Midday prayer at Lake Bala

The Lord is my Shepherd
There’s nothing else I need.
Led beside still waters and in green pastures:
I am restored to life.

Reflecting on the reflections
In the morning light and the clear air,
The green pastures
And the Welsh mountain sheep.
Coming over the high pass
Into the safe valley:
This landscape speaks in Psalms.

And I will stay in God’s engine shed forever.

JAL 27.02.2019

On the Bala Lake Railway

Anna’s Song

Why not try Anna’s Song as part of your evening prayer. Anna stood alongside Simeon when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple. Simeon’s song, the Nunc dimitiss, is often sung in the evening, so why not have a song for Anna too?

Look there he is,
See where I am pointing:
The one to liberate us all,
To set the world free to spin
And wheel across the universe.
Don’t miss this, see there:
Just look where I am pointing.
Glorious is the Creator,
Glorious is the Companion,
Glorious in the Spirit:
Holy Three, Holy One, now and forever.
Amen, Amen, Amen.

JAL 26.02.2019

Beatitudes on a Welsh mountain at midday

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
Those who feel downhearted, for whom joy is hard to find:
Spring will come for them too.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
In the pure air they will see with clarity
All the Creator’s work.

Blessed are those that mourn,
They with find comfort in remembering.

Blessed are the peacemakers, God’s true children, they shall skip in peaceful paths and inherit the kindom.

Midday prayers 26.02.2019

An evening office, walking in Wales

The walk began in the dusk,
A pinky purple fringe still lit the horizon.
A small bat blazed the trail ahead,
As we wound our way along a track.
Littered with twigs and stones,
The uneven ground kept us guessing.
A stream, a wooden bridge, a path uphill;
The station nestles beside the line.
Later the stars said it all:
You are wonderfully made,
An integral part of this enormous universe.

Remembered Bible
Look at the stars:
Can you count them?
Lift your eyes to the skies.
Look at the skyline,
The purple headed mountains:
Lift your eyes to the hills.
Be still and know God.

We give thanks
For the pattern of our days;
For the relationships that mend and sustain us;
For our memories of those who have died;
For the hope that is in us.
Holy One, hear us.

Nunc Dimitiss 
Now let your servant go in peace
According to your Word,
For I have seen the lifeline you have prepared for me and for all people,
To be a light to outsiders and a challenge to insiders.
And a glory to you forever Creator, Companion and Spirit,
As the universe spins on and on.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

JAL 25.02.2019

Inspired at Coed-y-Bleiddiau, North Wales.
Being the anniversary of the birthday of my late Mother, Anne Lees.

Retirement poem

Will it be like this every day when we retire?
Will we sit reminiscing round the fire,
After walking in the woods
And eating several puds:
Will it be like this every day when we retire?

Will it be like this every day when we retire?
Will there be subjects about which we enquire?
Will we lay here all day
Having such a lot to say
Will it be like this every day when we retire?

Will it be like this every day when we retire?
When at last we cease to perspire
After moving things around
To unite the lost and found.
Will it be like this every day when we retire?

JAL 01.11.2018 / 01.01.2019/25.02.2019

The remains of the bed

We have dismantled our bed. We shall sleep on the mattresses for our last week here, just as we did when we moved in. It’s difficult to know what was holding the bed together: fluff and hope perhaps.
Under the bed, I found £2.41 in change, only £1.41 of which is still legal tender. We’ve made a temporary bed out of 3 old mattresses. It’s like indoor camping.
We’re now into the last week of clearing up. Yesterday’s find included a quote from 1992. A notice seen in a hospital: ‘Due to funding problems the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off‘. Maybe things didn’t seem that different in 1992.
Ten years in in this house, and nearly 28 years of marriage we’ve got through a couple of beds at least. There’s been a lot of fluff but also a lot of hope.
Remembering beds in the Bible I recall Jesus saying to one person he met, who’s friends had taken the roof off: ‘Take up your bed and move on‘. And so we do, leaving fluff behind, but travelling in hope.

In our life and our believing
The love of God

JAL 17.02.2019

Letters from the past

Thank you for seeing Sally. She responds well to your style.
Thirty years later, having re-read many letters dating back thirty years, I’m still puzzling about what my style was or is.

Let me put you in the pitcher
The words of a Yorkshire woman who was bringing me up to date with her family. Like many the complexity of family life it looks sparse on the written page. We catch a glimpse of survival.
Other similar letters updated me about young people who would now be in their 40s and who would be living with the impairments and challenges of their history and health like ripples from their personal big bang.

Thank you for your help
And many thanks for asking me and for the encouragement I got from all of you.

We would like to invite you to take part…
From weddings to conferences to gatherings of all shades, shapes and sizes.

