Up to us

How does the theme on a journey resonate with you personally? It’s a useful umbrella for all sorts of things, like “Journey through Lent”, for example.

Here’s one of my “on a journey” memories:

Some years ago now I had the opportunity to write a song for a CD project aimed at outdoor types. Not being much of an outdoor type myself, I was very grateful when a fellow commuter – a thoughtful Dutch man who regularly goes on walking holidays – had a lot to say on the subject.

“Do you mind if I take notes?” I asked.

In the 10-minute train ride from Utrecht Central to Houten on my way to work I gathered enough quality material to seed a whole song.

The CD project fizzled out, but the song has become a standard in the Two Doors Down repertoire, with me on guitar and vocals and Margriet on backing vocals and melodica.

Here’s a video of us performing “Up to us” in a noisy cafe in Dordrecht at our EP release in 2014:


1. Out on the trail – part of the landscape
Sensible shoes and good company
The swish, swish of our bodies in motion
I’m lost for words, lost in reverie.

We’ve got all we need to make a memory
Back to basics, minimum fuss
We know where we are
and kind of where we’re going
The rest is up to us (x2)

2. I do admit that nothing much happens
And I forget what we talked about
We cook, eat, sleep and get on with living
I’m walking on air, I’m on walkabout.


3. Reading the map we can see the future
Making our way one step at a time
I’m rich, richer than I ever imagined
All I survey, in a way, is mine.


We’re part of the elements – the cold, the heat
I’m thankful for every sensation – even sore feet.



Make me a blessing.
Those that I meet
Make me a blessing.
As I walk down the street
Make me a blessing.
This day, even this hour
Make me a blessing.
It lies in your power
Make me a blessing.
At work and at home
Make me a blessing.
Wherever I roam
Make me a blessing.
That people may see
I am a blessing,
For you are with me.

from The Open Gate: Celtic Prayers for Growing Spiritually
by David Adam, p. 108

3 Prayers for wayfarers

Passing by the Colosseum, Rome (photo: Irene Bom)

Here are three prayers for wayfarers, including a prayer for safe travel from the Jewish tradition.

Wherever we roam, may we make the time to tune in to God’s presence with us – our constant companion and guide, ever wise and nurturing.


O Lord God,
who called your servants
to ventures of which we
cannot see the ending,
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown:

Give us faith
to go out with courage,
not knowing where we are going,
but only that your hand is leading us,
and your love supporting us;
to the glory of your name.

Eric Milner-White (1884-1963) and G.W. Briggs (1875-1959)
from Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #161


Lord Jesus Christ,
You said that you are the Way, the Truth and the Life;
let us never stray from you, who are the Way;
nor distrust you, who are the Truth;
nor rest in any other but you, who are the Life,
beyond whom there is nothing to be desired,
either in heaven or on earth.
We ask it for your name’s sake.

Erasmus (1466-1536)
from Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #156


Wayfarer’s Prayer
Jewish Prayer for a Safe Journey

“May it be Your will, o Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors, that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace, and make us reach our desired destination for life, gladness, and peace. May You rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush along the way, and from all manner of punishments that assemble to come to earth. May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us. May You hear the sound of our humble request because You are God Who hears prayer requests. Blessed are You, our Lord, Who hears prayer. Amen.”

Source: travelingilove.com

more …

At 36,000 Feet, Closer to God: Alana Newhouse’s personal reflection on the Wayfarer’s Prayer, published on the NY Times website.

Posts on theme of the month: on a journey

Theme: Spurred on by prayer


This prayer sheet is a response to these words by Christian theologian and author, Frederick Buechner (pronounced BEEK-ner):

“Go where your best prayers take you.”

The words appear in Buechner’s book, Telling Secrets – A Memoir, about his encounters with God’s presence in both the scary and sad as well as in the joyful moments of his life.

See the Spirituality and Practice website for a lengthy excerpt from the book showing the words in context.

Continue reading “Theme: Spurred on by prayer”

In the school of prayer with Ann Lewin

For this post I’ve selected an excerpt from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin that explores the similarities between prayer and bird watching. It’s taken from a chapter entitled, “Material for use in a Quiet Garden” and includes one of her poems, “Disclosure”.

May her words inspire us to contemplation and get us in the mood for prayer and a little bird watching of our own.


Bird watching has taught me that all is gift. I may go out hoping to see a particular bird – but it may not be in evidence. I can’t control the movement of the birds. And if I am too intent on seeing one particular bird, I may miss a lot of other things that are around. Prayer is like that:

Prayer is like watching for the
Kingfisher. All you can do is
Be where he is likely to appear, and
Often, nothing much happens;
There is space, silence and
No visible sign, only the
Knowledge that he’s been there,
And may come again.
Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,
You have been prepared.
But sometimes, when you’ve almost
Stopped expecting it,
A flash of brightness
Gives encouragement.

So it’s all gift. The work we have to do is be prepared, in the right habitat, with the right disposition. And then we have to respond, with thanksgiving for God’s amazing love which cares even for the sparrows, endangered species that they are.

from Seasons of Grace by Ann Lewin, pp. 208-9
poem from Watching for the Kingfishers, p. 23

On kingfishers

I recently saw kingfisher nests in the Biesbosch on an outing with my Iona regional group, but no sightings of kingfishers, unfortunately.

