Poor Clare

When I was in Seattle it was a joy to experience Lacey’s music and style of leading worship …. Lacey writes great songs with meaningful lyrics (personally I don’t think you can say that for a lot of contemporary worship stuff today).

I love this song ‘I stand with you’ because as Lacey says: ‘This song was written in response to the perpetual injustice faced by marginalized peoples of society. We stand with you. God stands with you.”

Check out the song and check out Poor Clare too. While you are there maybe spend some money too …

the creative beauty of Seattle

DSC_0028The time in Seattle was awesome …. maybe an overused and overrated word … but it describes the 7 days I had in this city perfectly.

Returning for a week after four years brought many things back to mind. I am not sure I can reflect on my week in one simple post. There may be a few posts over the next few days that develop from my reflecting

I guess one word that comes to mind when i think if Seattle is the word ‘beauty’. There is the beauty of the city as photos can and so show. There is, however, much more that struck me about the beauty of the people. People are polite. People speak on buses and trains. People ask if they can help. Coming from Gillingham, this was a healthy and welcome culture change. In traffic jams people in Seattle don’t even blow their horns!

I had forgotten how ‘chilled’ people seem to be in Seattle. There was a good fun DSC_0031atmosphere with people enjoying each other, food, drink, good coffee and of course the scenery on magnificent sunny days. People had space and time. I was reminded how people there seem to have a much better work life balance than we do in the UK. People seem to socialise more after having a definite end to the working day, whereas here we simply seem to work.

That brings me on to my next word … creative.

I met a load of creative people. It was good to meet up with Lacey again from COTA. The gathering has used some of Lacey’s music which is worth checking our either under her own website or via the worship stuff for COTA Seattle. It was good to experience COTA’s worship again. It was like coming home and I can’t put that feeling into words.

For creativity to happen it needs space. The people I have just spent a week with seem to get that. I seem to have forgotten that. I have been wondering why my creativity, my writing, my photographing, and so on has come to a halt. It’s due to lack of ‘space’ to create. Big ides need big spaces ….. i need to readdress the space issue.

the happy coupleBut back to beauty in Seattle. My first post cannot go without mentioning the whole overriding purpose of my visit. On Saturday 8th June at 430pm i had the honour, pleasure and privilege of officiating at the wedding ceremony of Meghan and Luke at Church of the Apostles in Seattle. That was an amazingly special time with a beautiful couple and some pretty amazing friends. The day was a joy, and there was loads of love flying around! They are clearly a couple that not only love many people, but are also loved by many.

As I said in my last post … once in a while some pretty amazing privileges pop up …. and this was one.

Thanks Meghan and Lucas for trusting me …
Thanks Jana and James for hosting me … you were amazing!
Thanks Lacey and April for just being the brilliant organised creatives that you are and guiding me
Thanks Rachel for the humour and the encouragement
Cheers Gary for the meet-up and the new bars
Thanks Eric and Ivar for the friendship
Thanks everyone for a great city!

Once in a while …

wedding-rings-wallpaper1Once in a while being ordained brings some pretty amazing surprises and privileges. I have one such privilege over the next few days as I travel to Seattle to marry a pretty special couple who I have got to know, mainly from my placement at COTA and their time with me in Rochester.

I feel undeserving of such an experience but am feeling very excited to be able to take part in a ceremony of such significance and beauty for a couple I have come to care deeply about. The service will be beautiful and reflects well the couple I have got to know.

So … as a sideline as well I am off to drink coffee, hopefully a porter or two, check out some sights and meet with some old friends …. but most of all I get to play a small part in a pretty special and amazing day for Meghan and Lucas.

Once in a while …. we find ourselves in special places … amazing!

COTA video

A few years ago I had the amazing experience of being on placement with COTA in Seattle. I’ve just seen that the Episcopal Church You Tube channel’s latest video shows the creativity and authenticity of COTA. I don’t tend to post videos here, but COTA is special so I am today.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that I’m looking forward to going back to COTA in June for a week …. and have the real privilege of conducting the wedding ceremony for a very special and beautiful couple, while staying with another wonderful couple as well! I think it’s going to be an amazing time. The closer it gets to June the more excited I seem to be getting!

Anyway … if you haven’t done so yet, click the video and have a watch.

Songs for a Mystical Supper

front-cover-cropped-instagrammedWhile I was in Seattle on placement with COTA a couple of years ago I met some of these guys from Church of the Beloved.

They’ve recently released a free album of some of their songs because:

‘We want to release this as a free download again, hoping to get it out to as many people as we can and treating it as a gift to the world and a resource to the Church who is in need of thoughtful, soulful music.’

I love the sound and particularly struck by Giver of All THings Good, Of the Fathers Love and For you.

Why not go here and check it out.

one of my pics in the Seattle Guide!

I took what I think are some really photos while I was in Seattle so when the Seattle Neighbourhood Guide contacted me to ask permission to use a photo I wondered which one. I was quite surprised when it was this one, the side of the Fremont Abbey … great building but not a particularly great shot – but I guess it was what they were looking for! If you want to find it in the online guide itself you need to go through the Fremont photos.

Last night

Tonight is my last evening in Seattle. Tonight I went to pub theology and we had a good conversation along the lines of ‘why do I believe in God?’

