Posts Tagged ‘God’

h1

memories

October 3, 2008

And when it comes to our feelings, those who have been left behind discover a vast ocean. Sometimes the ocean seems calm and still, and yet the next minute, for no apparent reason, a wave comes crashing over us. At other times the loss is so intense it is like being at sea, out of the sight of land and simply tossed around; and then, sometimes there are moments of quiet and serene beauty as a new truth dawns, and sometimes the grief is so overwhelming that it’s like drowning, and there’s no one to hear our cries (Christopher Herbert).

I’ve been thinking about a baby called Iona this week.

Even though many of us had never seen Iona we got to know her through her uncle Chris and couldn’t help but be amazed at her fight for survival. She was just weeks old. We prayed and waited for news of her progress and thanked God for the occasional glimmers of hope. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s been deeply moving and inspiring to read her uncle’s story and I’m hoping he continues for a short time at least. We won’t forget.  Her funeral will be tomorrow and although she may be gone, in the short time she’s been here, little Iona has made quite an impact. And for that we give thanks.

Advertisements
h1

Be Still …

September 19, 2008

I’m reminded of God’s presence and stillness today … and peace.  It’s not of our natural world and although I don’t understand it I do know it.

I have been overwhelmed but greatly comforted by that presence in the midst of worry, exhaustion, distress and confusion while watching the broken body of a parent die as her soul is set free. I’ve welcomed it in the aftermath of broken relationships and in the building of new ones. It’s been there in the numbness when realising some people weren’t what I thought. I’ve responded to its prompting in accepting I was loved. That same presence is there as I’ve talked to patients whose physical and emotional scars were a bit too much for me and I’ve sensed the presence in the joy of people believing and hoping tomorrow will be better. In the selfless and tireless efforts of people who want to make a difference it’s there … because they are there.

I’m remembering a few people today and hope that in their seeking to find some answers they will be able to find some peace and hope too.

h1

seeing God in one another

September 13, 2008

It was my intention to use a particular story last weekend at youth assembly and I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t because it is perfect. In all the hustle and bustle and recreating it went out of my head.

Like others, I have continued to reflect on the weekend and there were times when we didn’t get it right but that happens, we learn and move on. It’s a new format and there were always going to be teething problems.

In a couple of the sessions we desperately wanted to encourage people to look beyond the labels and stereotypes to see people as they are in their particular circumstances. We wanted to explore the impact of those circumstances on their relationships but also the perceptions that people hold. We wanted to challenge and, to a degree, that’s what we did. But I’m left feeling dissatisfied. I wish we’d done so many things differently that would have allowed a flow of conversation from one session to the other. We lost sight of that when deliverances became our focus.

This story says what we may not have achieved in saying last weekend. It’s about relationships, seeing God in one another and finding God in unexpected places. It’s a beautiful story which I hope you enjoy even if you’ve heard it before.

There was once an old monastery which had lost its inspiration. The same routines were performed as they had always been, but there were no new novices and little enthusiasm for the rites of prayer.

The Abbot saw all this and he grieved. At a loss as to how to change things, he paid a visit to an old hermit who lived in the woods. The hermit welcomed him in and spread the table with bread and cheese and wine. After they had eaten together the recluse addressed the Abbot.

You and your brothers have lost the fire of God. You come seeking wisdom from me. I will tell you a secret, but you can only repeat it once. After that no one must say it aloud again. The hermit then looked deep into the eyes of the Abbot and said, ‘The Messiah lives among you.’

They were both silent as the Abbot considered the import of this saying. ‘Now you must leave’ the hermit said.

Returning to the monastery, the Abbot called all the monks together and told them that he had a teaching which he had been given by God. He added that the teaching was never to be repeated out loud again. Then the Abbot looked at each of his brothers and said, ‘The Hermit says that one of us is the Messiah.’

The monks were startled. ‘What could this mean?’ they wondered silently. ‘Is John with the big nose the Messiah? Or Father Matthew who keeps falling asleep at prayer? Am I the Messiah? But puzzled as they were they never repeated the saying again

As time went by, the monks began to treat one another with a special love and reverence. There was a gentle, whole-hearted, human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to see. They lived with each other as those who had finally found something of significance. Their words were careful, considered and gentle. Who could tell when they might be speaking to the Messiah?

Before long, the vitality of the monastery attracted many visitors and young men began asking to join the community. The old hermit died without revealing any more and the Abbot sometimes wondered if he had understood correctly.

From ‘alt.spirit@metro.m3’ by Mike Riddell

h1

NYA2008 – my experience

September 11, 2008

I’m not a great fan of reflection but understand its importance. It’s about putting things into perspective, learning and developing. So with that in mind I’ll try to articulate my thoughts about the weekend.

When I was first asked to be part of this year’s assembly I agreed without much hesitation because I value NYA and its role. I also reckoned my job would be in the background because, let’s face it, one Cutler is enough for any event! It wasn’t until afterwards and finding that my remit was slightly more than I thought that I began to wonder if I’d done the right thing. Reasons for this are plenty but the stories are too long and too dull and would be too wrong to mention. I guess my feelings have been mixed from the start because I never thought I’d be back doing some work for the church again. God obviously had other plans and I’m glad about that.

