New Book News!



We arrived back from a few days away to find that, as usual, some post had built up behind the door.  One of the envelopes was quite fat, and it contained a contract for a new book with BRF!  Good news!  It’s a book on the I Am sayings of Jesus,  with an emphasis on how we can respond, and embed these deep truths in our lives.

This book idea began when I was writing a series of meditations for BRF’s Quiet Spaces and found there were too  many ideas, too much to say, to compress into that concentrated format.  I am so grateful they were open to the idea of reading more.   I have till next May to write it, so it will be a while before it is available, but I shall keep you posted on this blog, and hopefully post a few snippets for you to try for yourselves.

I would also like to say thank you to the dear friends who have encouraged me, and especially the St John’s Church Advent Retreat, who patiently listened and tried out various ideas I had been developing, and helped no end with their thoughtful and generous response.

That was not the only post, though.  There was also a parcel containing this:



Recently published, it’s the first time I have held Prayers and Verses in my hands, and it is a beautiful piece of work from Lion. It’s always a strange thing, to see your words printed on a white page, to see the way what you hoped for – something where the different verses and prayers seem to  interact with each other and enrich each other – might be happening on the page.  Below you will see it with its companion volume, The Bible Story Retold.



And here is a spread from the book – I hope you will excuse the slightly variable focus!
In the UK we are facing a time of huge uncertainty, and I thought I would share with you these few prayers and verses. They are reflecting on the time of Exile in the Jewish story, which seems to be a relevant theme for many, whatever their nationality.


Thank you for taking the time to read this little bit of good news.  May there be more good to come for you, too.



Last week, I shared with you a poem about daily walks through   Fen Meadow  .
Here is another.  As it is the time for buttercups, buttercups creep into this one, too!

I often find walking the best time for praying, and thinking.  There is something about the rhythm of your body, of your feet in contact with the earth, that quiets the mind and makes prayer easier – at least for me.  As I was walking and turning over my worries/prayers before God, I felt that I was being reminded to pay attention instead to where I was.  In particular, the phrase “consider the lilies of the field” came into my mind.  Now, the lilies of this particular meadows are these beautiful buttercups that grow tall among the grasses, splashed with orchids and clover and birdsfoot trefoil. So, I spent a while considering them, and it was impossible not to feel my heart lift at the sight of so much beauty.

The next day, I approached my walk more enthusiastically – looking forward to seeing the buttercups again.  The sun was shining, they would be perfect.  When I arrived, a large sit-on mower was being driven up and down over the long grass, noisily spraying all that was left of the wild flowers behind it. It felt as if I had just begun to notice something good, when it was mown down.  The poem tells what happened next – if “happened” is the right word!



I walked behind as he
mowed buttercups down –
scattering gold through
the cut grass –
I gleaned the shattered stems
to carry home.

But, as they wilted in a jar,
they darkened, and drew
to themselves the thought
of other things cut short –
of life, and joy, and hope,
of beauty crushed,
of anger that narrows to
silence –

And yet, today, I came back,
saw the ground  newly
hallowed by many
small shining flowers –
open, nodding to the blowing wind,
running over with saffron light.

Cut down, we flower again, again.
How it all murmurs constantly,
as the shuttle flies across
the loom, and bare feet
are dusted with gold.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.   
Matthew 6:27-29

Prayers and Verses – It’s publication day!

prayers and verses cover

It’s here!  Prayers and Verses is officially published.
US readers, it’ll be a little longer, but it’s coming

Thank you to all my dear friends who have helped and encouraged me as I put this collection together, and for the loan of books!   Thank you also to those from far away who have been reading the snippets on this blog, it is so good to be connected to people spread far and wide.  Thank you, too for your encouragement.  Our connections with each other are all so precious.

Some things from the book:

May God make safe to you each steep,
May God make open to you each pass,
May God make clear to you each road,
And may he take you in the clasp of his own two hands.


Wherever you go,
May God the Father be with you.
Wherever you go,
May God the Son be with you.
Wherever you go,
May God the Spirit be with you.


May the Lord bless you,
may the Lord take care of you;
May the Lord be kind to you,
may the Lord be gracious to you;
May the Lord look on you with favour,
may the Lord give you peace.



Prayers and Verses – 3 The burning bush

prayers and verses cover

UK publication date – Friday 17th June 2016

bible retold cover

It’s nearly here!  the official publication date for Prayers and Verses!
I thought I would share something from Chapter Three of both books – Prayers and Verses and The Bible Retold.
The story of Moses, and how people escaped from slavery, is absolutely central to our understanding of the story of the Bible as a whole. It is truly remarkable.  Written records usually tell the story of the victor, of the rich and powerful.  This ancient narrative tells the story of the slaves, the powerless, the people pushed to the edges.  It says that God is listening to them, and is sending someone to bring them out of slavery, into freedom.