After that I took some last photos of Seattle at night courtesy of Ned’s roof and tripod. I’m quite pleased with some of the results which are in the flickr album.

It’s been a good 3 weeks and I guess it will be strange coming home. I’ve missed my family and really looking forward to being with them, but I will also miss being part of the COTA family. I’ve made some friends here, had some great discussion and been made to think about things which I think ill have an impact on how the community develops back home.

As I write I am thinking in 18 hours I should be sat on the plane. I’m checked in, boarding pass is printed so now it is just a matter of time.

COTA people – thank you for your time, your insights, the laughter and your friendship – you know who you are and if you ever visit England you know you will be very welcome at our place. Maybe we’ll meet at Greenbelt … who knows!! (anyone in Medway want to do a Greenbelt trip?)

the mountain is out!

It’s my last full day here in Seattle (unless you are in the UK and it’s already Wednesday!) The sun is shining and Mount Rainier has appeared from behind the clouds. Well … strictly speaking the clouds have lifted and rainier has always been there, but the locals say she has come out and so who am I to argue!!

The sight is pretty amazing. The skyline of Seattle is impressive but seen next to the massiveness of Rainier its kind of pales into insignificance.

To me it is a kind of iconic appearance. Here in a place like Seattle where life is pretty progressive and people enjoy life and know how to party, it is quite easy to think that we are very much in control of our lives and have to worry about nothing else. This place has been built by pioneering people and it is easy to think there was nothing here before. I have spoken to many people here and a typical topic we have got around to chatting about is that I am based in a 1400 year old cathedral. Seattle history starts in 1851, and so the city is only 159 years old. People have spoken of the history of the are being very young.

Then … a day like today comes, when this massive volcano created by God just appears, sitting quietly reminding us that this area is much bigger than city life and does have a much longer history – the present cone of the volcano is though to be 500 000 years old – that’s pretty impressive. It serves as a reminder that before us was God, and lying quietly and waiting the creator still stands and is ready to receive us when we are ready to give ourselves.

Day 17: reflect, write, cocktails

I’ve had a pretty quiet day today with very little people interaction and so I feel quite tired and drained. I love being with people, and hate having to think and write.

Today I have got to grips with what I wish to say on Sunday nightin the homily part of the service. I guess I have found it a challenge to be able to speak about something in a different culture which I do not really understand. I will be looking at the 1 Cor 13 passage on love, so there is lots to pull out but the listeners will be glad that I am focussing on a small part.

This evening I went to Sacred Cocktails with David at Chanatee’s. We were competing with a party so it was not a great turn out but we had a good chat about the idea behind sacred Cocktails and what it is all about. David mentioned that cocktails in Seattle was getting bigger and bigger; I think the same must be the case in England as withing minutes of joining the Sacred Cocktails Facebook group, 2 friends had commented along the lines of ‘we can do that here in Rochester!’ Maybe we will!

As I look ahead to the next few days I think I am really looking forward to going home. I really like Seattle, but I feel like I have been away quite a long time and just want to be home now. I’ve gained a mass of stuff here and, I hope, made some friends that I will stay in touch with; but there has also been a sacrifice to be here. The family have missed me and I have missed them and we have all missed out on the last 3 weeks of each others lives, which is hard to explain but feels really weird. I think wwe all feel quite disconnected from each other, and I don’t like that feeling.

Tomorrow is Saturday which is a quieter day again. Not too sure what I am going to do tomorrow but think I will go downtown and hang out at Pike Place and Capitol Hill and see what I notice. If anyone wants to join me, give me a shout or drop me a text!

Day 14 … reflections and chance meetings

Tuesday started with Matt and breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe. I interviewed Matt while I mounted an assault on my massive pancakes – which caused me to need no lunch, and quite a small dinner!

It was good talking to Matt as ever. He is another one of the very creative people here at COTA and at the moment leads the Liturgy Guild of COTA which is responsible for developing the liturgy for the seasons. He has a great vision for liturgy being both accessible and meaningful in a way that helps people connect in a real way with God. It was good to chat with someone else who is passionate about creative liturgy but has the freedom that many of us don’t to be able to develop things. I am in a better position than most at home, as I have a little permission to be creative with certain bits of our liturgy, but if we are to seriously engage with people outside of our churches then this permission needs to be far wider spread than it currently is.

Following my time with Matt I met up with Eric, another great guy from the COTA community., We had a great conversation about the strengths of COTA and how he and others connected with he community. He initially connected through a chance meeting with Karen at a monastery. This made me smile as I think back to the fledgling community we have at home. I think it is amazing how chance encounters and conversations result in things like churches developing. God seems to be at work before our plans and somehow things seem to come together.

I guess, though, I am struck by the fragility of it all. I reflect on conversations I have had and am very conscious how just a few minutes either way would have had different results, i.e. the conversation would not have happened. Is it chance, or is it a God engineered encounter? There’s a question!

For dinner, Ned took mye for a Mexican experience in Fremont – that was cool and very much appreciated. The day ended with Ned, Jeanette and Karen in Kells – a great Irish bar where we got to hear Liam (Ned and Jeanette’s son) sing. A good end to a good day.