I find this to be very affirming.
I once felt like the person described here. Unfortunately, there is still a part of Christian experience and worship that says ‘I should not feel down/conflicted/ have questions’. This quote tells me that those feelings, instead of being natural, are anything but…
‘Darkness is a natural part of life but I have fought this reality for years. Darkness always seemed like a powerful intruder into my light-filled life. I had this notion that if I thought or did the right things, then my life would always be full of light. I wouldn’t have anguishing, dark times. Consequently, when the dark moments did come, I felt that something had gone terribly wrong with me. I presumed that I had failed in some significant way because I had not figured out how to keep the darkness out of my life. It has taken me a long time to recognize that darkness is an essential element‘. (Joyce Rupp ‘Little Pieces of Light‘)
I was reading this book on dementia for a review in a journal (more next week) and I came across this quote:-
‘Blogging, writing and poetry…feel like positive psychological interventions’
(p285 Kate Swaffer ‘What the hell happened to my brain?’)
..and I realise why I still blog: I would be intolerable (well more intolerable) without it.
We were on holiday last week and my youngest son bought a CD. He has a developing taste: he will listen to lots of Capital FM (which I do not like), but he is also eager to explore (some of my albums have disappeared into the Triassic layer of the floor of his bedroom).
Anyway, he bought a George Ezra album a few days ago. Initially, I thought it would be just another Capital FM type artist (although the person had a real name and did not have ‘feat’ in the title), but then he played it and it was quite good: I wouldn’t buy it, but I would certainly listen to it….at least once a month on every alternate Leap Year.
I think he is worth keeping (my son, not George Ezra); I guess as he grows he will lead me into a few more new artists…
I sat in a church recently where the minister told us how many services that they had conducted that day. The inference was- although told with a smile- that they had worked so hard. I wondered why:-
(1) Do you want the congregation to be amazed at how you work harder than normal Christians?
(2) Do you feel insecure that we do not feel that you work hard enough?
(3) Are you trying to justify yourself to us or to yourself, or both?
The day after I had a conversation with another minister who, reflecting on all the potential work that they could do, had learned to say ‘no’ and refused to do all that was expected; focusing mainly on that which they could do and do well. The thing is; they seem to do a lot- yet they come across as more relaxed.
I know which one of the two I prefer to listen to.
I bumped into them in a supermarket. It was someone I had known for a few years; never well, but always someone open to a good conversation.
We began to catch up on our lives and what had happened since we last spoke many months ago. They began to relate their story of a tragic and traumatic marital breakdown which they related with characteristic honesty and insight.
I listened and then we spoke. I think it happened partly as the person knew I was a Rev: they wanted to ‘confess’ what had happened and feel accepted.
We spoke about friendship and how this kind of thing helps you filter friends: some will over gush: ‘O poor, poor you’, some will ignore you and some will just accept you as you are. The latter are the most precious.
The person then related a recent conversation in a playground where they were honest about something else that had happened to them…and the ‘listener’ passed it over without acknowledging it, moving it back to a safer topic.
At this point I want to say ‘Jesus wept’: it really doesn’t take much to listen, to stay with pain; not ignoring it or trying to smooth it over.
July/August used to be so different.
Coming back into full time ministry at this time was a gentle process: you knew the madness of September, with its over full days and evenings, was a while away. So you came back and took time to take stock; you avoided evening meetings as much as possible and tried to work a ‘normal’ working week.
You were still available all the time, but you tended to do mainly those things for which you felt youwere called and which appeared in the Ordination Service. It was a good time for refocusing; although in hindsight, that refocus was pretty much gone by late September.
Now it is ‘normal’ work all of the time, but that is also good; the light days are still long and the family is still ‘off’- it still feels like a time for refocussing.
Nearly 18 months in, everything still feels new and apart from the need to be bright eyed, bushy tailed and being able to wear shorts all the time, going back to work does not feel like a chore.
For that I am grateful.
The house is a mess: how do the contents of a car, a roof box and 2 weeks’ holiday cause so much mess?
You are about to post an ironic tweet about it and then you stop.
Your ‘disruption’ is the result of plenty: you had a holiday. Although you cut corners and worked a bundle of extra hours marking exams on top of the day job to fund it, you still had a holiday.
That puts you in the top 10% of the world’s wealth.
You look again at the mess of excess – your house is not really a mess-and you try to move through the day a little slower and more thankfully.
I wasn’t intending to post another one, but the conversation from September 2010 was so strange, so quirky I had to. Back to the original material tomorrow….
Context: the original post header was ‘Is that reverend Peacock?’
I did think of launching into a learned exposition of philosophical import about whether ‘reverend Peacock’ is an entity or merely a honorific title and whether there was a better way of naming my esssence, but I declined. So I merely said ‘It is’.
‘Are you still free to talk to the 8 ‘o’ clock group on Monday?’ went the voice.
‘Ok…..We start at 7.30’ continued the voice.
I can usually find something to say most times, but this time I was silent.
‘Is everything ok?’ went the voice with mounting panic.
I recovered and said ‘yes’…. and then the conversation went further into the land of the surreal with the explanation that, yes, it was confusing, but not half as confusing as when it moved to 7.45…. but by that time I was pinching myself to see if I was still there.
A whole host of questions go through my mind like ‘Why not just change the name?’ , ‘How on earth can someone outside that group make the journey inside?’ or just plain ‘Whaaat?’.
Best stop there: some days you just couldn’t make it up.
I posted this back in August 7 years ago after we had just come back from France. It was part of an inevitable series of what I learned from being on holiday. I have not learned the all the lessons of this: if anything I have allowed myself to get faster. However, I do try to avoid the use of ‘busy’ language.
It is strangely apposite as today we are travelling back from France: possibly for the last time for a few years.
Lunch is for wimps’
‘I don’t do lunch’
‘You know I was so busy, I forgot to have lunch today’
‘I had lunch at my desk today’
‘That’s got lunch out of the way’
I have heard all of those phrases and used a fair amount of them myself. Sometimes they seem to be used to ‘big up’ the person saying them: ‘I’m far too important’. Or sometimes they are the result of inferiority: ‘I’m so unsure about myself/the worth of what I do that I don’t have time to stop and eat’.
I think that in our protestant work ethic Brit/USA civilisation this is getting worse.
Lunch/dinner/whatever you call it never seems to amaze me whenever I have had the good fortune to be able to be in France. It seems that many places shut for 2 (sometimes 3) hours in the middle of the day. People pause, take stock, prepare (rather than graze) food. I watched people eat leisurely, talk…leisurely. I watched picnic tables fill up with French families/friends….. table cloths came out- well prepared food (no soggy sarnies)….wine…water. Groups that began picnics before we arrived still eating, slowly, after we left.
When I first encountered it I thought it amusing: who in their right mind would waste so much time in public spaces, eating, talking, drinking when their was so much real work to do.? God wants us to redeem every precious minute- I mean- What Would Jesus Do? Erm…… actually he doesn’t seem to be a good example…far too French…
Can I play my family some oldskool Massive Attack? I think I can…
I once achieved an ambition (I don’t get out much) of driving through Bristol in the 1990s playing this. This album always reminds me of Summer and freedom. Swap the scene of grimy Bristol 25 years ago with the (hopefully) sunny Loire Valley today and you are almost there….