It's something we all need, especially when things aren't going so well for us or when we are lost, or when we are grieving.
As I explained in Sunday's daily blog, this evening in Jersey there will be a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving to allow us to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have died. It'll be a moving hour with some reflective and uplifting music, prayers, thoughts, readings and poems.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, many of us may have lost people, loved ones, and we may not have been able to remember them or say 'farewell' in the way we may have wished because of the lockdown restrictions. But this service is also for us to remember anyone who was and is still important to us ...I've been privileged to produce the hour for Funeral Directors Pitcher and Le Quesne, so I've spent many hours looking at different poems and readings to inspire and comfort those who will be with us this evening.
One of the readings to be included in the service at St Thomas' (Roman Catholic) Church in St Helier is this one ... a profound 'thought' from Henri Nouwen, who was a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian who has left us a huge legacy of words.
Nouwen was a complex character and this is traced through some of his writings, and much of what he wrote about - faith, loneliness, self-esteem, acceptance and other personal struggles - helps us to identify with his and our humanity. I find his words and writings inspirational!
This is just one of Nouwen's 'thoughts' and if today you're struggling, for whatever reason, I hope this brings you some hope.
If you are sad - I wish you comfort and hope.
If you are grieving - may hope help you to see beyond the pain.
If you feel you are getting nowhere - may hope enable you to see into a future!
And if you're in Jersey and you wish to join us this evening at St Thomas' at 7pm, you'll be very welcome.
It's a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity for all of us to remember those who have died and who meant something special to us and to celebrate their lives.
The service has been organised by a local Funeral Directors - Pitcher and Le Quesne - who have held similar events before, but of course in the past couple of years that's been impossible because of the COVID19 restrictions.
We know that since the pandemic began, so many of us have been unable to to remember loved ones in the way we may have wanted. Either we've had limited opportunities to say a proper 'farewell' or we've been unable to travel to pay our respects and to grieve with families members and friends. So next Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the lives that meant, and still mean, so much to us.
But the service is not just for folk who've lost someone in the pandemic ... it's open to everyone who wants to keep alive the memories of their dear ones, even if they passed away years ago.
The evening, which starts at 7pm, will be just an hour of poems, readings, prayers, music and ... we hope ... smiles along with the sadness.
Church and faith leaders will play their part, and we'll have the magnificent Malcolm L'Amy on the organ at St Thomas' ... which is in Val Plaisant in St Helier (if you don't know it ... it's the big Catholic Church!)
But we'll also be joined by some amazing singers.
Georgi Mottramis a Jersey-born soprano. She's already a Classic Brit Award Nominee who’s debut single shot to No.1 in the iTunes Official Classical Charts in May 2021. Georgi is a very special talent and we're so thrilled she'll be joining us.
The Aureole Choir will also be part of the evening. The choir (founder and director Nicki Kennedy) was set up during the early stages of lockdown in early 2020 to give people who love singing a chance to celebrate their love for music. They initially met online and recorded music to raise money for local charities but now have over 100 members of all ages who meet regularly to sing, have fun and fundraise. They also run weekly ‘sing-alongs’ (with requests) to boost morale among those living alone and in Jersey’s care homes. They're a great bunch of people, so talented and so committed!
Next Tuesday will be an evening, as I said, which will be reflective, but it will also be filled, we trust, with smiles and hope!
During and after the service there will be an opportunity to remember loved ones and leave messages in a ‘memorial garden' at the back of church and those who wish to do so are also invited to give a donation to the Royal British Legion Jersey Poppy Appeal. That appeal actually starts next week!
Now you might be wondering why I know so much about this?
Well, it's because I've been working on this for months with the managing director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Paul Battrick, and St Thomas' Church ... helping to communicate, finding the artists and speakers, sourcing the poems and prayers etc and getting involved in a little bit of PR as well.
I have to say, it's one of the best 'jobs' I've had for a very long time. It feels like we are doing something which will make a big difference to people and maybe bring help and comfort in their sorrow and grief. But hopefully it will also just be a general uplifting hour! It's made me really happy to be involved, but also it's given me much time for reflection myself, and moments when I've been moved by words and music and remembered MY loved ones, including my darling Dad, who have 'gone before'.
If you are in Jersey on Tuesday, we would love to see you! If you are not here in the island, please pray for us, that people will come and be blessed. It's a big church and we'd love to see many people... and we hope it will bless us all.
So, on this Sunday, to bring you all into the circle of love we hope will surround us on Tuesday evening, please click on the link below to see/hear a presentation that will be part of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.
It will be the first of two musical offerings from the Aureole Choir and it's actually one of the first projects they produced when Jersey was in lockdown in Spring 2020. The song and video (which is on YouTube as well as the Aureole Music website) raised money for local charities, and it brought music into our lives at a time when choirs could not meet, we could not sing even in church (and anyway churches were closed) and we felt so bereft of the joys of music and performance.
