Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Mental Health First Aid

Last week I completed the online Mental Health First Aider course; it was a full on week with lots of virtual teaching, group activities as well as self learning.  It has been really beneficial to supplement my knowledge and skills for supporting people with mental health issues and those in crisis.

Yesterday my certificate arrived so I can now announce that I am officially a Mental Health First Aider; joining 3 million others around the world supporting people in workplaces, communities and online.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

Walk the Walk: Sermon 27th Sept 2020

Today is the final of our four Creation Time services and I want us to think about what we are called to do as part of our faith and how we can practically live that out as individuals, as a church and as a community.

Our readings today all relate to God’s call on people.  

Exodus continues the story of Moses which we’ve been hearing for the last few weeks.  Today we hear the Lord tell Moses to do as he is commanded, to perform a miracle making a snake from a staff; and Moses does as he was told.  Then the Psalm recounts others of Moses’ miracles and how he followed God’s instructions to lead the people safely out of Egypt.

Our gospel reading is the powerful account of Jesus’ authority being questioned by the chief priests in the temple; and impressively he manages to keep his calm.  The priests had heard Jesus’ teaching “By what authority are you doing these things?”  “And who gave you this authority?”  Of course Jesus answered in a parable, telling the temple elders that he and they, and we as readers of this parable, are all called to follow God.  It was a slightly more nuanced “will you just get on with it!” or in my words “seriously, isn’t it obvious?”

So what does this have to tell us in this season of creationtide?

Well it’s that “seriously!” which jumped out at me.  It’s a phrase I can be heard shouting at the TV when I think about the actions that nations and large companies aren’t taking to reduce the impacts we are making on the environment.

Businesses and Governments fly executives and politicians around the world for meetings which could happen online; Seriously?

Banks won’t move your investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy; Seriously?

Companies are still burning the Amazon forest for farming, this was an issue when I was at school; Seriously?

The news reports barely cover the fires burning in the arctic or the melting of the thwaites glacier; Seriously?

Politicians downplay fires on the west coast of the USA as being about forest management rather than climate change; Seriously?

Wealthy nations, including the UK, hesitate to transfer their share of finance and technology to poor and climate-vulnerable countries; Seriously?

The list goes on and on and on; Seriously? 

In Jesus’ parable these actions fit firmly into the actions described in verse 30 ““Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing (“will you work in the vineyard”). He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  

Seriously?  You said you would, but you didn’t!

That sounds a lot like all the times we hear leaders make promises to change their ways, to improve their impact on the planet, to make a fairer world and to put their money where their mouths are.  But very little happens, just more words.  Talking the talk is often an effective way of avoiding walking the walk.   

And I will happily hold my hands up and say that I am just as guilty of that.  I find it hard to know what I can do to reduce my negative impact on the planet and hard even to do those things I know I should.   I struggle to turn the heating down because we’re not used to wearing jumpers inside; I struggle to buy products without plastic packaging because it isn’t as convenient; I struggle to restrict our travel because we enjoy visiting new countries. 

But something has made it easier; and that was the enforced lockdown due to Covid 19.  One of the few benefits of the lockdown was how much more aware I became of the natural world around and our impact on the environment. 

I became so much more thankful for our garden and the blessings of the animals and plants which we had time to stop and admire.  I became more thankful for being able to sit in the garden and hear nothing but birds and people in their gardens; no planes, no cars, none of the background noise which we are used to. As a family we have been amazed by how much less stuff we need in our lives.  We were never big consumers anyway but being in lockdown has made us more aware of how we can plan our meals to avoid waste and how to consider what we actually need to buy; it is surprisingly little.

I remember speaking to Mike in May about how this could actually see society change for the better; that everyone would notice what really matters and focus on improving the world for the better.  I really thought that as a society we would learn from the lockdown and emerge from it wanting to buy less, care more, and reduce our unnecessary travel.  I had such hope.   

Sadly the leaders of our nation seem intent to take us back to the consumer culture we had before lockdown, rather than imagine a brave new world.   But as Christians we are led by a different leader, we are led by God’s instruction to us to care for the whole of creation; it’s right there in Genesis "The Lord God took the man (and woman) and put them in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Genesis 2:15).  

So what should we be doing to take care of creation?

I think we should take our lead from the young people who are taking the issues seriously; who are refusing to accept the status quo and demanding change.  We need to be aware that our actions, or lack of actions, affects the weakest in the world and the generations to come.  We need to be brave, to make a change and to model that to others.  We need to walk the walk even more. 

We need to make even more positive changes in our own lives and the life of the church, we need to care for creation and to model that to other people, inspiring them to do likewise.

Creation is in crisis.  Yes, seriously!

So how can we walk the walk?

We can join more campaigns and sign more petitions and write more letters to our MPs.  These things might seem pointless but they put pressure on our leaders and when we all do it we have an impact  

We need to think more about decisions we make with our energy providers and car choices and purchases of other items - let's use companies that are committed to reducing their climate impact.

We need to take action, make tangible changes.  We need to stop and seriously listen to what God is telling us to do as individuals and as a church to care for the world.

