On Saturday Paul and I walked the Worms Head at Rhossili on the Gower. I am not the most physically courageous and this was the closest I have ever come to rock climbing. On a short stretch right at the top Paul was telling me where to put my hands and feet as I ascended and then descended what was close to a sheer drop – at least to me. When I hear the word ’causeway’ I think of the paved roads at Holy Island or St Michael’s Mount not so many different rocks with no obvious routes through them! I wanted to feel the sense of achievement of walking the whole thing and it took courage as I didn’t know if I could and I was aware how precarious my footholds were at times – praise God for Keen sandals! At several points I wanted to give up and I was pleased I persevered and I pushed myself to see what might be possible.
I have used the term a gram of courage because I don’t want to get what I achieved out of proportion – I was proud of myself for what I accomplished but that is nothing compared with the courage of some of my friends who have to act courageously day after day just to make it through a day. Courage looks different for all of us and we are not always aware of the hidden challenges and circumstances people face.
Last week we got to see the river Tamar in many different moods. We turn the car round at the bottom of the road and I am often inspired to jump out of the car and take a picture such as this.
Life is a little like a misty morning at the moment, there are quite a lot of things I can’t see! On a different day I could probably have seen 20 boats but on this day just two. I know the boats are there, I just don’t know exactly where or what they look like. On those misty mornings I try to trust God and not try and work everything out myself or go to worse case scenario planning. To me this is a beautiful picture full of mystery and possibilities, that’s how I want to feel on the misty mornings of life.
One of my friends may well be sitting looking at this boat as I write this. She is on her ordination retreat. The boat is on the river and the oars are in the house so going out on the river is not something she can do on impulse – unless she is happy to go with the current – which may make getting back a bit tricky!
There were times on my journey towards ordination when I felt like I was in a boat without oars and that I needed to find them but they were not anywhere obvious. For me being out of control on a journey is not a position that I find very easy but the choices I have made in my life have meant that there have been times when it has felt like others have had control of my destiny. Yes I had God to trust in but there were times that was hard and I wanted a motor for the boat, not just a pair of oars.
This week I have a phone interview for a paediatric working group. It is in area I know a bit about and I was encouraged to apply. I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to interview.
In church today we had a reading about John the Baptist and him being asked “Who did he think he was baptising people?” He explains that this who he is, what he is called to do, and that he is not the Messiah. For more on this please see my previous blog. This is the approach I have been encouraged to take for my interview (especially not being the Messiah just a naughty boy according to my wife ala Monty Python!) I have been encouraged to just explain what we do. There is a temptation in some of our cultural contexts to big ourselves up, push ourselves forward at the expense of others or the cause.
So what I plan to do is to take my lead from John the Baptist, graciously answer the questions on who I am and what I know, and not try and be someone I am not and leave the outcome in the hands of others and God.
As we all know, sometimes life does just not make sense. Things that happen, or have happened or not happened as we have expected or hoped for cause us to say “Why? What is going on? That does just not seem fair. It doesn’t make sense.”
I value the gifts of reason and logic. It’s helpful to try and work things out, to speculate and hypothesise what or why things happen. Sometime it is the right and responsible thing to. Humanity is gifted with a great deal of ability to resolve problems. But I also value faith and trust. This is in God and others. When it does not seem quite right or even very wrong or bad, my trust in that other person or God shapes the way I respond.
With Easter coming up, there is much to reflect upon during Lent that does not make a lot of sense – an appreciation of imminent suffering and death. It only makes God sense.
Sometimes I need the logic and faith, reason and logic of, and in, God sense.
Having only spent around 3 waking hours at home since I went to bed on Sunday evening, reading this during my time with God this morning is a helpful reminder of what I aspire to:
As swimmers dare
to life face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all surrounding grace.
Denise Levertov (English born American poem)
Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon Life Prayers San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso 1996
I love golf but I am not very good at it! There is an amazing hole on the Kintyre course at Turnberry where you hit a blind shot towards a marker post in the form of a stone cairn (we were in Scotland) and then hit your second shot towards what just looks like the sea – you can’t see the green or a flag. It is a case of hit and hope! I did my classic, lifted my head to see where the ball went so topped it and it zoomed off along the ground and I was worried that it would end up in the sea! However, when I eventually walked down the hill and found my ball this was the scene that confronted me – a beautiful secluded beach and one of the prettiest places my golf ball had ever landed!
In much of my life at the moment it feels a little like this, I give something my best shot and hope! As a newly ordained Curate I am getting to do lots of things I have never done and this is my attitude – most of the time. Sometimes that is hard because I am someone who likes to be competent and I can’t expect to go from no experience of something to competent in one step with nothing in between! And there can sometimes be the temptation to avoid doing something new because we lack confidence or don’t have the capacity at that time to trust God with the outcome of something. There are times when we have to do what it is that I did on that golf course – launch out into the unknown in the hope that we have chosen the right direction. My ball didn’t end up where I had intended but the diversion offered an unexpected joy. Other times that is not what happens, I hit a ball and it ends up in a bunker which feels like a bit of a dead end for me as I can’t then get the ball out first time (or second or third sometimes)! So each day I wake up knowing that I will probably face at least one hit and hope scenario and although I don’t tend to pray for my golf balls to end up in good places I do pray as I metaphorically hit and hope trusting God with the outcome and knowing that God will be with me and guide me wherever I am hitting the next ball from!