Sometimes I pray for the weather….

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

caring

Every now and then I bump into a friend, not often, maybe once or twice a year, sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. We don’t talk about the weather. We maybe get an opportunity to speak for five or ten minutes if that, sometimes as little as two.

Those precious minutes are profound, profound in the simplicity of friendship. We take up where we left off. My friend is hurting, there is secret hurt and open wounds of hurt. There is a link.

When we have a secret hurt that no one knows about people can unintentionally push our buttons. An eruption can take place where everyone around is flattened by the ferocity, but no one really knows why. People forensically examine the conversation or the email or the whatever to see the causative action. None is found because the volcano that is let out is nothing compared to the deeply rooted hurt that is festering in our heart.

Living in jubilee is different. I have been told that I am going to be so hurt in this faith journey. I feel that there will be people who may try to hurt, but I have survived and been healed from the most secret hurt that it no longer exists. Stuff in situations exists, there is nothing I can do to control the stuff that flies my way or the people who throw the stuff. BUT living in this moment of jubilee means that by the time the stuff hits the outskirts of my town (me) I am already working through my long list of coping skills, which one is needed to dig into the stuff, take what is needed to be dealt with and throw away the unnecessary clutter of other people’s stuff.

I love my friend, and I know we will be meeting very soon. I see her pain, the secret hurt burning deep within has been shared and as she deals with the wild fires, I pray for her, that she might too feel the touch of healing when the time is right. We clutch together in a hug that transcends our generations.

I do not have the power to heal her, I hope and pray that as she sees the transformative power of healing in me, she too will accept the hand in the fire. Too often we sit in our unhealed state because we cannot envisage life with healing within us, without us. Sometimes I pray for a conversation about the weather, because “stuff” is hard, it can be draining and then I remember it’s not supposed to easy, this journey.

Relationships are difficult, family is difficult, life is difficult but with the love and strength of the Lord indwelling free from the debt of life spiritually and physically, when each breath is a moment of joy, bring on the difficult … this is the way to live.

Pray for One Another

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

hands on bible

You know how it is, a bunch of like minded people get together for an occasion and everyone is happy and it is all swimmingly beautiful and because we are all children of God it is even better.

There is no need to put in the nitty gritty of what happens when you get down and dirty and discover that instead of a band of happy clappies we are a bunch of diverse folk who in the body of Christ are united.

We are united in spite of ourselves, we are united because of ourselves.  We are united because we are focused on the Cross, focused on Christ and refuse to let distractions come in  and take that unity away.

A young chap I know wants to know why he has been given lots of different disabilities that make it difficult to learn, speak, see and  walk. He wants to know why. On top of that why does he pick up every infection, has open weeping sores, is allergic to almost everything and his intestines are now causing him pain and discomfort.

“Why me?” He asks me, as if I am the fount of all wisdom. I shrug my shoulders and then tell him I have shrugged my shoulders. Sometimes I think “Why not him?” other times I think, “Why not me?” other times I don’t get past the shrug.

You see, I don’t know and I don’t want to give him some wishy washy happy clappy cliché ridden statement that will make me feel better having addressed the issue but leave him floundering in the abyss. There are no easy answers, now some will say “the sins of the ….” and others will say “the more you suffer here the more blessed …”

What would you say?

Many years ago I held a dying child in my arms, death had him claimed, blood vessels had popped on his skin surface due to the severe pressure of not breathing, he was sweating blood, his skin was turning blue, his body limp when an act of heroic “not now” brought breath back into the body, the limp became solid, the blue became pink. When this man-boy now stands before me and says “Why me?” I think back to those minutes when the oxygen was stopped and the “not now” happened and try to map out a different route a “What if?”

I don’t get far, I don’t regret the saving of a life, I don’t regret that because of that point in our shared history we now have these discussions where he asks and I shrug. I don’t regret anything.

That moment, that crucial jigsaw piece that fits five people’s jigsaw of life is a root stone. What happened in that moment changed us all. We are rooted to each other and to that moment, not in a sentimental, always looking back, nostalgic way, but life changed for all of us that day.

Are you living with regret?

