know hope | the hopes sessions #10

20 05 2016

It’s funny what you end up doing
when you pray.
after the no, hope post
a lady from our church painted ‘hope’
on small stones
and left them around the skatepark
and they’ve all been taken
like hope, scattered

Know Hope skatepark .001

I took the advice of a friend who suggested
instead of a comma making
no, hope
adding two letters
so I did
[in chalk, I hasten to add]
then I got carried away
and added a flower and a heart

we pray that all who skate over this
may know hope
not no hope
but a hope rooted and grounded in
joy and peace

This is my first foray into tarmactivisim. 
I liked it so much I made up the word.


bus stop | the hopes sessions #9

17 05 2016

the bus stop outside church
a place of waiting
a place to gather to
and then to go from
a place strangers become
fellow passengers
a place on the way to another place
but not the place itself


a place a lot like church, really.

bench | the hopes sessions #8

1 05 2016

Bench. Outside a hospital.
For paramedics to smoke.
Patients to get fresh air.
Relatives to spot the irony.


Sometimes hope needs a hospital.
Hope gets ill. Tired.

Sometimes hope is a hospital.
Hope gives life. Strength.

Sometimes hope just sits outside.
On a dirty bench.
Come sit with me.
I’m not much to look at.
But hope can sit anywhere.
Even here.


no, hope | the hopes sessions 7

27 04 2016

No hope. Scrawled across the floor at the skate park. Not your average graffiti. I don’t know what it means to the person who wrote it. Or those who ride over it. Maybe it’s a deep statement of existential angst. Maybe someone just kept falling over. Maybe it’s the name of a band.


It spoke to me. Because it is just, there. Slipping it’s message into the minds of those who see it. Pulling down. Sucking out the colour in life.

We are hope people. We might be hope people by hanging out with kids at the skate park. We might be hope people by playing football and trying to model a different way. We might be hope people by standing on no hope and praying. We might be hope people by trying to bring hope with our words and our actions and not just our thoughts.

We must be hope people. The message of no hope is insidious, taking root like bindweed, tearing apart identity and character and repeating itself across generations.

The message of hope puts the colour into the monochrome, breathes life, brings a smile each time you skate over the old graffiti. No hope? No, hope.

religious archeology

4 05 2012

Religious archeology? What’s that, a cross between Tony Robinson enthusiastically digging up a dusty pew and Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou earnestly making stuff up [surely, digging stuff up? Ed.] to get on TV?

Neither actually. I came across this fascinating concept whilst meeting with the chaplaincy team at our local specialist cancer hospital. They were talking about how many people, when facing death or its possibility, often turn back to their concepts of God and religion they had when they were previously ‘spiritually active’. Or just went to church. As often people he would talk to were older people, who went to Sunday School etc… and then grew up and grew out of church, in order to understand the God they understand you need to go back to the 1950’s or thereabouts. Once you understand how God was understood back then, you can begin to find a way to relate to these new seekers. 

Religious archeology, then. Digging down through the decades to discover what paradigms and concepts and understandings of God to start with. You can’t take 21st century concepts of God and expect them to slot comfortably over these dusted-off concepts.

The chaplain added a note of caution though. Because he said that these people, who are ill now, are the last generation of people who had a pretty much guaranteed Christian foundation, even it was the basics of Sunday School. In 10 or 20 years those people who are facing imminent death, and therefore begin to search for meaning and becoming open to the possibilities of God, will have nothing to dig for. There will be no paradigm for God, no matter how 1950’s. Just a murky muddy quagmire of pop theology, folk religion and wishful thinking – if even that – which will serve to provide little in the way of comfort, let alone a bridge back to the God they never believed in.

Of course, it can be true that having no paradigm for God can be more helpful than having a bad one. But without one at all we are limiting the chances people will be open to searching for God at all. And this gives me hope and it gives me encouragement for some of the tasks that I perform that can seem to tedious, pointless, and theologically dubious. For some, what we call ‘occasional offices’ – baptisms, weddings and funerals (or hatches, matches and dispatches) – are central to their ministry. I try to see it like that, but more often than not the time taken to perform a service in which no-one else believes in God can seem a little… hypocritical. And time-consuming.

But instead of seeing it like that, on my good days I see it like giving the religious archeologists of the future something to dig for. If I can give these people, usually now with little or no church background, a snippet of a positive memory of the church, a small but significant encounter with the church – which for them equates with an encounter with God – in which the church say yes and you’re welcome, the church says Jesus loves you and the church says come, then it’s no longer a waste of time.

Like planting a seed-bomb on a wasteland, you don’t know if it will grow, but the hope is always there. 


the hopes sessions /6/ cracks

8 04 2011


Hopes are rising.

So your life has many cracks.
If God is real, why doesn’t God fill in the cracks?

Because we are not meant to be made of concrete.
We are not meant to be brittle, hard, baked and unbreakable.
We flex. We bend. We bruise.
Sometimes we crack. Sometimes we grow flowers.

God doesn’t make the cracks to grow flowers in.
But God can fill the cracks with flowers.

the hopes sessions /5/ box

7 04 2011

park here

Hopes are rising.

Park in the box we are told.
Then you won’t get told off we are told.
Then you will be safe we are told.

A secret. Hopes are found outside the box.
God is not in the box.
There is no box.

We are not meant to be safe.

the hopes sessions /4/ stump

6 04 2011

when hopes are stumped

Hopes are rising.

Sometimes hopes can be stumped. Cut down. Dead.
There is no life. Only crumbling death.

From that dead stump, new life can grow.
Different life, unexpected life.
Resurrected life.

There is always hope.

the hopes sessions /3/ pillars

5 04 2011

hopes resting

Hopes are rising.

Sometimes hopes can be found in the familiar things.
The familiar sight of a red post box.
The familiar sight of an ordinary life.
The pillars on which our lives are based.

There may well be graffiti, mess and an untidiness to the everyday pillars.
They may sometimes be full of fear. Or shame. Or boredom.
The pillars always have hopes resting on them.

May those hopes be the strongest pillar of all.

the hopes sessions / 2 / doorstep

4 04 2011

hope on the doorstep

Hope is rising.

Sometimes hope can be found right on the doorstep.
Sometimes hope is trampled on.
Sometimes hope is a springboard for more hope.

This doorstep  is where the youth club meets.

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