? Dare I look? May we all be emboldened, like the squirrel, to “live the questions now”. --- Wednesday 17 November | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows St Hugh, bishop of Lincoln. This statue of the saint, with his attribute - a swan - is from the reredos of St Mary's church in Oxford. Image by Lawrence OP courtesy of Flickr Today the Church remembers Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln. Hugh showed great compassion for the poor and the oppressed, ensuring that sufferers from leprosy were cared for and that Jews were not persecuted. He died on this day in the year 1200. We pray for Jewish communities and their leaders throughout the world, and for all those oppressed or persecuted because of their faith. We also pray for the hungry and the homeless and for all refugees. --- Tuesday 16 November | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows St Margaret of Scotland at Jesuit church, Farm Street, London c. Lawrence OP (Flickr) Today the Church remembers Margaret of Scotland who married Malcolm 111 in 1069. She was a civilising and holy presence. She was a woman of prayer as well as good works, who seemed to influence for good all with whom she came into contact. She died on this day in 1093. "God , the ruler of all, who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne and gave her zeal for your church and love for your people that she might advance your heavenly kingdom; mercifully grant that we who commemorate her example may be fruitful in good works and attain to the glorious crown of your saints" --- Monday 15 November | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a Noah's Ark children's toy In the last few weeks we must all have been inspired by the courage and determination of young people and children to challenge the political establishment to take climate change seriously. This reminded me of a Shropshire Primary Schools’ performance of “Mr Noah and His Voyage of Salvation” (music, Steve Dunachie; libretto, Ian Barge) Climbing up on stage, boarding the ark, they sing with Noah: “Time to load the cargo;Time to fetch our living crew;Bring me God’s own precious creaturesTwo by two by two by two.Bring me sheep and bring me cattle;Fetch me furred and feathered beastFrom the meadows and the forests:From the mountains and the moorlands;From north and south and west and east.Hurry! Hurry! Darkness gathers.Clouds eclipse the sinking sun.Lead your hosts of chosen creaturesTo the Ark of the Covenant!” --- Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 November | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge One Thousand Men are Walking by Joshua Dyer, from Tenbury High Ormiston Academy (2019) One thousand men are walking Walking side by side Singing songs from home The spirit as their guide they walk toward the light milord they walk towards the sun they smoke and laugh and smile together no foes to outrun these men live on forever in the hearts of those they saved a nation truly grateful for the path of peace they paved they march as friends and comrades but they do not march for war step closer to salvation a tranquil steady corps the meadows lit with golden beams a beacon for the brave the emerald grass untrampled a reward for what they gave they dream of those they left behind and know they dream of them forever in those poppy fields there walks one thousand men Read more about Joshua's poem here --- Friday 12 November | The Very Revd Sarah Brown In today’s reading for Morning Prayer (Matthew 6:1-18) Jesus teaches his followers how to pray and presents them with The Lord’s Prayer. I’ve always wondered if they were surprised to be given a prayer so intimate and so powerful. Recently I discovered Malcolm Guite’s series of sonnets on the Lord’s prayer- the first of which is written in the voice of a disciple and articulates exactly that astonishment. Jesus’ Father is our Father too. Our FatherI heard him call you his beloved sonAnd saw his Spirit lighten like a dove,I thought his words must be for you alone,Knowing myself unworthy of his love.You pray in close communion with your Father,So close you say the two of you are one,I feel myself to be receding further,Fallen away and outcast and alone.And so I come and ask you how to pray,Seeking a distant supplicant’s petition,Only to find you give your words away,As though I stood with you in your position,As though your Father were my Father too,As though I found his ‘welcome home’ in you. --- Thursday 11 November | The Very Revd Sarah Brown Even as we give thanks for the valour and sacrifice of those who have served in battle for their country or sacrificed life or limb or peace of mind for some great cause, so too might we weep over the circumstances that bring peoples to war. Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2) On this day of Remembrance, I look at this picture of Jesus standing amidst the carnage of just one line of battle in WW1. There are so many prayers he might be praying, so many things he might be saying. Take a moment and reflect on what you see, feel, and hear. --- Wednesday 10 November | The Very Revd Sarah Brown Today we remember Leo the Great, fifth century Bishop of Rome who saved his city from Attila the Hun and both physically and spiritually built up the pre-eminence of Rome in the Christian world. He forged a link between the secular and the sacred which was to become a powerful union for the growth of the Church and the position of the Papacy. We might reflect that what was to ensue in the Church over the next millennium, partly as a consequence of this tempting link, would have grieved and horrified him: Yet in his own lifetime as priest and theologian he remained true to the faith of the apostles despite his intense engagement with the world and its temptations. “Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” How well does the Church manage to resist the temptation of being ‘of the world’ today? --- Tuesday 9 November | The Very Revd Sarah Brown “Daughter, why have you forsaken me, and I never forsook you?” These words spoken by Jesus in a vision to 15th Century Mystic, Margery Kempe, a mother of 14 suffering from depression (!) convinced her that her feelings of fear, guilt and unworthiness were misplaced and brought her into an intimate and personal relationship with Christ characterised by visions, emotional worship and conversations in the spirit. This was at a time when the Medieval Church was not at all interested in any manifestations of faith that it could not control! Margery Kempe’s visions and writings are fascinating, and she reminds us of the many honest souls down the ages whose quest for God or unusual spiritual gifts put them out on the fringes - or worse on a collision course with a Church that simply could not imagine that God might speak through such misfits. Let us pray today for all those who love the Lord but are not really loved by the church. And let us pray for The Church. --- Monday 8 November | Revd Canon Chris Pullin The Venerable Bede, who wrote the history of England’s earliest saints and martyrs Today we celebrate the saints and martyrs of England. It’s good to be reminded that our own nation has produced lives that have lit up the darkness, and that we have known people like that ourselves. Can I dare to believe that my own life might give light to others? Can I trust that out of my ordinariness something of God might be seen? God, whom the glorious company of the redeemed adore, assembled from all times and places of your dominion: we praise you for the saints of our own land and for the many lamps their holiness has lit; and we pray that we also may be numbered at last with those who have done your will and declared your righteousness. Prayer is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2008 --- Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 November | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Photograph of Forest Chapel, Norway As we hold in mind those attending the COP26 Conference, we remember St Leonard, whose feast day falls this weekend. He was a sixth-century hermit in the forest of Limousin in France. We pray for all those who live in or tend forests, and those working to save them where they are under grave threat, especially in the Amazon regions. As high as the tree soaring above the forest As beautiful as the river flowing through many lands As rich as the eco-systems of an abundant earth As close as the smallest creature on the ground So good is the God of all creation: Blessed be God forever. Prayer courtesy of Christian Aid as used by Arocha --- Friday 5 November | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Photo by Aurelien Guichard used under CC Danger, excitement, heat, light and joy flare up together as we light our fires. May children be safe adults responsible fireworks well managed and happiness abound. Yet in our joy let us remember the dark roots of this night, of plotting, division and death. What, Lord, of the joy in my life each day rests on the pain of others? Help me to reflect on that and where I can, repent. --- Thursday 4 November | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Medieval door hole for cats to use while hunting for vermin in the Muniment Room, Hereford Cathedral Coming and going among the grandeur the cat is a cat and does what cats do, alert, independent, nimble and quick. I’m more cumbersome, compromised and caught by the grandeur to be something other than I am. May I find life’s door holes and enjoy the freedom to be myself even while inhabiting a world that would shape me otherwise. ‘Owls, and swallows, and other birds fly upon their bodies, and upon their heads, and cats in like manner’ (Baruch 6: 21). The prophet writes about the images of false gods as perches for cats and birds which have no regard for their supposed importance. May we be like a cat and ignore false gods. --- Wednesday 3 November | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Today we commemorate Richard Hooker, born in Exeter in about 1554. After university at Oxford, where he became a fellow of Corpus Christo College, he was ordained and became a parish priest, in 1585 becoming Master of the Temple in London. He was one of the strongest advocates for the position of the Church of England and defended the ‘middle way’ between puritanism and papalism. His greatest work was ‘Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity’, in which he affirmed that the Church of England was the continuation of the pre-Reformation English Church, rooted firmly in Scripture and tradition, both catholic and reformed. He left London and returned to parish ministry near Canterbury, dying on this day in 1600. God of peace, the bond of love, who in your Son Jesus Christ have made the human race your inseperable dwelling place: after the example of your servant Richard Hooker, give grace to us your servants ever to rejoice in the true inheritance of your adopted children and to show forth your praises now and ever; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. --- Tuesday 2 November | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett All Souls Day is a special day in the year to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. A day when we can feel sad after the celebrations of All Saints. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission explains the purpose of the celebration in this simple, agreed statement: ‘The believer’s pilgrimage of faith is lived out with the mutual support of all the people of God. In Christ all the faithful, both living and departed, are bound together in a communion of prayer.’ Father of all, by whose mercy and grace your saints remain in everlasting light and peace: we remember with thanksgiving those whom we love but see no longer; and we pray that in them your perfect will may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. --- Monday 1 November | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett All Saints Day has a special meaning for me, as no doubt it has for many of us. I love the words from Hebrews Chapter 11 in which the writer talks of the faith of those we read of in the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and others, how they lived out their faith, some suffering for that faith, yet none received what was promised to them. Now we have received that reward in Jesus Christ. We are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses who give us encouragement to live out the Good New and so attain our heavenly reward. Almighty and everlasting God, who kindles the flame of your love in the hearts of the saints, grant unto us the same faith and power of love; that as we rejoice in their triumphs, we may profit by their examples, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. --- Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 October 2021 | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett This weekend we will be getting our door bells rung, after dark. A not common occurrence where I live, and normally we might be wary of answering, but we know who it is likely to be, Trick or Treaters looking to get a handful of sweets. When I was at the vicarage I would get a steady stream of callers, starting with the little ones in the late afternoon, with their mothers in tow, later it would be the young teenagers in a group, with no adults,( they were pretending to be grown up), and then around 8ish there would be the gang of older youths who’d heard there were rich pickings to be had from the vicar. I would end up tipping the chocolate tin into their bags, I didn’t want any left as I know I would scoff the lot. It can be scary for some of us, not knowing who these youngsters are, but I knew them all, so it was OK. Maybe not so good living in a town, perhaps it might be safer not to answer the door, or to put a sign up saying ‘No callers, please’. Sadly, few of those who come to the door will know the Christian element to their celebrating, for them it’s just a bit of fun. All Saints is, for me a special time of celebration, Halloween, the eve of All Hallows – All Saints, one of the major feasts of the Christian year. From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, And all things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us. (The Cornish or West Country Litany.) --- Friday 29 October 2021 | Jo Bennett Marches Camino to COP sets out from Hereford Cathedral on 14 September 2021 As world leaders are now gathering in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference which begins on Monday, environmental activists are also arriving in the city, eager to show their deep concern for our planet's future. How can we begin to give words to our prayers for a good outcome to COP26, for justice for nations already affected by the climate crisis, for the safety of all present in Glasgow, and that discussions and demonstrations will be effective but peaceful. One of my favourite lines in the Lord's Prayer is one I like best in the traditional wording: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". I'm not sure how to envisage "heaven", but it is immensely encouraging to know that there is already a real place where God's just and compassionate will is being done. Our Father in heaven,may your name be held holy,may your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. --- Thursday 28 October 2021 | Jo Bennett Saint Simon (Jusepe de Ribera) and Saint Jude (Georges de La Tour) It's a feast day for two men about whom we know almost nothing – yet they were two of only twelve men whom Jesus chose to be with him throughout his active life. So they were among the select few who listened to his strong, comforting, challenging words at supper on the night of his death. "I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. … When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father … he will testify on my behalf. You also are testify because you have been with me from the beginning." John 15:17-18, 26-27 --- Wednesday 27 October 2021 | Jo Bennett What buckets do you find most useful for drawing water from the deep well of Christian thought and experience? The Eucharist? Or the music at Evensong? Or meditation? Or walking the hills or the country lanes? From experience I have learnt that there is an endless supply of water in the well of Christian liturgy, preaching and writing. Spirit of God, my teacher, help me to keep my buckets ready to hand and in good repair. May I not neglect those that are most useful to me. --- Tuesday 26 October 2021 | Jo Bennett Footbridge over marshes South Carolina Low Country "A footbridge is a mysterious and wonderful place. A place of temptation, not without a frisson of danger.... We speak of 'building bridges' and 'bridging the gap', but bridges can separate as well as link. They are defensible places, places of trial - think of Little John or Horatius on the bridge…. A footbridge creates a third place between the two spaces it links, becomes a place in itself."Katherine Swift, The Morville YearCedd, whom we commemorate today, was an abbot, a bishop and a bridge builder. He spoke both Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon, and at the crucial Synod of Whitby (AD 664), which was called to establish uniformity over the celebration of Easter between the Churches of the Celtic and Roman traditions, he acted as interpreter.Lord, if I am called upon to cross a bridge, to defend a bridge or to build a bridge today, give me courage and faith. --- Monday 25 October | Canon Graham Bennett A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. An angel with spiritual armour. Spiritual armour Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12,13 Lord, I see evil around me, at the international, national and local level. I thank you that Jesus dealt a fatal blow to that evil by his death and resurrection. Help me to stand firm until his victory is fully revealed. --- Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 October | Canon Graham Bennett A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. St Philip baptising the Ethiopian eunuch. Was this man the first African to be baptised? At the beginning of the twentieth century it was estimated that about three percent of the people on the African continent professed to be Christians. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, almost fifty percent of the people in Africa claim to be Christians. When we look at the decline of the number of regular worshippers in our own country, we can become discouraged. Let us take heart today from the rapid growth of the church in Africa, especially remembering the Cathedral’s link with four dioceses in Tanzania. --- Friday 22 October | Canon Graham Bennett A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. St Stephen distributing alms. The Apostles said “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task … and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit….. Acts 6:2-5 I may not be an Apostle, a Bishop or a Priest, but I still have a task to do for You, Lord. May I, like Stephen, do it full of faith and the Holy Spirit. --- Thursday 21 October | Canon Graham Bennett Image shows a panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. The crucifixion Like the oldest window in the cathedral, which is in the Lady Chapel, this window shows Jesus on a green cross. Green is a symbol of the life that flowed from the cross even though it was an instrument of death. Lord, help me today to draw on the sustaining life that You won for me through Your death on the cross. --- Wednesday 20 October | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Cyclamen It started as one single fragile flower in among the weeds and stones. It’s not a promising spot, the garden used to be a car park. But, the miracle of creation and renewal happened, as it does every year; a lovely clump of flowers, wreathed in pretty leaves. And the weeds. Lord, we thank you for miracles. Help us to see them everywhere, because they are everywhere. Amen --- Tuesday 19 October | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita River Arrow, copyright BA Swan The still water at the side of the River Arrow grows duckweed, and in the spaces between, reflects the sky. We do not expect to see the sky when we look down, nor clouds among river weed. God is everywhere, and we can see him reflected in everything. If we keep our inward eyes open. Omnipresent Lord, help us to see. Amen --- Monday 18 October | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Saint Luke Luke was a doctor. He became a companion of Paul, and wrote, apparently after careful research, a story of the life of Christ, the Gospel that bears his name, and the sequel, the Acts of the Apostles. He is reputed to have spoken to Mary, the mother of Jesus in his research. He may have been writing to a person, whom he refers to as “Theophilus”, God lover. But perhaps he addresses all of us, all lovers of God. Lord, we thank you for all witnesses to you, whether fishermen, tent makers or physicians. Give us confidence to know we are witnesses too, whoever we are. Amen --- Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 October | Revd Janet Bellamy Come ye thankful people come… Today the Church remembers with thanksgiving the faith and courage of Bishops Latimer and Ridley, martyred during the Reformation. They gave their lives for what they believed. Tomorrow the Cathedral celebrates with thanksgiving the Harvest, representing God’s gift of life to us all and reminding us of the Gospel imperative to feed the hungry and share our gifts with those in need. Thou takes the pen… and the lines dance. Thou takes the flute… and the notes shimmer. Thou takes the brush… and the colours sing. So all things have meaning and beauty in that space beyond time where Thou art. How, then, can I hold anything back from Thee? Dag Hammarskjold --- Friday 15 October | Revd Janet Bellamy Photo of St Teresa of Avila in St Peter’s Basilica Today is the Feast day of St Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth century Spanish nun who restored a contemplative austerity to the Carmelite Order and through her mystical experiences and writings had a profound influence on Christian spirituality. She wrote these words, often set to music and translated here from the Spanish: Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you.All things pass. God does not change.Patience achieves everything.Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be;May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of that. --- Thursday 14 October | Revd Janet Bellamy Words from the Creed of a Celtic Communion service from the Northumbrian Community: We believe in a Godwho is never confined to our imagining,is never in bondage to our understanding and never kept within our dwelling places. Our God is a mystery of divine and human, bound together, of power and vulnerability, of crucifixion and resurrection. Our God is the wonder of truth and compassion, of liberation and responsibility, of eternal wisdom and amazing grace. We celebrate this God who leaps free of all our boundaries in love, stretching out beyond any barricades and in mercy bending deep into fragile human hearts. --- Wednesday 13 October | Revd Janet Bellamy Photo of part of the Bayeux Tapestry showing King Edward the Confessor promising his throne to William of Normandy. Today the Church remembers King Edward the Confessor (1042-66). Historians no longer describe him as particularly pious nor blameless for the events of 1066; his canonisation was politically motivated. Nevertheless, his life and the ways in which it has been subsequently interpreted, remind us that all Saints were human beings, and that before so idealising them that they lose their essential humanity or vilifying them through harsh judgement, we should learn from them what is of God and review our own lives in the light of that. A Hebridean Prayer: O King and Saviour of all, what is Thy gift to me? Do I use it to Thy pleasing? --- Tuesday 12 October | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Portrait of Elizabeth Fry - Wellcome Images Today we remember Elizabeth Fry, prison reformer (1780 - 1845) Born in Norfolk, Elizabeth married Joseph Fry, a strict Quaker. Elizabeth was admitted as a Minister in the Society of Friends, and became a noted preacher. The appalling state of prisons came to Elizabeth's notice, so she devoted much of her time to the welfare of female prisoners in Newgate. In 1820 she took part in the formation of the nightly shelter for the homeless in London, and travelled all over Europe in the cause of prison reform. In recent weeks we have heard of two young women giving birth in a prison cell and left unattended; tragically, their babies died. May we pray at this time of Baby Loss Awareness for those two young girls and for two precious babies now embraced in the loving, gentle arms of Jesus and His mother Mary, and all the saints and angels. --- Monday 11 October | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Yesterday, as you know, was Homelessness Sunday, and so we continue to pray for the homeless and for refugees throughout the world, fleeing war-torn countries: O God, Your Son , Jesus Christ said He had nowhere to lay His head. We pray for those who have no home of their own; to work with them and others to see justice prevail; to serve them and care for them. In the name of Christ and for His sake. Produced by Unleash and the London Churches Group --- Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 October | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge This weekend is the beginning of Baby Loss Awareness Week when we especially remember our precious babies whose lives, like those of beautiful butterflies, were so fragile and all too short but touched so many lives. Little Snowdrop The world may never notice if a snowdrop doesn’t bloom, or even pause to wonder if the petals fall too soon. But every life that ever forms, or ever comes to be, touches the world in some small way for all eternity. The little one we longed for was swiftly here and gone, But the love that was then planted is a light that still shines on. And though our arms are empty our hearts know what to do, For every beating of our hearts says that we love you. Anon --- Friday 8 October | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge "The harvest is a time for gathering" Gathering in is a lovely way to think about reflection. To pause for a few moments and gather in your thoughts about where you are right now and what path you are on. You might not live on a farm, but the lessons from the harvest still apply... Laurel --- Thursday 7 October | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows Roman tiles used in the construction of a 7th-century Saxon church (St Pancras) in the grounds of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury Recycled, re-laid, still standing and colourful: may the improvisation of my life, O Lord, with its borrowed elements of material