In the unity of family be it genetic or church, stuff happens. There are moments like that, when there is no breath – someone has said something and the family turns to see what happens next. We are called to not turn our backs on our family and yet this country is full of family feuds that have lasted lifetimes and generations until no one knows what the argument was about.

Families should stick together, pray together, love together because no matter how many differing opinions there are the focus should be on Christ, on the Cross. We have been provided for abundantly to live this life, not in monetary terms but in our very being we have been given gifts to nurture family in spite of ourselves.

Church families across this land need prayer today, all churches need prayer today, the people in those churches, in the churches of our land, in your church and my church, all churches. The people need prayer. Pray for unity with me today. Pray for broken hearts to be healed. Pray for tears to be wiped away. Pray for all our brothers and sisters in Christ today.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:13-20

Betty and Freddie

Backroom Betty and Front of House Freddie were the perfect couple. Two halves of the one coin, a bit like Mr and Mrs Spratt in the nursery rhyme. They complimented each other beautifully until they retired from the public house they had run all their married life.

Forty years of married bliss was gone in seconds after the explosion of retirement. Freddie could not get used to being at home all the time and Betty discovered she didn’t like him loitering around. She baked too much, used to feeding the marauding mob in the pub. Freddie couldn’t understand while she wasn’t in rapt awe at his stand up routines like the regulars in the bar.

They were fighters though and fought tooth and nail to save their marriage, they took up golf. Freddie spent more time pontificating about the game than actually playing and Betty was far too shy to join the ladies in their own bar. Walking is good exercise they told themselves and equipping themselves in windcheaters and boots they began to walk the routes, couples had told them of when partaking of a swift half after many climbs. Freddie was not able for the steep paths after a life time serving on his feet, he was racked with a spaghetti junction of varicose veins. Betty did not like listening to Freddie and his endless tales of this one and that one always ending in a hearty laugh that she thought would one day choke him

Out of the blue, one spring day in March, Terence arrived. Forty years before he had been Freddie’s best man and secretly enamoured with Betty. He left shortly after on the penny to Australia scheme, enjoying the balmy weather and local fare. He too had started with a bar but had multiplied it many times over through all the major cities down-under. Freddie often remarked through the years that the “lad done well.” He never married, keeping his barely lit torch for Betty alight and deflecting any attention from the many ladies onto his erstwhile managers, who all married well and had many offspring.

Freddie greeted his friend like the prodigal son, insisting he stayed in their house. Betty enjoyed having Terence around, he helped in the kitchen, which Freddie never did, and he did it quietly. Sometimes there was an air of comfortable silence, that she sank into gratefully. Freddie began going out on his own, for walks in the park he said, but he came back with ruddy cheeks and the waft of barley from his mouth.

As time went on Betty couldn’t help but notice the clumsy loudness of Freddie in comparison to the graceful quietness of Terence. She reminisced in her mind, going back to the beginning when Polly, Freddie, Terence and herself would go to the dances in the local halls and walk in the park on Sunday after church. Polly, she hadn’t thought of her in years, it was a dreadful accident. The four of them were supposed to meet at the cinema to watch “The Sting.” Both her and Polly loved to watch Robert Redford and Paul Newman, especially when they performed together. Freddie and Terence arrived, but there was no sign of Polly. She lived on the other side of town, they had met through working in the typing pool at Monclief Solicitors so she travelled in by bus. Betty cycled, she loved feeling the wind against her cheeks as she pedalled along the cobbled streets. Freddie had a scooter and Terence was his passenger. They weren’t couples or anything like that, back then, just four friends who enjoyed spending time together. Romance was yet to come. An ambulance bell told them an accident had occurred and as Polly was so late they left the queue and followed the ambulance. Freddie and Terence got there first but Betty wasn’t far behind, years of cycling had developed sleek muscular legs that her tall frame suited. Polly had been on the bus, but got off a stop early. Betty thought she might be struggling to pay the rent as she was cutting back on lunch in the canteen, bringing her own sandwiches and even a flask a tea. Blood trickled in between the cobbles and Betty caught a glimpse of Polly’s famous red hair before the blanket covered her.