Guess what? First conker!
That one from mum. She knew just what to send. Much missed.

Lots of thanks, love, best wishes for birthdays, Christmas and other occasions.

I’m sorry I’ve not written recently
I’m sure I must have sent this phrase as often as I received it. Unfortunately it remains true. There seems to be a common feeling that we don’t spend enough time and effort on keeping in touch with each other.

Reading all of these again has filled out the gaps, plumped up the personal connections and bought back a rich tapestry of relationships that thankfully has sustained me over these four decades or more (I’ve not yet found anything from before my 20th year). So much for tidying up. As for what to throw away, I’m honestly no nearer knowing.

In our life and our believing

The love of God

JAL 14.02.2019

Forgetting stuff

Still moving house. Still sorting out. It’s time travelling for beginners. The furthest back I got yesterday was 1986. Then today we found the telegrams that Bob’s parents received for their wedding in 1947.
I also realised that recently I’d forgotten a lot of the stuff in the middle. Not completely forgotten but certainly lost track of the complexity of it all. For example, how involved I was with Surestart in Sheffield or being a school governor in Sheffield.
For too long now my horizon has been bounded by what happened a few years ago. As a result my memories are a bit unbalanced by those negative things with the more positive stuff being pushed further away, buried even. So it’s been good to find each precious bundle of paper, representing a project or training session, or letters from friends or proofs of books. Some day someone may tell some of these stories; minstrels may sing songs about them.
Most of it is now going into recycling. But it has been good to catch up with those events again. My air ticket to Jamaica, photographs of Iona, notes of speech therapy lectures and papers I’d delivered: all there waiting to reconnect and remind me of the real Janet Lees and her journey. Thanks to those of you who played apart: the encouraging ones.

In our life and our believing
The love of God

JAL 13.02.2019

Christ of the scrapheap

Some things are difficult to move. That’s when you’re very glad that Jesus turns up, with his ginger beard and lovely smile. ‘Please could I have your dishwasher’ he asks. ‘I recycle the metal’, he exlains. It seems a good idea, along with 2 broken lawn mowers, a broken metal chair, some unwanted chicken wire, an old barbecue, and finally the washing machine that stopped working a fortnight ago. What a lot of stuff!
Bob reminded me that for some of the steel works he used to visit as Chaplain in Sheffield it was pre-used metal that was the beginning of the forging process. Even so recyclers like this door to door collector have collected a lot of negative stereotypes, not least the name Rag and Bone men. This phrase has been doing the rounds for several hundred years and the forbears of today’s collector mostly lived in extreme poverty. The current incarnation was a strong young man with a medium sized truck. More a dog and bone man, for his cab companion and his mobile. ‘Phone me back in 5 minutes’, he told his caller. Then he heaved the items onto the back of the truck. It’s not a profession I’d be strong enough to join.
After a further trip to the Oxfam warehouse and then another to the municipal tip we’d had a morning of encountering Christ, George McLoed style, on rubbish heaps.

I collected in the morning when the day had begun,
I collected at noon and at the set of sun,
I came up your street, a dog on my seat,
And collected stuff until the day was done.
Recycle stuff, whoever you may be,
Don’t throw away what can be reused you see,
The earth is fragile and we’re making it a tip,
It don’t take long to make a recycling trip.

(tune is, Lord of the Dance)

Scrapheap Christ,
Hanging there, flies buzzing,
May your presence on the rubbish tips of the world
Remind us of our responsibilities
To reuse and recycle
And so tred gently on the earth.

JAL 04.02.2019

Moving back

I’m humming a song as I sort things out: We are moving in the light of God. It’s a traditional song from South Africa and much of the stuff I’m sorting through is connected to my time in South Africa.
I first went in 1984 and the last time was 1994 so my visits span the last decade of Apartheid. I learnt more there than why we didn’t eat South African apples back then. We were witnesses to the end of Apartheid in 1994.
I’ve unearthed photos, art, poetry, fabric, letters, diaries. All moving stuff. Now to decide where to move it to? I’ve given some away: poetry and pictures. What will I write about from all of this. The journey from naive 20 something to mother of a 3 month old daughter, these were some of the most influential years of my life, shaping, molding and changing me. Of course something didn’t change: I was still a white European woman. But there were things that carried me through every day of my ministry. One was Desmond Tutu speaking to the Eloff Commission in the 1980s with words Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome centuries before.
Nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Jesus Christ‘.
I have said it at every funeral I have conducted, remembered it and prayed it in many more circumstances on many days.
I am moving in the light of God, and in the love of Jesus Christ.
In our life and our believing

The love of God

JAL 30.01.2019