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Viewpoint from Rev Helen Garrard 07/06/2019

HELEN GARRARDRev Helen Garrard
Lead Chaplain Norfolk Community Health and Care, Priscilla Bacon Lodge


as published in the Yarmouth Mercury

Each year I take a retreat on Holy Island off the Coast of Northumbria. A retreat is important to support both my ministry as a hospital chaplain and my life as a Christian. It is an opportunity to take time out of the normal busyness and routine of life to be with God through a discipline of reading, prayer, and meditation
During my retreat I spent a morning on St Cuthbert’s Isle, a tiny island off Holy Island. It was bright, sunny and very clear, the tide was low and I was surrounded by a vast expanse of sand with seals, eider ducks, and oyster catchers. I sat on the low wall which marked the outline of an ancient chapel
dove leftIn that beautiful location I read John 21:1-17. This passage comes in the days after Easter. Jesus stands on the shore and calls out to the disciples who have been fishing all night. They have caught nothing, so he tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. When they do this, they catch a miraculous number of fish and Peter recognises that it is Christ who is speaking to them. Jesus shares breakfast with them and in those special words “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep” he commissions Peter to continue his work
I meditated on this story in the beauty of my surroundings. I visualised the boat on the sea in front of me and Jesus on the shore. I witnessed the story, then I stepped into it, listening to Jesus and responding to him as he asked me, “Do you love me?”

Dove rightTwo days later, I was in Morrisons. As I sipped my coffee, I decided to use the same image as a meditation. This time I imagined Jesus walking through the busy supermarket. I looked at the people all around me- selecting produce, looking at lists, carefully working out costs or quantities. Some were rushing, some moving very slowly. Some looked happy, others sad
I visualised Jesus among these people and wondered who would recognise him? Who would seek his healing? Who would he call, and who would respond? This was a prompt to me to pray for those around me and imagine my faith. Familiar stories can guide us into a deeper relationship with God. This could mean we too can meet him out shopping on Saturday!


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