She supposed that’s when things changed. A threesome in mourning is a sombre picture, but a young man comforting a young lady in grief is quite breathtaking. Freddie took over. Suddenly they were a couple, going on romantic jaunts to country inns on a Saturday after half day closing. Terence stopped going out as much and when Betty enquired, was told he was busy with new friends. The truth of it Betty never knew. After six months of courtship Freddie arrived at her parents’ house to request her hand in marriage, the banns were posted and they tied the knot in the local registry office.

Shortly after that, they bought the pub, The Red Lion, down on Princess Margaret Avenue, Terence appeared to say goodbye and life settled into its routine. Betty in the backroom and Freddie in the front. Back then, she thought about Polly a lot but time went on and she slowly faded from her memory though because of her Betty always served big portions to anyone coming in for half a sandwich, throwing in a packet of crisps and a slice of apple pie on the side. Anytime she saw someone in the shop struggling to pay she upended her purse and helped them out. She took waifs and strays off the streets and fed them in the backroom of the pub, sometimes even putting them up. She did this all in Polly’s memory.

She met Polly’s mother once after the funeral, she didn’t have much to say, a damp handkerchief of woe in her hands. Betty had few words herself so they drank tea in the tearooms of the Walter Hotel and ate the dainty sandwiches. She never saw her father. Now as she thought back she didn’t see him at the funeral either and she wondered what that was about and whether he regretted it before he died. Most people regret rash decisions made in the spur of the moment. Did she regret her marriage? Now she finally had another man to compare Freddie with, it did cross her mind.

Later that day Betty began a journey she had no idea she was starting. She walked along Camilla Grove and onto the busy main street. So much has changed, she thought, remembering when Mr Ogden the chemist bought the first car on their road. As she stopped at the zebra crossing two teenagers on bicycles passed her, laughing and joking, in their own little world. She stopped outside the bike shop and pushed the door half way.

“Are you coming or going, Missus?” a man’s burly voice from within made her jump.

“I think I might like a bicycle”

“Well you’re in the right place,” the voice took the form of a young man, as broad as he was tall, squatting by a broken bike.

Half an hour later she was cycling down Princess Margaret Avenue, beaming, feeling the wind against her face, alive. She heard singing from the chapel opposite their old pub and was drawn in by the cheerful sound. Oh, she thought, as she sat at the back listening to the group of singers practice, I feel young again. She prayed for Terence and Freddie, she prayed for Polly’s family and all the people she had met over the years, without names now and then she prayed for herself, for the whole situation and for wisdom.

Betty went along to the services from that time on, very gradually she made friends in the congregation and slowly she brought Freddie and Terence into the small group of believers. The fleeting thoughts that had distracted her regarding Terence disappeared. After going to church for a year or so, Betty and Freddie renewed their wedding vows, Freddie had joined AA, Terence was stepping out with one of the ladies from church. Like a spring clean, Terence had come in like a breath of fresh air and as the dust settled, peace reigned.

Hug a bug

I found a dead bee in the car.

Did it sting before it died?

Do I want to sting?

Do I want to be stung?

Do I want to feel that sensation?

Of pain, sharp needle point pain

Of relief, of release, of endowotsits

Yellow black harmony

buzzy bee balance

embracing, caressing

loving, hugging

happy bee
happy bee

crybaby

A wave of sadness descended on me and I began to cry, as soon as I started I knew I would write. It is like confessing a great sin. I can see the humour in the tears though I can do nothing about them, they still fall down my face, unabated.

Sometimes it lasts in love and sometimes it just hurts.

I hurt, my heart has been pierced, I feel like a jumbled up jigsaw, unable to piece it together. Crumpled in a heap.

But even in this state, I can feel joy. Joy that transcends this momentary misery. In a few seconds of grief, I will dust myself off, stand and walk tall, as the human God made me to be.

The thing with grief, to me, is the waves have no pattern. There is no warning, I would like a bell buoy in my head that would clink to give me a few minutes to collect my strength, to pray, to lay it at the feet of the Lord. Bt it doesn’t work like that.

I was blindsided, I had sat down to compose four pieces, to get ahead of tasks for next week, having found myself alone and at home with an internet connection but it just didn’t pan out that way. 

So am left feeling a bit blue, a bit sad and a bit lost. A plan is forming to lose myself in scripture. As I write I feel peace returning, maybe a cathartic short story will help…

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