A New Way

Simon Jones joined the ‘open zoom’ this past Tuesday evening and sent me a reflection that he wrote a little while back entitled ‘A New Way’. I asked him to add something at the beginning to give a context. Evev if you skim that background drop down to read ‘A New Way’. You can follow Simon’s ongoing reflections here:


I really appreciated joining the open zoom on Tuesday. Peter really opened up for us thoughts to do with land, a new way ahead, and the old falling away. What struck me as he spoke and as I listened to other people’s reflections was how a new way has been opening up for some time, but that in the light of the last few years ‘shaking’ the new way and new ways we will need in order to find a way forward within society and communities, is being grasped by more people. We don’t know what the next few years will bring, but it seems that we are looking at a bigger change than we might have thought possible 3 or 4 years ago… potentially to the extent where established ways of life on macro or micro scales will be almost impossible to maintain. But even for those of us who may have sought to live a different way of life (perhaps semi counter-culturally from within or from the edges of society) for some years before the more recent ‘shaking’… the actual question of how new ways of life within society, new ways of living with people and as nations, and new ways of ‘expressing’ faith outside of pre-conceived concepts and constructs, remains just that – a question.

In other words, those who may have been living towards, praying for and prophesying a change – a falling of certain elements of unsustainable living and oppressive systems, macro and micro… don’t really know what to do when these things and these changes actually do happen, when certain things/trees do actually come down and when a new way, and many new ways begin to be called for. How do we live them? What are they? And what on earth could the role of little old me be when most people around will be so busy trying to hold up and hold onto the things which are falling away, that they want to keep there.

I know the choices I have made to live and struggle a semi-counter cultural existence with a family – mainly from within society than fully from its edges – and I know some of the things I want to be part of my own life, and some of those things that the land around and the earth in general is calling out for… but, do I really know the way ahead in this rapidly changing season? No, I definitely don’t – and what struck me on the zoom session is that none of us do really. But perhaps to live focussed on love, life, play and creativity in the midst of falling trees and collapsing walls, may be a better response than despair… and may, if we continue, begin to open up new ways that others can follow, or at least hook in with and forge their own new ways from there. So, I wrote this as a grappling with what is happening. I was struck in one of Martin’s posts where he said that Europe, despite its troubled history, may be entrusted with a calling to open up some new ways for the future.

I don’t think it should surprise us if it’s hard to see what the way forward is.

But together – listening to one another’s thoughts and different stories and perspectives, may in fact open further doors. I wonder if programmes like Ben Fogle’s ‘New lives in the Wild’ may be helpful for engaging and thinking outside of the boxes around us not necessarily to cause us to withdraw, but to help us to engage with the question, ‘what could life be like?’ in a way that is different to what we have seen, known and been told by the systems around that it should be like.


A new way is opening up,
But how do we find it?

A new way is opening up,
But how do we grasp it?

A new way is opening up,
But who will reveal it?

A new way is opening up,
But will we conceal it?

It is time for the nations to embrace reconciliation.
It is time for the peoples to embrace new creation.

Love opens the door ahead of us.

Love has caused much of the shaking.

Not because love is violent – no, love is gentle.

But the outpouring of gentleness reveals and repeals mankind’s law of violence.

How do we find a gentle way in relation to the land?
To love it, grow out of it and work with it, rather than simply work it or exploit it.

How do we find a gentle way in relation to economics?
To live independent of unjust economic systems – by faith and in trust.

How do we find a gentle way in relation to community?
When most of us fear it – for it has not always been an unconditional embrace of our
uniqueness and vulnerability.

Many want to hold onto the old ways.
But they won’t cut it.

But many of us who want the new ways, the new things, and the new season,
do not know how to walk it, talk it or live it.

But if we walk, talk, live, create, sing, dance, listen, pray and play…
If we do these things… these slower and more gentle things,
anyway… even if we do not yet know what the new way is…
What the new ways are…

Then in our being and resting and waiting and living, and praying and playing and occasional

A new way will open up.
Many new ways will open up.
And we will see, and others will see.
And people will know.
And many will think the thoughts of love – the new ways of love
that are being thought by the few…

And perhaps the many will, in time, embrace some, if not all, of the ways and thoughts of the ‘few’.

Gentleness will open a door and a new way will come.
The past will be left behind…

And a glorious, but gentle future will unfold.

We don’t know what the new looks like fully yet, but we will.

Love has come, love will come and love is coming to heal and renew.