Not surprisingly, it was really enjoyable and there were many, many positives. It was fantastic to see people I hadn’t seen in such a long time and the memories came flooding back and I smiled lots.

I enjoyed listening to Mark speak and remembered my past and times at Youth Assembly when his dad was guest speaker and that made me smile lots too. Mark had much to say and I found him engaging and, although he didn’t know me, he seemed to know me so very well. I’ll be trying to take his advice about space and rest and time out.

I’ll never forget the Burns Supper and how fantastic the speeches were and I’m certain it’s unlikely that Tam O’Shanter could ever be performed quite so wonderfully. The Unknown Magician made me laugh so much my sides hurt and I’m sure that’s why I ended up with a sore throat on Monday morning!

Staff worship was wonderful and I was so sorry I didn’t get to them all. I really wanted time at the human library too but didn’t and I desperately wanted to hear other people speak but didn’t manage that either. I guess more than anything I felt rushed. It wasn’t that we weren’t organised, we were, but we had technical problems or setting up problems or clearing the room of debris including banana skin problems. Yuck!

If I’m honest there were times when I found it all a bit too much for me. It turned into quite a surreal experience and one I was struggling to understand. I don’t do surreal very well, I’m pretty grounded and like things to feel real so it didn’t sit very right with me. I felt distracted and not connected to what was going on around me. I’m not even sure that I was fully present at times.

But there’s no doubting the people. People and their stories. I love listening to real people telling real stories. I heard stories that made me question who I am, what my role is and how I can demonstrate God’s presence in my own life. I admired the challenging minds I came into contact with and was in awe of their courage to speak out for what they believe to be right. I was left speechless by their passion for God and the commitment to the event that is YA. Perhaps it was here I caught a glimpse of God all over again and realised how far away I was.

My presence may have been intermittent but God’s presence was constant.

h1

Fragile

May 13, 2008

Expressive smiley eyes are a family trait and there’s a likeness amongst us. So they say.

She had smiley eyes … the prettiest girl in the class who loved to dance. Inside, her story was very different and I only ever caught a glimpse of her reality. But that was then. A lifetime ago.

She’s in hospital. Organ failure they say.

I stop at the nurses’ station asking where to find her. From a distance I don’t recognise her but she smiles as I enter the room and her eyes give her away. She’s pleased I’ve come.

It’s easy to reminisce and before long we’re remembering the silly things: our shared jealousy because her brother always got Nana’s treacle toffees; her highland dancing days until the kilt didn’t fit anymore and there was no money for a new one; the big radiogram; her obsession with The Bay City Rollers and tartan things; Saturday night skating when I was allowed; our fashion disasters and bad hair cuts yet she still looked good! At that moment we were able to find a place where she could forget the bad things, the hurt and the pain.

I recognise in her now the vulnerability and fragility of her life and try to understand the reasons for the choices she’s made along the way.

She holds my hand and tells me she thinks she will die.

The funeral is on Tuesday they say.

Today was Tuesday. She was 47.

h1

the stranger in God’s house

March 31, 2008

She is a stranger in this place and immediately struck by its beauty and splendour.   The spring sunshine streams through the stained glass but she shivers. There is little heat.

The stranger sips hot chocolate as a crowd gathers. Here for the event, they recognise one another and talk amongst themselves. Some are guided to her table and she remains seated, wondering who will speak. No-one does.

She is not offended as some strangers might be but smiles as she remembers her experience in another place. She withdraws from the table. No-one notices.

Invisible in God’s house.

Her mobile rings and soon she’s engaged in conversation with a good friend.  Perfect timing.   

The event begins but she does not participate. Instead the stranger sits quietly at the back listening to the chatter and laughter, welcoming the quietness when it comes. They are at work.

She waits … then senses God’s presence beside her. Peace.

Some say they welcomed her, some say they spoke to her, some say they never saw her.

How many times do we fail to notice?

h1

journey

March 21, 2008

The journey continues to amaze and confuse me. I have no idea where I’m going or indeed why I’m really on the journey except that it feels right. The destination? Not sure but I’m getting closer.

As my journey continues I’m not only struck by the differences in us but also that illness is a great leveller.  This is especially true in mental ill health. Patients come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life: educated; articulate; well off and not so well off; those with learning difficulties and with physical disabilities; people living amidst a backdrop of poverty, abuse, powerlessness and sheer desperation. For a lot of them getting through the day is an achievement … for us it’s a place to start.

Psalm 139 tells us we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. Yes we are. Nothing can convince me otherwise and I see evidence of God in the debris of someone’s life as I try desperately to understand the complex issues that contribute to their brokenness.

Some will recover and many will get better … until the next time.

Others will struggle on secretly hoping that their turn will come soon. That somehow, the healthy, meaningful and worthwhile life so many of us take for granted, can be theirs to treasure.