Blackbird singing in the dead of night

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Blackbird in a crabapple tree,  Andrew Murdoch
I hear birdsong more now.
They say, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer but because it has a song”.
In this time when we don’t have answers, let’s not pretend we have answers
but maybe we can find our song. 
I am noticing and feeling my emotions more (although it’s tempting to squash them).
Random emotions popping up, sadness, frustration…
all part of the jumble of the grief we are all feeling..
loss of certainty, loss of safety, loss of connection, loss of normalcy.
Emotions from long past situations and losses are reemerging.
I wept deeply last night about the death of someone close to me years ago. I miss their presence now.
The release was good, healthy but now I’m exhausted and I know that’s normal.
Do I have the courage to feel these emotions, hear them, acknowledge them,
let them be released and pass through me,
see what they have to teach me, and how I can be more free?
I’m loving this recent painting of my dad’s of a blackbird in a tree of berries.
And I’m loving the song Blackbird by the Beatles.
What might it be saying to you?
Can we sing even in the dead of night?
Can we take our broken wings and learn to fly?
Can we take our sunken eyes and learn to see?
What good do you see around you… even in the light of the dark black night?

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

A glorious and baffling exchange

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This is a poem I wrote at Easter in 2014 and strangely it seems even more relevant in these challenging ‘in-between times’ of uncertainty, darkness, separation and death. Of course people reading this will all believe different things but maybe, as I try to express what Easter means to me personally, it could bring a little hope to others in these times.

They say the sun shines

on the righteous and the unrighteous.

And I’m grateful that it does

because it shines on me

and I’m both.

As I eat banana and bacon pancakes

by the sea

on Easter Saturday

I marvel at the grace

of His sunshine on me.

Here in the in-between place

between Good Friday and Easter Day

between sacrifice and restoration

between loss and great gain

between separation and reunification

between seeming defeat and overwhelming triumph

between death and new life.

In this in-between space,

His friends had to wait,

had to sit in the unknowing

and crushing disappointment

in the devastating silence.

It’s here in this space

that the mysterious happened:

the glorious and baffling exchange.

My garbage

for His glory.

Maybe my brain doesn’t fully ‘get’ it

but my heart has certainly experienced it.

It’s here that I get to lay down

all in me that’s not right

everything that’s ‘unrighteous’

all that’s not His wonderful way.

I lay down my fears

my insecurities

my selfishness.

I give him all the hidden ugliness of my heart.

And it’s here

that he takes it onto himself

at unimaginably high cost.

Then as the sun dawns on Easter Sunday

and life smashes through death

it’s now that he gives me in return

what I don’t deserve

what I could never earn.

Fullness of life

and the privilege

of the offer

of a life changing relationship

with the creator of the universe

with the most compassionate and humble man who ever lived

with the source of peace and love.

An offer

of right relationship with Him:

righteousness.

An offer,

not forced on me

but if I receive it

my life will never be the same.

A ‘mission impossible’:

to bring wholeness and restoration in the world, as He did

only possible through His power at work inside me.

And so on this day of triumph

I choose afresh

I choose full life

and accept the mission that’s impossible without Him.

I step deeper into the adventure

where my life has meaning and purpose

where it’s possible to break free from the stuff that holds me back

where I’m aware of His loving presence: real, alive, powerful

where there’s a gift of peace under-girding even the hardest times.

I step into the adventure

where extra-ordinary things could happen

and amazingly they often do.

Copyright Hilary Murdoch 2014. All rights reserved.

‘Stars in Jars’ – new book on the way

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I haven’t posted for ages but I have some news to share and I’m very excited! I have been working on a new book and it’s starting to become a reality. Still a long way to go but it’s really happening!

It’s a children’s book called ‘Stars in Jars’ – an allegory about how we shouldn’t try to own nature because we just spoil it.
“There was a boy and his dog who lived in a land where the sea was the sky and the sky was the sea. They fished for stars and put the stars in jars to light up their dingy igloo….”
Here’s a sneak peak of the first drafts of the composite images… a combination of loose inks on wet paper, permanent marker on clear plastic acetate (the outline of the stars) and then the little characters on the iceberg in pen and watercolour. I just learnt a computer programme last night to layer the elements up into one image. I wrote the story years ago and started on the illustrations in earnest last year, just trying to do one illustration every two weeks. 

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If you’re interested in getting a copy when it’s done do email me (hilarymurdoch@gmail.com) and I’ll put you on a list to let you know when they are available… won’t be for a while yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be this year. Of course if you have any contacts in children’s publishing or have experience of Amazon self-publishing do let me know, I’d love your advice. Watch this space!

The Deliberate Downgrade

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Creator of the universe

King Almighty

chose to become small
chose to be fragile.
Fleeing death
on the run
displaced
a refugee
no room for him.
The dramatic risky downgrade was no accident.
It was chosen,
to demonstrate to us what kind of Kingdom he brings.
One in which weakness is strength
and authority is not wielded through power and dominance
but through service, humility and vulnerability.
What a challenge for us
to live reflecting his topsy-turvey Kingdom
in our world today
a world that so elevates strength and independence.
How can you choose to imitate him this Christmas?
How can we make room for Him?
And how can we make room for the vulnerable among us, through whom He comes to us today?
Image: Holy Family by Kelly Latimore

Unnoticed beauty patiently waiting

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A walk with deliberate attentiveness….

Twisted sillouettes against the blue.
Two creeper branches reaching for the sky,
tendrils finding each other in mid air.
Butterflies flitting between the grasses,
some autumny orange and some bright white.
Surprising strong waft of sweet wild jasmine,
hidden in the undergrowth.
The soft feel of a furry leaf,
like a mouses back.
The spikey rough touch of bark.
So many different bird sounds,
once I tune in,
chirps, chattering, squawks,
some low and regular
and some a high melody on top,
every so often catching a glimpse of their source.
Round droplets of dew on leaves, sparkling with light, swiftly disappearing.
Amber beads of sap
hanging from split rough bark,
attracting busy lines of ants.
The liquid gold smells sweet, strong and medicinal.

Simply switching senses on
and slowing down.
Attentiveness with great rewards.
Beauty that goes unnoticed is still beauty,
quietly waiting to feed our souls when seen.

Holding Safe

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I come to you
holding my truth,
my emotions,
my heart.
Holding them
with kindness and compassion,
without judgement,
not squashing them in shame.
Even the emotions
that seem ugly,
even those I wish weren’t there.

As I bring them to you
I allow you to hold me,
to meet me
in the place of my honesty,
to listen to me
with care and gentleness.

I don’t want to (or need to)
stay in these emotions for ever,
they are not my whole truth.
But for now,
they need to be heard
and held with kindness,
as you hold me
in my honest truth.

 

Clay sculpture and poem by Hilary Murdoch 2018 

Words of encouragement change lives

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Wow this is just incredible.

I know I shed a tear easily but I shed one with this… the beauty and power of love and encouragement spoken even to a stranger, just so beautiful. More of this in the world please.

Let’s not just leave it to this lady. Who could you write an encouraging note to?