If this year of lockdown and changes to the way we live has taught us anything it must be that we can adapt and change, that we can re-assess how we have always lived and improve things.   

God’s call on our lives has seldom been so vital to the survival of life on earth, and it doesn’t matter if we’ve got it wrong until now.  We have the opportunity to correct the interpretation of our purpose on earth as ‘domination’; we can relearn how to live in partnership with the planet and to manage it fairly, not to pillage it for our own benefit. 

Jesus says in Matthew chapter 21 “even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe”? 

Let’s not fall into that trap.  Let’s start insisting on change from our leaders and businesses and make changes in our everyday knowing that it is part of our lives as disciples.

Let's pray :

Living God, you call us to be good stewards of this earthly home, strengthen us to care for your creation; 

forgive us when, through our greed and indifference we abuse its beauty and damage its potential. 

Empower us, through your Spirit to so nurture and love the world, that all creation sings to your glory. 


Monday, 21 September 2020

Beneath the surface


Beneath the surface
Layers of unseen blessing
Mine your potential


Until a couple of years ago I didn't know that I had artistic ability hidden away inside me, I believed what the art teachers had told be at school.

With a tricky lockdown winter ahead it's good to focus on something positive, how about discovering the potential you have hidden away inside you. What could you try?

Hope transcending


Hope transcending
Faith calling
Words corralling
Tune humming

Yeast maturing
Dough kneading
Salt adding
Heat rising

Vision changing
Body embracing
Mirror dancing
Mindful observing

Impact examining
Family baking
Memory slipping
Peace creating

Vow breaking
Guilt hiding
Stitch punching
Fabric weaving

Trip taking
Transport checking
Coil stretching
Photo taking

Sky warping
Shared weeping
Secret trusting
Friendship aging

Creed writing
Patience stretching
Diamond glinting
Heat waning

Leaf falling
Scarf choosing
Autumn calling
Cloud dreaming


A poetic exploration of all autumn in its various meanings.

Keep straight and narrow


Messiness of life
Distilled into finer points
Aged to perfection
Keep straight and narrow
Avoid falling down deep holes
But enjoy each step

Warming hands and hearts


Nights start closing in
Gathering round the firepit
Warming hands and hearts

Pressurised stories


High rise skyscrapers
Pressurised stories building
Free geology

Map of a new, better world


My hands are unbelievably shaky today. I'm not sure why, it just happens sometimes as part of my #fnd

Instead of stressing about it and getting annoyed, I thought I'd embrace it. So here is what happened when I let the shakes do their thing in a mindful drawing of squiggles.

I think it looks like a map, perhaps it's a map of a new world, a world of peace and equality and compromise would be nice. A dream world.

What do you see?

You are loved


You are loved
Love keeps expanding
Love wants to be shared
Love is your greatest gift



Breathe deeply
Let go of anxiety
Release your soul to run free
Slow not fast
Row rivers of glass
Avoid pirates with cutlass
Take it slowly
Waters may be murky
But your sail boat is ready
Scene uphill
Fairy lights sparkle
Not dots before eyes, be still
Healthy vigour
Balanced with hot sugar 
We're all part of earth's flora
Prayerful sustenance
Faith grows with dissidence
Blank pages await utterance
No limitation
Partners' anticipation
Criminally anxious situation
Ripen lightly
Hailstorms fall nightly
Obscuring pain completely
Dream vacations
Human expectations
Forgotten safety limitations
Silent tea
Blessing you and me
Calming our storms at sea
Don't look back that way
Acceptance come what may
Picture perfect
History in neglect
Truth emerges with tough effect
Wall of mist
Memories may often twist
Trauma discovered in the midst



Joined in with the slow drawing squiggles led by @amymaricle this evening.

Really relaxing to squiggle and then see where they take you. This one took two routes; first to frame a sunset; second to embrace colour.

Grayson Perry - Drawing what I can't see


If you'd like to watch me chatting to Grayson Perry about what I can see or not, and how art brings me joy, then here is the clip on Channel 4

What a crazy 15 minutes of fame on the television talking to the inspirational Grayson Perry on Channel4 about sight loss, disability, FND, lockdown, creativity, art and mental health.

You should be able to watch it on catch up if you missed it

I just hope I might have helped some people know that there's so much beauty and hope in the world. As well as raising awareness about #fnd #sightloss
#disability #faithandmentalhealth
#mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #hope #faith 

See less

Nature inspiration


Nature inspired mindful drawing this afternoon in the sunshine. It is wonderful to zoom together with people across the country and create and chat.

Seek and you will find


In our morning prayer last Wednesday we had the reading from 1Corinthians 13 about love
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
In amongst these words I know so well two new words jumped out at me
These became the theme of the image you can see.
Every day we should seek love and know we will find love; it might not be in the way we're necessarily expecting, but it is there to be found.
I then thought about what else we can seek for each in expectation of finding them. Here are some I came up with, would you add any more?

