13 Jul

Dappled Light & Shared Conversations

I have always loved the way that light and shade dance so beautifully together as a tree responds to the caresses of the wind.  The earth is teased as the leaves let sunshine through first here then there, in fleeting freckles and persistent patches  of light.

As I left breakfast this morning in York University where Synod had become a shared conversation,  I was struck by the beautiful shadow cast on the paving by the tree outside the Vanbrugh building. The rest of the weekend had been overcast, I hadn’t seen the beautiful dance of the grey spectrum on the concrete until that moment.  I felt honoured to be an audience to such unique choreography – only today will the leaves be their current size and shape, never again will the wind sweep and swirl in quite the same way.

I wanted to capture the moment, just one tap on my mobile and the image that fleetingly brought me wonder and joy could be recorded and shared. But there were a number of people inadvertently participating in the dance – those people were entitled to their privacy.  And a single perspective, one view, would not capture anything like the fullness of the dance – there was no angle from which the simple camera on my phone could hold all that space, no position from which I could frame the tree, the sky, the sun, the shadow, the back drop of the lake – too rich, too wide, too expansive, too fluid, too dynamic beyond the scope of my photography.

Deep gratitude has stayed with me through today for that brief moment with God and a microcosm of His creation.  The dancing dappled light was an astoundingly apposite image to take on the journey through our shared conversations.  The sense of it being beyond the scope of one observer to frame, describe, record or capture a helpful reminder that my experience of the shared conversations will not offer an insight into the whole. The huge variance of shade and light, the nuanced shades of grey as the wind changed the pattern of the leaves helpfully reflecting the range of views expressed in our various groups, not simply black and white contesting the space but a seemingly infinite range of shades highlighting one another.

The tree, well established, deeply rooted and yet responsive and dancing in the wind; the newest growth the most agile performers delivering the most astounding choreography. The wind, unseen and yet guiding, energising, inspiring every movement. And the light, none of it possible without the light, too bright to look on directly at its source but beautifully accessible as it finds it’s way to dance on the receptive ground.

Rooted, inspired and reflecting God’s light. The shared conversations were full of hope for me.  Moving, dynamic and accompanied by shadows.  The shared conversations came at some cost and not without pain.

I feel greatly privileged to have been part of this process and pray the next steps in this dappled light will be beautifully choreographed too.

16 Jun

Justice & Jimmy

Justice. An elusive little slip of a thing. So hard to get hold of. Looks different whenever the light changes. Never seems totally solid. As what looks just from one angle looks barbaric from another. Justice skates on thin ice. Unless of course justice skates on clearly established truth. In which case, justice can glide, pirouette, grand jettee en tournee comme elle veut because with truth as her stage justice can perform miraculously.

Truth makes justice constant. Truth is the floodlight that causes justice to shine. Truth is also the floodlight that causes justice to cast a long, indelible shadow. Truth is a peculiar light, completely reveals every fault , every detail and yet, the only light by which forgiveness can come.

I learned today that someone that had spent years seeking & finally finding the brutal light of the truth, died before justice had been allowed her finalé. The stage set, the lights blinding but the performance not quite brought to its crescendo.My tears a small tribute to a man who gave years as a tribute to his son. Jimmy, I pray that tonight in heaven truth & justice are weaving a beautiful dance for you. That somehow the sorrow of the past, the truth of the present & the justice of the future are all beautifully dancing together for you in the presence of God. Rest in peace Jimmy. You deserve some peace. Xxx


31 May

Jesus was surprised

A reflection on the healing of the Roman Soldier’s servant in Luke chapter 7. 

Jesus was surprised

The Word, who’s seen all of history
Jesus, who saw the earth start,
saw the first sunrise, heard the first bird’s song
Jesus, who saw humanity fall, brother murder brother,
son betray mother, friends reject each other
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Jesus, who’s heart broke as sin ran rampant and God’s ways were abandoned
Jesus, who grieved as the world was covered with flood
Jesus, who has seen God’s infinite love rejected repeatedly by the people he had chosen
Jesus, who knew that love could beat hate, and death could be defeated…
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised.