Enjoy the beautiful Jersey landscapes and seascapes and images and people, and the even more beautifully talented islanders who joined together for this very special project.
Spiritual thoughts come from many different directions, and I think this year so far I've turned to a few in this daily blog.
Today I turn to the wisdom of a man called Tecumseh who lived in the late 18th and early 19th century in what is now 'America'.
He was a chief of the Shawnee tribe and a warrior who resisted the expansion of the United States onto Native American lands. He wanted to draw the different tribes to his cause so he travelled widely trying to encourage different indigenous peoples to support the resistance to the expansion of the 'incomers' who were determined to take over their lands. This resulted in a Native American confederacy and although his efforts to unite Native Americans ended with his death in the War of 1812, his legacy did not die with him. Tecumseh has become an iconic folk hero in American, Indigenous, and Canadian popular history.
Native Americans were and are a very spiritual people, with a culture, philosophy and spirituality close to the land and nature, animals and the universe, and although Tecumseh and his peoples lived so long ago and in very different times, some of the thoughts that have been handed down through the centuries are profound and are really pertinent to our circumstances today. They go to the heart of what it is to be 'human' and that is so thought-provoking.
So, for this Saturday, here's one of those wise Native American thoughts ... attributed to Tecumseh himself.
Once you've asked yourself these challenging questions ... Have a happy day !
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Rather than me rattling on today, here's a profound thought for a Friday from someone much wiser than me.
The current and 14th Dalai Lama - the title is one that is bestowed by the Tibetan people to the leading spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, which I read is the the newest and most dominant of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. And he's also one of the wisest people around.
Yes I know this is a bit deep for a Friday but we have the weekend to reflect on it and think about what it means for us.
I've read it quite a few times and every time I do I see something new in the wisdom.
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At the start of a new week, let's take a moment to think of the days ahead.
We have no idea what will come, or how the days will pan out for us.
But even if we can't determine what will happen to us, there is one thing we can control ... and that's our own behaviour.
I love this thought for a Monday ... and I don't know about you, but I think it's a great way to start the week.
Let's not spend our days feeling angry, or bitter, jealous, or sad about things we can't control. Let's not dwell on the things we don't have or the opportunities that have not come our way.
Instead, let's do things that we're proud of. Let's be kind to each other. Let's reach out a helping hand to another. Let's find the positive in all things, where possible. Let's be grateful for what we have rather than being resentful that we have not been given things that we think are owed us, or that we see others enjoying.
Reaching out to others, being that 'friend' and going out of our way to make a difference in our world - maybe that's what we need to aspire to this week.
A positive mindset won't just help others, it will have an impact on our own wellbeing and that has to be something to be thankful for!
We've had a lovely weekend in Jersey, with lots of sunshine and the temperatures still warm. It's been glorious!
But last night, for the first time, it felt like there was a nip in the air ... and what with the leaves beginning to turn, it really feels like summer is turning to autumn.
I'm reminded at times like this that each season of the year brings with it challenges and joys. Autumn, or Fall, brings harvest and a reminder of what the world has to offer, so long as we take care of it.
Autumn is also a time of preparation for winter, when we maybe hunker down a bit ... well I do anyway. A time to maybe not rush around quite so much as I have in the summer. A time to appreciate home.
Every season of the year, every time of our lives, brings with it responsibilities, demands on our time, periods of rest and recuperation, work and life, family and fun. As we grow older, I am finding, life takes on new perspectives. The dreams I had as a young person are now no longer so 'essential'. The sky won't fall in if I don't get all I want! I no longer worry much about what people think of me. I find myself becoming aware of the need to use the time left to me wisely, rather than worrying about things I cannot change.
Time is a precious thing. Every day I learn a little more about that. And although I still yearn for a bit of 'adventure' in life, these days good health and good friends, love and security are the things I find myself cherishing ...
Oh ... and a good night's sleep!
In the Bible, in the Old Testament, in the book of Ecclesiastes, there are some words which talk about there being 'A Time for Everything' ... it pertains not just to people but also to nations and nature. It reminds us to use time wisely. As I said before, to cherish the moments we have been given.
The words are encouraging, and challenging, and worth reflecting on. And at the beginning of a new week, it's worth thinking about.
I love the poetry of passages like this ... glorious!
Not sure what 'season' this is for you ... but as you read this maybe you'd like to think about your dreams and wishes and wants, priorities and the passage of time.
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
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This past few weeks I've been thinking quite a lot about light and candles.
Although we're in the early weeks of October, I'm already commissioned to work on a few Advent and Christmas projects so I've been thinking about themes.
The idea of Jesus Christ being the Light of the World and being born to be one of us is an overriding Christmas theme and of course, candles are often synonymous with the festive season.
