Two hours later

I know. I know. You need a break. I write quicker than you read. Pack it in. etc etc etc.

I’ve heard it all.This is a short – I think – quick word. If it works out that way.

Like every other human being that’s ever lived, I struggle some days, just to be me. Just to take the next breath and to look forward to the morrow. I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to feel defeated and down down down in the belly of the whale.

There are all sorts of things that make us feel this way – the life we live now, the life we used to live, unthinking reactions to stimuli we barely recognise, fear and uncertainty. My biggest struggle is with…. never mind, it’s really really boring. What I want to tell you is that none of these struggles is what God wants from us, but there is an answer.  It’s not an easy answer or a quick fix, and you won’t learn it sitting at the feet of some great teacher or guru. It’s simply this; to be happy we have to learn to accept love.

I’ve struggled to know and accept love all my life, and as I grow older and just a tad wiser, I can see that much of the grief in the world is from this inability to receive and experience, love. It’s so easy to love, but if you’ve grown up never learning how to receive it, mannnnnnn…. it’s bloody hard. Life is isolating and fear-filled.

And thinking about this tonight, I realise that an inability to accept love  can keep us away from God. His love is so overwhelming, eternal, undeserved, unconditional and sacrificial… how do we receive it? How do we hold out our hands and humbly step up, knowing that it’s not ours by right, and yet it’s ours completely? We have it. We have it.

That’s what I have to learn. I know it. I believe it. I have to experience it.

God loves me. God loves you.

Amazing. And when we know this, really know it in the core of us, the bones and heart and depths of us, then we can become the people God wants us to be. Transformed by His love.

The New Life version of John 3:16 is

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever.”

I like that translation, whoever puts their trust in Him… in His love.

 

 

 

 

 

Composing and decomposing.

On Thursday I read a book. A whole book in one day. And very interesting it was, too. It’s ‘The Sociopath Next Door’, absolutely fascinating. Today I have another book about sociopaths, and about empathy. Did you know that you can do a much respected online test to evaluate your empathy and this will reveal if you’re a sociopath? I did it. Apparently I’m not.

I’m getting quite excited about my first attempt at a novel.   I’m at the planning stage, sorting out what I want to say, why I want to say it, and whether it’s worth saying. The answers thus far are ‘not sure’, ‘not sure’ and ‘not sure’.

I want to delight in my characters, to have my head peopled by them. I want to live with them. That’s the simple truth of it.

This morning I met a bloke, 53, who has taken early retirement and he’s going mad with boredom. He takes his dogs for FIVE walks a day, and he’s thinking of buying a caravan just to give himself a break from the monotony of home. Wow. That can’t be healthy. Can it? Suppose he lives to 83? Thirty years of boredom? What’s the point in that? He’s married and he has young grandchildren but everyone else is busy, and he’s at a loose end, with no interests or hobbies. I do understand how he feels, I absolutely do, but I don’t understand why he’s put himself in this position, volunteered for it. Maybe he’ll see sense and we’ll meet at the Job Centre.

It’s a tough world when you don’t have somewhere to go and something to do and someone who wants you to do it.

The day I read a whole book I didn’t speak to anyone at all. There was no one on the beach, and no one popped in, no one phoned, and the rest of the week was kinda quiet too. On Friday I had the usual ‘notices for the week’ email from the church and I realised that I was dreading Sunday.  Dreading church!  That’s weird. I love Sunday worship. What’s going on?

I looked back over the week and realised that I had gone three whole days without connecting with anyone in person. In those three days there were two Skype calls so I did actually speak, but no hug, no shared space, no beating heart next to mine. No ordinary chit chat. No friendly catch-up. No nothing. Weird. And I hadn’t even realised.

While I can sometimes get three or four callers in a day, and I certainly go out and visit most days, it just so happened that for three whole days I neither went out, nor did anyone pop in. On the beach I was alone but praying so I didn’t really realise my alone-ness. I didn’t need to go to the shop so I didn’t. One friend is away, another is busy, a third is looking after a sick pet. Even the stuff I usually do was cancelled. The whole week was silent and isolating, but I hadn’t been aware of it really. It was only at the end that I looked back and thought “That’s not good.”

