Saturday, 14 April 2018


Curled up in a caravan
on a Scottish summer's day,
rain dripping down the windows,
the intermittent blast of a fog horn
reminding me of the presence of the sea.
Books fill the time
and are consumed rapidly.
When the pile brought from
Glasgow is diminished
any book will do in a storm.
One of these books was
"A lifetime in Paradise"
a caravan book,
left behind on the shelf,
during the empty months
when caravan living was
The story of Jimmy McGrory,
a boy from Glasgow,
who grew up to play
for Celtic, and Scotland,
and who made Hampden roar!
An unlikely book
for a Rangers fan to
keep in his caravan,
but my Dad's deep
allegiance to Rangers
never narrowed his view
or love of football.
It is a beautiful game,
and McGrory revealed that
in the pages of his book.
At Hampden today
as the ball was
and shot home
by an on form
Motherwell team,
that beauty remains,
even in the middle of
a crowd where I often
feel I don't naturally fit,
but then neither did McGrory
as he threw himself
towards the ball,
to head home
a goal for Scotland
that made the
stadium erupt!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

I am a commuter (sounds deeply uncreative)

Early Morning Train Journeys

Find your position
Not too close
Place yourself for the doors
Glasgow Central Staion
The next train at platform 1 is the...
Who will press the button
To gain the
Mind the gap...
Front facing
Claim the space
The next stop is...
Enter the privilege of the seated
The chance to escape to a fictional world
Or prepare your face for the day
This train is for...
Segments of  conversations
From others' worlds
That we do not inhabit
Please keep all belongings with you...
The smell of bacon rolls
Contrasting starkly
With earlier consumed muesli
Alight here for...
Packing begins
After our temporary residence
Shuffling escape
This train will terminate...
Walking confidently
Hoping for a smooth barrier

Friday, 19 January 2018

MERRY 23rd February 2004 to 3rd December 2017, aged 13 years.

He was just a dog.
A dog that filled our lives.
A dog that drove us to distraction,
A dog we will never forget,
and who we loved deeper than we ever expected.

We were his everything,
On the stairs waiting for his welcome home hug,
Just the right height location,
4 steps up.
His head fitting perfectly on our shoulders.

Always present,
the house is empty.
Empty of barks,
there were lots of barks,
the "someone at the door" bark,
the "let's play" bark,
the "I want out" bark,
"Can I come back in now" bark,
"What you doing sitting there" bark,
"It is dinner time" bark (how dare you
make yours and not mine!).

Paw steps on the floor,
slobbery drinking,
his back presented for a stroke,
the thump as he lay down
at the front door
protecting his pack.

Life was full of joy
for Merry,
A branch of a tree
Carried with pride.
The sea!
A river!
A muddy puddle!
Trotting with happiness
through a park
down a lane
across a beach
round the garden.

How we miss you Merry
You were a loved dog
Part of our family
Thank you for your love and life...

Monday, 11 December 2017

On His Shoulders

Flying high
My feet leaving the ground
Up high
On his shoulders
Too high
Gripping on tight
Causing temporary sight loss
to my giant Dad

Running to keep up
Tiny feet
following big feet

Walking alone
but still connected
Feet walking in step
down a church aisle
following the one
who called us both

Stepping together
down hospital corridors
steps slowing
gentle steps
at zimmer speed
twilight journeys
full of love

A final journey
lifted high on the strong shoulders
of men, who as boys he
had sat on his.

He flies high
he soars
with no fear
no pain
no tears
on the shoulders
of Him who brings us home

Thursday, 8 June 2017

On the eve of a birthday

Held ransom by love

Through a blur of morphine induced fug
I saw his face
Smelt his smell
gazed into his sleepy eyes
My son
My first child
The love present during pregnancy
in a sense of fear, hope, terror, joy

A while later
when the love for him was deeper
than anything ever known
that love
was expanded
and was poured out
for his sister
experience giving her a
bright and alert start to life

We are now held ransom by their love
that will never be paid
and freedom never achieved
We don't want that freedom
our lives and love are entwined
We are captured

As they establish themselves
as adults
and we wave goodbye
at airports
and watch as they
live their lives

We are held ransom by love
for ever


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Not a normal conference...a Messy one!