It's a time when we may think a bit more than usual about the Light coming into our world but also, it's a time when I think about my responsibilities to be a person who brings light to others. A person who doesn't sow discontent and negativity, but peace and positive vibes.
For inspiration today I turn to a song written by an amazing Christian leader, singer and songwriter ... Joy Webb .... She is a Salvation Army officer (minister) who in the 1960's led a Christian pop group called 'The Joystrings' - they made it into the UK pop charts!
Major Joy has devoted her life to God and since those heady Joystrings days, she has blessed us with many incredible songs which are loved and appreciated, and not just in The Salvation Army.
What I love about Joy's music and songs, writing and words, is that she really goes to the heart of what it means to be a person of faith. Her songs, in particular, are always 'real'. sometimes poignant, many times challenging. Down the years, her God-inspired words and music have inspired me many times.
There's a song which Joy wrote years ago and which is still one of my favourites ... it sums up that whole idea of US following the example of Jesus and being a light in our world.
It's called 'The Candle of the Lord' and the words are incredible ...
Please click on the link below to read the words and immerse yourself in the music.
There's are many versions online, including vocal renditions, but today I've chosen an interpretation by a friend of mine, another incredible musician called Gaz Rose ... and his imaging of the song in music and pictures/video.
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You just need to say the word and immediately a particular song starts resonating in my head and heart.
It's a classic 'pop' song, that is much more than a 'pop song', by one of the legends of pop and rock music - the inimitable John Lennon ... he of the legendary pop group The Beatles ... singer, songwriter, musician, peace activist ... what a guy!
I'm thinking about John today specifically because it was on this day (October 9th) in 1940 that John Winston Lennon ... later John Winston Ono Lennon ... came into the world.
Today I could have chosen SO many songs to celebrate John Lennon - and those of you who know me might have thought I might choose one like Strawberry Fields Forever which is directly linked to a Salvation Army children's home in Liverpool of that name in the grounds of which Lennon played as a child. Today it is an amazing centre run by The Salvation Army which works with the community and people with special needs, and pays tribute to the Lennon legacy.
But no ... instead I've chosen another of John's iconic songs, composed and recorded and released after his time with The Beatles had come to an end.
Rolling Stone magazine described Imagine as Lennon's "greatest musical gift to the world" ... for many many reasons musically ... I won't go on about that now, but if you're interested, please feel free to investigate by clicking on the link embedded in the name of the song above.
Actually the eponymous album on which the song appeared was released in the USA in October 1971, a month after the international release in the UK.... and the single was the best-selling one of John's solo career.
It's a song which resounds with people around the world.
Some believe this song is 'anti-faith' but I don't think it is. It actually encourages us to imagine a world of peace, without borders separating nations and peoples and without materialism which divides. Yes, it says 'no religion' but note it doesn't say 'no faith', and the two are very different.
John Lennon is credited with writing the song but just before his death in December 1980 he said that much of the song's content and the lyrics came from his wife, Yoko Ono.
In an interview, actually for Playboy magazine, Lennon said that he and Yoko had been given a Christian prayer book which inspired the concept behind Imagine
He said this:
The concept of positive prayer ... If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true ... the World Church called me once and asked, "Can we use the lyrics to 'Imagine' and just change it to 'Imagine one religion'?" That showed [me] they didn't understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.
Some might think this sounds rather 'pie in the sky', but I love John Lennon's sentiment and he and Yoko's idea that we can dream of the world living as one ... one day!
So, to celebrate John Lennon and this brilliant song, here's the official video for Imagine, which is also iconic.
I love that the first 45seconds actually has no music ... but just the sound effects of John and Yoko walking. I love it's rather surreal concept ... rather like the song actually.
It's actually the first few minutes of a longer 81-minute feature-length film or 'documentary rock video' that was made to coincide with the launch of the Imagine album.
From the shots of John and Yoko walking through a thick fog and mist, arriving at their house as the music begins, to a sign above the front door to their house which reads: "This Is Not Here" (the title of Yoko Ono's then New York art show) and then to the interior shots of John at the piano as Yoko gradually opens the shutters to let in the daylight and reveal an all-white room. It's all so symbolic. But the end is where it gets me. Until that moment it all feels like a piece of art really, including when Yoko sits down beside John at the piano as he concludes the song, and she just looks at the camera.
But then ... as the song ends ... the couple look at each other and ... wait for it ... they kiss!
So let's sit back and enjoy the song today ... and dream.
Well, click on the link and you'll find information about the 'Imagine' Piano which is there.
It's actually THE world-famous piano that John Lennon used to compose and record one of the great peace anthems of the 20th century and it's on loan to the exhibition, courtesy of the estate of the late George Michael. It's a walnut-finished upright Steinway model Z piano and George bought it back in October 2000.
I haven't seen it myself yet but I'm looking forward to going to Strawberry Field when I can!
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