I will be more conscious of the passing silent days from now on and will deliberately set out to socialise – I WILL!-  but this whole week, creeping up on me like that, made me realise that there’s a new problem there, beyond just losing the ability to speak  (it’s amazing how hard it is to speak after three days silence! To smile and say a normal ‘Howzit going?’ without feeling stiff and awkward, your own voice strange in your ears). Quite apart from that, there’s the realisation that I could have dropped off the edge of life three days ago and no one would have noticed. What would have happened to my dogs in those three days? How many more days would it have been before someone said ‘I’ve not seen Luce for a bit… wonder if I should pop around?’

If I had died on Monday, it wouldn’t have been until Sunday when I wasn’t at church that anyone even noticed. I’d probably get a text on the Sunday evening asking if I was OK. Maybe if I hadn’t answered by the Tuesday someone would come to the door…. eight days … flip me! My poor dogs.

There must be something I can do, and not just for me – after all, elderly singletons are on the increase and I’m not the only one without family.  So, I went online and yes, there are loads of schemes, from the usual alarm systems where I could call for help via a button (which wouldn’t be any good if I was dead),  to a system whereby movement is detected and when there is none, a central office is alerted. I suppose that they would contact a local care agency to check the house BUT with my dogs pottering about there would be some sort of activity in the house rendering that system useless. It could be something as simple as someone phoning you every morning. Could it be that simple? And if so, why isn’t there a nationwide scheme already? Could we have a new sort of neighbourhood watch scheme, some system by which a visible sign alerts neighbours that something’s gone wrong? .

It can’t be insurmountable. I don’t care about dying alone and I certainly don’t care about being dead, but I don’t want my dogs to be distressed. And I don’t want anyone to have to find me in a decomposed state. Even worse than usual.  I’m not doleful and anxious but it’s my responsibility to put something in place. Not least because Pip is a very fussy eater.

Hmmm. I wonder if I could feed some of this concern into my novel… I wonder if the sociopath is… or maybe an elderly person… or does someone have dogs and…… or does a bloke meet someone on the beach one morning and he’s at a loose end and she’s just done an empathy test and he’s a sociopath and…. she invites him to church… and I wonder if he comes? And what does he do when he gets there? Is that the saving of him, or the ruination of the church?

If I’ve not blogged in the next 7 days, come and peer through the letterbox, will you? And bring some doggie treats….  just in case.

 

 

 

Tolstoy, where are you?

When I was a teenager in a convent (in England, run by Irish nuns, in a French Order) I met with the first piece of writing that I understood as ‘good’. The school was cosily middle class and my attendance was anomalous – I’d passed a scholarship in English, but been classed as educationally subnormal in numeracy/arithmetic.  Wiltshire County Council, not having anywhere willing to take me, shipped me across to Somerset where I would be educated in a sort of ‘no man’s land’ of Needlework and Cookery. That convent saved my life, the nuns were great – poorly educated cheerful women who didn’t care much about academia but did care about their girls. Still, I was very much a fish out of water, all my classmates were Southern, from reasonable homes, normally intelligent, well behaved, while I was a slum kid from Lancashire, disoriented and confused. No one knew the world I had in my head, the life I’d lived.

I was in the lowest stream where I excelled in English, but I was the only girl in the whole school who didn’t have to do maths and science. One day, in the fourth form, we read ‘The Odour Of Chrysanthemums’ by D H Lawrence. Oh, that was such a revelation for me!  Lawrence reassured me that the life I had known was real, not some confused dream. I was deeply touched – that story connected on so many levels. I could hear the boots in the ginnel as the dead miner was carried home, see the grimed heavy body, I knew the cold ‘best room’ parlour where he was laid on the floor, I could see the damp clothes by the range in the kitchen, smell the crude soap as his widow brought in the basin of water….  imagine the children asleep upstairs in dark damp bedrooms.  In the hands of a lesser writer I would have hated that dead miner,  crowed at his death, knowing about such men after my childhood in that community. But instead I grieved for him and for her, for the meanness of their lives and the love he had abused. DH Lawrence, whatever else he did, held a hand out to a loveless and displaced girl and said “I know. I know.  You are not alone.”