Thinking about what it means that Jesus became a servant and washed his friends' feet
This is not  a report, there will be a time for that, for just now this is just a few words to try to express for others the privilege I had to be at the Messy Church Conference in London this week.

Messy Church Time
Reflecting on reaping
You don't need to spend a lot of time with me to know that I love Messy Church. I am still a huge advocate of Messy Church since the conference but in a new and deeper way. I was reminded by George Lings that the values are the heart of Messy Church, they are not the skeleton of it, that is the programme and the way we do things. As George so skilfully said our skeleton is incredibly useful but it does not bring life to the person. Neither does the Messy Church programme bring life, it is the values that do that - hospitality, creativity, celebration, all age, and most important of all Christ centred.

Messy Church is fresh and new and young, it is these elements that make it so appealing to me, it is free of bureaucracy, committees, and hierarchies. I pray that it stays that way and it doesn't get embroiled in some of the strangulations of the traditional church,  with Lucy, Jane, and Martyn at the helm this in unlikely, but we must pray for wisdom.

Justin Welby addressed the conference and I found his words deeply moving, he explained how we have often thought of passing on the faith in a linear process but in Messy Church it happens in a circle, with all of us together - looking at each other, sharing with each other, eating, creating, learning, growing and worshipping together with glitter, glue, games, fun, and food all thrown in as well!

The Bible
Communion table

It was great to meet people from all over the world, learn new songs from Australia, start a Messy Church partnership with the Danish Messy Church, and to discover that growing Messy Church does not necessarily mean multiplying but deepening. How we do we get to know each other in messy Church better so that we can grow closer to Jesus? How can we help all ages get the most from Messy Church (a place just to chat about the theme and not do anything? A reflective prayer space to meet God on our own) Can starting to serve be the first steps to following Christ? What other fabulously Messy things can we do together that will bring us all closer to Christ?

Story time with Lucy
High Leigh

A Messy Church can seem very different from a traditional church, but the more Messy I become the more I realise that perhaps Messy Church has all the characteristics of the first church and as George Lings so carefully explained to us actually reflects the sacred spaces of monasteries - more of that later!

I really missed having children around, it seemed really strange to be at Messy Church (even if it was a conference) without them. Messy Church is rich because we have all ages together, with all our messiness (our mistakes, our failings, our sins) we are the poorer without different generations in our midst. Martyn Payne really helped with this at one of our "conversation" groups, he said we are used in the traditional church to being in separate age groups and our all together times being the unusual times, Messy Church turns this on its head, we will still have separate times for different ages, but these will be the unusual times, our "norm" will be the altogether times. Looking forward to much more all together Christ Centred messiness!


Friday, 15 April 2016

Messy Family Fun Holiday

Scripture Union Scotland (SUS) have been organising holidays for children and young people for over 70 years. This year we decided to offer a pioneering new holiday event, a Messy Holiday! Held at Lendrick Muir, the SUS outdoor centre near Kinross in Perthshire, this attracted families from all over Scotland – some were already part of Messy Congregations, for others this was their first Messy experience.


For 4 days families played, ate, worshipped, learned, and prayed together in beautiful surroundings. It was brilliant to see theMessy Church values as a reality, not just for a couple of hours, but throughout every part of our days together as we were hospitable, celebratory, all age, creative, and Christ centred.


We began with a BBQ out on the lawn (yes this was Scotland in April) with chat and lots of bubble blowing, after all shouting a huge “thank you” to God for the food. On our last evening together we had a bonfire in the woods. Lucy, who is 3, asked to sing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so”. As older and younger voices sang out these ancient words, without any musical accompaniment, I was deeply touched by God, as He reminded me this is what we long for everyone to know – the love of God found in the bible. Thank you Lucy for reminding me!


Before every meal we had our Messy Church time together using the fabulous Messy Family Fun Book, discovering more about Jesus together – his friends, his miracles, his prayers and his death and resurrection. There was also a bear hunt, a wide game, a bouncy castle and lots of good chat and games.


Everyone is asking “When is the next one?” better get planning!