Empty trains hum


Empty trains hum
As bees alight in the rain
Dying breeds harvest petals
As doubtful offerings
Like driftwood rotting
Dates counted in loss
Roe deer school passengers
Under majestic moonlight
Damp soil heals sweetly
As ankles tear apart fate
Nothing destroys dreams
On solstice landing days
Cliffs erode in honour
Inadvertently exposing
Crystalline fabrics glint
Once lost, now found
Ripples of centuries reflect
Joyful timeless memories

Which way up?


I've had a lot of messy fun with a piece of abstract art this afternoon. I painted it one way up and wasn't sure about it. So I turned it and it spoke to me in a different way. I turned it again and seemed to have a different meaning. And again a fourth.
So how do I know which one it's meant to be?

Free to dream again


Here are six double haiku which were written as I doodled this piece in mindful drawing.
Four walls closing in
Exhausted but scared to sleep
Nerves stretched much too thin
Nature connection
Expanding both lungs and mind
Free to dream again
Forgotten dreaming
Seagulls fly over the moon
Ready steady go
Twenty four seven
Trolley bus passengers sing
Swans chasing their luck
Closed hearts slowly die
Parchment locks away desires
Tombstone of disease
Lone Bee funeral
Honey mustard yellow flags
Clover milk nectar
Impending clouds rain
Water ripples into caves
Crisp amnesia
Childhood forgotten
Losing Cultural ID
Simmering worry
Kiss luminously
Lucky stars celebrating
Nostalgia may lie
Even angels sigh
Into the chaos we fly
Old books reminisce
Haunted by laughter
Danger in Euphoria
Black condensation
Villains stalk sadness
Preying on the vulnerable
Trust me with the truth

What do you see in this artwork?


I drew this yesterday as a piece of mindful drawing, combining two slow drawing techniques

I felt compelled to stop drawing at this point. I didn't need to get on with something else, nor did I feel that I liked what I'd drawn particularly, I just felt this piece was done.

I don't think I've really felt that before, that a piece of mindful drawing is "finished". So I'm wondering whether it has something to communicate to people.

So tell me please,
what do you think this picture represents?
What does it say to you?
What is it?

Here are some answers given by people on facebook:

To me, it’s three people travelling on a road together. The first impression of who the trio might be was you, Mike and Rachel on your journey together in your lives. Then my brain sparked to another trio, the two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus with Jesus. This brought a little wordplay to mind, thank you Emma for sharing this with us 😉 Emma-us.


Beginning of Triplets

On life's journey, there are times when the view through the 'porthole' is not clear and we don't understand it. That can mean different things of different magnitude to different people - for some, just a moment that barely means anything, to others where it is longer, more challenging, maybe with difficult consequences. But the reality that your drawing shows is that, whilst they may happen more than once, they are contained and are not continuous. The beautiful journey of life is continuous throughout. It gave me hope

Seeds in the wind

For me I see fingerprints or cells. Each is unique/has its own purpose/is designed, yet all are connected and journey forward together being part of a bigger picture. Some are only just on the path others fully on the path..either is ok and good, no judgement, it is simply the way it is. What feels important is the journeying together and going in the same direction..which in your image is up, for me this feels very positive.

maybe I have too much of a virus mind atm - I see blood cells moving through veins, carrying goodness to each cell in our bodies, healing us, flowing through us from our creator.

I see someone putting fingerprints surrounded by the virus.
Strangely the virus is all round, and right up to, but not actually on the fingerprints.

Broken Conkers with stripes

The biologist in me says parasitic oocytes surrounded by bacteria! That's what goes of taking a third year option in parasitology at uni all those years ago.




And finally, a poem inspired by the image

Am I a Poet
Or just a writer of poetry?
What is the criteria
Volume or quality?
Publication, infamy
Or respected ideology?
Perfectly clear, apparently
I'm a poet, emotionally
It's time to be celebratory
Not wait till my obituary
It's part of my identity
Communicating creatively
A funny little poem exploring what it means to be a poet.

Fires Burn #arctic #california


Fires burn
Out of control
Action needed quick
Don't be timid
Be brave, shout loud
Planet on the brink!

Purposeful Precision


I created the artwork this afternoon over a couple of hours of mindful drawing. I wasn't sure what to write to accompany the artwork but the idea of purposeful precision began twirling in my mind and so I thought I'd have a go at this poetic form. I hope you like so of the creations from the original drawing to the digital variations and the poetic creation.
Purposeful Precision
Through little Verifiable Vision
Creating Chaotically
Drawing Deliberately
Minimising Mindfully
Purposeful Precision
It's a Dramatic Decision
Writing and Wondering
Living Lightly
Loving Luminously
Purposeful Precision
I'm Ignoring Imperfection
Avoiding Assimilation
By Berating Boredom
Deliberately Denying Doubt
Purposeful Precision
With Creative Competition
Ensures Eager Enhancement
Friendly Fruitfulness
And Pandemic Prohibition
Purposeful Precision
Overwhelms Obligation
Halts Hierarchy
Ballooning Brightness between
Effervescent Exhibitions
Purposeful Precision
Affable Apparition
Triumphant Tales
Heighten Healing
Living, Loving, Lyricism
Poetic Form: Dancing Alliteration
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