That’s what good writing does, sometimes.

I’m going to  quote shamelessly from a blog I wrote a couple of months ago : For me  ‘good writing’ is any writing which explores and tries to understand human nature, revealing and addressing what Bill Shakespeare called ‘The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.’ When  writers bring the two together, our nature with the nature of the world, exploring the reaction of one to the other, seeking to understand the nature of our existence, this, to me, is good writing. Even when it fails, the attempt is the thing.

I read two short stories this week, and although they’d been highly recommended to me, they left me cold. To me, the writer seemed a didact, displaying his cleverness and skill from a great height. He looked down on his characters dispassionately. He revealed their vulnerability with a curl of the lip. Poor beetles, lying on their backs, helpless, as he pulled their legs off, one by one.

If you’re going to write about a leper, for pity’s sake don’t hone in on the scabs, picking away at them.  I want to know the man, his desires and dreams, solitude,  his longing, love, bitterness, anger, his outrage, the people who loved him, the people who shunned him. Make me care about him, reveal our common humanity.  Show me that there but for the grace of God go I.

These stories were very well observed and competently written, but good writing does more than tell a story, and it’s more than observation. A historian, a video camera, can do those two things. Good writing is about more than that. This is where I get excited.

Right, hold on while I pull my soap box over and clamber up:

With the arrival of multi-channel streaming, the world has developed a voracious appetite for drama. Like any other addiction, the more we see the more we want, it feeds our appetites, pushes us on to look for ever more exciting, ever more suspenseful, or horrifying, or terrifying or prurient sensationalism. Give us a dead body at the beginning of every episode, and another at the first commercial break, a revelation of adultery at the second commercial break, a perversion at the third, and then an amazing twist at the end of the episode to make sure we return next week. I met one producer who described the sort of drama she was looking for as ‘multi-hook.’ I didn’t meet her a second time.

Forget honesty. Forget truth. Just give us a few hooks. Bums on seats. Advertising revenue. All those hours to fill…..

Because of this hunger for readily digestible fiction, there’s a great demand for thrillers full of homicidal maniacs and sociopaths. ‘No Brain’ drama. Any idiot can paint a monster that we can all hate/fear,  without having to discover anything about him at all.  Plot is everything.  The trailers can be made to look so enticing, so exciting. Lazy telly, lazy writing. Wheel out the usual character flaws and bingo! We have a hit. You’ll forget who did what in a few days, but that doesn’t matter… you’ve watched it and the advertising revenue’s rolled in to make even more immensely forgettable dramas.

Homicidal maniacs and sociopaths…  but our greatest human attribute is the ability to love, and to be born without this leads to an irretrievably sad and empty life. Isn’t this the heart of the drama? How often do we see that? Where’s our pity for this person? Haven’t we already seen enough thrillers with a murderous sociopath stalked, cornered, and captured? All  tied up in a neat plot resolution in the last act. Can’t we go deeper than that?

I won’t go on about Fargo again, or The Sopranos, because I’ve banged on about them both so often, but these dramas get it right. Thoughtful, intriguing, complicated characters, showing the consequences, revealing the nature of flawed and tender humanity. Even when the baddie of the first Fargo series, Malvo (the deliciously dark Billy Bob Thornton) finally died, the tragedy of his death was shown, the futility of his life. Part writing, part acting, part shared vision.

Don’t start me on shared vision. From beginning to end of any drama, series or single, a shared vision is absolutely essential. Maybe it’s at the heart of every venture, not just drama.  But like I say, don’t start me on that, or we’ll be here all night.

Why so much thought about sociopaths and how to write ’em? You’ve rumbled me! I’m planning a novel in the voice of an anti-social man. I think I might be able to get somewhere near him because there’s a tiny tad of the sociopath in me – no, not the predatory bit, the loveless bit. Growing up without love, I learned to live without it and I could still live without it. It would require some effort now, and a degree of denial, because I’ve softened in the last few years but I could still do it, at some cost…. weird, eh?

