Does this mean I am not a failure…?

A while ago, I joked online about feeling a failure because I don’t ( and won’t) go cold water swimming, and I don’t have a Podcast. I rather consigned these – along with the trends of ‘radical self-care and the ‘digital detox’ – to the ‘things I don’t do – let’s leave that to the influencers’ corner. Meanwhile, I focused on being consistent in at least one thing – my utter lack of self- promotion.

I should note, this is despite having a book published in April. I can rather rise to the challenge of creating the odd Instagram story ( still not entirely sure why or what they are for) as long as the creative process of doing so interests me enough to bother. If I can divorce me enough from the process, then I might not die from the exposure.

Which is why a moment’s inspiration last week took me very much by surprise. I woke up one morning knowing that I was going to record a podcast, knowing what it was going to be about, and knowing what it was going to be called.

I swear, it just appeared, fully formed, in my awareness. And God, how I wish that the creative process was always like that! There’s more to it though. My podcast is called FKD UP BY FAITH. In it, I have conversations with people about how they’ve been fucked up by their faith, and (more importantly) how they have found hope, healing, reconciliation and forgiveness.

Within a week of having the idea, I had recorded and published the first episode – with my dear friend Roger Wolsey. At the end of our conversation, he said ‘ you might not see it this way, but this is ministry’. And he put his finger on something that I had sort of realised, but not quite. That this isn’t just about fulfilling my creative urge, it’s about fulfilling my ministry.

It is my ministry.

That thing arriving fully formed, fully created. A gift from the one who inspires us all, if we are inclined to listen. Like all my God-given gifts, I have a feeling that some people are not going to like it. Whilst the spelling FKD is an important adjustment for algorithms and delicate sensibilities, using the F word in the same sentence as the other F word (faith) might bother some folks.

In many ways though, this is probably a good indicator that this is exactly what I should be doing. If I didn’t swear, I wouldn’t be me. I would be denying myself, and my background. This is the thing about inclusivity. Do we accept people as they are… or do we want them to shave the edges off their class and their culture, as well as all the other identities that religion has told (and continues to tell) people they can’t be?

And do you know what else? Jesus hung around with sailors! Have you ever hung around with sailors? I think we can pretty much guarantee that Jesus heard more than the odd F-bomb ( or first-century Palestinian version thereof) and he never mentioned it.

How To Pray (if you don’t pray) #2

In my last post I spoke about prayer, and what it is and what it means and what it might look like. I wanted to follow this up with some more thoughts on ways of praying.

I mean, you can get on your knees and place your hands together, if you really want to. Sometimes that feels like – and is – exactly the right thing to do. In some traditions, that is the way to pray.

But there are other ways into prayer that for some of us, can be more direct, more accessible, less constraining, less… like praying.

Pray With Your body

Prayer can be a dance, a whole body, moving gift of thanks, or praise of wonder, of delight in creation.

Prayer can be tears – of joy, rage, anger, despair. (Indeed, in the Orthodox tradition of Christianity, human tears are considered sacramental).

Prayer can be spending time outside. In nature. In the urban landscape. Among the trees. By water. Wherever it is, there are opportunities to notice, to wonder, to be delighted, to give thanks.

Pray With Your Voice

Prayer can be singing. Hymns or hip-hop, choral, or gospel. The human voice brings with it the gift of prayer and praise, joy and longing, heartbreak and loneliness and everything else. What could be more like prayer?

Prayer can be talking to God. I often ask people what they would like to say to God. And if they don’t believe in God, I ask them – what would you say if you did?

Prayer can simply be telling others what your hopes are. (See talking to God)

Pray With Small Rituals

Prayer can be lighting a candle. Go into a church or a religious building if you wish. Or just light a candle. Light symbolises hope. Light illuminates the darkness.

Prayer can involve the elements. Drop stones or shells into water, tie pieces of cloth to a tree in the wind, plant seeds in the earth, burn pine cones in a fire. Let the intention of your prayers be carried with the gesture.

Prayer can be planting vegetables, or trees, tending the earth, feeding animals, weeding, pruning, mowing, recycling, composting…

Pray With Your Presence or Skill

Prayer can be listening – really listening – to another. A friend, a relative, a stranger. Let your presence be a prayer.

Prayer can be creativity – making art, writing, music, poetry, knitting, origami, cooking. Making things is a beautiful way to offer your gifts as a prayer.

Prayer can be doing something for others – Being of service, to a cause, to your community, neighborhood, town, even in your own home.


Prayer can be anything else that you do with awareness of gratitude, hope, compassion, or in the stillness of contemplation.

Praying – by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Oliver, Mary. 2017. Devotions : The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (New York: Penguin Press, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House Llc)


I have spent the past week on holiday (sort of) In truth I never really switch off. In recent months, I have started a new Masters course, submitted a book manuscript and been ordained as an interfaith minister, as well as keeping up with support of my Yoga for Cancer students. It has all been circling in my brain.

In the course of all of this, I retired my blog Ceibhfhion. I had been thinking about it for a while. Looking back on some of my earlier posts, I can see a journey, and I sometimes cringe at where I was on the journey at the time of writing. My writing has evolved – a PGCert in Creative Writing served me well- but so has my thinking and my spiritual focus. The two years of my interfaith ministry training was a deep dive into the shadows. Becoming a minister is not- and probably shouldn’t be – an easy ride.

On top of all of this – my lay ministry in the church has come into question. Can you be two things? I think so. I find it easy to be two, three, four, multiple things. They are all expressions of my service in the world. There are those who question the validity of an interfaith minister’s ‘ordination.’ I understand the struggle to come to terms with something outside of the traditional understanding of what an ordained minister is, of how they come to be ordained, of who they are serving, of all the matters of faith, and creed and doctrines associated with the mainstream Christian understanding of church ministry.

It is not the same thing at all. Except in the sense that we are charged with doing the work of God (other interfaith ministers have other words) and being of service in the world. This takes many shapes and forms. Neither is it opposed to, or contrary to Christian ministry. It is deeply complementary. At the heart of it is love. This is fundamental to our shaping and training. Since that is at the heart of Christian teaching, I don’t see an issue. But then, I am not in charge …(thank God)

I have been reflecting ( more like anxiously wrestling) on what this means for my sense of belonging. How all of this impacts on my studies, my work, my worship life. This belonging story is nothing new. The lack of belonging for people on the autistic spectrum is written into the bones of our narratives. Its cousin, fear of rejection, playing wingman, stirring up the dregs of childhood (and adult) traumas. The old stories of not – and never – belonging, no matter how hard I try.

What maturity brings, of course, is an understanding of how these stories have been shaped. I could easily paint myself into a corner with this old and tired version of myself, or I could step boldly and strongly into an identity that I know to be filled with nothing but loving integrity. This is why this new website, unlike all of my old websites and blogs, has my own name.

This week, I have consoled and bolstered and emboldened myself with the writings of Christians on the fringe. The priests and ministers and lay folk who take risks, defy the establishment, live to tell the tale. Those who are much more concerned about the Way of Christ, than the ways of the establishment.

One of them – Dave Tomlinson – writes “Church is not supposed to be a place of theological `purity’ or rigid conformity to certain beliefs and conventions, but a mishmash of believers, doubters, dissenters and malcontents, each of whom is grappling in his or her own way towards a mystery that is God.”