“My friend has depression – how can I help them?”

What’s helpful, or unhelpful when you’re supporting a friend with depression? I can’t answer that in an authoritative way, I can only speak for myself. Depression shows itself differently in each person, it can vary enormously in severity, symptoms and duration so this is nowhere close to being a definitive answer. But I was asked this question recently and it seemed a helpful one, so here is a personal attempt at an answer. Here is a little of what is going on in my head, when people try to talk to me about depression, or try to avoid the topic.

        Speaking in Code

If you ask me how I am, I don’t want to say “I’m fine”, because it’s fundamentally not true, and I’m a truthful sort of person. Saying “I’m fine” when I’m not makes me feel cut off and isolated from people, which makes the depression feel even worse. But neither do I want to say, “The depression is making everything really bleak right now”, because that’s swerving the conversation in a pretty deep, dark direction and you were probably only hoping for a bit of small talk and to pass the time of day. Continue reading

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Giving up Church for Lent

churchIn previous years I’ve given up various things for Lent, fizzy drinks, Farmville, or snacking between meals. Some years, I’ve taken something up instead, reading a poem a day, or trying out a particular way of praying. This year, I’m thinking bigger, I’ve given up church for Lent. This is particularly drastic when you realise that I’m the Vicar.

Honestly, it wasn’t really a grand plan or a cunning scheme, more of a necessity. It was something that was becoming increasingly inevitable, and it happened to coincide rather neatly with Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent. Continue reading

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Depression and Prayer

Praying_HandsI was mulling over, recently, what it would be like to not have depression any more. It’s tempting to think of “getting back to normal”, and “going back to how I used to be”, but maybe it’s not that simple. I’ve changed so much over this last year and a bit, and some of it has been for the good. Perhaps I wouldn’t choose to go back to “just like it was before”…..but to find a new sort of normal.

One of the ways I have changed the most is in how I pray. In case you have a knee jerk reaction, (like I do), to seeing prayer and depression in the same sentence, can I reassure you now that this is not going to turn into one of those, “Christians shouldn’t get depressed, you would be fine if only you prayed more” guilt trips. I promise. Continue reading

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The Nativity Set Parable – A Post Script

015A brief comment on The Parable of the Nativity Set

This was an experiment in a different way of preaching from Christmas Morning.  It was inspired in part by the book, “The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop” which contains some weird and wonderful modern parables.  Continue reading

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The Parable of the Nativity Set

nativityThere was once a woman who loved Christmas with all her heart. She had just one wish, to own a beautiful nativity set of her very own.

The neighbours would deck their houses with lights, more and more impressive each year. There was a Christmas tree in each window, with decorations and artificial snow, but her house stayed dark and undecorated. She was saving up for her nativity set. Continue reading

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The Day after Christmas – Mary’s Diary

Dear Diary,

I thought this week couldn’t get any stranger, but I was wrong. Giving birth to my first child, that was life changing, though I would never have chosen to have it happen in an animal shed, but he’s here, and he’s healthy, and that’s all that matters. The thing with the angels and the shepherds was….a bit overwhelming, but they were so kind, and so keen to hold him, but so awkward, with their big grubby hands, it was really rather sweet.

But this morning the neighbours started to come round, keen to offer advice, and some really….odd questions. Continue reading

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Getting Off The Treadmill

Wheel-treadmillWhen I became a Vicar, I thought I was setting off on a wonderful journey, to do great things for God.  I was prepared for it to be scary and difficult.  I was up for that.  But I was not prepared for it to be boring and repetitive.

I thought I was Frodo, a small, insignificant person, setting off on a Grand Adventure, on a Quest that really mattered.  Instead of a pilgrimage, I seem to find myself on a treadmill.  I walk and walk and walk, but never get anywhere, the scenery never changes. Continue reading

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