Helen Sherwin

A welcome guest

One day it arrived.

It rushed in like a wind blowing open a door which was left slightly ajar, as though there might be a very small possibility of a visitor arriving later. “I’m not staying up for you but you can let yourself in you need”.

And by the morning it had come. But it wasn’t a visitor in the normal sense. It was a feeling,
A feeling with a deeper meaning. A peacefullness had entered in before I had time to scare it out again, and it had settled right here inside.

At first it felt so foreign I didn’t recognise it. But then my heart knew its name. It was forgiveness.
I had forgiven you, as you had forgiven me. Bitterness no longer being entertained had sculked away. Anger had followed it. And forgiveness had arrived.

With this new guest came a deep sense of peace. And I asked the peace to stay; and it said it would.

We are so often governed by our circumstances, when things are going well we are at peace, when their not our emotions follow. I used to think that because peace was a gift from God that all Christians should therefore experience peace at all times (‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.’) Yet the Bible actually says that peace is something to strive for always, and that is it inextricably linked to forgiveness (‘Make every effort to live in peace with everyone’, ‘They must seek peace and pursue it’, ‘a future awaits those who seek peace.’) The pursuit of peace is not an easy task, but it is a noble calling.
Paint me a Picture by Helen Sherwin

Paint me a picture.
What of? 

Of a pretty pub I once knew whose garden backed onto the churchyard.
Where people would sit and chat with a beer, comfortable in the company of their neighbours.
And on Saturdays you could see wedding parties arrive. And later, newly weds exiting in a whirl of confetti and laughter; ready to take on the world.

Paint me in the corner under the Sycamore tree. The very time we first met.
When I was watching Larry on that spring day whilst my Dad was inside talking to the vicar.
You stroked his mottled coat, whilst enquiring after my name and winning me with your wild eyes and even wilder hair.

I smiled.

Paint me that picture, and forever capture a moment when we were happy.


to be loved

I want to be loved.
Here, now and always,
to be treasured, and held,
to be valued, and seen,
forever in the perfect light.
Not judged by my worst day,
or even my best.
Loved because I am.
No longer marked by what I do,
or didn’t do.
Instead given grace again,
and then again, and again,
because I am yours,
because I am worthy of love.
I want to be loved,
simply because
I am human.

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Fill my lungs with your air once more
For my own will no longer sustain me
Let me feel life again
as my diaphragm expands
and a welcome presence enters
Do again what you did in the garden
Forming man in your likeness
and breathing into him
his very existence
Remake me by the spirit of the living God
So I can offer up my praise to the heavens

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Life Got Harder by Helen Sherwin

Life got harder when you left it.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate you whilst you were here:
I did.
It’s just that I appreciated you by your presence;
I enjoyed your company, your querks, your goodness.
But now I’m appreciating you by your absence.
Realising all that’s missing,
How life got harder when you left it,
Each day like wading knee-dip in mud.

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The Making of You by Helen

Don’t you see that it could be the making of you?
As you stand here now, flooded by the pressures of life
Wondering how you are going to survive
Gasping for breath amidst responsibilities,
decisions, work, bills,
Circular problems that have you going dizzy
Because they don’t stop rearing their ugly head over and over.
And it’s tiring, and it weighs you down

But it could be the making of you.
And you should “look on the bright side”
And it sounds proposteous
because you’ve looked on the bright side before
and it hasn’t made it any brighter or any lighter.

But you should know that, it is ‘making you’ whether you like it or not.
It’s making you into something –
for better or for worse.
Building in you resilience, everyday that you persevere
And it’s giving you wisdom
so that next time that circular problem comes around you’ll be that bit wiser,
That bit closer to solving it.

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Have I lived well? That’s the question I’m asking myself as I sift through these boxes, dusting off old photographs of people I haven’t seen in years, and birthday cards inscribed with messages, which boldly say we’ll forever be friends. The truth is we’re just not that close anymore.

Did I spend my time the right way? I ponder as I discard old essays which I don’t remember writing, and postcards and trinkets from countries I’m sure I’ve never visited; souvenirs of experiences which have no bearing on my own. I suppose they were once worth keeping but now they will be lining a black bag.

Is this what my life amounts to? I ask as I pull an ancient phone and a physics exercise book out of a warped brown box and I remember the way I flunked that exam. And I recall the fight I had over the phone causing my first relationship to crumble shortly after. A feeling of failure washes over me.

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Be You by Helen Sherwin

It must be such hard work having to be that person all the time.
Constantly pushing out that same image,
Not letting it slip for one second.

Because people look to you to be that way.
You have a following.
And you can’t let them down.
No, you won’t let them down.

But is it really you?
Or just an image you’ve created of yourself?
An image people like,
You liked once.

But now it’s exhausting.
Aren’t you a bit tired?
What if you put it down?

That’s it, stop for just a minute.
Take a step back,
and breathe.

OK now start again.
But this time:
Don’t be anybody else –
Just be you.

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Dream On Dear One by Helen Sherwin

Dream on dear brother,
Hold your wishes before the Lord,
Where we failed to listen and act,
Go to the one who made it all,
Ask him what, why, how and when,
Then reply simply with a nod,
For today you are standing,
In the presence of your God.

Dream on dear father,
For in His kingdom dreams come true,
Enjoy the perfect family,
A ready-made community for you,
Laugh that cheerful laugh,
A joy no longer flawed,
For today you are standing,
In the presence of your Lord.

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at the crossroads

A train rattles down the track gaining speed. On board passengers sit staring into space, stationary in their seats and yet moving ever closer to their destinations – progressing on this confusing track we call life. I blink as the wind blows up and the train rushes past me, and I can’t help wondering how I came to be at this crossroads. Everyone else seems to be moving forward and I am standing still.

I search through my bag but I’ve clearly lost my map. Should I go back and look for it? I glance ahead beyond the track. The path between the trees is obscured after the first bend, and to my right the road leads down the hill.
Not only am I not sure which path to take but I don’t know my end destination. I’m acutely aware that time is getting on and that the light is quickly fading. Panic takes hold as realisation sets in. I am lost.Read More →