and the gritty mortar that goes on holding it all together nonetheless raise a temple to your glory. --- Wednesday 6 October | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows Tyndale’s Bible, 1526 The Bible scholar and translator William Tyndale is commemorated today. He worked tirelessly to put the Bible into people’s hands in their native language. He died on this day in 1536. Lord, how shall I speak of you in the language of today? Help me in my words and by my living to make the love of you attractive. Inspire me to tell stories that people can understand, To love and serve in ways that reveal you, To pray and praise in ways that draw others in, To be myself a sign in flesh of your living Word. --- Tuesday 5 October | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image: Woodcut by Carl Weidemeyer, 1911 One of the legends of St Francis is that he befriended a wolf that had been attacking the people and animals of Gubbio. Francis discovered that it was because of hunger that the wolf had done this, and having tamed him the townspeople fed him and they and their animals were left in peace. Lord, help me to understand and befriend my fears; may I give them the right sort of attention that I may be left in peace and able to live freely again. --- Monday 4 October | Revd Canon Chris Pullin St Francis Fresco of St Francis in the church of Sacro Speco, Subiaco, painted shortly after his death and believed to be the nearest we can get to a true likeness of him Today we give thanks for St Francis of Assisi (1182—1226) O God, by whose gift Saint Francis was conformed to Christ in poverty and humility, grant that, by walking in Francis’s footsteps, we may follow your Son, and, through joyful charity, come to be united with you. What act of ‘joyful charity’ can I perform today? --- Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 October | William Talbot-Ponsonby Revd Canon Sarah Brown, picture by Hereford Diocese Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.Romans 1:7 Today we welcome the Revd Canon Sarah Brown as the next Dean of Hereford.At this time of transition and uncertainty, it is wonderful to open a new chapter in the life of the cathedral and its role in the Diocese of Hereford. We thank you, Heavenly Father,for calling Sarah to be your witness:grant her the courage and the loveto be obedient to that calling.Let her life bear witness to your love,shown in Jesus Christ,and that the example of her servicemay reflect the joy of your light in our community,to the glory of your name. --- Friday 1 October | William Talbot-Ponsonby Tomorrow will be the Feast of St Thomas of Hereford. Thomas was a scholar and lawyer, twice chancellor of Oxford University and Lord Chancellor of England, before becoming Bishop of Hereford in 1275. After his death in 1282, miracles were reported at his shrine and Hereford became a major pilgrimage destination. He was canonized in 1320. Teach us, O God, to view our life here on earthas a pilgrim’s path to heaven,and give us grace to tread it courageouslyin the company of your faithful people.Help us to set our affections on the things above,not on the passing vanities of this world;and grant that as we journey on in the way of holinesswe may bear a good witness to our Lord,and serve all who need our help along the way,for the glory of your name Frank Colquhoun --- Thursday 30 September | William Talbot-Ponsonby Today we remember St Honorius of Canterbury, who died on this day in 653. He was a member of the Gregorian Mission, sent in 596 to convert the Anglo-Saxon pagans, and became Archbishop of Canterbury in 627. We thank thee, O God, for the saints of all ages; for those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning; for the great souls who saw visions of larger truth and dared to declare it; for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world; and for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller light of life with thee. --- Wednesday 29 September | William Talbot-Ponsonby, Head of Schools and Family Learning “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” Psalm 37:7 The past few days have been very frustrating for many people, especially those who find they cannot work or carry out essential journeys. The current crisis has been made worse by the actions of those who are anxious and fearful, rather than patient and trusting. O Lord, teach us to be patient, and not to put our needs above those of others. Help us to understand that in waiting, we are waiting for you. --- Tuesday 28 September | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett We associate Wenceslas with Christmas, because of the carol written by J M Neale. Saint Wenceslas whose feast is today, was a 10th. Century duke of Bohemia and a martyr, dying at the early age of 22, at the hands of followers of his brother, Boleslav . Although young when he died, he was remembered for his desire to encourage the Christian faith and to improve the education of his people. Vouchsafe, O Lord, to prosper with your blessing the work of all universities, colleges and schools, that they who serve you therein, as teachers or learners, may set your holy will ever before them, and be led to the knowledge of your truth; that so both church and world may benefit from their studies, and they themselves become worthy partakers of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. --- Monday 27 September | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Saint Vincent De Paul, who we remember today, founded an order of priests, the Vincentians, and the Sisters of Charity. Pope Leo XIII named him patron of all charitable societies, one of which is the widespread lay confraternity called the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, founded in 1833. Vincent died in 1660 . Open my eyes that they may see the deepest needs of people; move my hands that they may feed the hungry; touch my heart that it may bring warmth to the despairing; teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers; let me share my possessions to clothe the naked; give me the care that strengthens the sick; make me share in the quest to set the prisoners free. In sharing our anxieties and our love, our poverty and our prosperity, we partake of your divine presence. --- Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 September | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett Today, Saturday, the Church remembers Lancelot Andrewes, bishop and spiritual writer, who died in 1626. Lord Jesus, I give thee my hands to do thy work. I give thee my feet to go thy way. I give thee my eyes to see as thou seest. I give thee my tongue to speak thy words. I give thee my mind that thou mayest think in me. I give thee my spirit that thou mayest pray in me. Above all, I give thee my heart that thou mayest love in me thy Father, and all mankind. I give thee my whole self that thou mayest grow in me, so that it is thee, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me. I hand over to thy care, Lord, my soul and body, my prayers and my hopes, my health and my work, my life and my death, my parents and my family, my friends and my neighbours, my country and all people. Today and always. --- Friday 24 September | Revd Prebendary Michael Cluett On the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham we pray: Loving God, calling your friends in new and unexpected ways, choosing Mary from the powerless and unnoticed in the world, yet greatly loved and cherished in your sight, that she should be the mother of our Saviour. So fill us with your grace that we too may accept the promptings of your Spirit, and welcome your angel with glad and open arms, ready to be pierced with pain and filled with joy, rejoicing in the cost of your salvation, in and through the same Jesus our Messiah. --- Thursday 23 September | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Image shows a Green Man over the doorway to Carlisle Cathedral. This green man is one of 23 (approx.) such pagan images in the Cathedral, although some may be the god of wind. Were the stonemasons having a laugh, being a pagan bunch? On the same doorway is a carving reputed to be of a former Archdeacon’s dog! Or did the masons worry that ancient deities were being displaced by a new God, and might be offended? Ancient of Days, help us to know you who is more ancient than we can ever imagine. And to worship only you. Amen --- Wednesday 22 September | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita The secret post box! Obviously, the hedge has grown a bit since the box was installed. What is it for? Secret messages? Actually, no, it is still emptied regularly. Paul’s letter to the Colossians tells us that there is no mystery or secrets to keep us from God. (Col.1:25-27) All the secrets are now out in the open for everyone to see. When the veil in the temple was torn, the holy mysteries became accessible to all. All knowing God, teach us to know you as we should, and to approach you freely. Amen --- Tuesday 21 September | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita Saint Matthew, also known as Levi, was called by Jesus when at work. (Mark2:14) The response is recorded as immediate; he got up and followed Jesus. He gave up, not just his life of crime, (extortion, collaboration) but a secure, well paid job. Everything, in fact. Dear Lord, help us to be willing to give up everything for you, just as Matthew tells us you gave up everything for us. In God’s name, Amen. --- Monday 20 September | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Emerita John Coleridge Patteson, First Bishop of Melanesia and his companions, Martyrs, 1871 God of all tribes and peoples and tongues, who called your servant John Coleridge Patteson to witness in life and death to the gospel of Christ amongst the peoples of Melanesia: grant us to hear your call to service, and to respond trustfully and joyfully to Jesus Christ our redeemer. Amen --- Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 September | Canon Graham Bennett The Spirit A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. St Peter and St John at Samaria. Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17 Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me today. --- Friday 17 September | Canon Graham Bennett Hildegard of Bingen Image shows a section of a window in the South Nave aisle. Today we remember Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179. She lived at the time our cathedral was being built. She wrote: “Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think. What delight God gives to humankind with all these things . All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without we cannot survive.” These words have become even more significant in our day. We pray for God’s help to work with nature and not against it. --- Thursday 16 September | Canon Graham Bennett Festus A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. St Paul before Festus. After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and since he wanted to grant the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Acts 24:27 Lord, am I hesitating to do the right thing and causing others to suffer by my procrastination? --- Wednesday 15 September | Canon Graham Bennett A panel from the Hardman window in the North transept. The left hand side of this window depicts scenes of the Church Militant on Earth and has this main panel. The Church Militant We are the Church Militant, not using weapons of war but sharing the love of the Father, in the strength of the Son, through the power of the Spirit. A prayer for the Church: O save your people, and bless your heritage; be their shepherd, and carry them forever. Psalm 28:9 --- Tuesday 14 September | Jo Bennett Holy Cross Day Tzambika Monastery, Rhodes Many Christians keep 14 September as the Feast of the Cross. While Good Friday is dedicated to the passion of Christ and his crucifixion, Holy Cross Day focuses our thoughts on the Cross itself as the sign of our salvation. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man [Jesus] be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:14-17 Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the crossso that he might draw the whole world to himself.Give the gift of faith to anyone who looks upon the cross today, that they may receive your healing and eternal life,Amen. --- Monday 13 September | Jo Bennett St John Chrysostom St John Chrysostom ("golden mouth") is commemorated today, 13 September. "The church is wider than the world," was one of his many golden sayings. And the truth of Christ's resurrection does indeed call us to see the church as the widest possible, fully human community, whose lines of division his resurrection has abolished for ever, and whose sole interest is the interest of all who inhabit the created world. Lord Jesus Christ, the crisis affecting our world's shared sun and air, rivers and oceans, daily increases our awareness of our dependence on one another. Help me today and every day to be drawn beyond myself, both into sharing the distress of other human beings, but also into hope and faith that you, in your risen life, will break down our human divisions and give us the power that we need to work together for the restoration of the wholeness of creation. --- Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September | Jo Bennett Corn Stooks Hurrahing in Harvest Summer ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks ariseAround; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviourOf silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavierMeal-drift moulded ever and melted across the skies? I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;And, eyes, heart, what looks, what lips yet gave you aRapturous love's greeting of realer, of rounder replies? And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulderMajestic - as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet! -These things, these things were here and but the beholderWanting; which two when they once meet,The heart rears wings bold and bolderAnd hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet. Gerard Manley Hopkins --- Friday 10 September | Jo Bennett Herefordshire apples Acedia is a term which has been used for a state of listlessness. It was recognized, especially in the 4th and 5th centuries, as a special problem for desert hermits who lacked the encouragement of Christian brothers or sisters. It can be connected with the experience of depression. In his book Silence and Honey Cakes Rowan Williams recognises this state and suggests: "The only solution is to let myself be drawn deeper into the present moment, feeling the fabric of the moment and saying as I breathe:'Here I am; this is what I am; this is what I do next; here is God.' Do what's there. God meets me in this moment and nowhere else." --- Thursday 9 September | Revd Janet Bellamy “So Sarah laughed…” Gen 18:13 It can feel uncomfortable to be enjoying ourselves whilst others suffer. We need to find a way of holding together the joy and the pain; doing what we can in prayer and action to alleviate suffering whilst responding fully and in love to whatever gifts God has bestowed upon us. This prayer for laughter from the Church of Scotland may reflect our need for some relief from the powerlessness, violence and anxiety of our times. I have had enough of sad Saints and sour religion. I have had enough of sin spotting and Grace doubting. I need some laughter, Lord, the kind you planted in Sarah. But please may I not have to wait until I am ninety and pregnant? --- Wednesday 8 September | Revd Janet Bellamy Photo from Loughgall, Northern Ireland For many people September brings a renewal of frantic activity, a rush to meet countless deadlines. For others it brings a gradual and not always welcome decrease of activity and socialising as Autumn and Winter approach. In this reflection, entitled Be Still, Ann Lewin reminds us where to centre our priorities. You do not have to look for anything, just look. You do not have to listen for specialist sounds, just listen. You do not have to accomplish anything, just be And in the looking and the listening and the being; find Me Lord, this is so hard. if I am an achiever I will block you out by trying too hard. If I am grieving the life I have lost I will block you out by negativity and looking backwards. In your grace enable me to know what it is to be still and to experience your presence. --- Tuesday 7 September | Revd Janet Bellamy Image from Tearfund When we feel powerless … Paradox blessing May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equity and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and change their pain to joy. And may God bless you with the foolishness to think that you can make a difference in the world….. --- Monday 6 September | Revd Janet Bellamy Charles Ringma writes of our painful journey of growth through life, “Loved ones and companions on the journey, while they can only be our tentative guides, can make the journey easier. We need bread and water in the desert. And in the deserts of our deepest self-questioning and uncertainty we need others to be there for us, not in their strength but in their vulnerable availability.”When I try to meet the needs of others, am I available in my vulnerability or in my power? Whose need am I really meeting? --- Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 September | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge As an old man walked along the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But the beach goes on for miles and miles and there are millions of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?" The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it safely into the waves. "It makes a difference to THAT one!" he said. --- Friday 3 September | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Gregory the Great Gregory was born in 540, son of a Roman senator. In 590 he was elected Pope. He initiated the mission to England, sending Augustine and forty monks from his own monastery to refound the English church. As Pope, he styled himself "Servant of the servants of God" , a title which typified both his personality and his ministry. "The strong hands of God twisted the crown of thorns into a crown of glory, and in such hands we are safe." --- Thursday 2 September | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the shadow of a cross and person stood next to it Today we remember the Martyrs of Papua New Guinea The church in Papua New Guinea has been enriched by martyrdom twice in the 20th century. In1901 two companions were sent to New Guinea from the London Missionary Society, and in 1942 two priests were persecuted for their faith. We pray for all who are persecuted for their faith today all who risk their own lives for the sake of others --- Wednesday 1 September | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Today the church remembers St Giles of Provence. St Giles was a hermit who died in about the year 710 His care for the wounded and those crippled by disease resulted in his becoming the patron saint of such people particularly those with leprosy: and so today we pray for all who live with leprosy today and for the work of the Leprosy Mission 'In his love he wraps and holds us he enfolds us for love, and he will never let us go, and all shall be well.' Mother Julian of Norwich --- Tuesday 31 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader St Aidan A primary school child described saints as dead good people, but of course, they aren’t all dead. The Biblical definition of saint is all believers. So we are all saints. Another definition is “people the light shines through”. Does God’s light shine through us? Lord, do I show other people your light? Help me where I fall short. Amen --- Monday 30 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader John Bunyan We remember him as a writer and theologian. We all need the thoughts and experiences of other people to refer to. We read the Bible, and we read for fun, if we are lucky, and we read for instruction and learning, at least sometimes. Lord, bless the work of all writers. We thank you for their gifts and talents. Let us learn to appreciate the great resources we have. Amen --- Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader 28 August - Augustine of Hippo29 August - the beheading of John the Baptist Saint Augustine Catholic Church (Minster, Ohio) - stained glass, St. Augustine of Hippo c. Nheyob There are so many saints’ days in August, we are surrounded by them. The writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews12:1), writes of being surrounded by them as we run the race. After the Olympics, and during the Paralympics, we may be inspired. But we may just feel overwhelmed, as if we are making no progress at all. Dear Lord, help us to be aware of those who ran the race before us, and of those who journey with us today. Do not let us be discouraged because we cannot be as fast or surefooted as our companions. Amen --- Friday 27 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows St Monica by Gozzoli Today the Church remembers St Monica, the mother of St Augustine of Hippo. Her persistent unconditional love and the way in which her life expressed her faith helped to bring her son back to the faith he had abandoned. St Monica is traditionally known as the patron saint of mothers, wives, conversion, alcoholics and survivors of abuse.Many parents can identify with the sadness of seeing their children reject the faith and life style in which they have been nurtured. Lord help us to recognise and respect the different ways in which you work in the lives of all your children. If they seem to deny all that we have taught them to value, give us the faith and courage of St Monica to hold fast to our relationship with you and if possible with them. Give us grace to trust that your love for us and for all people, regardless of how far we fall short, remains steadfast and unconditional. --- Thursday 26 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows people studying in the Reading Room of Hereford Cathedral As students and children prepare for a return to their disrupted education, we ponder on what will be of greatest value to them in their learning and what is of greatest value to us in the continued learning of our life experience. An extract from a meditation, Before Studying, from the Northumbrian Community Prayer Book. I long to learn and understand, to see the interwoven interdependence of all things. I long to dedicate my study and my understanding to faithfully transmit all truth in honour of the King of Kings…. I will question all I thought I understood.. much more may come to light. So wondering is good… The worth of my work is God’s to weigh, the task of today the focus of my plans. To understand all mysteries would be my great desire. To be more understanding is of greater worth. --- Wednesday 25 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a series of crossroads on a map of Hereford “If you learn nothing and remain the same, then the future is just the past repeating itself…. If you learn from your mistakes you reshape yourself and redesign the future. We’re all in the same kitchen, all still cooking the future - which means the future is not fixed… When a person gets to the spiritual crossroads, they can either turn aside and go in a completely different direction, or they can go on but in a completely different way.” (Susan Howatch) What do I do when I reach a spiritual crossroads? Lord, give us grace to know that your loving presence will be with us whichever way we choose to go, however many mistakes we make and however rough the terrain. May our choices bring greater love, freedom, justice and mercy to our world. --- Tuesday 24 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a resplendent variety of wild flowers and cultivated flowers growing together in a local park, the diversity and togetherness enhancing the beauty of each. So often we are tempted to put things in boxes. “Dig up that wild flower; its a weed. You can’t have a gerbera in a wild flower meadow; its not wild.” We put people in boxes too. Something new which crosses the boundaries of our assumptions and prejudices can be frightening and our instinct is to stay with what we know and condemn what we fear. Lord, show me my blind spots, give me courage to recognise and challenge my prejudices and give me discernment that my heart may embrace and my eyes be open to the beauty and diversity of all that you have created. --- Monday 23 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The Old Harry Rocks, Dorset, painted by James Greig (1861—1941) Sometimes, dear Lord, we feel ourselves cut off from everyone else. When we are lonely, help us feel your presence; when we are stubborn, help us build bridges; when we are rejected, strengthen our self-esteem; when we are standing alone for truth, undergird our foundations. So when, dear Lord, we feel ourselves cut off from everyone else we may know ourselves inseparably united to you. We all find ourselves isolated at times. How do you cope with that? Does it bring you closer to God (strange though that might sound)? --- Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin An image of part of an embroidered panel of some of the masons’ personal marks found here and there on stones in the cathedral, usually unseen but always present. In my hands lies in part the shaping of your world, on stones not always of my own choosing, for places that no one might see. Yet you call me to work, O God, and to make my mark in love and joy and peace, even if no one sees it. On what, I wonder, will I leave my mark today? How can it be a good mark? --- Friday 20 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin We stand on the brink of divine mystery at every moment. We need to allow ourselves to be happy to know nothing; to be still, without agenda; and to stare into that mystery vacantly, yet with all the attention that yearning love for God can bring. Lord, help me pass beyond words, beyond ideas, beyond images. Let my longing heart lose itself in the ocean of your ineffable being. Can I find fifteen minutes today to spend completely vacantly, looking towards God with my heart? --- Thursday 19 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The risen Christ appears to disciples on the road to Emmaus, Sixth-century mosaic in the church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna Walk with us Lord, and help us recognise you; Speak with us Lord, and set our hearts on fire; Break bread for us, and feed us soul and body; Come to our lives to strengthen and inspire. Jesus walks with us as we make or own life journeys. In every moment of the day, even the moments we might think least likely, he is with us as he was with the disciples walking to Emmaus. Just pray to be open to his presence. --- Wednesday 18 August | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge In this world there is nothing softer or thinner than water. But to compel the hard and unyielding, it has no equal. That the weak overcomes the strong, that the hard gives way to the gentle - This everyone knows, yet no one acts accordingly. Lao Tzu - 531 BC --- Tuesday 17 August | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Brief InnocenceDawn offersinnocence to a half-mad city. The axe-keenintent of all ourdays for this briefmoment lies soft, nuzzlingthe breast of morning,crooning, still sleep-besotted,of childish pranks withangels. Maya Angelou --- Monday 16 August | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a delicate cobweb glistening with dew Beauty is a rare miracle that reduces to silence our doubts about God Jean Anouilh --- Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 August | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge The Blessed Virgin Mary Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Revelation 11:19, 12: 1 - 2 "How beautiful it is to think about heaven; God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints. We and our dear ones; those whom we have loved and cherished. Is this only a dream? No, it is not a dream. Jesus assures us of it on behalf of the Father. He preceded us in life, in death, and in the resurrection. That means we too shall follow him in life, in death, and in the resurrection." --- Friday 13 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader From the hymn, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” “We make his love too narrow by false limits of our own” Oh, don’t we though? There are people who think they can’t come to church because they are too bad. There are people whom we may think shouldn’t come to church for the same reason. But let us be thankful that it isn’t so. Let us think today of the things we have done that may require God’s mercy to be shown to us. Loving God, help us always to know that your mercy extends even to the worst deeds we have committed. And that you are ready to forgive everyone else who asks for it, too. Amen --- Thursday 12 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader I laid some steps in the garden once, not very well! We progress through life by laying down one step at a time. Often they are uneven, irregular, all over the place. Our journey is seldom as smooth as this lovely image. And it can be hard to have to make our own path, every day. Dear Lord, support our halting steps, praise our progress, help our failures, and be there to embrace us when we arrive. Amen --- Wednesday 11 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Clare of Assissi St Clare with lantern at the Suore Francescane Dell'Atonement St. Anthony's Convent - American Hospice c. Chris Light Clare founded the order generally known as the Poor Clares. Like most girls born to rich families, she was to have been married to a suitable man. Her father even tried to take her away after she had made her vows. But she stuck to a life of absolute poverty, eating no meat, and sleeping on the floor. Many of us may feel that there is the makings of a religious deep inside us, but most of us are not called to such an intense commitment. And most of us in the West can only imagine how hard a life of such intense poverty would be. Dear Lord, help us to respect and love the poor, especially those who have not chosen such a life. And when they need help, help us to give it freely. Amen --- Tuesday 10 August | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows a painting of Derwentwater To anyone who has ever been to Keswick, this painting is both instantly recognisable and not quite right. Just like us, in fact. That’s Catbells across the water, but the landing on the left is in the wrong place! God recognises us instantly as his beloved child, but we are not quite right. Getting it right is a struggle, even with God’s help. Dear Lord, help us to recognise when we have not got it right. Teach us how to apologise and sort it out. And teach us persistence, so that we keep on trying. Amen --- Monday 9 August | Revd Janet Bellamy I love the way that our Cathedral seamlessly integrates the transcendent with the imminent, that which is mysterious and other with the tangible humanity of the here and now. Our spirituality can so easily try to separate them instead of rejoicing in their interdependence.... Where or in what do I most often or readily experience something of the transcendence of God? Where or in what do I most often or readily experience something of the immanence of God? Are these experiences completely separate or are they integrated? --- Saturday 7 & Sunday 8 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Within each piece of creation, within each person, the hidden God waits to surprise us with His glory. Within each moment of time, within each day and hour, the hidden God approaches us calling our name to make us his own. Within each human heart, within our innermost being, the hidden God touches us, to awaken us and to reveal His love. All space, all time and every person is within God. The hidden God asks us to open our eyes and our hearts to his presence. David Adam --- Friday 6 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. It is also the 76th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Such momentous events can leave us feeling distanced and powerless, but both in very different ways can enable us to recognise our complete dependence on God's grace and our calling to be transformed into His likeness. Holy God, we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ: may we so abide in Him that our lives are transformed; so that we reflect his life in word and deed, that His peace may prevail without recourse to violence and that all the world may know his power to change and save. --- Thursday 5 August | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows the new Saxon cross, emblems based on the Johannine I Am sayings of Christ Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, in the the mouth of each who speaks to me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right. Canticle from Celtic Daily Prayer (the Northumbrian Community) --- Wednesday 4 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Sun Gleam, 1894, Harald Sohlberg Living light, dance upon my path and lead me onwards! May I find the way to my true home by the invitation of the light. May I turn towards it in all my steps, and know it as my friend. As I step into it, may I dance too! Where does the light dance for you today? Can you let it dance upon you? --- Tuesday 3 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lastingham, North Yorkshire: the shaft of a 7th century cross, ornamented with a pair of intertwining serpents; the ovals formed by their entwined bodies contains an isolated Latin cross, and their tails form a St. Andrew's cross How complex things can be O Lord! This ancient cross shaft reminds me that the important things are often hidden, that meanings are sometimes mixed, that snakes are about resurrection as well as death, that being restricted can be a path to freedom, that you embrace darkness as well as light. Deliver me from making quick judgements about things; help me to step back and contemplate things whole. --- Monday 2 August | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a medieval consecration cross on the doorway of Llanelieu church high in the Black Mountains above Talgarth As I go out each dayand as I returnmay I be conscious of your blessingand protection. Can we remember to ‘go forth in the name of Christ’ each day? --- Saturday 31 July & Sunday 1 August | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus Ignatius served as a soldier and was wounded at the Siege of Pamplona in 1521. During his convalescence he read a Life of Christ, was converted and lived a life of prayer and penance, during which he wrote his Spiritual Exercises. Prayer of Saint Ignatius "Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and to ask for no reward, Save that of knowing that I do Thy Will" --- Friday 30 July | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge William Wilberforce (social reformer) Wilberforce was born in Hull in 1759. He was a supporter of missionary initiatives, and helped found The Bible Society. Settling in Clapham in London, he became leader of the reforming group of Evangelicals known as the Clapham Sect. Of all the causes for which he fought, he is remembered best for his crusade against slavery. After years of effort, the trade in slaves was made illegal in the British Empire in 1807. Today we think of all victims of modern day slavery and for those who work to free them. God, our deliverer, who sent your Son , Jesus Christ to set people free from the slavery of sin, grant that , as your servant William Wilberforce toiled against the evil of slavery, so we may bring compassion to all and work for the freedom of all children of God. --- Thursday 29 July | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Mary, Martha and Lazarus The gospels describe how Mary, Martha and Lazarus gave Jesus hospitality in their home at Bethany, outside Jerusalem. Jesus is said to have loved all three. Kitchen Prayer Lord of pots and pans and things, Since I have not time to be A saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with thee, or dreaming in the dawn light, or storming heaven's gates, make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates. Although I must have Martha's hands, I have a Mary mind, and when I black the boots and shoes, thy sandals, Lord, I find. I think of how they trod the earth, each time I scrub the floor; accept this meditation, Lord. I haven't time for more. --- Wednesday 28 July | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty Maya Angelou - I know why the caged bird sings --- Tuesday 27 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows an illustration of a person with a cross on their face We are all made in the image of God. That is what the theologians who wrote the creation story in Genesis believed. Jesus told the story of the people who didn’t help him by clothing him when he was naked, or feeding him when he was hungry, because they didn’t recognise him in other people. Each face has features roughly arranged in a cross. We carry the image of the cross with us, and we can see it in other’s faces – if we look. Dear Lord, help us never to forget that we must feed and clothe each other. And help us always to see your face. Amen --- Monday 26 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows Mt Everest Nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that will surely be, When the earth shall be filled with the glory of God, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14) There are of course, mountains under the sea, only the waters cover them. Imagine the glory of God filling the world so high that it covers Mount Everest. That is a staggering volume. Dear Lord, we pray to see God’ glory at least in part, even if we can’t grasp its full extent. Grant us a vision of its reality. Amen --- Sunday 25 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader St James’ Day Image shows a flag flying from the cathedral tower Churches often fly a flag on the days dedicated to apostles, and today is the day dedicated to James the brother of John. Maybe we haven’t had many days where it’s worth getting the flags out, but there have been a few. Let us remember that it is always worth getting the flags out in the light of Easter. Almighty God, who built your church upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself as the chief cornerstone, so join us together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you. Amen --- Friday 23 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows The Vital Spark, the Scottish puffer boat We are all animated by the breath of God, breath and wind being the same word in both Hebrew and Greek. And all Christians are full of the Holy Spirit, same word again, which is our vital spark. We can all ask for as much help as we need, and be sure of getting it. So let’s not be afraid to ask for “more steam”. Dear Lord, sometimes the power of the Holy Spirit seems a bit theoretical. Remind us that Jesus said, “You do not receive because you do not ask”. Prompt us to ask, Lord. Amen --- Thursday 22 July | Revd Janet Bellamy St Mary Magdalene, Stretton Sugwas, a church rebuilt in the 19th century and provided with a new dedication. What a challenging change to adjust to….Today is the feast day of St Mary Magdalene. A loving and loyal disciple of Jesus, she became the Apostle to the Apostles, the first to greet her risen Lord, the first to be asked to spread the Gospel.Noli me tangere…do not cling to me. Not for Mary was a resumption of her previous life with Jesus. From abject grief…..to unalloyed joy ….to the terrifying realisation that she must let go into a new sort of relationship and spread the Good News. What a tumultuous experience, one through which her faith and love carried her. It is a vocation all Christians share; to let go into a new life with Christ.Lord, grant me the courage of Mary Magdalene to let go of that which separates me from your risen life; from painful memories, from bitterness, from selfishness, from all that mars your image in me.Through your grace, Lord, may I respond as Mary did, in faith, love and courage to your call to share the Good News. --- Wednesday 21 July | Revd Janet Bellamy This outstanding sculpture, Rodin’s The Thinker emphasises the power and value of the human capacity to think. We are also gifted with the capacity to feel. Our emotions are not necessarily rational and have often been regarded as of less significance but they are meaningful and need to be attended to. Thinking and feeling are not rivals but when integrated and harmonised can be a great gift to our understanding of ourselves, others and God. Which is my habitual way of responding to life; through my thinking or through my feelings?If my feelings predominate, do I ask myself what may lie behind them, what thoughts may prompt them, and whether or not these thoughts are helpful or destructive? If my thinking predominates, do I ever ask myself how I am feeling about things, how that influences my behaviour and what that may helpfully tell me about aspects of myself or my relationships which need attention?How tolerant am I of people who are very different from me? --- Tuesday 20 July | Revd Janet Bellamy Image is Edvard Munch, The Scream As we emerge from lockdown, hoping so much that we have learned enough to build a new far less restricted life in the context of the Coronavirus, we will also be counting the cost of the past months, not least its effect on mental health. Pope Francis, reflected recently, “Pain that is closed up within us, that cannot express or give vent to itself can poison the soul; it is deadly.” The destructive effects of that truth are reflected in Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream. What pain do I carry that I dare not acknowledge, sometimes even to myself? If I pray, dare I share my burden with God? If I need to talk to someone, is there a person I trust who might help me unburden myself? Am I aware of unshared pain in others? Do I have the courage and generosity to listen and not to judge? Am I aware of the mental health services, professional and voluntary, which exist to provide support to those in need? If you need support locally, Herefordshire Mind have signposting and resources available on their website: herefordshire-mind.org.uk --- Monday 19 July | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a mini digger which has made tracks across a green lawn As we gradually take steps out of the restrictions of the past months, are we longing for a return of the past or are we longing for changes?Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. The old will defy the new; the old will deny the new… There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it. Neale Donald Walsch Change can seem destructive and intimidating.Am I afraid of making room for change, clinging to the security of the known?Am I becoming clearer about what life under restrictions has taught me and what I wish to preserve?Do I have the courage to embark on changes which will enhance the life of others as well as my own?Am I so desirous of change at any price that I have failed to reflect on it fully?Whose need is being met? Where is God in my yearning for a new way? --- Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 July | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows weeds by the footpath in woods at Breinton, July 2021 What colour and beauty and interest there is in these plants that people call weeds. Refresh my sight, O Lord, and my thinking, to see them as beautiful and worthy of honour; help me to find beauty and worthiness in all things, and to love my neighbours as myself. Can I appreciate someone as a flower rather than a weed today? --- Friday 16 July | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1954 - I was given this in 1980 and have yet to open it. Why! Perhaps I’m like this wine Lordwaiting to be uncorkedfragrance unrevealedtaste unsavouredcolour unseen.The fear of disappointingof red turned rusty brownof overmuch sedimentof acidity inside meto spit out.Rather than face disappointmentI leave the cork indreaming of possibilitiesrather than embracing realities.For good or ill, pour me out O Lord! --- Thursday 15 July | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin St Swithun’s Day Today is St Swithun’s Day, and the tradition goes that if it rains today then it will rain for the next forty days. The monk Thomas Merton met a hermit who told him that the changes in the rough climate where he lived were good because they deepened his longing for God. ‘As the storms made him wish for gentle winds, the clouds for the sun, dryness for rains, so his heart learned to yearn for God and take nothing for granted.’ May I love the rain as I love the sun; May they both draw me to you O Lord. What is the ‘rain’ in my life right now? Can I learn to love it, or to use it to grow hope in my heart? --- Wednesday 14 July | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows Skogskappellen, Lia Gård, Norway This wooden ‘forest chapel’ is constructed entirely using trees from the forest around it; what was to hand has been turned into a place of prayer and worship. May I use this day to shape praise and prayer from the ordinariness of my life. The things I do, the person I am, the setting within which I live -- with these may I reveal your presence, Lord, and create space for others to give thanks. What can I do to create sacred space for myself and others amidst the ordinariness of life today? --- Tuesday 13 July | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;Its loveliness increases, it will neverPass into nothingness; but still will keepA bower quiet for us, and a sleepFull of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing John Keats --- Monday 12 July | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge O eternal wisdom instruct me, O eternal light illuminate me, O eternal purity cleanse me , O thou omnipresent power strengthen me, O infinite holiness sanctify me, Immutable love establish me, Eternal mercy have mercy on me Thomas Traherne --- Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 July | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge How gently and how lovingly you awaken in my heart. Where you dwell secretly and alone. And in your sweet breathing Filled with blessing and glory, You tenderly inspire me with love. The dwelling of God is very different in different souls. In some He dwells alone, in others not. In some He dwells contented, in others displeased. Where personal desires and self-will are least in evidence, there He is most alone and contented. There He dwells as in His own house, ruling and directing it; and the more secretly He dwells, the more He is alone. How happy the soul that is conscious of God reposing and resting within its breast from “Lamps of Fire” --- Friday 9 July | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again William Penn --- Thursday 8 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows Meadow at Breinton Springs “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands for ever” Isaiah 40:8 This moment of glory as the cow parsley reaches its peak display is short-lived. But here is a shout of triumph – the word of God stands for ever. The word of the Lord is his command, his will, and it will be for all eternity. Those of us who live in the light of Easter morning also know the Word is Jesus, who has given us eternal life. Lord, help us never to lose sight of that which is eternal. Amen --- Wednesday 7 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life…. He has crossed over from death to life” John5:24 Here, in such a beautiful spot, with life springing up all round, perhaps it is easier to believe in eternity. Have you seen signs of new life where there seemed none only a little while ago? --- Tuesday 6 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows Reverend Ruth Hulse seated at the Lord’s table outside Breinton Church “You prepare a table before me” Psalm 23:5 A group of Readers share the Lord’s Supper at a quiet evening. A group of Christians doing what Jesus asked us to do nearly 2,000 years ago. “Do this in remembrance of me” And so we remember. Until he comes. Let us be still for a moment and remember. Amen --- Monday 5 July | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows the Japanese art of kintsugi “The LORD heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds”. Psalm 147:3 In the Japanese art of kintsugi, a broken vessel is mended with gold. It holds the pieces together, and makes it hold water again. And suddenly, it is much more valuable than before, and much more beautiful, too. Have you ever found that something that happened to you that hurt and caused harm, actually changed you in a good way? Dear Lord, help us to look for the mending that you give us, to see the good things, and to grow in the face of evil, with your help. Help us to trust that you can make us valuable and beautiful again. Amen --- Saturday 3 & Sunday 4 July | Revd Janet Bellamy Today the Church remembers St. Thomas. Often rather disparagingly known as Doubting Thomas because he could not believe in the resurrection of Jesus until he had seen his risen Lord for himself, he could just as appropriately be known for the depth of his faith as he recognised that Jesus was indeed, “My Lord and my God”. Thomas needed to ask questions. It was through his questions, his need for evidence, that his faith was strengthened. Not for him was blind acceptance or security in unexamined certainty. Martin Luther King Jnr wrote: Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving. Lord, give me the courage and energy of St Thomas to keep searching so that my faith may continue to live and grow. --- Friday 2 July | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a sculpture in a churchyard in Llangunllo-Bledffa Many of us are feeling rather weary and jaded after so many months of lockdown and all it has meant for us and for others. It is sometimes hard to feel motivated or to find meaning and value in our lives. Frederick Buechner has a different perspective: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. --- Thursday 1 July | Revd Janet Bellamy Trebah gardens wonderfully illustrate the glory and diversity of Creation. Human beings also reflect that glory and diversity, and like plants, they flourish best when growing conditions suit their particular gifts, personalities and potential. God has created each of us as unique individuals. God has called us by name. God wills us to grow into the people he has called us to be. But how do we discern this calling, this vocation? How do we distinguish it from the demands of our ego or the pressure of others who may have their own agenda to fulfil? Frederick Buechner is helpful here: Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. Give us grace, Lord, to hear your call and to respond to it. Lead us to those depths of gladness in ourselves through which we may touch and feed the lives of others in your name. --- Wednesday 30 June | Revd Janet Bellamy Are we tourists or pilgrims through life? Do we take from life what we can or do we seek God’s presence in it? …to be on pilgrimage is to move into a world where the dividing line between past and present, between this world and the next, between what we call sacred and what we call secular, dissolves. The outward journey is also a journey inwards. (Esther de Waal) Lord, as we continue on our journey, give us grace to be pilgrims and not tourists. Help us to travel for you, with you and towards you. May we be enfolded in your love and more and more aware of your transforming presence, within us and around us. --- Tuesday 29 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Icon of Saints Peter and Paul from Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, circa 1050 Almighty God, Whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you in their death as in their life: grant that your Church, inspired by their teaching and example, and made one by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. I wonder whether my teaching or example ever inspires anyone; perhaps today is a great day to work at that! Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000) a prayer from which is included in this reflection, is copyright © The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005 --- Monday 28 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Gateway by Lake Llangorse, May 2021 How can I get to where I want to be without getting dirt on my shoes! The gate stands open and beauty lies beyond, yet to go forward I must get muddy. But what matters most: the journey or clean shoes? Lord, challenge my careful ways of living and make me happier to be messy but not stuck. Can I be bold today and break out of somewhere I’m stuck? --- Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows the Cornish coast, September 2019 It can’t be sunny all the time, dear Lord; In summer the days can be drear. While I hope for warmth and yearn for sun Only the clouds draw near. Teach my disappointed soul, dear Lord, To grow well in cloudy damp days, That I may be stronger in faith and in hope, And in fortitude find deeper praise. Can I find any reasons for praising God in my disappointments today? --- Friday 25 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a bee on a clover flower, May 2021 Lord, this bee makes fruitful the world, pollinating as it goes; it creates sweet honey to sustain its community and to delight us. Make of me someone who enhances life creates community and helps others bear good fruit. Is there some way I can serve someone today so that they can be more fruitful? --- Thursday 24 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge The Birth of John the Baptist Almighty God, by whose providence, your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way for of your son, our Saviour by the preaching of repentance; lead us to repent according to his preaching and, after his example, constantly to speak the truth, boldly to rebuke vice, and patiently to suffer for the truth's sake. "Beyond words there is a truth that cannot be stated, debated, proved, or explained, but only known and loved." (Tom Wright) --- Wednesday 23 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the 2019 ordinations at Hereford Cathedral taken by Hereford Diocese St Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely We pray for vocations, and at this time especially, for all those to be ordained priests or deacons. Today we give thanks for the rich variety of vocations, both lay and ordained ministry: pioneer ministers, and intergenerational ministers. “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called” --- Tuesday 22 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Alban, first martyr of Britain (c. 250) Alban sheltered a Christian priest fleeing from the authorities during one of the frequent persecutions ordered by Roman Emperors. Gradually instructed by his fugitive guest, Alban renounced idolatry, and accepted Christ Word came to the ears of the authorities and when soldiers arrived at Alban’s house, Alban, wearing the priest’s long cloak, at once surrendered himself in place of his guest. Today we remember all those persecuted for their Christian faith. --- Monday 21 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows a stormy sky The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. 1 Kings 19:11-14 The still small voice. Remember, God was not in the storm or whirlwind or earthquake, but in the silence. People expected great signs and wonders from Jesus. People still do. But God was found in the silence, not the tumult. Lord, help us to seek silence so we can hear you. Show us how to give you time to speak, and show us how to listen. Amen --- Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Come on in, the water’s lovely! Within the Church of England, not all that many people are baptised by total immersion. Nor as adult believers. So you would have no memory of the time you were baptised. But we have many opportunities throughout the year to “remember” that moment now we are adults, including at the Christenings of other people. So let us remember our commitment to Jesus, and to living a life dedicated to him. Jesus was baptised, and committed his life to God. Dear God, help us to follow Jesus, as he followed you. Amen --- Friday 18 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Images show two signposts displaying different spellings of the same name A village with two extant spellings for its name. Gait or Gate means ‘path’ or ‘road’. ‘The Way’ – seems appropriate! Names are important, and they are important in the Bible. Jacob asked for the name of the man who struggled with him all night. Moses asked for God’s name, and got a joke for a reply. The Bible records name changes, Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Saul to Paul. Fathers are told the names to give their sons; John, or Jesus. Dear Lord, thank you that you know my name, and I know yours. You call us your people, who are called by your name. (2 Chr. 7:14) Nothing could be more precious. Amen --- Thursday 17 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader This splendidly dishevelled creature is a Dalston Black-red cockerel, the emblem of the village of Dalston in Cumbria. I don’t know why the artist decided to portray him as having been dragged through a hedge, but he makes me smile. We are fortunate in having a lot of public art in this country. Dear Lord, we thank you for the gift of creativity, for all art that makes us smile, happy, or think. Let us remember the things that have brought us joy recently, and give thanks for them. Amen --- Wednesday 16 June | Revd Janet Bellamy May you see God’s light on the path ahead when the road you walk is dark. May you always hear even in your hour of sorrow, the gentle singing of the lark. When times are hard, may hardness never turn your heart to stone. When the shadows fall... you do not walk alone. Irish Blessing --- Tuesday 15 June | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows cyclamen at Bredon Today the Church remembers Evelyn Underhill, a twentieth century Christian writer, mystic and pacifist whose insightful writings have brought inspiration to many: We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do... forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be. What is the balance in my life between wanting, having, doing and being? Is my being included in and transcended by the wanting, having and doing?Should I make some changes? --- Monday 14 June | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a depiction of foot-washing in Worcester Cathedral Cloister Jesus said, ‘Now that I , your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.’ John 13:14 Today the Church remembers Richard Baxter, a deeply respected 17th century Puritan Minister whose influential writings were prolific and who sought to bring unity among the clashing Christian communities of his day. Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine...lest you unsay with your lives what you say with your tongues, and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labours. ...Humility is not a mere ornament of a Christian but an essential part of the new creature. It is a contradiction in terms, to be Christian and not humble. Does my life reflect Jesus’ call to serve one another? If it does, is my service characterised by genuine humility....or tinged with pride? Saturday 12 & Sunday 13 June | Revd Janet Bellamy You are to be taken, blessed, broken, and given that the work of the incarnation may go on. St Augustine of Hippo This Sunday Bishop Richard will be confirming members of the Cathedral congregation and we rejoice with them. As they confirm their baptismal promises and receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, we are reminded afresh of the profound blessing we receive and the promise we make as we are sent out.: “ ...we thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we offer you our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice”. Give us grace, we pray, Lord, to fulfil the challenge and privilege of that promise. Like the bread we share, may we as Christ’s body, be taken, blessed, broken and given. --- Friday 11 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Today we give thanks for St Barnabas. You can read about him in the Acts of the Apostles (see Acts 4: 36—37 and Acts 11: 21—26 for instance). Thank you, Lord, for Barnabas. He was generous, and so often I’m mean. He was bold, and so often I’m timid. He took risks with people, and so often I don’t. He was a great encourager, and I’m not sure that I am. You sent your Spirit upon him, and you send it upon me too -- so give me grace to live more as he did, in the power of that same Spirit. God doesn’t call us to be someone other than we are, but he does call us to grow into the best version of ourselves. Pray for growth in yourself today. --- Thursday 10 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Ancient sanctuary knocker on the door of the church of St Ellyw, Llanelieu, deep in the Black Mountains, Powys. Lord, when I’m fearful or misunderstood or oppressed I reach out my hand to take hold of you. I pray today for all those who live in fear that they may find confidence through holding on to you, and the sense of sanctuary in your embrace. As you hear the news today is there a person or a situation you can pray for because they need safety and protection? Can you commit them to God’s love? --- Wednesday 9 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin We think of dandelions as weeds, but their flowers and their seed heads are beautiful, vibrant in colour and wonderful in delicacy. They have been described as ‘the most successful flowers in the world’ because they adapt so well to all our attempts to get rid of them, and flourish whatever we do. Lord, let me learn the lesson of the dandelion: to flourish wherever I am planted, to be colourful without embarrassment, to be vulnerable in my beauty, to be adaptable in the face of difficulty, and to be generous in sending forth seeds of goodness on the wind of your Spirit. How today can I send forth a seed to flourish in this world? --- Tuesday 8 June | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Apparently pristine sea viewed from the machair on Iona. Members of a retreat group on Iona in April 2019 were asked to find plastic on the beach of that clean and remote island, surrounded by what looks like pure sea. To their surprise everyone found bits of plastic. Human activity and casual carelessness is polluting and clogging the seas with waste on a vast scale, and its whole ecosystem is under extreme stress with many species threatened with extinction (including ones on which human life depends). Today is World Ocean Day, and we make our prayer for the seas and all that lives within them. Swirling God, who at the dawn of creation swept over the face of the waters, hover over our oceans and all waterways with your blessed presence. May each droplet of mist and sea be clean and fresh for all life who come in contact with these holy streams. Bless each cell and molecule of life below the surface of the waters who trust in you and us to create a wholesome world. Continually nudge us to nurture creation, joining together with humans all over this planet to covenant with one another and celebrate the gifts of water, air, fire, and land that you have given us. Prayer adapted from Michelle L. Torigian, with permission --- Monday 7 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge At the heart of every concern Of vital importance to the world Are the quiet people Who scarcely raise their voices, But speak with conviction, Who speak for humanity. Pam Brown --- Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Gentleness means recognising that the world around us is fragile, especially other people. It is recognising our own capacity to do harm and choosing to be tender, soft-spoken, soft-hearted, and careful. When we are gentle we touch the world in ways that protect and preserve it. Being gentle does not mean being weak; gentleness can be firm, even powerful. To behave in a gentle manner requires that we stay centred in our own values and strength - that we are active rather than reactive. Coming from this centre, a gentle word or touch can channel our energy into healing and peace. Author unknown --- Friday 4 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace. (Anon) --- Thursday 3 June | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a pocket watch partially submerged in sand Take time to be friendly It is the road to happiness. Take time to dream It is hitching your wagon to a star. Take time to love and be loved It is the privilege of the gods. Take time to look around It is too short a day to be selfish. Take time to laugh It is the music of the soul. From an old English sampler --- Wednesday 2 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows the Pilgrims Way, taken from from the edge of Lindisfarne Lindisfarne, Holy Island, although there are several of those. Another place where people often feel closer to eternity. People have felt that way for centuries. But it's not the ancient stones and lime mortar here, it's more the sea and sky. "I, the Lord of sea and sky" the song goes. And the refrain goes, "Is it I, Lord?" We need to answer the question asked by the sea and sky with "Here I am". Lord, give us the eyes to see you and do your will wherever we go. Amen --- Tuesday 1 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows the church of St. John the Baptist, Chester, interior This church by the River Dee is one of those "thin" places where God seems uncommonly near. That's not really true of course, God is both near us and within us wherever we are, but it certainly feels like that. Is it a sense of the many centuries of worship that has been conducted here? There are wonderful mediaeval wall paintings, is it the faith spoken of in those? Dear Lord, help us to feel that our faith is real, and our worship has value, wherever we are. Help us never to feel far away from you. And when we lose sight of you, remind us that you have not lost sight of us. Amen. --- Monday 31 May | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows The Visitation by Carl Heinrich Bloch Mary visits Elizabeth, perhaps to tell her she is pregnant. Perhaps to congratulate her on Elizabeth's being pregnant herself. Elizabeth rushes down the stairs to greet Mary with an exuberant hug. We are all missing proper hugs, many of us wouldn't have realised how much we would. Both women are happy, Mary gives us the Magnificat, "My soul magnifies the Lord". When were you happy about some great occasion in your life? Are you looking forward to one this year? --- Saturday 29 & Sunday 30 May | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows Stonehenge under a bright but cloudy sky I first saw Stonehenge coming down the hill in a car. Set on the wide open plain, it seemed vast. People had created a whole sacred landscape with many circles, ditches, stones, tree trunks and avenues. Oriented towards both the sunset at winter solstice, and sunrise at midsummer. Why here? We don't know, but it seems that here they felt as if they encountered something greater than themselves. Lord, help us, like our ancestors to be aware that there are things greater than us. Show us yourself, and show us how to meet you every day of our lives. Amen --- Friday 28 May | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows Church of St. Issui, Partrishow We live in an age which values celebrity and prominent busyness as a measure of worth. How good to be reminded by George Eliot in Middlemarch of a different perspective. ...the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.... Let us give thanks for all those who live “faithfully a hidden life”; those whose have influenced us for good; in our family life, in our friendships and in our working and community lives, those, including the housebound, whose ministry of listening and prayer provides an unseen but powerfully vital foundation to the life of the Church, and let us pray too for those whose lives are hidden because of fear or stigma, exploitation or abuse. Loving God, in your Kingdom the first shall be last and the last shall be first. Be with all whose lives are dedicated to your service in unobtrusive ways and with all whose suffering goes unnoticed or untended. May they know the peace of your presence and the assurance of your love. --- Thursday 27 May | Revd Janet Bellamy Image show Coventry cross of nails - with thanks to Coventry Cathedral for permission to use this image The Coventry cross of nails has been a potent sign of friendship, reconciliation and hope ever since the Cathedral was destroyed in the Second World War. Nails are paradoxical. They can be a cause of destruction and pain, as they were in the crucifixion or they can fulfil a vital supportive and strengthening role. Or they can be both, and related, as in the Coventry cross. Sometimes we want to “nail God down”, to reduce our faith to certainties, to avoid all doubt and ambiguity, to lock God in a box under our own control. Lord, help me to rejoice in your mystery and give me the courage to stop trying to nail you down. Help me to remember that though your Son was nailed to the cross, the nails proved ineffective to hold him. Give me grace to find your love, healing and reconciliation in the scars they left on His risen body and which are visible in the brokenness of all our lives. Enable me to bring that love and healing to those who are hurting most. --- Wednesday 26 May | Revd Janet Bellamy Today the Church remembers St Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory on a mission to England in 597. He and his companions were met by King Ethelbert out of doors; the pagan king was scared they would practise sorcery. Fear and incomprehension remain. Fifteen centuries later there are many people who feel too intimidated to enter a church, who feel alienated by the worship if they do and who lack basic understanding of Christianity. Augustine was daunted by his task and made many mistakes. Many of his peace-making attempts failed. He was a very human saint; we can identify with him as we too struggle to know how to share our faith. We can also find hope from his experience. Despite all the setbacks, Christianity took firm root here and Canterbury, where Augustine was based, remains the mother Cathedral. Strengthen our faith and trust, Lord, that we may follow in Augustine’s footsteps in sharing our faith, that we may listen to the fears of those who do not share it, that we may have the courage to persevere in the face of setbacks and that in all things we are dependent not on our own efforts but on your grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. --- Tuesday 25 May | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth, where Bede spent his early life Today the Church marks the life and work of the Venerable Bede (d.735), a great Anglo-Saxon scholar who, because he demonstrated a desire to assess the accuracy of his sources, is revered as the first English historian. Bede was reacting against too much reliance on hagiography and unsubstantiated miracle stories. In our day there is too much reliance on the distortions and polarisations of the media which undermine our capacity for critical thinking and appreciation of nuance and ambiguity. How willing am I to listen to those whose views and values are different from mine? How far am I able to look outside the box of my own experiences and assumptions? God of truth, give us grace to set aside our prejudices and to be open to the depth and breadth of new understandings. Grant us the integrity, commitment and courage of the Venerable Bede that we may perceive the world in which we live through your eyes of love, truth, justice and mercy. --- Monday 24 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Why do I worry about prayer? Why do I think it requires me to be an expert? Or to be holy? Or to be clever? Lord, let me simply rest quietly, with love for you and compassion for others, and leave you to do the rest. Some people are concerned that prayer is difficult, like making a soufflé. Perhaps we need to trust more that it’s something that just happens when we give open time and stop trying to get things right. Do you assume that prayer is difficult or complicated? Can you just let go of that and give some open time to sitting with God today? --- Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me’ Holy Spirit of God Renew my strength Warm my coldness Shine in my heart Fill my inmost being Ripen your fruit within me This weekend we celebrate the resurrection event that is the sharing of the Spirit with the disciples. We can experience God’s Spirit in many ways, for some powerfully and for others quietly. Can you be still for a time and simply ask to feel God’s Spirit in you, or around you? Can you pray to be more conscious of that every day of your life? --- Friday 21 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows Grass and bracken nourished by the goodness of a fallen tree turning back into soil, and fed by the light of the sun, seen in Moccas Hill Wood Your death, Lord Christ, has brought me life; your Spirit feeds and sustains the root of my being; your light enables me to reach upwards. Without you I cannot truly live, so be my life today. What are the green shoots of my life right now? Can I see God’s Spirit at work in them? --- Thursday 20 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows The Skirrid, viewed across the Golden Valley from Moccas Hill Wood I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help! Psalm 121 You, O God, are the landmark of my life. When I lose myself in the dips and woods and shadows of life I lift my eyes to you to understand where I am and to know that I am not lost. In the ups and down of today, Lord, be my landmark. Do you feel lost in any part of your life right now? Can you step back and pray for perspective? --- Wednesday 19 May | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Beauty is truth,truth beautythat is allye know on earthand all yeneed to know. Keats --- Tuesday 18 May | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Like sunshine, a morning of promises appears, shining, exploring even the darkest tunnels, filtering through barriers. Like a never- ending stream pouring over thirsty ground, stretching across far horizons.Opening a new rosebud with just a touch. Gently lighting up the dew on a fragile spiders web.Warm, breaking through the clouds on a winters day, reaching everyone. God’s Love by Janine Madge --- Monday 17 May | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge A tiny boy came dancing up to me, his brown face bright with smiles, and beaming, with the love of living. He was holding out a spray of cherry blossom he had found upon the ground. 'How beautiful ' I tried to say, 'Are you taking it to Mother?' But he did not understand, for he was from Brazil, and knew no English. My friend discovered what he' meant, and said ', He's giving it to you' I took it from his hand, and smiled my thanks and he ran home, content. What inward guardian told that child, just four years old about the joy of giving? From 'Surprise Gift' by Marjorie Noel Williams (1893 - 1985) --- Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 May | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge His gift and my possessions, both our treasure He mine, and I the ocean of his pleasure.He was an ocean of delights from whomThe living springs and golden streams did come,My bosom was an ocean into whichThey all did run. And me they did enrich.The king of glory in my soul did sit,And to Himself in me He always gaveAll that He delights to see me have.For so my spirit was an endless sphereLike God Himself,and heaven and earth was there. From Silenceby Thomas Traherne(1637 - 74) --- Friday 14 May 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image, 'Wind and Rain' by Willie Rodger, 1994 Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, When the clouds unfold their storms of strife? When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain, Will your anchor drift, or firm remain? We have an anchor that keeps the soul Stedfast and sure while the billows roll, Fastened to the rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love. Priscilla Jane Owens Lord, help us never to fear the storms of life, and always to hold to our faith in you. Amen --- Thursday 13 May 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Circle me, Lord Keep protection near And danger afar. Circle me, Lord Keep hope within Keep doubt without Circle me, Lord Keep light near And darkness afar. Circle me, Lord Keep peace within Keep evil out. Amen (David Adam) --- Wednesday 12 May 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Billy Graham, in his book on the Holy Spirit, says that humanity cries out for goodness, and God heard that cry and answered it at Pentecost. He says, “I need Jesus Christ for my eternal life, and the Holy Spirit for my internal life”. Oh thou who camest from above, The pure celestial fire to impart, Kindle a flame of sacred love On the mean altar of my heart. There let it for thy glory burn With inextinguishable blaze, And trembling to its source return, In humble prayer and fervent praise. Amen Charles Wesley --- Tuesday 11 May 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows a photo of cirrus clouds - a front is coming. “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’, and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times”. Matthew 16:2-3 Jesus criticises the Pharisees and Sadducees for their lack of understanding, because this is important. Let us pray that we will at least recognise how important it is. And let us look forward to eternity with happy anticipation. --- Monday 10 May 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a dismantled model railway awaiting to be rebuilt A few years ago we moved; a much loved model railway had to be dismantled with consequent chaos and much further labour rebuilding it differently in its new abode. We have all had to face major change during this pandemic and there has been much pain involved in managing its effects and implications. Many people long to reverse all those changes, to “go back to normal”. The late Brother Roger of Taize reminds us that change is fundamental: “For Christians, life is all beginnings. They stand at the genesis of situations; they are men or women of dawnings, of perpetual discoveries. They keep on waiting when there seems nothing to wait for....God never closes the way ahead. God is always offering new ones, even if they are sometimes narrow”. Are we open to those possibilities? Can we see beyond our fear of change, beyond the chaos and the pain, and find God at work within it? --- Saturday 8 May 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Today the Church remembers Julian of Norwich, 14th century anchorite and a remarkably gifted spiritual companion and writer. “I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us; He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us and all encloseth us for tender love, that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing what is good”. Revelations of Divine LoveJulian lived through the horrors of the Black Death at a time of great instability. Her cell and her religious life were not an escape from reality, not a denial of the pain of the world, but an escape into it, an embrace of the love of God she discovered within and beyond it. The picture of the nativity reminds us that our faith is incarnational; Julian understood and experienced that. Do we? --- Friday 7 May 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy It is so easy to despair of the divisions and polarities, the anger and the abuse, the exploitation and injustices which we see reflected so vividly in the media and which can also be reflected in our own hearts and minds. It is worth remembering, however, that the experience of the disciples on the Emmaus road is one we can all share.... As we walk away defeated and disillusioned, Jesus meets us. As we sling insults at one another, Jesus stands alongside. As we tell our stories of bemusement and betrayal, Jesus listens. As we stand still gloomily, Jesus waits, ever patient and then breaks in walking with us, opening and explaining, accompanying, comprehending, unpacking until the moment comes in an ever familiar action when we realise that the one for whom we waited has been present all along.... (Paula Gooder) --- Thursday 6 May 