Here’s a thought for you to roll your eyes at… does a sociopath ever believe in God? Can a sociopath feel regret? Two thoughts for the price of one. Ooh, and a third one, if there is no love in the sociopath, is there any hope of redemption? And where does that leave God? I know for certain sure that God is just and merciful so…….. ? Where is God’s mercy in the creation of someone who cannot love? As we know that God requires a contrite and humble heart, what about the man or woman who seems to have no heart?

We have to ask these questions. We have to be confident enough in our faith, trusting God, to ask them and to wait for the answer.

And here, listen up! Don’t you answer my questions! Seriously. That’s not what they’re there for. They’re the rhetorical niggles of a writer’s addled brain. I sort of have to crawl to the answers on my tod. Any answer you come up with will just annoy the hell out of me.  Really! However wrong and slow I am (and I am both), I have to get there under my own steam. I’ll read all the psychiatric reports I can lay my hands on, and books like ‘The Sociopath Next Door’  and I’ll study chief execs who have made their way to the top with ruthless single mindedness, and I’ll review my life in my own family, but I need to go through the thought process on my own. You can’t give me any short cuts, even if you’re the wisest person in the world, because I have to absorb the answer, into my bones, and then write it out of my bones. And, like I said, I’m not the quickest thinker on the planet.

That’s what it is to be a writer. You have to wade through the crap to get to the treasure and no one can do it for you.  You may go a bit bonkers (writers club, you have been warned. Oh, no, scrub that – you’re already there!) but you have to ask your own questions and find your own answers.

Good writing is humble, vulnerable, difficult, really really difficult, revelatory and honest. It’s a long haul up a slippery slope and there’s usually someone at the top pouring burning tar down on you. But good writing is worth the effort. I don’t think I’ve ever attained it, but there’s still time. Maybe.

And now I have another strange thought; Maggie Thatcher famously said ‘There is no such thing as society’. It was a stupid thing to say, not least because all the pundits jumped on it and made mincemeat of her. But I wonder now, did she mean that our society is heading towards sociopathy?  Psychiatrists have claimed a huge surge in anti-social personality disorders but is that just because we have more psychiatrists than ever before? And does our appetite for these tawdry dramas with their impressive murder rates and torture scenes,  feed the surge, or do they just reflect it? Where are we going?

When everything is acceptable, when love is temporary, commitment fleeting, morals elastic, feel-good-is-good, when self is at the centre and even sex is a commodity, is society becoming sociopathic?

Is that our tragedy? And do we have a choice? We need a Tolstoy to unravel that one.

 

 

Post Script

If you read yesterday’s blog, and you’re wondering whether I was on the beach in driving rain or in sunshine this morning, here’s a pic from my prayer perch at 7am.

IMG_0654.JPG

And if you’re wondering if it felt like the Sea of Galilee, and was Jesus there… YESSSSS!

Listen, listen…

Listen. I drove home tonight chuntering to myself, knowing and denying and arguing and quite agitated in a happy sort of fierce way. I was telling myself that I don’t have to write this, that not everything, not absolutely everything has to be spewed out in a blog or a book or a message, and I did listen to myself and I agreed with me, but you know what? If someone was standing in this room with a machine gun, barring my way to this keyboard, somehow I would mow him down! I would mow him down and trample on his protesting bones and dump my chair on his broken body, pinning him to the floor, while I typed  these words anyway. Because I have no real choice. And it’s exciting.

Many of you aren’t Christian but that doesn’t alter the fact I’m writing this and – apparently – you’re reading it. Take me as you find me. Bear with me. Listen and decide for yourself.