Prayers for those who labour under heavy loads, who bear much sorrow, are included at the opening of the chapter in the prayer book.  The Hebrew scriptures are full of reminders to be compassionate, to remember the hardship, and to let it soften your heart towards others that suffer – strangers in a strange land.  That is why the story is recalled again and again, because it has the capacity to centre us once more on love, on justice, on humility.  It builds our faith that God does listen, and then respond. The faithfulness of God is spoken of again and again. And the turning point of the story is when Moses is stopped in his tracks by the burning bush, and the experience of God he has there.  At a time when he must have felt he had blown all his chances, and had let down his people, this prince of Egypt encountered God when he was simply living out his own life on the edges, as a humble shepherd.  This encounter changed everything, as encounters with God tend to do.

To go alongside this snippet of story, I have chosen an extract from Prayers and Verses which will, I hope, encourage us to open our eyes to the possibility of God being present with us as we go about our daily lives.

Then, one day, as the sheep grazed on the slopes of Mount Sinai, Moses saw something: it was bright flames leaping up from within a bush.  He began walking towards the burning bush, curious, because he saw that although it was crackling with flames, the bush was not being burned up. And then a voice called from within the flames.
“Moses, Moses!”
“Don’t come any closer.  Take off your shoes, for you are on holy ground!”  Moses obeyed the voice.
“I am the God of your forefathers: the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob…”

Moses hid his face, afraid to look on God.

“… and I have heard the cries of my people.  I have seen their suffering, and felt their pain.  I want to pull them out from under their slave masters’ whips and bring them to a good, gentle land: a land of plenty.  You are the man I have chosen to send to Pharaoh.  You will rescue my people form Egypt.”


Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty; and save our souls from being so blind that we pass unseeing when even the common thornbush is aflame with your glory, O God our creator, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.


Dear Lord, Help us to see you today in all the ordinary things when we walk, and talk, and play; help us to know that the whole earth is full of your glory, and that the ground is holy. Amen
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.


Fen Meadow – June. The power of memory.





As we draw closer to the end of an academic year, as children begin to think of doing things for the last time – the last time in this class, this school, with these people, I have been thinking of the poignancy of repeated things coming to an end.   Every day you do something, and then you don’t. In this case, it was the walk to school – now itself a memory.  We passed through a piece of common land within our market town.  It was the nearest place we could go to run, roll down hills, sledge if the snow was right.  Each day, if it is your time for walking through it,  you can see some change in the growth of the plants, hear the birdsong, notice the way the path dusts your shoes, or muddies them. Sometimes it felt as if we were part of the place, and certainly the place is part of me. Each time you walk a familiar path, you can bring the experience of the previous times with you most strongly, it seems. Memory can be vivid, and overlay your experience of the now, as if you are in two times at once.  I try to explore that strange, split-second sensation in this poem.

I have some photos of the Fen Meadow buttercups, and orchids, but none of the willow trees yet.  Dry weather is necessary for the mounds of seeds the poem describes, and that has been hard to find so far this summer!  If I can find a dry moment with my camera, I shall share the pictures with you.  For now, I hope the poem helps you “see” the beauty of the place.

I hope you enjoy.



We have been here so many times
before – this very spot – where
white clouds of seeds drift down
from willow trees, and fill our path.

You smile, and gather mounds of
whiteness – heaping the downy
seeds like warm snow.  What if
it stays till winter? You ask

And suddenly green grass
vanishes in a blaze of white
ice: bare trees, a low sun.
Our screams and laughter are

muffled by scarves as the old sledge
tips – I run my fingers over the scar
we left on the bark – and we shiver
in the warm sun. The very spot.

The breeze trembles again in full
leaves, and all around us buttercups
shine, and dandelion stems shudder.
You pick the clocks and blow

till bedtime, counting the hours:
lunchtime, morning, soft evening.
Your breath floats high, and
hangs in the air. Waiting



Prayers and Verses – how this book can work together with The Bible Story Retold

prayers and verses cover

Today, I am sharing some more extracts from my new book, which is due for publication next Friday, 17th June (UK), and September 28th (USA and Canada).  The Bible Retold is also available on Kindle.

I thought I would show you how this book of prayers could be used alongside  The Bible Retold – the two books can be read independently, of course, but I hope you will see that they could be quite helpful, powerful even, read together.  I am drawing some examples from the second chapter.  In the retelling, this chapter covers most of the well known stories from the later part of the Bible book of Genesis


The story opens with Abram setting out on a journey, called away from all he had known before.  The prayers focus on our new beginnings, on uncertain ways, on “Life’s journey”.

From The Bible Story Retold:

Abraham took one last look behind him at the great city of Ur, with its narrow, crowded streets, and cool buildings made of hard-baked mud.   It was his birthplace, but it would no longer be his home. His father was leaving for the distant land of Canaan, and Abraham was going with him.  So they set off, with Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was childless, and his nephew Lot, who was an orphan. When they had travelled as far as Haran, they stopped and settled: their dreams of reaching Canaan fading with the passing years.