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Sometimes in times of stress or crisis we can become so wrapped up in our own responses to uncertainty and change that we forget to look outwards. During the floods of recent years there were many examples of selfless and spontaneous generosity, just as there have been during this last year of the pandemic; we give thanks to God for their inspiration and pray that as restrictions lift further, we may play our part in ensuring that the vulnerable are cared for. Work your miracle of love in and through us, O God, so that your compassion may become a stream of blessing, flowing out of our lives into our communities, and into the places where healing, hope and peace are most needed. Angela Ashwin --- Wednesday 5 May 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10: 10 May I hear your voice, Lord, and follow you to pasture; When I’m lost, Lord, may I trust that you are looking for me; When I am parched, let me see the rivers by which you lead me. May I recognise the thief and bandit and keep far from them; May I turn from all that destroys and find fullness of life in you. What are the thieves and bandits in your life today, robbing you of blessing, leaving you starved or lost? Where do you hear the Good Shepherd calling you to a fuller life? Ask him to give you a fuller life in the events of today. --- Tuesday 4 May 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Holy Trinity church at Preston Wynne near Hereford has no path to it, let alone a track or road. It can only be reached by walking directly across fields, perhaps encountering cattle on the way. Lord, you call us to you, but we can’t always see how to get there; we want clarity, but don’t find it; we want simple directions, but have to work things out on our own; we want ease, but have to face difficulty; we want a path, but you give us a muddy cattle-filled field. Give us grace to set our eyes on you, our goal, and to walk towards you with determination. --- Monday 3 May 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a cross, inspired by decorative elements of the Hereford Gospels, made by Eunice Bell in 2020. It is in the cathedral’s south transept. May my life have a still centre, space for air and transparency, and a varied and colourful circumference. May I draw things in but also reach out; May I embrace but also set boundaries. Living with poise and balance can be a challenge. Is that something I can focus on today? The cross in the picture is not perfectly centred, which is probably like us. But it does hold an approximate centre, and perhaps that’s the best any of us could hope for. Ask God to open your eyes to where you give out too much in life, but also to where you resist too much as well. Pray for poise and balance. --- Friday 30 April 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows seedlings forcing their way through the soil Have you seen the wonder year by year, earth's in - sowing secretly in - wrought seed flower fruit and seed again in - falls. have you seen the wonder day by day Christ in - sowing Christ through wheat and vine our fruit - bearing Christ to glorify the source. A sister of St Mary's Abbey --- Thursday 29 April 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge God’s glory clothes creation, and the Eastering Spirit is already transfiguring our mortality, though our angle of vision seldom allows us to see it ... In spite of the fearful precariousness of creation, God believes in the power of life which he has planted in us amid so much risk. The grain of wheat risks absolute loss and seems indeed to die in the dark cold earth, but it is charged with the energy of hidden new life, and its time of glory will come. So the kingdom of God is being built secretly, and with the everlasting patience of love. Maria Boulding --- Wednesday 28 April 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge No human eye was by To witness Christ arise But I, this morning heard The Resurrection of the Word. It sprang through night, opaque, A note so pure and clear, I felt my spirit wake It flooded everywhere. I know that it has been. There is a vision new I see the universe Divinely bathed in dew. Sister Mary Agnes --- Tuesday 27 April 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the Old Bridge in Hereford from the banks of the River Wye in the cathedral gardens One World Butterflies and mountains, cities and seas, people - trees - animals - machines, they all come out of you in the end.Maker my Maker, you shaped it all including meto be one vast and delicate wholeeverything linked to everything elseenjoying everything else. And there you are hiding in it allwaiting and hoping to be found,like a game of hide and seekyou are secretly waitingoverflowing wherever things live and grow. Have mercy when we spoil the worldwhen we wear it out, damage it, use it wrongly help us, like you, to cherish the world to discover you in all the thousand places where you hide. Simon Bailey (Still with God) --- Monday 26 April | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Taken directly into the sun, this photo of Hay Bluff in morning mist is decidedly unclear. Where is the road leading? Is it good going underfoot? Is it safe? There are no guarantees. The future stretches before us, unclear as even a familiar landscape in mist. We do not know if we will find the going rough, or easy. But then we will reach our destination, and perhaps we do at least know that. "...the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal". Revelation 21:10-11. --- Sunday 25 April | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image: The Disciples Peter and John running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection.1898 by Eugene Burnand John, the younger man, apparently without a cloak, looks cold. Both look stressed, both are in a hurry. Why did Jesus appear to the women? Everyone knows their testimony is not admissible in court. We'll have to go and see for ourselves. Can it be true? People will ask that question today, but Christians do believe it. Don't we? "He is not here, he is risen"! Luke 24:6 --- Saturday 24 April | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows "The Resurrection", Part of the Altar piece from St.John's church Hamburg, by Master Francke (1385 - c1436) Full of practical details; here are the insensible guards, all but one, a discarded winding sheet, and Jesus clambering out, looking as if he could do with a helping hand from an angel. Maybe it wasn't quite like this..... The angels who sat and waited may have removed the stone, not to let Jesus out, but to let the witnesses in. Witnesses are still needed. Lord, give us a helping hand to witness to the truths we acknowledge; the "certain hope" that we shall inhabit eternity with you. Amen. --- Friday 23 April | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Outside our gate are two cherry trees. This is a recent picture of the blossom against a wonderfully blue sky. There has been frost and snow since, but, at the time of writing, the blossom is still there. Augustine of Hippo wrote, "We are Easter people. Alleluia is our song". Lord, help us to remember the resurrection as we see evidence of new life everywhere we look. Let us live always in Easter season. Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia. Amen --- Thursday 22 April | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a baby smiling at the camera As life becomes more “normal” for those people whose activities have been limited during lockdown, is there an increasing danger of a return to the frenetic life styles which can so often prove destructive? Can we find a balance between the being and the doing? Can we avoid the temptation to judge people’s value by the extent of their busyness? Can we retain what is good in what we have learned of our capacity to be during the last year? Can we experience life more like a very young child? Be Still Do not have to look for anything, just look. You do not have to listen for specific sounds, just listen. You do not have to accomplish anything, just be. And in the looking, and the listening, no the being; find Me (Ann Lewin) --- Wednesday 21 April | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a sculpture of the Celtic Cross This prayer is part of the Northumbrian Community’s Daily Office and, like the sturdy Celtic Cross outside the Abbey in Iona, is a wonderful reminder of the centrality of the risen Christ to our faith and in our lives. Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right. From Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbrian Community --- Tuesday 20 April | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a tin mine in the distance of a Cornish sea scape This scene of tranquil beauty disguises the noise and harshness of life in previous times as Cornish tin miners risked their lives in under the sea. Many of us experience a similar dissonance in our own lives or see it reflected in the lives of others. There is often, disguised and under the surface, much pain. O Christ, by your grace, make my hurts into places of your presence and transforming power. Let my pain become a flame that burns with your love, so that your healing energy may overflow into others who are wounded or without hope (Angela Ashwin) --- Monday 19 April | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a close up of the western front of Bath Abbey As we continue to enjoy more freedom, I am reminded of the angels climbing the steps of Jacob’s ladder on the beautiful western front of Bath Abbey. Bishop Oliver found the Church in a much diminished state and ordered the rebuilding in the early 1500s. The angels have wings and do not need a ladder, but he was mindful of the powerful imagery of Jacob’s dream. This was to be a time of renewal, a symbol that this is a holy place, a reminder that the angels, God’s messengers, link heaven and earth. So let us give joyful thanks: for our gradual return to the health, freedom and relationships which we often took for granted, for all the angels, seen and unseen, who have enabled and supported us, for the God who loves us and for whose kingdom may “come on earth as it is in heaven”. --- Friday 9 April 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Photograph of a peacock butterfly on an anemone taken in his garden by Chris Pullin on 30-3-21 In my lawn some flowers grow each Spring, and butterflies return once more. It’s a bittersweet thing to see as Nature is so stressed, bird and insect populations are in serious decline, and we do little to reverse the process. Help me Lord to see the natural things around me as brothers and sisters in need of care and love and protection. Waken me from my blind stupidity so that your creation can find healing! Is there one thing I can do today to serve creation with love? --- Thursday 8 April 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Into the deadness of our world you come O Risen Lord, blazing forth with a living light we cannot grasp or own or keep, but which gives life to all it touches and draws all things to itself: turn me towards you that I may receive this gift and truly live. Is there some part of my life that I can open to the life-giving light of Christ today – a skill I have forgotten, a person I have neglected, an experiment I have delayed trying? --- Wednesday 7 April 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin In Christian tradition Jesus ‘harrowed hell’ through his death and resurrection, leading out to new life Adam and Eve and all who had been imprisoned for long ages. This mosaic by Aidan Hart in St George’s Orthodox Church, Houston, Texas, depicts that event. In your resurrection, Lord, you draw us from the dark land of the chains and locks and keys and gates that imprison us; you open our tombs and raise us into a golden world. Take my hand and drag me from darkness into light that I may truly see and truly live. What imprisons you today? Can you offer your hand to Christ? --- Tuesday 6 April 2021 | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Photo by Chris Pullin of his house door on Easter Day 2020, when everyone was shut in and very anxious about life. Enter our homes, O Risen Lord, and appear among us as you did among your disciples. They were bewildered, and so often am I; they were fearful, and so too can I be; they were paralysed, and I know that feeling. Enter our lives, then, and breathe your peace into our hearts and your Spirit into our lives. Invite the Risen Lord to visit your home today; just pray for it and then relax and let the day unfold. --- Monday 5 April 2021 | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows golden yellow Easter lilies Lord Jesus, You spoke to Mary in the garden and gave her back her faith and hope in God. Help us to be prepared to wait long enough to seek you, to find you, and to recognise you; then draw us nearer to God and keep us with you every day as we come to know more fully the glory of the Father. Waking with Praise by Paul Isles --- Easter Day | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the Easter garden of Hereford Cathedral God of the open gardenwe have found youand long to hold you fast.But you refuse our clinging need,eluding the lovethat would bind and possess you,sending us outbeyond the bounds of our feeble knowing.Rapt in our joy and desire,we cannot interpret you:you have gone from us again,moving into morning,moving into light.In your great love,wait for uswhere you have sent us,go ahead of us,be there to meet us,risen, released in your world. Easter Garden by Nicola Slee --- Saturday 3 April 2021 | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the Easter garden of Hereford Cathedral God of the sealed tomb, we cannot bear to leave your dead and buried body. but you send us away to mark the long night of our mourning without you. You lie in death, alone. beyond the bounds of our feeble knowing. Numbed by our grief and sorrow, we cannot interpret you: you have gone far from us, down from darkness deep into death. In your great love wait for us where we grieve in the darkness, till we return to the grave to find you, risen, released in the night. Easter Garden by Nicola Slee --- Friday 2 April 2021 | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a stone pathway leading off into the distance In her book 'Faith in the Fool' Angela Ashwin writes: “Jesus is the quintessential holy fool. From the start he could have captivated us with divine stunts, taking the world by force and charming us with his supernatural powers.” “He chose, instead, a path of vulnerability and rejection.” “In the end he walked determinedly to Jerusalem knowing full well that he would be killed. As Kallistos Ware remarks he acted in a way that most of his followers could only regard as wilful folly.” “Let us be fools for Christ's sake, In facing the truth, may we be set free from illusion. In accepting our wounds, may we be healed In embracing the outcast, may we be redeemed In discovering our child, may we grow to maturity In seeking true innocence may we no longer harm In yielding to dying, may abundant life flow into us In vulnerable risk, may we know love's pain and joy In the release of laughter, may we hear the chuckle of God In the folly of the Cross, may we find the Wisdom of God.” Jim Cotter --- Thursday 1 April 2021 | Bridget Swan Let it Pass Over, God, let this plague Pass Over us. Let it Pass Over every nation, every people, the young and the old. Let it Pass Over every city and every village, all across Your world. Let it Pass Over, heal those stricken in every hospital bed and in every home. Amen From a Jewish Passover prayer And the Psalm for Maundy Thursday I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1 --- Wednesday 31 March 2021 | Bridget Swan Image shows the sun rising against a very dark sky And God said, " Let there be light," Genesis 1:3 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John1:5 Saviour, let us see that your light comes into the world, even as we journey through darkness. Hold our hands until we see the dawn. Amen. --- Tuesday 30 March 2021 | Bridget Swan Image shows a meteorite in flight against a starry sky Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:2 Out of space, outside time, and out of nothing, 4.6 billion years ago, something near the moment of creation. A stray piece of material from long ago comes to rest on earth. Dear Lord, you created the universe from nothing, and out of nothing, you created us. Thank you for the miracle of creation. Amen --- Monday 29 March 2021 | Bridget Swan Image shows a meteorite against a dark background In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made, without him, nothing was made that has been made. John 1;1-3 Recently, a meteor flashed over the West Midlands and exploded. The pieces were found in a Gloucestershire driveway. They were 4.6 billion years old, from the beginnings of the universe. And the Word of God, Jesus, was there when it was formed. We cannot grasp such enormous passages of time. Almighty Lord, thank you for occasional glimpses of eternity. Help us to raise our eyes out of the limits set by time, and to glimpse your power and glory. Amen --- Palm Sunday | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a palm cross in front of greenery Many of us will be unable to wave palms or collect palm crosses this Sunday, but all of us can offer our open palms, the palms of our hands, as we join Christians throughout the world in giving praise. “Sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna to the King of Kings” So may our palms signify that we are open to: the gift of God’s love so freely given in the gift of our Lord, a recognition of the humility and vulnerability of that love seen in the donkey, the invitation to accompany our Lord through the pain and profundity of Holy Week, an awareness of our fragility and need for forgiveness, as our cries too can change from ‘hosannas to ‘crucify’. the grace to receive that forgiveness and reflect it to others. --- Saturday 27 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows light breaking over the water at Oban As the sun sets, the power of its light becomes even more apparent in the contrasts. As we approach Holy Week, so may we be even more fully aware of the power of God’s love to defeat all that would destroy it, whether in our world or in ourselves. A prayer written in the context of the oppression and evil of apartheid: Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate; Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death; Victory is ours through him who loves us. Desmond Tutu The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it John 1:5 --- Friday 26 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Yesterday we reflected on the courage of the Blessed Virgin Mary in accepting the call of God. Today we reflect on our response to God’s call to us.... Many a ship has sailed from port to port with no interference from Me, because strong will has been at the wheel. Multitudes of pleasure cruises go merrily on their ways, untouched by the power of My hand. But you have put your life into My keeping , and because you are depending on Me for guidance and direction, I shall give it. Move on steadily, and know that the waters that carry you are the waters of My love and My kindness, and I will keep you on the right course. Frances J. Roberts --- Thursday 25 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows The Annunciation by John William Waterhouse Mary said to the angel, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word”. Luke 1:38 Called to a destiny more momentous than any inall of time, she did not quail, only asked a simple, ‘How can this be?’ and gravely, courteously, took to heart the angel’s reply, the outstanding ministry she was offered .... This was the moment no-one speaks ofwhen she could still refuse. A breath unbreathed,Spirit, suspended,waiting. She did not cry, ‘I cannot, I am unworthy,’Nor, ‘I have not the strength’.She did not submit with gritted teethraging, coerced. Bravest of all humans,consent illumined her.The room filled with its light, the lily glowed in its iridescent raysConsent and a courage unparalleled. Denise Levertov --- Wednesday 24 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a persons hands gripping onto the bars of a cage. Lord, we have had the anniversary of our first lockdown. For some the lockdowns have been prisons of isolation and misery, for others more serene times for reflection and focus; each of us has faced these times differently and known different privations. In my own disappointments may I respect those of others; where they are similar, may I offer help from my experience; where they are different, may I learn new wisdom about what it is to be human. You, who took our flesh upon yourself, be with us all. What has most inspired you when seeing others cope? What has disappointed you about other people? Why? Image © Copyright 2021 IBTimes Co., Ltd. --- Tuesday 23 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin A reflection for the Anniversary of the First Lockdown Lit by small candles, the cathedral’s central corona is both a crown of glory and a crown of thorns Lord God, we look back in silence over a dark year of separation, sorrow and death. We hold in our hearts all those who have died, remembering the many who died without the support of those they loved. We pray for the bereaved, and those whose lives will never be the same. We lift up those who have lost home or work or financial security. We bring to you those whose mental health has been damaged or who suffer still with Long Covid. We pray for health workers and other carers who have borne so much, and we give thanks for the great advances in science and medicine that have caused light to dawn in the darkness. As we have worn the Crown of Thorns so bring us all at last to wear a Crown of Glory here or hereafter. Photo of Corona by Ash Mills --- Monday 22 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Photo taken by Clare Stevens of scaffolding and scaffolders seen through a window of the north nave aisle Our fragile selves don’t quite stand up unaided; our beauty is a work of many hidden hands; we are strong only in community and in communion; alone we fall into decay. Lord, help me to realise more my connectedness with others, their need of me and mine of them; help me to see better my need of you, and as the days of your Passion approach, your need of me. Is there someone from whom I’ve fallen out of touch? Can I be in touch with them this week, for their good and mine? --- Sunday 21 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a picture of Earth at the equinox, courtesy of NOAA Today is the Vernal Equinox, day and night in equal balance anticipating the long days of summer after the darkness of winter. In darkness and in light, in trouble and in joy, help us, O God, to trust your love, to seek your purpose and to praise your name. ‘Lent’ comes from the Old English word ‘lencten’ meaning Spring, and so should be a word full of hope and anticipation. What do you hope for today as warmth increases and days get longer? Prayer is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2000, 2005 --- Saturday 20 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the figure of St Cuthbert, located on St Cuthberts Way Cuthbert of Lindisfarne Cuthbert was probably born in the Scottish lowlands around the year 640. At the age of eight a prophetic remark from a playmate turned his mind to sober and godly thoughts, and his upbringing as a shepherd gave him ample time for prayer. At this time of the year our thoughts and prayers must surely be with shepherds tending their sheep and new born lambs out in the hills of Herefordshire and Shropshire. --- Friday 19 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a man holding a child on the beach Joseph of Nazareth “Husband, in faith, and that a-cold!Ah, welaway, Joseph, as thou art old.” “All old men, example take by me -How I am beguiled here you may see -To wed so young a child.” The Annunciation, Coventry Pageant As Brian Mountford puts in his book “Changing Faces” Joseph “Back in Nazareth amongst the homely date palms, pomegranates, and vineyards of that gentle land, he used to watch the child asleep in his cradle and wonder, wonder what he would have been like had he been his own.” How many men today, bringing up children not of their own flesh and blood would identify with Joseph’s thoughts? --- Thursday 18 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a series of paper hearts with light shining through them Grant O Lord that your love may so fill our lives that we may count nothing too small to do for you. nothing too much to give and nothing too hard to bear. St Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556) --- Wednesday 17 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows hands in prayer Patron Saint of Ireland, as Bishop, Patrick made this base at Armagh which became the centre of his See. He evangelised the people of the land by walking all over the island, gently bringing men and women to a knowledge of Christ facing fierce opposition and possible persecution. Giving thanks for the life and witness of St Patrick, we pray for all who are persecuted because of their faith throughout the world today. May we find strength in these words of Lancelot Andrews (1555-1626), words which resonate with the words of the hymn St Patrick's Breastplate. I bind unto myself this day the strong name of the Trinity. Lord, be within me to strengthen me, without me to preserve me, over me to shelter me, beneath me to support me before me to direct me, behind me to bring back, round about me to fortify. --- Tuesday 16 March 2021 | Bridget Swan Image shows a tree in snow Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white be white as snow. Isaiah 1:18 Dear, pure Lord, it is hard for us to believe we have been forgiven. Press this into our hearts... Not just that you love us, but that to you, we are worth it. Amen --- Monday 15 March 2021 | Bridget Swan Images shows Clematis tangutica "Freckles", climbing an Italian cypress You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up, to more than I can be. Loving Lord, although I know you reach down to me, you help me to climb higher. Not because I need to in order to reach you, but because I can. Thank you. Amen --- Sunday 14 March 2021 | Bridget Swan The extraordinary beauty of variegated ivy leaves. Let all things their creator bless, And worship him in humbleness. Lord, help us to see the beauty in all your creation, including the commonplace. Amen --- Saturday 13 March 2021 | Bridget Swan A Very Windy Corner - images shows a garden arch at a crazy angle This arch has feet of concrete, but the wind blows it over two or three times a year. God's power is revealed to Job after he complains that he has done nothing to deserve his troubles. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone?" Job 38:4-6 (chapters 38-41 for the whole speech) Almighty God, help us to remember you made the whole earth. You created storm and tempest, wind and rain, volcanoes and earthquakes. You have power to do anything. But so do we, through the power of your Spirit. Amen --- Friday 12 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.... Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not actually mean that I am doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always, though I may seem to be lost ... I will not fear, for you are ever with me , and will never leave me to face my perils alone. Thomas Merton --- Thursday 11 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows a stained glass window Here is Peter caught between his faith in his Lord that he can walk on water and his doubt that convinces him he cannot. The monastic life has been perceived as a vocation to hold the tension between such opposing forces on behalf of humanity. I think this concept is also applicable to the vocation of all Christians. Do you agree? We have to be candles, burning between hope and despair, faith and doubt, life and death, all the opposites. That is the disquieting place where people must always find us. And if our life means anything, if what we are goes beyond the monastery (church?) walls and does some good, it is that somehow, by being here, at peace, we help the world cope with what it can’t understand. (William Brodrick) --- Wednesday 10 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10 As the river shapes the landscape, so are we shaped by the living water of the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for the currents of grace and the waves of love which give us life and enable us to grow in love and faith. We pray for all those enduring the turmoil of troubled waters; those who feel they are drowning in waters too deep for survival; those stranded on the dry land of loneliness or absence of faith who are longing to be washed into the currents of life again. May all who suffer receive the loving support they need, may those who support them be granted strength and compassion, that through the vulnerability of helped and helper alike, we may all discover Christ’s gift of living water flowing deeply through our lives. --- Tuesday 9 March 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Here are the steep and uneven steps inviting us to leave behind the now familiar, secure but light-limited crypt of lockdown to discover the joys and sorrows, choices and risks, of a return to the greater space of the wider world. As this process begins, many of us will be apprehensive while others trip over and maybe tumble down in their enthusiasm to reach the top. We pray for wisdom, compassion and hope as we continue to seek God’s guidance through these times. Through darkness, in troubled times, let holiness be your aim. Seek wisdom. Let faithfulness burn like a flame... God hold you, enfold you, and keep you wrapped around His heart. May you be known by love. (Paul Field) --- Monday 8 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Teach me, good Lord, the virtue of simplicity in my daily life and habits. To pretend no more than I am; to desire no more than I need; to spend no more than I can afford; to consume no more than is just; that I may be complete yet lacking in nothing, after the example of my Saviour Jesus Christ, who for our sakes became poor that he might make many rich. Prayer by Massey H. Shepherd Jr Simplicity is a virtue we all need to embrace. How shall I do that today? --- Sunday 7 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a sea turtle eating plastic In ignorance at first, Lord, we began to pollute the planet; those days of ignorance are long past. Give me vision to see everything I do in the light of its consequences for all living things for the health of the earth for those coming after me. In every action and choice of my life may I be a bearer of healing and hope. The gospel (‘good news’) for the world today has to be about the salvation of a dying planet. How do I proclaim that in the words and actions of my daily life? --- Saturday 6 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows someone making bread Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger” (John 6: 35) Lord, you said that the bread you gave was your life for the world. In a world hungry for good news, hungry for truth, or hungry for actual food, may my life feed others in every sense of that word; may I learn from you to make an offering of myself, my time and talents and substance, so that those I live among may not hunger because of what I withhold. In what ways today can I feed those around me? How can I give rather than take today? --- Friday 5 March 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a windsurfer on the open sea There are days, dear Lord, when my ability to remain upright seems precarious; days when difficulties and forces beyond my control seem overwhelming; days when I’m not sure that my wits and skills will see me through. Yet yours are the wind and the waves and the spray, and I am yours also, made to sport and strive in their midst. Give me courage and joy when the challenge exhilarates, and strength when it exhausts. What are the challenges I can say I enjoy? What are the challenges I have overcome in recent days? What is making life a challenge today? --- Thursday 4 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a child holding an adults hand as they walk outside A torn jacket is soon mended: but hard words bruise the heart of a child. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882) --- Wednesday 3 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows new growth shooting upwards out of the roots of a tree Brother Ramon once wrote: "Creation is the dance, the rhythm, the harmony of God, and earth, sea and sky are caught up in the revelation of his love." Nicola Slee in her poem "Spring Trees at Pleshey" puts it like this: Look, long, then, here, at this budding of dead wood: and in our lives, however dry or gnarled the grain, he'll cause the flower of love to sprout again. --- Tuesday 2 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a care giver holding hands with their patient. Chad was the first Bishop of our neighbour Diocese Lichfield. Chad who died on this day in the year 672, travelled extensively and became much loved for his wisdom and gentleness in otherwise difficult circumstances, plague being prevalent at the time. We have ourselves witnessed (and continue to witness) such wisdom and gentleness in so many wonderful people during the present pandemic. "Somehow. in the refugee camps. in hospitals and rescue centres, in the stress and desperation and emergencies of every kind, people manage to inject the practicalities with gentleness and kindness, patience and understanding. Knowing that every patient, every victim is unique. Is precious." Charlotte Gray --- Monday 1 March 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Saint David’s Day Image shows a host of daffodils growing in front of a woodland Saint David the Patron Saint of Wales was a monk and bishop in the 6th century whose feast day falls on the meteorological first day of Spring: the season of new life and hope, and daffodils! Shakespeare, in The Winter's Tale, wrote: "Daffodils That come before the swallows dare, and take The winds of March with beauty.” Saint David was highly regarded for his kindness and compassion to others - particularly the poor and sick; and so it seems appropriate that this is also a time when we remember the Marie Curie Daffodil appeal and give thanks for the care and compassion of the Marie Curie Nurses. Heavenly Father We give thanks for the life and witness of Saint David, For the Church in Wales, For her Mission and Ministry. For all whose vocation is in the caring professions. and pray for them. Amen --- Sunday 28 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows swiss chard growing in Bridget's garden The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing… Psalm 23, surely one of the most famous song lyrics in the world. It is about having enough. Here in this country we have no reason to be short. We can lie in green pastures and feast at the Lord’s table. Our problem is sharing. In the world, but also in this country, some of us go short, while others have plenty. Generous Lord, help us to give of our plenty so that all may have enough for the feast. Amen John Rutter originally wrote this anthem, a tender and lyrical pastoral version of Psalm 23, in 1976. It later became part of his setting of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, completed in 1985. --- Saturday 27 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows the crucifixion as depicted in the Thomas Traherne window This is a very challenging image, and we can be reminded of its real meaning, nearly every day, at the right time, when the rising sun shines through it. Risen Lord, help us to see what others cannot, to show others what we see, and to live by it. Amen --- Friday 26 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader A photograph of a cabinet filled with Bridget's china collection You know the T-shirt, “Santa, I can explain”? My explanation is, I have been collecting this china for 50 years, and I do use them. Jesus said, “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) We surround ourselves with “stuff”. It’s probably because we feel a little – lonely? insecure? But there is a problem when our possessions start to possess us. Dear Lord, help us to learn to live more simply, less hedged about with things rather than people. Guide us as we try, every day with your help, to tread more lightly on the face of the earth. Amen --- Thursday 25 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader An illustration of a person sleeping with their head on their arms against a black starry background 'I want to thank you Lord, for being with me so far this day. I haven’t been impatient, lost my temper, been grumpy, judgemental, or envious of anyone. But I will be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think I will really need your help then. Amen.' I recently came across this in Lauren Bacall’s autobiography. Apparently, Gregory Peck sent it to her! I had seen it before, but it still makes me laugh. Ruefully, perhaps. Dear Lord, help us to be conscious of your presence always, at all times of the day, and whatever we are doing. Help us to take our shortcomings seriously, even if we laugh at ourselves, and to use your strength to get better. Amen --- Wednesday 24 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy How easy it is to relate to the exhaustion of this pilgrim, shoes off to rest his sore feet, eyes closed to seek some inner peace, body relaxing in the warmth of the sun as he takes much needed rest after his long journey. We have been on a long journey too, a journey whose end is not yet in sight and we long for refreshment. Can we see ourselves as pilgrims? Pilgrims on a long journey through life, each journey unique in its gifts and challenges, each in the presence of the God who created and loves us, who sustains us and offers rest? Pilgrim God, you are our origin and our destination. Travel with us, we pray, in every pilgrimage of faith and every journey of the heart. Give us courage to set off, the nourishment we need to travel well and the welcome we long for at our journeys end. So may we grow in grace and love of you and in the service of others, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. (John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford) --- Tuesday 23 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows moored boats at the water's edge Boats in harbour safely moored; when will they next be able to sail? Boats tossed in strong seas; when will they return to harbour? It scares me, Lord, I’m frightened by the sea, it’s depth and width, it’s unseen currents, changing moods. Out of sight of land I feel so vulnerable and alone. Have patience with me, Lord, for I am ready to sail on through calm or squall or sudden beauty, not searching safe harbours nor land across the sea, but carrying a loving cargo, the riches of your presence. I begin to see with joyful clarity and greater wonder still, I do not journey TO but WITH You, Lord, are the sea, the storm, the stillness and the ship. Eddie Askew - Reflections --- Monday 22 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows an upturned boat that is being used as a shed on the island of Lindisfarne Here on Lindisfarne worn out boats are turned upside down to serve a completely different purpose. What aspects of your life have been turned upside down? Can the dislocation be transformed into something of real value? God of the upside down, rescue us from the despair of clinging to the past and help us to recognise in our up-turned lives the opportunity to grow ever closer to you, that we may reflect your transforming love. --- Sunday 21 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows the crucifixion as depicted in the Traherne window of the cathedral Many people struggling with the stress, grief, pain or loneliness of the present situation understandably find their faith challenged or deadened. Where is God? As the beautiful Traherne window reminds us, our Lord experienced pain, degradation, isolation and even a sense of the absence of God. Our risen Lord therefore understands and shares our suffering but, unlike us, is not overwhelmed by it. The hymn, God is Love, expresses this beautifully: And when human hearts are breaking Under sorrow’s iron rod, Then we find the self same aching, Deep within the heart of God.Compassionate God, you share our pain and feel our distress. Enfold us in your love, give us grace to hope and help us to reach out to you even when we are consumed with doubt or disbelief. --- Saturday 20 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Is this not this the fast I choose: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58: 6—7 Lord, it’s easy to trivialise the fast of Lent so that it centres on sweets or booze or some other small pleasure we put aside for a few weeks. What does that change other than my waistline! Help me to fast in a meaningful way, with compassion for those in need and the mending of the environment that I might help change your world. --- Friday 19 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image is Christ in the Wilderness by Ivan Kramskoi, 1872 It’s not just Lent that makes me face myself; the present time makes me face myself: my fears and hopes, my temptations, my hungers, my sorrows -- all these surface in me when I am alone with myself in a wilderness. Yet I am not alone, dear Lord, because you are there already sitting somewhere nearby, knowing how I feel. May your presence strengthen me for all that lies ahead. Can we see and feel Christ as a companion when we are alone and tempted or lost? Remember that he has been there too, and remains there for you. --- Thursday 18 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a photo of a sparrow sitting on the ground with nest building materials in its beak ‘So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.’ – Matthew 10: 31 The birds begin to build their nests and to prepare for the new life that will come through laying, sitting, hatching and feeding; Determination, resourcefulness, faithfulness and patience are the gifts they bring. May it be so in my own life, Lord. May I work at the gifts that will carry me through long days and create new life for others. Good things don’t just happen by accident. The gifts we have need working at each day, and sometimes the best of what we do is achieved when we don’t feel like it. What should I work at today? --- Wednesday 17 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows an ash crucifix on a black background Ash Wednesday, and we are given a sign of our mortality as if we needed that this year. Ash Wednesday, and so much of life has been turned to ash. Ash Wednesday, and one day, soon or late, I will be dust and ashes. Turn me, O Lord, back to yourself, that I may know the dust and ashes of this day and of my life and self to be what you will raise to newness of life when the Day of Resurrection comes. Ash Wednesday is a day of hopeful repentance and joyful fasting. Where in life can I make a new start today? What might I be glad to be rid of? --- Tuesday 16 February 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Shrove Tuesday Image shows a photo of a mole emerging from a mole hill in a field of grass Joyce Huggett in her book ‘God’s Springtime’ opens with a reference to the Mole in Kenneth Grahame’s classic ‘Wind in the Willows’. Mole is busy spring-cleaning his little house and later revelling in the sunlight of springtime as he rolled in the warm grass of a great meadow. Shrove Tuesday offers us a time for a little spring-cleaning of our hearts and minds and a chance to reflect on how we may make our journey through Lent this year and be ready to greet the Risen Christ on Easter Day. 'What is spring'? asks the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins Growth in everythingFlesh and fleece, fur and featherGrass and greenworld all together. Nothing is so beautiful as spring. --- Monday 15 February 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows a red heart shaped balloon floating away into the sky Love releases us for takingOne more risk than we might dare.Glory breaks through dark and danger,Shows the Lord transfigured thereGod who planted our affections,Help your gifts to grow more freeKindle in us the fires of loving,Daring, dancing Trinity. Michael Hare-Duke --- Sunday 14 February 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows two hands forming the shape of a heart in front of a sunset Saint Valentines Day The Emperor Claudius (it is said) had ordered the execution of Bishop Valentine (there are several stories about the reason for this)! Whatever the truth may be, it is said that whilst Valentine was in prison he fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer. Through his love for her and his Christian faith he restored her sight and, just before he was led away for execution, he sent her a letter signed from your Valentine. And so the romantic legend began... Valentines Day must surely be this year a somewhat bitter sweet day: the pandemic has claimed the lives of so many of our loved ones and many, many thousands of loved ones are still being hospitalized. Could we ever have imagined being unable to meet our loved ones for such a long time - let alone be unable to give them a hug? But love does indeed conquer all things. The mystery of love is God’s greatest gift to us all and it is stronger even than death. “All is miracle because God is love” (words from a prayer card - from a Trappist Monastery) --- Saturday 13 February 2021 | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Image shows the view from the Custos Office window with the Tulip Tree in the Bishop’s garden to the left hand side. The Tulip Tree Does the poem sleepin the buds on the tulip tree,waiting to be touched into lifeby the springing of my words? Or is my heartbirthplace and hearthfirefrom which the spark risesto kindle the stirring leaves? Surely the poem is therefor the seeing; it needssoul - sight to wed with itand conceive a one - ness of truth. Then the whole tree will dance,singing shoots awake to the sun.Let us always be awareof the tree that burns, yet is green. Sister Michaela CSCl --- Friday 12 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image is a painting of Scarborough Harbour painted by Bridget Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sand and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar. Tennyson expressing the Christian hope that death is not the final word. We will always miss the people we know who have set sail, like Tolkien's elves, into the West. Our sadness is the price we pay for loving them. But here is what Paul calls the "certain hope", that Jesus is waiting for us on the other side of death. Let us remember resurrection as well as death. --- Thursday 11 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows the leafy green shrub 'Christmas Box' The love of God Flowing free The love of God Flow out through me. The peace of God Flowing free The peace of God Flow out through me. The life of God Flowing free The life of God Flow out through me. David Adam One sprig of Christmas box scents the whole house. Jesus said we are meant to be leaven, and leaven everything. If you've been using the bread maker, you'll know how small an amount of yeast makes a whole loaf. Do we always affect people this way? To make them grow? Do we always leave a good feeling behind? --- Wednesday 10 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows Hellebores at Epiphany “A cold coming we had of it,Just the worst time of the yearFor a journey, and such a long journey:The ways deep and the weather sharp,The very dead of winter.” T.S.Eliot's 'The journey of the Magi' - read the full poem online at the Poetry Archive: poetryarchive.org/poem/journey-magi The old man looking back sees three trees silhouetted against the sky, and asks if what they saw was birth or death. They saw God revealed, as we do: in a manger, at baptism, by an old prophetess, at Easter. But not just at certain times, not even just at His table in bread and wine. But always and everywhere, revealed in creation. Have you felt very close to God at unexpected moments? --- Tuesday 9 February 2021 | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Image shows daffodil shoots pushing through the earth Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain, Wheat that in the dark earth many years hath lain; Love lives again, that with the dead has been; Love is come again, as wheat that springeth green. These are mini daffodils, not grain. But here they are, pushing up between my raspberry canes. All around us we see signs of new growth. Nature gives us new hope. Even when it's dull and rainy, the plants start to pop up. Even the quality of light changes in the Spring. Let us remember the things that give us hope and joy amidst the gloom. --- Monday 8 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Our present life can seem for some so limited and even meaningless. For others it is far too pressurised and demands can be overwhelming. The winter of those experiences can seem to be without value; but it need not be. What is going on underneath? How can we connect with God’s desire for us that we should grow? God of tunnelling roots, God of winter growth, beneath the surface and when light is less available, the trees and shrubs use their time to strengthen themselves. Reaching out and feeling forward, they connect more assuredly to their surroundings. May we use this time in a similar way, so the Spring that arrives finds us already in fuller bloom. A prayer from the Corrymeela Community. --- Sunday 7 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows the ruins of Tretower Castle Here at Tretower, the outer wall has been breached, leaving the central keep exposed. Life for many of us replicates that sense of destruction and exposure at the moment. Yet when barriers fall it may be possible to see what is behind them in a new light. What walls have been breached in your life during this past year? Can you offer to God the grief of your loss? Can you also recognise any new or life-giving insights arising from that pain? God of surprises, we bring to you our confusion and our grief for all that we have lost. We also bring to you in thanksgiving all that we have learned of your love and your life whilst our lives have been so disrupted and our assumptions and expectations shattered. In your compassion enfold in your love all whose resilience is low and all whose anxieties are high. Expand our vision, and give us grace to find new perspectives which reflect you love for us and enable us to grow in faith. --- Saturday 6 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image is a picture of Norwich Cathedral All shall be well...... Mother Julian of Norwich was a fourteenth century anchorite who lived through the terrors of the Black Death and the turmoil of the Peasants’ Revolt. She would have understood very well the challenges of personal and political insecurity and the fears arising from a pandemic. Her remarkable faith and writings enabled her to comfort, encourage and reach out to both rich and poor in her own day and to succeeding generations. Here is one of her prayers which may well help us today: In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother and Saviour. In you, our Lord, the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. Amen --- Friday 5 February 2021 | Revd Janet Bellamy Image shows clusters of snowdrops with light shining on them Snowdrops, like us, flourish best in community with each other. Lockdown has caused so much anguish by separating us from the people we love and with the communities of which we are a part. Many are suffering from depression, anxiety or loneliness. Many others, however, have risen to the challenge of finding different ways to make connection and build a different sort of community. God of community, you know our hurting and our sense of isolation from each other. Be a presence in the emptiness, a voice in the silence and a light in the darkness to all those who feel cut off and isolated. Give strength and compassion to all those who seek to build new and safe forms of connection and community and help us to reach out, in the power of your love, to those in need. --- Thursday 4 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a carpenter working on the ornate wooden door which leads into the Cloisters Lord, I have passed through this door a thousand times and hardly taken it in. I pause today and see how complex and intricate it is, how brilliantly designed and skilfully constructed. As it’s repaired and conserved this week well-seasoned oak and Simon’s craftsmanship are making it good again. Lord! Restore me and make me whole once more by your skilled hands and through your chosen tools so I can be a door of blessing for others. The great door to the College Cloisters is nearly 550 years old. Its conservation now by craftsman Simon Bufton will help preserve it for centuries to come. --- Wednesday 3 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The Gorges du Fier in the Haute-Savoie, France Water. Life-giving, softening, cooling, cleansing, yet scouring, cutting, eroding and penetrating too. As life-giving water can cut through rock so may the life-giving Spirit cleanse and shape me, wearing down my hardness and leaving me deeper than I was before. Are there areas of life today where your prayer might be for God’s Spirit to work within you and shape you? --- Tuesday 2 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows snowdrops pushing their way up through a blanket of snow