Keeping Faith

Tricia (and Noel) Richards have been faithful friends over decades, and like so many of us have sought to respond to the winds of heaven, when they blow in convenient and also inconvenient directions! Tricia sent me this poem a short while ago… I think it will resonate for many. I personally loved the ‘I’m taking a different route’ lines / sentiment. First a short intro by Tricia, then the poem.

Several years ago someone asked me if I was having a crisis of faith. My immediate reply was, “No, but I am having a crisis of culture”. The ensuing years saw a shift not only geographically but spiritually and culturally. Many of the beliefs, ideas and thoughts that I had embraced were examined and sifted. This piece of poetry in some ways explains the journey that I have been on.

Keeping Faith

I’m taking a different route
It might be a long way round
But if we should meet along the way
Please greet me without prejudice
Or judgement
Be happy for the liberty I’m finding
It would be such joy
Such freedom for us both
Maybe we can really see each other
In this different light

I did not want my cynicism to drown me
And so I stepped away
Though some would say I fell
But really
My weary worn out heart just needed space
To find a quiet more simple path
Without the probing questions
Or the looks of loving deep concern
Memorials and signposts
Had began to look the same
And any facade that I had built
And happily decorated my life with
Tumbled as I walked away

I took the faith I’d tried to comprehend
Stepped outside a culture
That was all I’d ever known
And sought a different view
It’s not that you were wrong or I was right
It’s just I couldn’t see the way ahead from where I stood
Without the rules and constraints
All expectations stopped
And so the life I could not seem to blend with
All the things I no longer cared so deeply for
Fell away
Like leaves at autumns calling .

I found that I was left with God unchanged
In the silence His love remained
It never missed a beat
Love continued like Niagara falling
Stronger than all my fears
Bigger than the total sum of all my investment
Deeper than everything I had heard or learned
God Immense and vast
And from His storehouse
Treasures old and new came to me
As I continue on my way
I’m just taking a different route .

Sickness in the forest

Delighted to have this post by Joanna Storie. With her husband, Ian, she lives in Latvia. Living on the edge would be an understatement! Working the land, raising Alpacas (along with other animals) and at the final stages of her PhD studies… A contributor at https://dispatcheseurope.com/ and with her own regular blog at: http://thejourneytosomewhere.blogspot.com/. Read on!

I have really valued Martin’s prophecy regarding the facades coming down. I have done plenty of research over the last seven years of my life towards a PhD looking at rural communities and the challenges they face. It has revealed plenty of facades that need to come down. In these chaotic times with the Covid19 virus showing us how vulnerable our capitalistic system is, yes even in China, it is tempting to sing the songs that would help to take us back to normality. “Jesus we need you”, “Jesus be our healer” types etc. I understand why people would want to sing them, so why are they wrong? Or even are they wrong? If it makes the facades go back up, then they are. There has to be a change, but change can be scary.

So, what should we be singing and what should our focus be? How can we see this in context? Jesus focussed songs are great and there are times for them, but right now we need to be seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes. We need to see the work of the Father in our midst and get on board with that. If it means bringing down those facades, we had better make sure we are behind that and keep them down. I think it is helpful to view these changes in context. The facades are only a part of life, there is a whole world out there beyond the facades, even if like a city they dominate the landscape.

I read a lot of material put out by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (an international research centre on resilience and sustainability science) and in a recent article they suggested we should view life like a forest, where change is ongoing, but it is still a forest. They suggest that viewing things as unchangeable is not helpful as it lacks the dynamic capability to react and change. When a forest is sick, the sick trees need to be removed to give the healthy ones a chance. It is still a forest. Even if the whole forest is cut down or burnt, it is still likely to be a forest as it regenerates and grows again from the seed sown in the ashes. Even in a healthy forest, trees will die and create space for new growth, it is still a forest. The forest is in a continual state of change and yet it is still a forest.

The West’s addiction to capitalism is a sickness in our forest. The love of money, the greed it generates, the need to continually feed it and have ever lasting growth without putting anything back. It is killing life on earth. We have to remove the sickness, but in doing so it gives space for something new to grow. We don’t need one model, the perfect model, that’s a plantation and that is neither diverse nor resilient. We need the eyes of Jesus to see what the gardener is doing in our part of the forest and get alongside him and help. We are the arms, the feet of Jesus. Let us have the eyes to see what we need to do and where we need to go. Let’s bring those facades down or leave them down and let the light in to allow growth. Let your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. What is the gardener doing in your part of the forest? What is he clearing away and what is he planting? Make sure you are not pulling up new growth that he has planted.

If you are interested in the original article that started my musings, it can be found here