“Get up! It’s time to go!” God said to Abraham.

From Prayers and Verses:

As Abraham set off for an unknown land, so we begin each day, and each journey, knowing you are with us. Bless us on our way, and make us a blessing to those we meet.
Dear God, Help me to find the right way to go, even though the gate to it be narrow, and the path difficult to walk.

As the retelling of Genesis continues, we encounter squabbles and rivalry, deceit and betrayal in the families whose story we are following.  The prayers turn to our own families, how we can live together with love, peacefully.

From The Bible Story Retold:

Esau boiled with anger against his brother. He fumed and stormed among the tents.  “As soon as my father is dead, Jacob will be a dead man, too!” he roared.  Rebecca heard him, and urged Jacob to flee to his uncle Laban’s lands.  Isaac blessed him again before he left, and told him to find a wife among his Laban’s family.

He went alone, travelling until it was dark.  Shivering in the chill of a desert night, he took a stone for a pillow, and lay down to sleep.  As Jacob slept, a dream came to him.  He saw a ladder, with its feet on the ground, stretching up and up to heaven.  In his dream, he watched as God’s bright angels travelled up and down it between heaven and earth.  And in his dream, God himself was there.

From Prayers and Verses

Help us, like Jacob, dream of angels.
Help us, wherever we wake,
know that you are there, too.
Help us to see with new eyes.


I give thanks for the people who are my home: we share a place to shelter; we share our food; we share our times of work and play and rest.
May we provide one another with love, encouragement, respect, and wisdom: through laughter and celebration, through tears and troubled times.
May we be to one another roof and walls, floor and hearth, windows and doors.


Dear God,
Give us the courage
to overcome anger
with love.


I hope these extracts give you a little flavour of how the stories can flow into prayers.
If it helps, please do use them, saying where they are from.

Prayers and Verses – for a new day

prayers and verses cover

UK publication date – Friday 17th June 2016                                     US Publication date – 28th September



The River Deben in Suffok, one of my favourite walks.

So, it’s nearly time for this collection of prayers to be delivered into the world.  It’s very exciting!

Last summer, I spent much time reading through books  of prayers, and writing my own. It was a very precious time as I was immersed in the prayers of great souls from many centuries, and seeking to find words that would resonate this day, and in the days to come. For any book, especially a book that will be read by the the young, is an exercise in speaking into the future.

This book, Prayers and Verses through the Bible, is a companion to The Bible Retold.  Both  are in twelve chapters, and this collection of prayers picks up the themes which emerged in the retellings.  The first chapter of Prayers and Verses, called Beginnings, invites us to pray for the world around us,and express our love and care for it. As I was writing The Bible Story Retold, I felt the theme of the land as a blessing, as our source of daily food, as both a gift to be treasured and a provision for the future, emerging in a fresh way. For me, God’s love for and delight in all that was made shines through, and later on, the prophets speak of the love and delight of creation, too.  These first Chapter One prayers seek to open up these thoughts, and help us speak them. Another important part of this first chapter is morning prayers – for our own new days, new beginnings.

My hope is that the book will be accessible to the young, but also a blessing to those of any age who are looking for words to make their own.

Here are a few prayers and verses from the first chapter to bless your day.

God, source of all light and life,
help us to see your hand at work
in the beauty of creation.
Help us to know that, in you,
the whole earth is holy ground.
O Lord,
Your greatness
is seen
in all
the world!


Day by day,
dear Lord, of thee
three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly,
day by day.
In all my thinking and speaking and doing
this day,
Help me be loving,
help me be peaceful,
help me be kind.


Three Days



Photo from Flickr, photographer unknown


I have been transplanting buttercups into the verge at the front of our house, where there is no pavement, and have been thinking about boundaries – in particular the contrast between the rather wild garden, full of life, and the fast road outside.  This poem, written a few years ago, came about as I watched a female blackbird mourn the death of her mate.  She kept vigil for three days, and then she went.  I did not see her again.  It made me think about not only the intensity, the reality of each creature’s experience, but how often we live in our own enclosed worlds, isolated from each other, and how hard it can be to cross those boundaries.   How hard to credit and acknowledge the fullness of the lives around us. To begin to do so, to begin to see and understand another,  seems to me an important step to take.


Three Days

She stayed by the side of the road,
her brown feathers ragged,
stayed by the place where her mate lay,
black against the tar,
one wing lifted,
catching the breeze –
the passing of many cars.

Startled, sometimes,
she scuttered away into
the green growth,
then returned,
holding her head on one side,
but always she was there,
for three long days
and, for all I knew, nights.

What was the quality of her grief,
of the bond that tied her there?
We know so little of each other,
the unknown world folded
inside each being.
I walked humbly then,
knowing only to be kind.