My heart rejoices to see the snowdrops pushing through, resilient, flexible, waxy, white and green. As I lie buried beneath the frozen wilderness of these days may I have faith to know that however small and feeble I feel, if a snowdrop can push through ice and snow so can I. Lord, may it be so indeed! We can be discouraged so easily, and see our weakness and our failings instead of our strengths and triumphs. What can we celebrate today about our own resilience and growth? --- Monday 1 February 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a picture of a crusty loaf of bread sliced in half Lord Jesus, you are the bread of life. What a simple thing! As I look at my daily bread remind me that you are close, that you feed me in ordinary times, that without you I wouldn’t be properly nourished or have strength for the day’s journey. Sustain me today and every day, and may the bread I break be shared with others who hunger too. Psalm 104: 5 speaks of ‘bread which strengtheneth man’s heart’. What nourishes you in the present moment? What part does simple food play in your life each day? Can we see it as a gift of God for our well-being, as Jesus coming to feed us? --- Sunday 31 January 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image shows a picture of a person with their head in their hands looking tired in front of a laptop. It is a struggle, Lord, when I see more of my computer than of my friends. I am sapped by the effort of staying in touch with family with friends with work with life. I don’t find it easy feeling a connection with you. Unwind my tight-coiled soul and help me be relaxed in my isolation. Many of us are spending far longer than is good for us on computers and tablets and phones, lifelines for feeling connected, but also technology that tires and saps us. What is your experience? Can we let go a little of those things which can hurt as well as help us? --- Saturday 30 January 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Bible in Hereford Cathedral, Ash Mills Photography And what is your word to me this day, O Lord? Sometimes it seems faint to hear or dim to see, or I don’t know how to see or to listen well, or my idea of what it should be blinds me to what it is. So what is your word to me this day, O Lord? Open the eyes and ears of my heart that I may hear you speak. Is there a simple verse of scripture that might be a light for you today? You could simply reflect on these words of Micah’s: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6: 8) --- Friday 29 January 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The Country Road, 1906, Harald Sohlberg From gloom to brightness, from the hard and dusty road to the glory of a golden horizon lead me, O Lord, this and every day. As I look to the distance with wonder fill me with gratitude for the ordinary blessings close at hand for they are my companions in the here and now. The distant hills radiate mystery, and the glowing sky promises warmth and comfort. But as we lower our eyes from that we begin to see richness and glory in the things close at hand; they too are filled with beauty and wonder. Is there something in the here and now of today that you can recognise as a beautiful blessing? --- Thursday 28 January 2021 | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Harald Sohlberg, Winter Night in the Mountains, 1914 Separated from so much that we love, the journey cold and endless, the loss bleak and relentless; Strengthen in us, O Lord, a sense that goodness lies ahead, that there is a homecoming one day to be enjoyed, that the frozen waste of this time is not empty of your blessing. This painting is a bleak waste of ice and snow, but as we look more carefully we see there is a house to be reached, hard to notice at first. What is the ‘house’ I am trying to see in the present moment? Low in the sky shines a bright star or planet. Is there anything shining low on your horizon that gives you hope? Pray that God will strengthen the sense of those things in you. --- Wednesday 27 January 2021 As the Covid-19 death toll in the United Kingdom passes 100,000 people, we hold in our thoughts and prayers each one of those souls beloved by God and by all to whom they have been precious in this life. Words cannot express the sense of loss felt by so many, and we pause in silence to reflect on the scale of grief and waste the pandemic has wrought. Be our light in the darkness, Lord, a rock on which to rest, a silence to enfold us, a gentle hand to hold us, a wordless arm around our shoulders, a friend with whom to weep. Be too our hope, Lord, that one day this night will end, that we will come again to light and freedom, set free from the prisons of our despair. The Revd Canon Chris Pullin --- Daily Lockdown Reflections 2020 Sunday 5 July | A member of our community “Love is the true means by which the world is enjoyed: our love to others, and others love to us.”Thomas Traherne Lord, help us to enjoy your world and celebrate love,Help us identify those in our community who need to be shown love and kindness at this timeAnd allow us to recognise the love we are shown in our daily lives and be brave enough to show that love in return. --- Saturday 4 July | A member of our community “Natural things are glorious, and to know them is glorious.”Thomas Traherne Lord, help us to remember to pause and experience the natural world. Remind us to appreciate the ground beneath our feet and the skies above us. Let us see the beauty of nature each and every day. --- Friday 3 July | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them. David Hume --- Thursday 2 July | A member of our community Love thy neighbor as thyselfAs we have spent more time in our homes during lockdown, many of us have experienced a change in the relationship we share with our neighbours. Lord, as our lives slowly return to normal, help us to maintain new friendships with those in our community. Help us to be considerate to those around us who may be lonely and think of those who may need extra support. Help us to always remember the power of a friendly hello or smile in the street. --- Wednesday 1 July | Sarah Hollingdale You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32 7 Lord, thank you that you are our hiding place –Whether we’ve never spoken to you before,Or have known you for years,Thank you that you offer us refuge in these difficult times. --- Tuesday 30 June | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.Alexander Pope --- Monday 29 June | A member of our community "More company increases happiness, but does not lighten or diminish misery" - Thomas Traherne Dear Lord, over the coming weeks as restrictions begin to ease, Help us to remember that people may still be finding life difficult. As we enjoy being able to explore new places, Help us to consider those who remain confined to their homes. As we start to be able to socialise in our towns and cities, Help us to be understanding of those who may be scared or fearful of the ‘new normal’. And whilst we celebrate being able to see our loved ones again, Help us to think of those for whom that is not an option. --- Sunday 28 June | Revd Janet Bellamy A prayer from the Corrymeela Community God of holy relationship, God of distinct inclusion:with you and in you togetherness matters.Remind us that ours is not a life of living for ourselves.In being with and for each other,may we discover that how we relate to how we are different shows the essence of who we each are. --- Saturday 27 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader Maeshowe is a Neolithic tomb in Orkney. Every December, just after the winter solstice, the rising sun peeps round between two hills, enters the entrance and strikes the back wall for two weeks. Dear Lord, even in death, you are with us. Help us not to fear the darkness, and know that the light will come again. Psalm 23 --- Friday 26 June | Revd Janet Bellamy A prayer from the Corrymeela Community God of revelation, God of unveiling:the truths that many would pretend to discover are truths that others could never avoid.May this time be the time of conversationabout matters that lie underneath fears and prejudices,and beneath a wilful blindness.May your revealing of what has always been change us and what is to be,so that in acknowledging each other and the sins brought to lightwe might never find such cover again. --- Thursday 25 June | A member of our community "You are as prone to love as the sun is to shine" - Thomas Traherne Lord, today as the sun shines, help us to remember love in our thoughts, As temperatures rise, help us to retain kindness in our actions, And as we feel the intensity of the heat, help us to keep patience within our words --- Wednesday 24 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader .....I shall I fear be dark and cold,With all my fire and light;Yet when thou dost accept my gold, Lord, treasure up my mite. From the third verse of the hymn “How shall I sing that majesty” Like the widow who put only a tiny coin into the collecting box, and the Little Drummer Boy in the carol, we are often conscious of having very little to offer. But we need to be willing to offer it nevertheless, along with offering ourselves. Dear Lord, help me to understand that you don’t just accept my mite, but treasure it. And help me to know that you don’t just accept me, but treasure me, too. --- Tuesday 23 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader A picture from Bridget's garden Every time we plant a seed, we express a hope for the future. May we step out in faith that the future will be fruitful. Gardener God, use me, plant me, let me grow. And in bad times and good, may I bear fruit. --- Monday 22 June | Revd Janet Bellamy A prayer from J Philip Newell’s Celtic Benediction That you have placed a harmony of lights in the heavensthat night is followed by dayand the glowing of the moon by the glistening of the sunthanks be to you, O God.That you have placed a harmony of lights in my soulthat there is gentleness and firmness of strengthintuitive knowing and enlightened reasoningthanks be to you.Let me be so sure of your law of harmony in all thingsthat I seek it in my own depthsand in knowing it in my inner lifeyearn for it in the torn relationships of my worldman and womanblack and whitesun and moon in a harmony of movement. --- Sunday 21 June | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Today LordLet me light three candles in another lifeA candle of comfortA candle of hopeA candle of courage --- Saturday 20 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader As soon as the chip shop opened again we bought fish and chips each, and rushed off to eat it in a lay by! It was lovely. Lord, we pray for those who do not have enough to eat, both nearby and far away. And those of us that do, thank you for your providence. We thank you for our daily bread. Perhaps we also need to do something practical for those in need... --- Friday 19 June | Revd Janet Bellamy A prayer from the Corrymeela Community God of constant assurance, God who is forever new; a life of faith is not without risk. There is no telling what lies ahead when we choose to let go of what has been. But as we set off on this next adventure of finding our new and truer selves, remind us that it is in becoming that we remain the people you have created us to be. --- Thursday 18 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader I try to send pictures to my 92 year old mother because she can’t get out. This is a Rosa mundi from my garden. Lord, thank you for the beautiful things around us. Not everything in our lives is perfect. But help us to remember that when you looked at what you had made, it was good. Help us to remember to look when we have time, and to remember when we don’t. Wednesday 17 June | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge Prayer is an act of lovewords are not needed St Teresa of Avila --- Tuesday 16 June | Revd Janet Bellamy For the first showings of the morning light and the emerging outline of the day thanks be to you, O God. Show to me this day amidst life's dark streaks of wrong and suffering the light that endures in every person. Dispel the confusions that cling close to my soul that I may see with eyes washed by your grace, that I may see myself and all people with eyes cleansed by the freshness of the new day's light A prayer from J Philip Newell’s Celtic Benediction --- Monday 15 June | Bridget Swan, Cathedral Reader My granddaughter discovering that sitting up on your own can be tricky when you’re seven months old... Lord, help us to remember that even when things are new and tricky, we are always travelling along with you. We will learn the new things, and grow because of the changes. ... she doesn’t fall over when she sits anymore. Now she can crawl! --- Sunday 14 June | Revd Prebendary Ann Barge For each new day, pray for enough strength for that dayenough love for that dayenough hope for that dayenough peace for that day From Psalm 29: 11 Saturday 13 June | Revd Janet Bellamy In the beginning, O God,your Spirit swept over the chaotic deep like a wild windand creation was born.In the turbulence of my own lifeand the unsettled waters of the world todaylet there be new birthings of your Spirit.In the currents of my own heartand the upheavals of the world todaylet there be new birthings of your mighty Spirit. A prayer from J Philip Newell’s Celtic Benediction Friday 12 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Pelargoniums that overwinter each year in front of 2 The Close, and burst into colour when the days warm and lengthen Sheltered from the wind may I be, protected from frost by a warm house nearby, quickened by southern sun, and watered by gentle rain. O Lord! As these flowers survive each winter so may I survive the winters of life! What are the quiet blessings that enable you to get up each day and keep going? Give thanks for them. --- Thursday 11 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin We stand in the great ocean of your being and love, O God. Our life, our existence, our destiny, are in your hands. May we sense your providence and grace in sorrow and in happiness in pain and in pleasure in fear and in faith as your presence quietly surrounds us. Hard sometimes to sense God’s presence, yet without it everything would cease to exist. Can you accept that it is there in the hard times as well as the easy times? --- Wednesday 10 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Who shall I be today Lord, in what disguise shall I appear? Shall I be happy or sad, young or old, smart or scruffy? Help me to find myself in you, on the inside, and so be real, not living through outer costumes, and being false. We are all tempted to present ourselves in different ways, to cover what we think people won’t accept and to pretend to be what we think they will accept. Perhaps you can spot this in yourself. Pray to live out your true self, not your false self. --- Tuesday 9 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin St Columba who founded the monastery on the small island of Iona is remembered throughout the world on his feast day today. St Columba’s Bay, Iona, the traditional site of his first landing in AD 563 Salt sea and stony shingle, wind and wet and wild; these were Columba’s lot on the island he was given. Peace and blessing, prayer, learning and art; these were his planting and cultivation, whose colour and fragrance were known throughout the world. May we be as Columba, flourishing by God’s grace even if the soil we have is salt and stone. We may find ourselves given poor soil or hard ground in life, and feel it’s hard to do well. Perhaps that’s how you find things. Can we take encouragement from Columba’s willingness to accept what he was given, and by openness to God to find that he could blossom there? --- Monday 8 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Thomas Ken’s name, scratched by him as a schoolboy on a stone at Winchester College. Today we remember Bishop Thomas Ken. He was ejected from his bishopric in 1691 over a very public matter of conscience, and lived until 1711. His hymns are regularly sung today. Lord, I my vows to Thee renew; Disperse my sins as morning dew. Guard my first springs of thought and will, And with Thyself my spirit fill. Direct, control, suggest, this day, All I design, or do, or say, That all my powers, with all their might, In Thy sole glory may unite. Would I risk all my security and comfort over a matter of conscience? Who in my lifetime has made such a stand? --- Sunday 7 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Gates closed since March across the North Porch, Hereford Cathedral It has been hard to be locked out of your house, O Lord. The place of welcome and nourishment and peace has become a desert; where we look for bread we are offered a stone. May the day soon come when gates can be unlocked, doors opened, and people come to that house again; and what we have learned through being locked out -- may we bring that as a gift to lay on your altar. What most have you found a deprivation in being excluded from this cathedral, or from other holy places? Have you found new resources to help sustain you once the exclusion is ended? --- Saturday 6 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin 14th-century misericord on the north side of the Quire, Hereford Cathedral O Lord, there are days when the weight of the world seems to rest on my shoulders, and I’m tired before I get out of bed. I may not be responsible for everything, but it can feel as if I am. Things may not go so badly, but it’s hard to believe they won’t. When I feel like this remind me that you carry me, that the world and everything in it is yours, and so help me face the day leaving you to do the worrying. Sometimes we work ourselves up over matters about which we can do nothing, thinking ourselves more important than really we are in the big scheme of things. Can we pray to be released from this delusion, and to leave more problems in God’s hands? --- Friday 5 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Flowers in the Chapter House Garden, May 2019 For the triumphant liveliness of creation, the colour, the delicacy, the upsurge of life, we can wonder and be lost for words. For the inescapable decline of creation, the blight, the fading, the falling and rotting, we can wonder and be lost for words. Father of us all, in your hands lie both life and death; help us to accept them both with grace, and not to be dismayed at the present hour. Do we see death as defeat and not as inevitable culmination? Someone once said “There are worse things than death.” What might they be? --- Thursday 4 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The road to Breinton, May 2020 When I feel tired, or lost or old I yearn to find my home at last,a place where I can know true rest,warmth, welcome and good happiness,and be myself, and rest content that all my troubles now are past;so call me this and every day to search with love, and onward roamin knowledge of your love for me, so that in you I find my home. Do you ever feel nostalgic for home, perhaps a happy home of the past or of childhood? Can you see that as a sign of yearning for God, and of wanting to find oneness with God? Perhaps such feelings point to the future, not the past. --- Wednesday 3 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The River Wye by the quarries at Capler from which stone for the cathedral was floated upstream to the city. ‘The river of God is full of water’ Psalm 65 verse 9 You flow through my life like a river,watering, nourishing, cleansing;open my soul to the flow of your life,my fears and my failures transcending. What fears or anxieties are uppermost in your mind today? Can you be aware of God’s silent presence flowing through you to offer strength and confidence? --- Tuesday 2 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Medieval tithe barn, Bradford on Avon Be to me shade from the burning sun, coolness of stone beneath my feet and strength to overarch my life, O Lord, today and every day. Living through hot days and hard times we know our need of shelter and protection. Pray for a sense of God’s strength that you may feel secure and yet have space to breathe and grow each day. --- Monday 1 June | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth Painted panel (left hand panel) of the Visitation (by Harry Stammers) from the Lady Chapel altarpiece For the friends who welcome me, the people who share my experiences, who understand my hopes and fears, who don’t laugh at me or judge me, thanks be to you, O God! Today is the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth; you can read the story in Luke chapter 1, verses 39—56. Who are the friends or supporters I can give thanks for today? Who supports me in the current crisis, and who do I support? --- Pentecost | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Bernini’s window depicting the Holy Spirit in St Peter’s, Rome Spirit of God, may I feel you in my heart and breathe you in my life in small things as well as great things, in tranquillity as well as in exuberance, in silence as well as in song. In these strange and uncertain times let me breathe your wisdom and courage to strengthen the gifts you have already given me so freely. There is a single word in Hebrew for breath and spirit. God’s Spirit is a breath in all creation, and he breathes it into us. As you quietly breathe in and out try to sense God himself breathing the gift of his life and power within you. --- Saturday 30 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘The fruit of the Spirit is … patience, kindness, goodness …’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 Give us God the fruit of goodness to ripen in our souls:fruit to offer round about us,fruit to heal the wounds of this world,fruit to restore the confidence of the broken,fruit to strengthen the dispirited in doing good,fruit to feed the hungry and nourish the weak.As you feed us with your goodness, so may we feed otherstoday and every day. Goodness can be catching; a good person inspires goodness in others. Pray that goodness may be seen in your life for the health of the world. --- Friday 29 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘The fruit of the Spirit is … patience, kindness, goodness …’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23May I always remember, dear Lord,that when I clothe the naked, visit prisoners or feed the hungryI do those things to you.Every day you show yourself to me in need;may I show myself to you in gentleness and kindness. Remember times when you have been kind, and give thanks. Remember too those times when you failed to be kind, and pray for forgiveness and the opportunity to make amends. --- Thursday 28 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘The fruit of the Spirit is … patience, kindness, goodness …’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 Patience, Lord, can be a fruit of your Spirit within me, but I must pray for it. I may not be able to make myself patient, I may fret and hurry and burn; but the seed of your eternity planted within me bears fruit of a different kind, fruit of your rhythms and purposes. I must pray for that fruit to ripen and not the bitter product of my misplaced haste. Are you an impatient person? What is the root of your impatience? --- Wednesday 27 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Dove of Peace, drawn by Pablo Picasso ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace…’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 May I be a person of peace, dear Lord, at home at work in the world with others with myself with creation And may I be prepared to pay the price for it to be real. Cheap peace, peace that sweeps tensions and difficulties under the carpet, peace that pretends things are OK when they’re not, is no peace. True peace is often costly and demanding. Pray for that fruit of the Spirit in human lives today. --- Tuesday 26 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace…’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 Give me joy in life, O Lord, a deep inner sense of wonder and goodness, of rapture for all that is, and that I have my place in your creation. May the quiet assurance that I am yours and you are mine be a deep source of joy so that I can face onslaughts of uncertainty and the loss of things that do not matter, fed deeply by the knowledge of you love and delight. Is joy about being happy all the time? Or is it about something deeper, a quiet core of genuine happiness in being created and loved by God? Pray for that fruit of the Spirit today. --- Monday 25 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image: The Bible Project ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace…’. Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 May I receive the Spirit’s gift of love: Love to live and share Love in my words and actions Love for others in my thoughts and in my deeds Practical charity for those I find difficult Perseverance with those who ignore or reject me Charity towards my own self. As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost on Sunday, we pray this week for the fruit of the Spirit to ripen in our lives. So pray first for love, not as something sentimental but as something practical and caring. --- Sunday 24 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Nave pillar illuminated by the Ascension window taken by Mark Ewins. Lord, help me to embrace the fact that you made me to be beautiful:beautiful in my thoughtsbeautiful in my wordsbeautiful in my deedsbeautiful insideand beautiful outside.Lighten me with your grace to make it so.Alleluia! Amen! To believe that we are special and beautiful and worth something can be one of the hardest challenges in life. Sometimes we hide ourselves in greyness rather than live out of that beauty. But ‘while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5: 8) – so how can we not be beautiful! --- Saturday 23 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin There are times when thick clouds hang upon my mind,or I find it hard to hold together, know who I am or what I’m for.There are times when the landscape of my life is darkenedand familiar ways are lost or taken from me, and the world turns strange.This suffering is as real as any other, and no less easy to heal.O Lord, find me in my lostness and heal me in my mind. As Mental Health Awareness Week comes towards its end we might pray for greater understanding of the reality of mental sickness and pain. If you are currently looking for additional support, Mental Health Foundation has a range of content on their website here For a list local support please visit WISH Herefordshire --- Friday 22 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Sixth-century mosaic of Christ appearing to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna Give us, Lord, the hand of kindness when we take the darkened way; shine upon our minds’ night-blindness and hold us firm till break of day. Has someone walked alongside you in friendship at a time of mental distress? Give thanks for that (perhaps costly) act of friendship. --- Ascension Day | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Raise us with you above this Earth,but keep our humanity intact.Help us see things in the context of eternity,but ground us in the here and now.Show us that we belong to heaven,but make us attend to the Earth with love.Dignify our flesh with divine glory,but show us how to honour human wounds. Sometimes people find the ascension story hard to accept at face value. Reflect instead on its inner meaning, that as creatures of flesh and blood we are adopted in Christ to share the divine life. --- Wednesday 20 May | Revd Canon Chris Pullin Today's reflection is provided by the Revd Canon Chris Pullin and is illustrated with an icon painted by Peter Murphy to mark St Ethelbert's Day. We give thanks today for our patron St Ethelbert:for his faith as an inspiration in times of danger,his hope as a challenge to the cynical,and his youthful vision as refreshment for the world-weary,Thanks be to God! Do I believe that I am in danger at present?Am I cynical or jaded?Perhaps the story of Ethelbert’s simple trustfulness can lend us strength. --- Tuesday 19 May | Revd Canon Chris Pullin I remember a priest with dementia;in a final sermon he asked us to be kind,and pleaded firmly for us to be kind.In a world where many suffer in body, mind or spirit,Lord, help me offer that grace of kindness every day.I am stronger when others are kind to me,so let me return the gift in love. Think of a time when unexpected kindness made all the difference to you. Can you strengthen someone through kindness today? If you are currently looking for additional support, Mental Health Foundation has a range of content on their website here For a list local support please visit WISH Herefordshire --- Monday 18 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Life isn’t always easy, Lord, inside or outside our sometimes damaged selves. Not everyone can understand our inner wounds and often we can’t either. May I always have compassion for the mental health of others, and just through simple kindness let them know I care. This is mental health awareness week, and this year’s theme is kindness. How many people are you aware of suffering mental frailty today? How can you be kind to them? If you are currently looking for additional support, Mental Health Foundation has a range of content on their website here For a list local support please visit WISH Herefordshire --- Sunday 17 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin 5th-century window made of crystal gypsum, Santa Sabina, Rome Lord, the window of my soul may be ageing, but your light is ever new. May that light fill my innermost being each day to give me vision and insight, and to direct my steps. Waken within my innermost self the knowledge of a bigger life, touch me with the light that will make me grow, make me to be blessing to others. Many find it helpful to pray each day for the gift of God’s light to live and see by. --- Saturday 16 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin 13th-century holy water stoup at the cloister door, Basilica of Sant'Andrea, Vercelli We wash a lot these days, dear Lord, for safety and for health;the simple gift of water gives us cleansing and brings life.Blessed be the water of rain and sea and river!Blessed be the water flowing freely in our homes!Help us value it as sacred and keep it from pollution,That returning it to nature it may hallow as it goes. Do we treat water as we should and pass it on so that it will be a source of life and not of death?This is a pressing question in the western world. How can I be more responsible in what I do with water? --- Friday 15 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Andrea McLean’s A Contemporary Mappa Mundi, 2005 It’s the world, but not as we know it. Things have changed, yet stayed the same. May we find gain in our loss, new colour to delight us, fresh ways of understanding how to live. In the sickness of the present time may we blessed with gifts of healing and rise to vibrant life. When this crisis passes, what will I carry from it to build a better world? --- Thursday 14 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Jonsokbål (Midsummer Night) by Nikolai Astrup, 1926 Be our light, O Lord we pray ̶ turn our darkness into day, burn within the deepest night, give us warmth and make us bright as we gather where you blaze, King of Seasons, Lord of Days! In the Bible God is sometimes described as being like a fire. Do you feel drawn towards God today, or are you standing back? Why are you choosing as you do? --- Wednesday 13 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Detail from Brudeferden I Hardanger (Bridal Party in Hardanger) by Hans Gude and Adolph Tidemand (1848) Pure air, pure light, pure water: O Lord, lord let me float along the River of Life with beauty. Help me to know and feel that it is your grace I breathe, your clean and living water upholding me, your radiant light making all things clear; and so shall I be brought to you in serenity. We can strive too much in life and make ourselves and others unhappy. Can we trust that by being carried along we may come to happier ends? --- Tuesday 12 May | Sarah Hollingdale ‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ Isaiah 40:31 Lord, please give us strength to get through today, to soar above like eagles. --- Monday 11 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin “He who sings prays twice” – attributed to St Augustine And will we sing?Dear Lord, it seems we won’t, at least to start with,because singing is said to be dangerous.I must learn to pray my prayer once with double the feeling,I must learn to let my heart sing in other ways as I come before you.It is good at least that some see this prayer as dangerous,because all prayer is dangerous.Help me to pray more dangerously! For much of Christian history, and still in some parts of the world, every word of worship was, or is, sung. The likelihood that when we are allowed to resume public worship we will not be allowed to sing for fear of spreading the virus will be a hard thing to accept. Pray that it may not be long before we can sing again. --- Sunday 10 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin We wait for thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy Temple. Psalm 48 verse 9 O Lord, we wait and wait and wait. We seem to have done nothing but wait and watch and hope, and even your house has been denied in which to do it. We wait for your loving-kindness in the midst of our homes! Now that we take small steps forwards to greater freedom may we soon find the doors of your house open once more; there may we wait and watch and hope in peace. The closure of churches has been a painful deprivation for many people, although the first Christians worshipped in their homes and had no written Gospel. Perhaps it has been good to be reminded that our faith can live without buildings. Can we hold on to this truth for the future? --- Saturday 9 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin My soul flies from your hand, O Lord, sent forth to live and grow Through famine and through plenty, in sunshine and in snow. In times of trial and worry, of fear or painful testing I fly alone, as ever ̶ yet know your hand in blessing. St Irenaeus described the world as ‘a vale of soul making’. How is your soul being shaped by the current crisis? How do you find the hand of God at work in that? --- Friday 8 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin The Lord makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. Psalm 46 verse 9 As we give thanks today for seventy-five years of relative peace, and remember those who secured it for our continent, strengthen our resolve to make peace in Europe and in all the world today. As we see our continent with your eye’s view there are no divisions or borders, just blessings of the good and fragile Earth we share; may we share those blessings in peace, now and ever. --- Thursday 7 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Chalice made for the cathedral by Carl Krall in 1902 incorporating items of jewellery donated by members of the cathedral family We are the work of your hands Lord, and precious in your sight;precious because you love us and Jesus shed his blood for us.May we drink the cup of his sacrifice today,offering ourselves in costly ways to those around us,mindful that his cup is for us to drink in life, not just in church. Not receiving Communion in church is felt as a deprivation by many, but we can live its meaning in our lives by offering ourselves in our words and deeds as ‘a living sacrifice’ (Romans 12: 1). --- Wednesday 6 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Worcester and Gloucester appear clearly on the Mappa Mundi, but down the centuries Hereford has been almost completely rubbed out by people’s fingers. Dear Lord, I remember today everyone who feels rubbed out: people who are sick or tired, people who are lost without family or friends, people whose lack of work has robbed them of purpose, people who have fallen from sight in the crisis. Help us all to trust that we are not forgotten, not invisible or rubbed out. In due time draw us all afresh again. Do you sometimes feel ‘rubbed out’ in the current situation? Hereford is rubbed out on the Mappa Mundi, but very real in the actual world – and so are you to God. --- Tuesday 5 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Make me an attentive listener, Lord, listening with openness and respect to those who speak with me, understanding what is not said as well as what is. Give me grace to pay attention to the world around, hearing and seeing the signs of the times. Then, when I speak, may I speak with the wisdom that comes to those who listen, and may I, in my turn, be truly heard. Am I a good listener, or while the other speaks do I just think about what I will say next? Pray for the grace to listen with attention and respect, and so to become wise. --- Monday 4 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Ripon Cathedral Crypt, built in 672 AD. Ancient of Days, help me to see that I matter in my day, but that my day is one of many in your countless ages. My life is neither the beginning nor the end of anything, not a first word or a last word. May I be happy in my time to live and die, knowing that you love me with an everlasting love and will never let me go. ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deuteronomy 33: 27). Can I rest secure in the knowledge that, whatever happens, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus? --- Sunday 3 May | Sarah Hollingdale ‘When I awake, I am still with you.’ Psalm 139:18 When we wake up in the mornings, there is that brief moment when we forget what’s going on outside – then we remember, and it can seem overwhelming. Lord, thank you that when wake, you are with us. When we remember what’s happening, you are with us. When we get up to face the day, you are still with us. Saturday 2 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Paint me into being each day O Lord, with brushstrokes round or flat, big or small. Where I am too fussy, paint over me with a big brush; where I am unfocused, tidy me up with delicate detail; where I have gone wrong, scrape off the paint and try again. I am your work of art, Lord, and always will be. God creates us and recreates us all the time; with an artist’s eye he sees where we need correction, and his aim is to make us beautiful. Can I think of myself as one of God’s works of art? Friday 1 May | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Concert by Academia del Ricercare in Sant’Andrea, Vercelli, June 2019 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? (Psalm 137 verse 4) In this strange land, strange time, strange day, give me a song to sing, I pray. Shall I sing you, or you sing me? I know this is the mystery: that when I dare my voice in song I lose myself, and then belong in body, mind and soul to you -- so you sing me, and I sing true. What song can we sing in difficult times? Can we be the Lord’s song today? Thursday 30 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Edward King Chapel, Ripon College Cuddesdon Let me make open space for you within my life, Lord; clear space, empty space, dedicated space, uncluttered and unfussy, where I can be with you and you with me. Is there somewhere, or some time, within each day when you can still yourself and know and feel that God is with you? How can you hold onto that sense during the rest of the day? Wednesday 29 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Vines near Sallèles-d'Aude, France, April 2013 As the vines put out new growth each Spring so may we be made ready to bear good fruit in the days ahead. Thank you that vines can flourish in poor soil; thank you that they can withstand drought and flood; thank you that they can bear winter cold and summer heat; thank you that they bring forth fruit that is a blessing and a grace. Tend us, Lord, as the branches of your vine: you are the vine and we are the branches; bless and keep us all this Spring. Pray that you may be open to God’s quiet feeding of you from within, and that his fruit may be borne for others in your life. Tuesday 28 April | The Reverend Janet Bellamy In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace. From the Benedictus, Luke1:78-9 Monday 27 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Tree on the skyline near Clehonger (September 2018) Clothe me, Lord, with leaves of faith and fill me with the sap of grace, that in the wilderness of these days I might provide strength and shelter to those around me. Let me be deeply rooted in the soil of life, but always stretching up to you. In the midst of tribulation sustain me to point others to your providence and love. May my life be patterned on the tree of the cross, and reveal the tree of life. Am I able sometimes to encourage, cheer and support those around me in the present moment? What roots do I have for my own support and nourishment? Sunday 26 April | Sarah Hollingdale ‘The earth is full of his unfailing love’ Psalm 33:5 Lord, thank you that the earth is full of your love.Help us to see that today –Through the kindness of others,The beauty of your creation,And the care we have for those around us. Saturday 25 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Image of St Mark from a 12th-century English Gospel Book in the Cathedral Library, painted by the so-called Alexis Master. Today we give thanks for St Mark and his Gospel,energetic and breathless to the last,a Gospel that ends without a proper endingexcept that all of us are the ending,all of us who can make the Risen Lord known in this world. How today can I be a living Gospel?Am I good news to those around me? Friday 24 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Graham Sutherland's painting "Noli Me Tangere" (Touch Me Not) in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, Chichester Cathedral Risen Lord, Mary Magdalen longed to touch you as she met you in the garden, but you did not allow her. We too are forbidden from reaching out to touch people we love, and this is hard. May we soon have this natural gift restored to us and know once more what it is to be fully, warmly human. Are you missing being able to reach out in normal humanity to friend and stranger? What other things can we do to express that humanity at the present time? Thursday 23 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Woodcut of St George Slaying the Dragon, from the Life of Saint George (1515) There are dragons of fear and shame and hurt that paralyse my life. They rise from the depths when I least suspect and take me in their grip. When I name them, Lord, and face them out, they cringe and melt away. Give me the strength of good St George on this and every day! Can you recognise and name old wounds that still make life hard? Can you bring them to Christ and ask for healing to begin? Wednesday 22 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin How beautiful and fragile is the Earth on which we live; How vast and how mysterious the universe beyond. Help me, O Lord, to know my smallness in Creation, and the greatness of your love at its heart. Can I rest in the knowledge that I am part of something bigger, and that I am not the centre of the universe? Tuesday 21 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Each April the cathedral gradually becomes hidden from my garden as the leaves of the great lime trees come out; it’s there, but I can no longer see it. It is disappearing now (photo April 20th). It’s easy, Lord, to lose sight of you in the confusions of the moment, as concerns about family, friends and the future fill our minds. Give us moments of calm and clearness of sight to discern your presence in our lives, and to know that past, present and future lie always in your hand. What are your greatest fears at the moment? Are they blotting out your sense of God’s love? Tell him this simply, and ask for the eyes of your heart to be opened. Monday 20 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Job Chapter 14, verse 2: ‘Like a flower, he comes forth, then withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure’. Lord, these are hard words for me to hear, but today I can’t escape their truth. Help me to recognise the fleeting nature of this life, and to give thanks that I have life at all. Strengthen in me the sense that my life belongs to you and that when death comes I will still be with you because I belong to you and you love me. Cast out my fear with the knowledge of your great love. Has the present crisis made you think more about your own death? Is that a bad thing? Sunday 19 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Stones on the beach of St Columba’s Bay, Iona, April 2019 Lord, life’s ocean shapes us by its storms and currents, it mixes us and leaves us where it will. Often we are rounded, shaped and polished by that action; but sometimes we are splintered, chipped and broken. As life’s ocean churns in the present moment may we know that your hand is at work, and that the cracks and rough edges of our brokenness will be made smooth in time by your grace. How have I been roughened by the present experience? Can I identify areas of my character which I could pray to be made smoother? Saturday 18 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin 18th-century newel post with its top worn smooth by many hands, 2 The Close There are things I take for granted, things I seldom notice, places where my hand rests many times a day; In this season of confinement may I cherish my surroundings and give thanks for those who made them, Lord I pray. Is there something you use each day for which you can give thanks? Could you appreciate better the silent companions of your home? Friday 17 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lord Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed for us and for all the world, you carry now the cross in triumph, not defeat; a banner of new life, not a badge of death. Help us so to pass through the death of these dark and fearful days that we can find new strength, new purpose and new life to share when the day of our release occurs. What am I learning now that might alter how I live in the future? How will I carry the cross in triumph, not in sorrow? Lamb of God, from the corbel table of Kilpeck Church, c.1140. Work of the Herefordshire School of stonemasons. Thursday 16 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Vøringsfossen waterfall (almost 200 meters high), and the Måbødalen valley stretching away below, Norway I look to the future, Lord, and see hard places ahead and a rough and tiring pathway. Help me to see, too, that sunshine will warm me and cool water at my side refresh me as I go. I have everything I need in this valley; just help me to recognise this and receive your gifts. What do I fear about the future? Where do I find blessings in the struggle? Wednesday 15 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Eardisley Font: the Risen Christ leads Adam out of Hell (early 12th century, Herefordshire School of Romanesque Sculpture) Easter Lord, drag us out of Hell with Adam. Your hands are wounded, but they reach out still to us.Take us by the hand and lead us out of darkness.Take us by the hand and save us from despair.Take us by the hand and pull us into safety.Take us by the hand and never let us go. We can feel the energy of the Risen Christ in this sculpture. Pray that we may experience the energy of his risen life in our lives today. Tuesday 14 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Emmaus, by Arcabas (Jean-Marie Pirot, d. 2018) Risen Lord, be with us in the breaking of our bread. Churches are locked and the Communion Table deserted, But this does not keep you from us. You enter the locked doors of our homes and sit with us. When we break our bread we break it with you. Open the eyes of our hearts to understand this simple truth. As we eat in our homes, can we pause to remember the presence of Christ, as close as the food we take? Monday 13 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Grunewald, Resurrection panel from the Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1516 Lord Jesus, Burst forth to meet us in our paralysed and darkened world. We are heavy and fearful like the soldiers guarding your body, Like them we miss you when you appear. In your freedom and joy bring us blessings of life and light. Raise us in spirit today, and open our hearts and lives to receive the peace you bring. As you look at this image, pray that the Risen Christ will enter your home with love and peace. During Holy Week, the Dean will be providing an extended daily reflection with accompanying imagery. To view these please click here. Saturday 4 April | Sarah Hollingdale, Eastern Cloisters Project Lord, today we pray for those who cannot be safely at home;We pray for those in hospital,For those who wake up in unfamiliar surroundings,For those who have nowhere to call home,And for the people who don’t feel safe where they live. Friday 3 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin My movement in the world is restricted today; I find myself avoiding people on the street and in the shop; Being out and about seems a hazard, not a joy. If I cannot journey freely in the outer world, Let me now explore within, seeking you. Help me walk the path of memory and desire; Order the steps of my life, and the movement of my heart. Photograph of the labyrinth taken during the Night of the Churches 2019 Thursday 2 April | Erica Manley, Perpetual Trust A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. Wednesday 1 April | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin I sit still with you, Lord, in a quieter world. You know me better than I know myself; My hopes and fears are always open to you; The secret of who I am feels safe with you. In the midst of the world's fears let me to rest with you and find peace. Photo taken at Barguillean, Argyll Tuesday 31 March | The Very Revd Michael Tavinor We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses. Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden Monday 30 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin In the dark I reach towards your light; In the silence I strain to hear your word; In my confusion I cling to you for peace, and in my fragility I lean upon your strength. Be a support, Lord, for those I hold in my heart. Sunday 29 March | The Very Revd Michael Tavinor Today's reflection is from Psalm 121, praying for protection. The Lord himself is thy keeper: the Lord is thy defence upon thy right hand.So that the sun shall not burn thee by day:Neither the moon by night.The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in:From this time forth for evermore. Saturday 28 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin. Lord, there are times when I need propping up and restoring,Times when I feel my weakness and fragility.Thank you for those who support and renew me,Specially those who are supporting me today.Help me show that I appreciate their care,And give me insight to see how I can support others. Friday 27 March | The Very Revd Michael Tavinor Today's reflection is from Psalm 23. He shall feed me in a green pasture:And lead me forth beside the waters of comfort. Thursday 26 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lord, help me to bloom where I am planted, and to rise above everything that presses in around me.Save me from being trodden down by things I cannot control, and make me beautiful in my place and season. Wednesday 25 March | Revd Janet Bellamy Calm me, Lord, as you stilled the storm;Still me, Lord, keep me from harm.Let all the tumult within me cease;Enfold me, Lord, in your peace. Celtic Prayer Tuesday 24 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Young Woman at the Window: Sunset by Henri Matisse Lord, I’m shut in now, cut off and fearful.Give me courage and wisdom and patience.As the sun sets on the life I’ve known strengthen in me the faith that it will rise again.Be with those I love, be with those who have no one to remember them,Be with the lonely, the anxious, the sick and the frustrated.Lord, you have known isolation and fear, be with us in ours. Monday 23 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lord, I feel shut in and cut off from the life I thought I knew. My place in the world seems small and colourless. Let your warmth and light shine into my shrunken soul So that I can be illuminated and expanded within. In the prison of the present times show me that there is a bright world beyond. Sunday 22 March | The Revd Prebendary Ann Barge As we watch and wait in these strange, uncertain timesMay we find comfort in the obedience of the Blessed Virgin MaryWho knew all that it means to be human watching, waiting and ponderingAs she handed over her precious Son Jesus to be the light and hope for this world. Saturday 21 March | The Very Revd Michael Tavinor Today the Dean has provided us with a prayer by Sir Francis Drake reflecting on the idea of patience. O Lord God, when thou givest to thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same to the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Friday 20 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lord, pour your love into my heart, Clear and clean and fresh. So fill me with your love that I may pour it out for others In compassion and in service in these dark days. What I receive from you is not mine to keep, but yours to share; may I share it for the healing of the world. Thursday 19 March | The Revd Canon Chris Pullin Lord, I feel lost in the world, Stripped bare of certainty, Dried up and barren. Help me turn to the warmth of your love And reach out to your presence each new day.