The Dutch call these birds “ijsvogels” (ice birds). In France they are named after St. Martin of Tours: Martin Pêcheur (St. Martin’s fisher). I think I like the name “kingfisher” best.

Video of kingfishers building their nests

Digging deeper

– An in-depth discussion of the poem, “Disclosure”
Liturgy featuring some of Ann Lewin’s writing

See also In the school of prayer with Eddie Askew.

People of the way

Cracks in the road, Edinburgh (Photo: Irene Bom)

In the upper room, just hours before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’

John 14:1-7

I wonder

Is that why the early Christians were known as “People of the Way”?
(see Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22)

Saul of Tarsus – a radical young Rabbi – played an active part in persecuting followers of the Way until Jesus appeared to him on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18) and he had a change of heart and became a follower of the Way too. Through his missionary journeys and letters he touched many lives and communities and the movement spread, even to this day.

Digging deeper

Read Acts 16:16-40 about Paul and Silas’ night in a Philippian jail. Imagine you are one of the other prisoners. What can you tell about “People of the Way” from what you witness that night? What is your response?

Also check out this helpful study outline on “People of the Way”.


inspired by Mark 14:12-15

to those of us who sometimes find
your ways of doing things
and choice of messengers
puzzling and

may that unnamed water-carrier,
who led those first disciples to
the upper room,
alert us to the many
little-known people
who cross our paths,
and who,
if followed,
lead us through
of welcome and hospitality
to extraordinary
of your grace.

from A Procession of Prayers: Meditations and Prayers from Around the World by John Carden, p. 165


Kralingse Plas, Rotterdam (Photo: Irene Bom)

“Farther than the possible limit of sight; beyond what one is able to foresee, know, or anticipate.” That’s how the Free Dictionary defines the phrase, ‘beyond the horizon’.

For God, there are no such limitations.


Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
     How unsearchable his judgments,
     and his paths beyond tracing out!
‘Who has known the mind of the Lord?
     Or who has been his counsellor?’
‘Who has ever given to God,
     that God should repay them?’
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
     To him be the glory for ever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

To Emmaus and back

For the full story, read Luke 24:13-49.

Here is a summary, with some prayer prompts.

Two of Jesus’ disciples are headed for Emmaus, about 2 hours walking distance from Jerusalem. As they walk down this familiar stretch of road their conversation is coloured by a flood of mixed emotions. On the one hand they are reeling from the traumatic events in Jerusalem when their beloved Lord and Master was arrested and killed, and on the other hand there’s the startling testimony of some of their female friends who claim they saw “a vision of angels, who said Jesus was alive” (Luke 24:23).

Pray for vital relationships in your life to share the highs and lows with.

Soon they too would have a startling testimony to share, thanks to a roadside encounter with the risen Lord, who gently but firmly puts them in the picture: “‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

Pray for time and motivation to study the Scriptures, to get God’s perspective and to make it your own.

At this point, the disciples are completely unaware they are in conversation with Jesus, but their hearts are warmed by his words, and they invite him to stay the night, hungry for more. Later, at table, in the breaking of the bread, they realize they have been in the presence of Jesus, risen from the dead. They can’t wait to tell the others, and head straight back to Jerusalem, where there is a further treat in store for them: They get to see the Risen Lord again when he appears to the whole assembly.

Pray that your personal encounters with Jesus will be a blessing to the wider community.

Did you know?

The hymn, Abide with me, alludes to Luke 24:29: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

by Henry Francis Lyte

Emmaus Blessing

Already a blessing
in the walking

already a blessing
on the road

already a blessing
drawing near

already a blessing
in the listening

already a blessing
in the burning hearts

already a blessing
in the almost evening

already a blessing
in the staying

already a blessing
at the table

already a blessing
in the bread

already a blessing
in the breaking

already a blessing
finally known

already a blessing
give us eyes

already a blessing
let us see.

—Jan Richardson
from paintedprayerbook.com

See also walk, run, soar, especially the Millican’s Meaningful Journeys video (walk).

Show me the way

Duizel in het Park Festival, Rotterdam, August 2017 (Photo: Irene Bom)

The theme I’ve selected for August 2017 is “on a journey”.

The word “journey” does not appear much in the psalms, if ever. “Way” or “ways” is very common, though. Especially in Psalm 119, an extended meditation on living in right relationship with God, walking in his ways: “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.” (Psalm 119:1)

Invariably the word “way” expresses more than a particular road, path, or track that you use to go from one place to another. Instead, it reflects the outcome of multiple journeys that have somehow become internalized into a “way of life” (Psalm 84:11, Proverbs 28:18, Jeremiah 21:8).

Here selected verses from Psalm 143 – a prayer for help and direction on “the way I should go” to find relief and release in tricky situations. Sometimes relief comes from unexpected quarters, like in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).

1 LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.

7 Answer me quickly, LORD;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.

9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you.

10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

(Psalm 143:1, 7-10)


“The biblical psalms have the Lord God talking through the embattled confessions of children adopted by God who are in the grip of God’s Spirit. Yet, in the psalms, God is also talking live to anybody today, worldwide, who will listen.” (Calvin Seerveld, Voicing God’s Psalms, p. xvii)