It’s the beginning of Holy Week, and I’ve still got a whole bunch of words to corral together.

Last week I had the delight of attending the book launch of Tess Ward’s Alternative Pastoral Prayers..…



I’ve known Tess for a few years now and she continues to be an inspiration to me.  She is a creative and prophetic crafter of words, conscious of the sometime permeable boundaries between different faiths and ways of being Christian (eg the spectrum of ‘conventional’ and earth- based faith traditions). Currently she works as a hospice chaplain and celebrant.

In her new book are words that are sorely needed by many people. Here are words to accompany people, liturgies and blessings for health and healing, beginnings and endings. Here is theology that needs to be recovered and heard – of the difficulty of naming of God, of the poetic language of faith, of liturgy as prayer, of lament and original blessing, of words that speak to the heart. Here is material rooted in the Christian tradition in its widest sense.

At the launch of her new book Tess likened the creating of the book to giving birth, seeing the child grow and then the teenaged child leaving home, setting out to make their own way in the world. She spoke about the background and reasons behind some of the prayers she has written, connecting them to her own experience of ministry, and encouraging us to make our own connections to these words for different stages and seasons of life.

I came away challenged and encouraged to keep plugging away at the crafting of word and ritual that speak to the heart, that reach the heart of the human experience.

Here is a nugget from Tess, a Blessing for Coming of Age:

.. As you emerge from the tangled wood of requirement, and step out in a direction of your own choosing, may you be unfrightened by your fear.

May you take the time to hear your voice into speech, befriend silence and listen to the world with compassion.

May you honour the tides and rhythms of your body and enjoy the ripeness of your beauty and vigour so you may cherish them in another.

May you find a safe hearth in friends who see you and delight in you.

May your hands find work that prosper a little and satisfies plenty, and do not refuse the world the gift that only you can give.

May you laugh and play and never lose your imagination so responsibility will not diminish you.

May you be awake to the wonder of the earth and see the single flame that lights every living thing.

Go bravely … and greet each new horizon with trust and gratitude, and may God bless you on your journey and let flourish the person you were made to be.

Go well into Holy Week.