philip chircop


What good is It, I wonder,
if the bread is changed and we are not?

What good is it
if the wine is changed and we are not?

What difference does it make
if the bread and the wine are radically transformed
and we remain untouched,

Reflection: Philip Chircop
Art: The Last Supper by Stefan Georgiev


What is the “this”?
Can it be that “this” is more the bread and the wine?

Can it be that “this” is more than the real presence myopically conceived and understood, cause of so much fighting and division?

What if “this”
refers to the radical and total gift of self,
the removing of all outer garments,
the wrapping a towel round our waist,

What if “this” is all about
falling to the ground looking for feet to wash?

What of “this” is all about
paying attention,
becoming “really present” to the people around us
becoming “really present” to the cry of the poor,
the people on the edge and in the margin,
the forgotten and the maligned?

What if “do this in memory of me”
is also a eucharistic invitation to read between the lines:
“be this in memory of me”?

Reflection: Philip Chircop
Art: The Washing of the Feet by Leszec Forczek


“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” | Alan Alda

Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” 

So many people spend their lives limited, paralyzed and blocked by assumptions that are either only partially true or completely untrue. While I believe that some assumptions are necessary - without them, we would need to evaluate each and every little choice we make - the majority of them are simply erecting a wall that does not exist.

Here are a couple of questions intended to stretch us beyond our assumptions:

  • Is it true?
  • Can it be different? How?
  • What are some  alternative ways of looking at this?
  • How can I reframe this whole situation?


Plato said that we are all born whole but we need each other to be complete.

as a simple match,
whole in itself,
carries a light within
made visible when stricken
against something

so it is with you and me:
a flame burns deep within
awaiting birth

when my story
strikes another’s,
blessing the world
with a blaze - mine and yours!

Philip Chircop | 27th July 2014


Beholden. Maternal lift
allowing the fruit of her womb
play with wet clay
the moist earth marking creator and creature
with the marks of dirt, earth,
echoing the memory of our clay beginnings.

Beholden. Lifted up daily
showered with possibilities given by the dawn
we journey through the moments of the day
not afraid to get dirty again and again

claying around

dancing, agile, 
blessed with and freed by the gift of flexibility
creating newness out of possibility
from the fresh clay of what the day

Verse | Philip Chircop sj
Photo Source | cal51

Spend some time with this delightful photo and compose your own thought, verse, poem elicited from your conversation with the picture.  Post your poem in the comments section.

A couple of days ago I flew to Nassau. During the relatively short trip from Toronto the air hostess provided me with a tip I will never forget.  While serving me a glass of red wine, she said to me: “Live like a local when you travel and like a tourist when you’re at home.”

  • What do you think?
  • How much we miss when we do simply what the guidebooks suggest!  What would happen if we drop the guidebooks and instead ask the locals for where to go and what to do and where to stay!
  • And when at home, we take so much for granted, that it would be good to put on the tourist and explorer’s hat!  You will perhaps notice things you haven’t noticed before.
  • One last point:  what would happen if we live our lives not according to what the books say - here I am mainly referring to the plethora of self help books - but learning and growing and maturing and becoming through our human exchange and conversation?

personal reflections | philip chircop



Talking about colours, here are one photo (I promise I will add some more as soon as I have access to faster wi-fi) with a wonderful blend of colours from above and below.

If you could paint your house any colour (or multiple colours) what would you choose and why? Would the inside be coloured differently than the outside?

Look around you today and notice the fiesta of colours and the vibrancy of hues and tints that already exist in creation.

Photo: Philip Chircop sj | Fotovitae (Colourful Dwellings in Nassau)


1. LULLABY YOUR IDEA-SEEDS | By this I mean, take whatever you are working on, thinking about, imaging … with you into the night.  It is a known fact that the brain continues to process and evaluate your ideas and thoughts.  Focus on your insights and thoughts moments before bedtime and let the subconscious ponder it all while you enjoy a good night sleep!

2. STRETCH BEYOND YOUR PRESENT BELIEFS | Many great inventions started from what many considered to be silly ideas.  Never let your or others’  present beliefs limit your dreaming and your imagining!  Know that you are a fireball of potential, much of which is still awaiting expression. Stretch beyond your limiting beliefs.

3. READ RELEVANT AND IRRELEVANT BOOKS | Reading initiates a conversation with another mind, that of the author.  This exchange between author and reader has the capacity to morph into a bud, a seed, a new idea! And make sure you vary the readings to include things of seemingly irrelevant books, topics outside your field of interest.  This is good manure and will fertilize your field of interest!

4. TAKE NOTES, DOODLE, DRAW, AND REVIEW | A note, a mark, an image in the margin of a page is the beginning of the conversation with the author. Journal about how the readings and the thoughts of other authors are effecting you. 

Note-taking doesn’t apply to reading times only.  Carry a note pad or use the iPhone or iPad to jot down ideas to pop up in the course of the day.  Record your ideas on the go.

5. START EACH DAY WITH A BEGINNER’S MIND | Be a “learning person” rather than a “learned” one.  Be a curious, constant learner like a little child. If you adopt the position that you know everything about a subject then you’ll obviously never come up with any new insights about it.  Of course, you don’t have to accept every new piece of information that comes your way, but you can always embrace anything that can nourish and sustain your creative spirit and gentle discard what does not.

personal reflections | philip chircop


“Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”Morticia Addams, character in The Addams Family

And it think is was Whoopi Goldberg who said, “Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine.”

  • Is there such a thing as “normal”? 
  • How would you define or describe “normal”? 
  • When someone says to us “you’re not normal" should we be offended or rejoice?

Today, remember that God gave you the things that make you different. Cherish them, and use them to help the world become a better place.

Photo | Cobweb in Kingston Ontario by Philip Chircop SJ


Leaving Arizona,
with a festive warring of colours etched
deep in my imagination

crimson laced with shades
of orange and golden yellow

dark blue preparing the landscape
for the night

skies propped on
saguaros stretching heavenward
not yawning
but keeping vigil through the night.

Poem: Philip Chircop sj
Photo: Greg McCown | Saguaro National Park



Many have been asking me recently: where do you come from?
Here’s one answer out of many possible answers. Enjoy.


Here’s a photo of Lake Moraine in the Canadian Rockies, taken yesterday (Wednesday 20th May 2015). If you feel so inclined, try your hand at crafting a haiku: originally a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. Traditionally haikus were composed, evoking images of the natural world.

Photo | Philip Chircop sj | Life-At-Eye-Level Photography


This was the text (and context) for my evening prayers yesterday evening!  Waters and sunsets facilitate prayer in many ways!  One does not need to do much. Actually, as I see it,  the less one does the better. To allow oneself to be taken in by the majestic beauty of creation, landing the pray-er or the watch-er or the contemplative gazer, into the embrace of the Creator

Photo: Philip Chircop | Waikiki (Hawaiian word meaning ‘Dancing Water’)