When I toddle down to the beach every day there’s the same old gang of people I meet, them and their dogs. A load of interesting characters (you learn which ones to swerve when you have something to hurry home for, and which ones don’t want to talk, and which will tell you  a thousand interesting facts about the second world war, if you’re not very careful). And most days I meet a man called Richard. Richard isn’t a dog walker, he’s a council worker, and he’s a cheerful sane sort of bloke, he knows us all and he’s cheerful without being annoying (it’s early mornings – make allowances for my bad attitude). Richard starts work at 5.30, drives to the council depot, picks up an open backed truck, and then travels around the public places, beaches, parks, lay-bys, emptying the litter bins and putting empty bags in place of the full ones. It’s a pretty routine job, far from glamorous. In the summer people leave disgusting stuff in and even around the bins, from disposable barbecues to dirty nappies (diapers, US friends). He works at this until about 11am and then goes home to work on the house he’s building, and he’s back in the evening to do the bins again. In the summer, he told me, he’s a coracle fisherman, and spends the afternoon, sometimes the evening, and sometimes the night, fishing.

People who read this blog come from… hang on, let me count….. 27 different countries…  so you may not know what a coracle is…. although there are coracle fishermen all over the world (yeah, yeah, coracle fisherwomen too, don’t be picky). In this part of Wales Coracles are a traditional and convenient way of getting about on the rivers, lighter and more portable than just about any other craft.

A  ‘cwrwgl’ (Welsh) is one-person boat made out of woven wood and a waterproof covering. They were used in the UK over 2000 years ago, dating back to pre-Roman times.

download.jpg

images.jpg

So, my friend Richard is a coracle fisherman. “So what?” you say (gosh, you’re a bit sharp today!) Well, so nothing, except that that he has made me think a lot this last week about our local fishermen. People who harvest food that isn’t driven or flown hundreds of miles, processed in a factory, wrapped in plastic and sold in a brightly lit, air conditioned supermarket. Our local river fish are called ‘sewin’, a sea trout, and it’s illegal to fish for them before June. I love the thought that in the mornings as Pip wanders off into the dunes, and Percy picks a fight with a huge Rottweiler, I can talk to a man who has the same skills and knowledge that fed families in pre-Roman times. That his hands and understanding of the river, even his muscle memory, all continue the work that men have done on the River Teifi for all of our history. Somehow Richard grounds me.

Well, this is what I’m leading up to, thank you for bearing with me thus far; I have been attending a small local church for about 4 years and when I first went there, and realised what I’d been missing for so long, I had an almost daily regret that I was born now, and not two thousand years ago. I had a deep, heart-tugging regret, as I paddled in the cold Irish Sea, with my dogs chasing the waves, that this wasn’t the Sea of Galilee. Oh, my bloggie pals, imagine if I could have walked on the shores of Galilee, listening to Jesus, hearing the timbre of His voice, the emphasis He laid on words (not knowable in the Gospels),  imagine that! And after His death, even in grief and loss, I could have looked back, beginning to understand the strange things He had promised…  beginning to understand that His beating, mockery, persecution, death and resurrection were for me, for us. Imagine – walking by the shore with Jesus, imagine what it would be to live with that memory for the rest of my life.

Tonight, in church, we considered the last chapter of the Gospel of John, the history of Christ’s third appearance to the apostles after His death. And it was on the shore of Lake Galilee, and it was to a fisherman, Peter (like Richard) and his friends, and it was a simple invitation to breakfast. To break their fast with Him. And listen, oh listen, I realised that four years ago, and every day since, Christ has invited me to break my fast with Him. And I have. And He has changed my life. Completely.

Tonight, in our little church in West Wales, 2000 years melted away. I saw Peter for the simple man He was. I understood that these were the people Jesus loved, people like you and me, people like our lovely rubbish collector, and that 2000 years are a breath, a nothing. That the world is the same now as it was then. That mankind is as tender, as lost, as loved as He was back then. That Peter was a man like Richard. And that 2000 years are nothing to God. He is out of time.

Oh, bother.. I can’t say, I can’t find the words for what I desperately want to say. Tonight I am with Jesus at Galilee. I am. Tomorrow I will walk with Him, as He enables. Whether I’ll be  paddling on the beach in sunshine, or putting my head down in driving rain, whatever the weather and whatever my soul is doing… I will walk with Him.

Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ 

 

 

Not Giving Up

This is just more Luce wandering and you may disagree. Nothing new there, then.

I think that there are many many flaws, mistakes, wrong decisions and muddy ditches (aka sins) we all fall into, but sometimes our personalities mean we’re not easily prone to one particular weakness. So, I am egotistical, selfish, impatient, self-serving, quick to anger, a bit on the self righteous side (!), stubborn, independant, cynical, mouthy, sweary and a few other things but…. but…one little quirk of nature that I have never been conscious of is…. wait for it…. bitterness. I don’t think I’ve ever felt bitter about anything, not because I’m good and saintly but just because it’s never occurred to me (I’ve been too busy being all those other things listed above.)

The other evening that changed. I was listening to friends chatting about where they’ve been, where they’re going, plans and memories, all of them married, supportive, teasing, reminding each other….. realising that my dead husband is just a name to them, that I have nothing to add to these conversations, haven’t been to these places, don’t wander off on my own to eat alone at some restaurant table, find little pleasure in wandering around a strange place on my own, have no plans and few memories to share. I sat there seeing only  27 years of heart desolation, while they saw romantic cities, rivers, mountains, countries…. companionship.

Listen, I’ve had a fabulous life, met great people, done exciting things, so my thoughts were rubbish. But there I was, overtaken by sorrow.  And I realised with one hell of a shock, man! MAN! I was bitter. While  I sat there, looking like butter-wouldn’t-melt, inside I was brewing up bilious, raging proper bitterness.  I’d never thought about what it meant to be bitter before, but now it hit me like a bucket of cold sick. And about as pleasant.

gargoyle-780540__340.jpg

So while they all chatted, ‘Have you been here?” and ‘We went there’, I was saying to God ‘What’s this about? Where has this come from? I don’t want it…. it’s not funny…. please take this garbage out of my head and heart.’ But a crowd of other thoughts slammed in , unbidden – why did my Mum die when I was so young? Why did I end up in that horrible situation with relatives… why did my uncle…. why didn’t my father……. why did… why did…. why did?

It was really horrible. I remembered a couple of verses, one about guarding your heart, one about taking thoughts captive….. and I asked God to help me.

And of course, He did; the conversation came back into focus, I looked at my lovely friends and saw their happiness and was glad for them. Truly happy. I’ve had my time and now this is theirs. But I’ll tell you what, chickadees, it had been a shock. If this was bitterness, boy, I never want to feel it again. It’s made me look back on the last couple of years and I think I can see now where it was growing, insidiously. What I interpreted as restlessness, a desire to be needed and relevant, and even  loneliness, were the early and unrecognised shoots of bitterness .

I know what I mean by ‘bitterness’ but I wonder if we’re thinking of the same thing? I googled the word in the Bible and many of the verses quoted on different web sites were all about forgiveness. I don’t think that unforgiveness is bitterness. I think that’s a whole big fat no-no all on its own. For me, bitterness is a feeling of envy, of unfairness, of dissatisfaction at my lot and envy of the lot of others. That’s what I mean by ‘bitterness’.

That thought, about dissatisfaction with my lot, reminded me of Job, so I looked him up and look what I found! Job 10: 1

I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.

And I realised that there’s more to bitterness than meet the eye. It’s ingratitude, grumbling, anger against God, a feeling of entitlement thwarted. It’s me saying to God, “You’re so unfair!”

Me. The clay, shouting at the potter. Me, the created, railing against my creator.

What a nerve. When I know how He loves me, how He saved me. What a flippin’ nerve!

Listen, kiddiwinks and chums, bitterness is not for the faint hearted. Bitterness is horrible. It takes away your joy. Rots your brain. I know, I stewed in it for whole minutes. I never want to go there again. And the great thing is, that’s in the past, confessed and forgiven and now – with God’s help – I’ll be ready if it ever sneakily sneaks up again… I have a great big rat trap, ready to take those thoughts captive. Or a lasso, or handcuffs, or some other (and better) metaphor.

