21 May

Frustrated passions

yellow tulip

There’s supposed to be a fine line between passion and madness.  Many great artists have had their sanity questioned at some time in their life. Many of those that from a distance in history seem like ground breaking incredible achievers, inventors, explorers were in their own time considered quite loopy.

These are people that have developed a passion for something out of the ordinary, a hunger to portray beauty, a desire to break the bounds of what is considered possible, a yearning to tread virgin soil, to do something unique and extraordinary. In order to fulfill such ambitions a certain determination is needed, a capacity to focus on one goal at the expense of other aspects of life.

People develop passions for anything from the mundane to the spectacular.  I once spent a long weekend in Brussels translating for a specialist surveyor… her passion was soil and the effects of industrial land usage on the soil in immediate contact with and surrounding industrial developments. Her passion so deeply cherished, studied and communicated that she travels to check the earth all over the planet. Her passion has formed her career, literally opened the earth up to her. Her passion is born out of a love for the world that we live in and her passion creatively challenges others to interact with the earth in a way that cherishes it.

Creative expression of passion is as old as creation and is, in my opinion, the source of creation.  God, the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit, love one another so passionately that we, humanity, the world, everything, become the creative expression of that passion. The love between the three persons of the Trinity so immense, so fierce, so tender, so beautiful, so passionate that they create something, everything, from that love. Their delight and pleasure in their love means they passionately create us to participate in that love. Just as the impassioned sportsperson becomes a coach, the artist exhibits their work, the dancer takes to the stage – loving passion draws others in.

Our desire to procreate, to create life out of our passion and love for another, is an entirely human and yet utterly Holy desire. It is an exquisitely beautiful way of opening our love out, inviting someone else to participate in it and allowing our love a life beyond our reach. There are of course many ways in which a passionate pair can open their love to allow others in, all forms of hospitality mirror the passion of creation by risking the invasion of others and inviting them to participate in the love being offered.

However the desire for the unique creation of a child is an out working of love that cannot be replicated in any other form. A child that is formed from the passionate act of making love, a child that is formed by the egg welcoming the invasive sperm, a child that is formed by the hospitality of the womb despite the often high physical cost of that hospitality, a child that is formed by the intertwining of lovers’ DNA.

It is a tragedy when any persons passion becomes unobtainable to them: The injured athlete that can no longer run.  The arthritic pianist who can no longer play.  The artist with cataracts who can no longer see to paint. The couple that cannot procreate. The God who faces rejection from those His passion created.

If those in history pursuing their unique passions seemed to live on the edge of sanity, how great the strain on mental well being for those with frustrated passions. A passion in love that procreates is as old as the earth and as common as grains of sand, yet for some of us it is unobtainable, our grief maybe understandably close to madness.

06 May

Empty room?

View from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

View from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

This evening was the first in a series of evenings at Liverpool Cathedral exploring how to live fruitfully whilst going through infertility.  Perhaps we had not given enough attention early enough to publicity: No one came to participate.  Those of us that have prayerfully planned and prepared content, food, hearts and minds were there but no one came to gather with us.

We were there in time to create a hospitable environment, food ready to serve, kettle on and praying for those that might come. We waited, nothing happened.  There were a couple of false alarms, noises that made us think someone might be on the stairs – that our room would be filled.  But a peep out of the door confirmed; no one was coming.

Expectant and yet unfilled, our meeting room much like our wombs…

Our desire to live faithfully and fruitfully in our infertility,  the delight we have already found in shared stories,  our determination to avoid redundancy with our time and resources meant that the room was far from empty..

We ate well, laughed together, there were tears too but mainly we shared hopes and dreams about how our stories walking with God through infertility might be of some comfort to others.  Discussing the tension between how much we would have loved to come to such a course soon after discovering we had fertility issues but how hard it would be to come as the complex emotions create a raw fragility hard to place into the hands of strangers.

In time some of the dreams we shared may come to reality, perhaps a support group, maybe some one day events… perhaps you dream of some kind of support that we might be able to offer?

Meanwhile, we continue to pray that the next four Wednesdays will be fruitful, hopefully with participants joining us. Knowing that with us and God the room will never really be empty.

Next week, if anyone can make it, we will be sharing food,  our stories and survival tips from 6:30 in the Radcliffe Room at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

15 Mar

Cot Idol

cot idol

Here’s one I wrote a while ago, that has been rescued after the site crashed…

Worship of idols used to be a lot simpler, there was much greater clarity.  A bronze statue, a golden calf, a sacred pole, an altar to a false deity, a beast endowed with holiness by some arbitrary process or decision.  You knew where you were. You chose an idol and sacrificed to it.  You dedicated time, worship, money; whatever the idol demanded. The pleasure or displeasure of the idol incurred by your actions determined your well-being and success.  When Yahweh demanded the removal and destruction of idols back in the day, those idols were clearly identifiable and God’s wrath and His people’s actions had a clear target.  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+12%3A+2-4&version=NRSV)

Idolatry has lost its brazen and in broad daylight quality. Today’s idols masquerade as normal, innocuous, everyday people and objects. Some of them even good things. But all get in the way of relationship with God. Today’s idols demand worship in much subtler forms, are hard to identify and  even harder to remove.  And yet for our faith to flourish, remove them we must.

So how on earth do you remove the idol that we can so easily make out of the desire to have a child?

I have been wrestling with my idolatry for almost all of my 43 years, with the idol taking greater hold when my fertility became uncertain following traumatic events when I was 17. My now husband’s first declaration of his ‘intentions’ 19 years ago, included proposed names for our children, Tom, Beth and Joshua – so my idol became shared.

Culture and church community often colluded with our idolatry, the desire for a child becoming our focus and purpose.  The idol all-consuming and unrelenting in withholding its blessing.

When we asked for prayer regarding our childlessness, the prayers often appeased our idol. Prayers for pregnancy, prophetic (sounding) declarations of when our idols would appear to us, heart felt pleas that our infertility would end.

It didn’t.

And within the search for the child idol we found ourselves often remote from God, so our idolatrous quest and worship left us battered and betrayed, empty and isolated. We realised we had to restore God to his rightful place in our lives and place our desire for a child as subject to Him.  We had twisted God into becoming a subject of our idol, casting Him in the role of dispenser of children, seeking Him for that purpose, rather than for His glory and the purposes of His kingdom.

The child idol was firmly in place for the first few years as we tried to get pregnant.  I wish I could identify the pivotal moment when we decided that we would ask for prayer to help us remain faithful to God rather than asking God to get us pregnant. Many have struggled to understand, those that pray with us often still prioritise the empty whom over the faithful heart.

Banishing the idol and seeking God has not taken away the grief of infertility, it has however enabled us to embrace adoption and fill our home with delightful sons.  Banishing the idol and seeking God has enabled us to see our brokenness as a gift to be shared, from which fruitfulness can emerge.  It is a great privilege to be traveling alongside David, Lizzie and others to offer our brokenness to seek to equip others to better approach infertility with God in an event that took place in Liverpool on March 17thhttp://www.liverpool.anglican.org/lifecallhomeforgood  Looking to the future we are seeking to develop further resources and events to support those trying to hold onto faith through the journey of infertility… what could we do that would help you?

Our idol has never lived up to our expectations but our God continues to exceed them.