“Why did you do all this for me?‘ he asked.
‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
‘You have been my friend,‘ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
None of us can make it through this life alone
Needing someone isn’t shameful
I am celebrating this today
Resisting, hiding, fighting myself
My friends saw me, they knew my need
They carried me
They knew me better than I knew myself
As trusted companions they chose for me
Their presence allowed me to catch a fresh vision
Of my personal history still being written
In simple, understated ways and with transforming words,
My friends reminded me that I am not alone on the journey
With a lump rising in my throat, my heart is truly in thankful
Kindred spirits walk this journey with me
Who understand and encourage me
They have joined me in my story
Outsiders have become family
Needing and emptiness has become good
Creating a space for God to enter and love me through others
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow”.
I believe that deep down most peoples’ worst fear is that we will live ordinary lives that have no significance.
Or perhaps it is just mine…
Nonetheless, I have come to realise that continually asking myself the question “what am I to with the rest of my life”? is a problem.
By relentlessly asking this of myself I essentially I become more self-focused – as I try harder to do things that make me ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of myself, God, my family and friends. I am sure there is more I need to do in order to have value and be considered significant in the world, in my community and in my family. I have fallen prey to the lie that God is expecting something more from me or with-holding something from me until I live up to a standard, give of myself enough, behave or perform in a certain way. Perhaps that is why this prayer of Robert Farrar Capon’s resounds with me and makes me smile:
“Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.”
Intellectually I believe in God’s unwavering acceptance but I have realised that this ever present question, as well as my daily actions, thought patterns and concerns mean that in my heart I don’t believe I am accepted and lovable unless I am doing something.
As I approach my 50th birthday I am asking that “as I received Christ, so may I now walk in Him” (My paraphrase – Colossians 2:6). I am asking to walk one step at a time in faith – not needing to figure out for myself what my future holds but trusting that His all-sufficient grace will lead me forward at the appropriate time. This is the Gospel I need to preach to myself daily as I embrace this time of space and rest is a gift.
“Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted”
Mangled metal, shattered shards
A life destroyed, innocence lost
Hope set adrift
Where is the answer to such horrendous and unfair suffering?
What does one say to hemorrhaging human pain?
How does Love reach those who are desolate deep in their hearts?
How is balance restored to a faith wobbling?
There are no answers…
Only small transformations in our hearts
Pain alters our perspective
Devastating loss reminds us we have needs beyond what we can manage
Our only hope Lord
Is in You
“Deep sorrow often has the effect of stripping life of pretense, vanity, and waste… It forces us to ask basic questions about what is most important in life…
That is why many people who suffer sudden and severe loss often become different people.”
Sometime before January the word nourish hit my heart hard as my word for 2014. I have had my years of ‘breathing’ & ‘waiting’ but it strikes me that this year is going to be about more about intentionally searching out, feeding and aligning my heart with His. When the word chose me – I was not aware of the action it implied, instead my starving soul, longing for something deeply, sensed Hope in the word. Dry and parched my heart responded to the restoration implied and it settled there.
Meditating on the concept of nourishing I began to realise that with the choice of this word I am acknowledging, something has shifted. As a verb, it involves participation and action. My word for last year, waiting was more passive. In my shattered state and burn-out mode even the thought of “choosing” would have sunk me. So, while this is just a glimmer on the horizon, it has stirred something within me and there is a sense of anticipation and excitement about actively desiring to care for my heart….
“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean“
Elizabeth David “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine”
This past Friday’s week’s “word” over at at Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Fridays was: Reflect
and so I am linking up again with this writing ‘flash mob’ to reflect on a great man and the state of my heart!
My sobs over Mandela’s passing surprised me….
His death was not unexpected to me or the world.
It must have been a relief to his poor ailing body and the family who loved him.
Even though it is unlikely the world will see such a unique man again, even though I am overwhelmed by his sacrifice and his forgiveness (two traits I’m not able to consistently emulate, even with the indwelling Divine) my choking-moans as I watched the coverage of his death and legacy surprised me…
I remember missing the Southern Cross most desperately when I first moved north across the equator. The constellation had always been a symbol that grounded me: the first thing I looked for in the night sky. It seemed unappreciative to my new culture to mention its absence and the longing in my heart.
We were in the Great White North when Madeba was released from prison and in spite of having been active in the anti-apartheid movement and having anticipated the glorious moment of his freedom I remember a dull quiet ache as I watched my hero leave captivity behind. I contained my disappointment of not being able to share more actively with those I had stood alongside in the struggle and so I watched from afar in my heart.
This December our family will gather in the Caribbean for Madeba’s funeral and watch this iconic man being honoured and buried in part of a faraway country that owns much of our hearts. We live disconnected lives, with fragments remaining everywhere, close relationships scattered globally, loss and pain continually repeated. These official days of mourning will be added to the list of those times where the pain of separation, from a country and people we love, is deeply felt.
Personally, his death has exposed me.
I mourn this humble, noble man who achieved great things but it is clear there is more to my loss. I have a sense that I am also be laying to rest some of the longings and dreams I have in relation to this place at the tip of the continent of Africa… the yearning within me for that red soil and those unmistakably African sunsets; the melodic, throaty music and songs of celebration and resistance; the poverty, pollution, smog, dust and wildness of the continent; and the dreams I walked away from….