And you know what happened next? No, you don’t, so I’ll tell you. We were talking about something else and I said “Why does God love us?” and it was only a silly Luce aside/jokey thing. But it was taken seriously and the answer sorted me out good and proper “God loves us for what we will become. Who we are being transformed into.’

Transformation, eh? What a miracle.  Self knowledge is painful sometimes but God can do the work that we can’t.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (message) So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. 

A small enormous miracle

I love thinking about Quantum Physics. I begin to understand it only on the ‘idiot’s guide to’ level, but I like to read about the theories and imaginings and imagery of the subject. I’m fascinated that we can even try to understand life and substance,  light and sound, in a sub-atomic dimension. And then I quite often toddle off down another train of thought and start to wonder about black holes (you’re right – I need to get a life! Or a job maybe) and this is what I found the other day:

Black holes are singularities: points of infinitely small volume with infinite density. Such incredibly compact objects cause infinite curvature in the fabric of spacetime. Everything that falls into a black hole is impelled toward the singularity. 

OK. What’s a singularity when it’s at home? A singularity is a point at which a function takes an infinite value. ‘Infinite’. I love that word, that concept, that truth, that inevitability. I could go on and on but I won’t.

OK, one more… ‘Infinite’, I love that word, that promise.

My singularity (truth, promise, inevitability etc)  is Christ, so this thought sent me straight to the small and almost daily miracles of the Christian life. I think that sometimes we miss them, we  crush them underfoot with our big clumsy shoes as we busy ourselves with all the stuff we have to do. On my walks through the dunes at this time of year the grass is jewelled with daisies, wood anemones, bird’s foot trefoil… and loads more I can’t name…. and sometimes the carpet of flowers is so wide and deep between the great banks of gorse and brambles, that I have no choice but to trample it. A tiny tad of regret, but if I look back each flower is springing back up, barely bruised.

DANKDR-831x1220.jpg

This is Bird’s Foot Trefoil. A great lovely cushion of delight, humming with bee song in sunshine, glistening in rain.

I try to be aware of the small things, the tiny and wonderful gifts of every day, aware of each one’s unique quality, and I like the definition of that black hole as a ‘singularity’.  More than a thing, more than a moment, more than an image. A singularity or miracle of existence, a one-off of infinite value. Never to be perfectly replicated in time and space and experience.

For me the most exciting singularities are the ones that point to God, to His activity in this world, in my life, even now. I experienced one of those yesterday, a  tiny teeny moment with infinite meaning and eternal assurance. I noticed it particularly because a friend has told me about his own small enormous miracle on Sunday morning (I won’t tell you about that one – it’s his to tell) and so my radar was turned on, my receiver tuned in.

This small community is wracked by illness at the moment, friends have died recently, others are dying, there is sadness and loss all around us (see, I know how to cheer you up on a wet Thursday) and that means there’s lots of listening to be done and people to care for. It can be a tad overwhelming. I am not a sweet little old lady dispensing home made goodies and wise words. Yesterday I was visiting a pal who’s really going through a hard, hard time and I was so conscious that, while I know that silence is golden and listening is more valuable than talking, even my listening was inadequate. I don’t think it’s always helpful to quote a Bible verse as a sort of panacea for all ills, physical and spiritual, so although we might read a Psalm together or talk about a sermon we’ve heard, mostly the only words I offer are prayers. And silly jokes. Yesterday we prayed. When I came away I wondered if there was anything, anything at all, that could help and comfort this friend and I felt totally inadequate. I came into the house, sat here at my desk, opened a commentary on Isaiah and the verse at the very top of the page was Isaiah 50:4

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

Wowser. That was a point of infinitely small volume with infinite density. God speaking to me.  The God of all eternity and infinity, the Creator of all existence, bending low to whisper in my ear ‘I’m here. When you don’t have the words, I will give them to you. Be still and know that I am God.’

He is my eternal singularity. To the world His miracle yesterday may seem as small as a wild forget-me-not, easily crushed underfoot, but to the heart that belongs to Him, it has the  power and immensity, density and wonder of a billion back holes. He impels me, compels me, towards His love. He quite simply is.