Jesus who came to seek and save the lost
Jesus who loved from heaven to earth and as far as the cross
Jesus who knows our thoughts and our hearts.
Jesus was surprised?
Jesus was surprised?
I wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Jewish elders speaking up for a soldier
Like a red singing the praises of blues
Or a saint howling for the wolves
Jews sticking up for the Romans.
Now that is a surprise
That’s a big surprise
I wasn’t expecting that.
But it’s not what surprised Jesus.

Jesus was surprised

A soldier built a synagogue
A Roman helping the Jews serve God
Normally enemies but here; friends, with love.
That’s a big surprise
I wasn’t expecting that.
But it’s not what surprised Jesus.

Jesus was surprised

In all his earthly life No one had grasped it
Not Mary his mother
Not Peter his disciple
Not John his beloved
None of them could see
But with a heart of love
And the gift of faith
The soldier believed
With a faith not found elsewhere.
Jesus was surprised,
Jesus was surprised.
He wasn’t expecting that.
Jesus was surprised

A soldier with faith for a miracle
Knew he could not earn it
Knew he didn’t deserve it
But had faith that Jesus could do it.
Jesus was surprised,
Jesus was surprised.
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised.

The soldier’s request was not for himself
But a heartfelt plea for another
Faith stretched by compassion
Not comfort or desire
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

God’s love so often rejected
God’s plan so rarely understood
God’s word so easily doubted
The soldier accepted, understood and trusted
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

Faith in a word from the word
Hope trusting the power of a voice
A miracle by messenger
A glimpse of things to come
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

Jesus was surprised

The soldier practiced the plan for the future…
Faith in a word from the word?
Hope trusting the power of a voice?
A miracle by messenger?
How God works now!
The Roman was a prophet
A sign of things to come
Jesus was surprised
Jesus was surprised
He wasn’t expecting that.

We are the soldier pleading for a friend
We are the messenger seeking the miracle
We are the servant needing to be healed
We are the voice which speaks God’s word
We speak the healing words of the word.
We are a glimpse of God’s love
Who expected that!

10 Mar

Walking on Eggshells

 

 

I had known Phil just 4 days when he asked me if Tom, Beth and Joshua would be good names for our children. Much to his surprise, I burst into tears: I already knew I was very unlikely to be able to get pregnant.

There have since been a seemingly never ending variety of conversations that follow a similar pattern. Someone makes a kindly intended, seemingly innocuous comment based on the presumption that getting pregnant is part of life’s naturally unfurling pattern.  I either erect a wall to protect myself or drop my defenses to show them a little of my pain.

I demolished the wall and Phil saw more pain than I had allowed myself to acknowledge before then. As a single woman, my infertility could be held at a distance, disconnected from my reality like an unproven theory.  Phil’s words brought it hurtling into the present.

The moments that followed were bursting with potential for disaster.  One clumsy statement from Phil and I would retreat into my shell of shame and fear.  Succumbing to the desire to cling to the unfounded dream of a perfect wife and Phil would leave the story on this page.

Thankfully, Phil says it was in the moment of my tearful honest vulnerability, that he knew he was in love with me.  Which is just as well because his next words sealed my love for him.  ‘I want all of you, not just your womb.’ And he held me as we both wept.

Many similar conversations have not finished so well.

The initial comment or question has sometimes been met with a hardening of my defences and a brush off, varying from fragile & gentle to angry & brusque. The other in the conversation probably bewildered and confused wondering what on earth went wrong.  I am left feeling unfaithful to my infertile history and community, I know that telling my story is a means of chipping away at the shame associated with infertility.

Sometimes it goes the other way.  I drop my defenses and respond honestly.  Then the other in the conversation is trusted for a moment to hold a little of my brokenness, which is frightening.

It is a difficult gift to handle and some drop it immediately, leaving me to pick up the bits and carry on.  Others meet my brokenness with embarrassment, which matches my shame and we share some mutual discomfort. Excruciatingly some glibly belittle the grief or express their relief that someone as strong as I is able to carry such a burden. Yet others propose an infallible solution, over 17 years I’ve heard quite a range, imagining that perhaps we hadn’t furnished ourselves with accurate details of how to go about making babies in the first place.

Phil’s response that acknowledged the problem and embraced me as a person, a whole and yet broken person, has been echoed by others over the years. There have been many brave friends and strangers that have seen the absorbing mess of infertility and embraced my vulnerability anyway.  For that, I am thankful.