I have a desperate need to share tonight with you. Whoever you are. I want to tell you about life, right now, in this funny little house, once a Sunday school. I want to let you in on my world. I always thought that, as a writer, I was looking in on yours, an outsider for ever, but now I need to show you mine. After a lifetime of secrecy, these days I want to throw the doors wide open. What a turn around! But no great revelation, nothing to shake the world of science or art, just my small life.
I’ve just put the milk bottles out; for the last few years I haven’t had milk delivered, buying it in the supermarket instead, in plastic bottles, but now I’m conscious of our Earth filling up with plastic and I’ve gone back to deliveries. So tonight I’ve put the empty glass bottles on the step to be collected tomorrow.
As I straightened up I saw this
Simply the house across the road, the sky, some fat tumbling clouds and the moon. So much grandeur to be wondered at, literally on my doorstep, and until that moment I had been oblivious to it. I stood on the step, robbed of movement and dizzied by the quiet beauty of the night. Excited and paralysed. There she stands, our little moon, suspended in the Universe, giving us gravity and tides, marking our seasons, bathing us in silver light. Just near enough to stay in orbit. Just far enough to stay in orbit. As if Someone designed these things.
Sometimes we can be overtaken by emotion outside ourselves, revelation explodes, gratitude floods in, and we see ourselves, briefly, as we really are, tiny, inconsequential, laughably irrelevant to the expanse of the Universe, subject to a million weaknesses, selfish and foolish and wrong, and yet loved with a ferocious love, precious and desired. What a kaleidoscope of truth and question. And tonight I have to share it with you. No idea why.
Where did this explosion of heightened awareness come from this evening?
Quick answer? No bloomin’ idea. I’ve not been in a hugely contemplative mood today but we had a prayer meeting earlier in the evening and we thought about Judas, and the Judas kiss, and we considered Christ’s last words to him “Friend,” Jesus replied “Do what you came for.” (Matthew 26:50) That Jesus could call Judas ‘friend’ even in the act of that terrible betrayal! My heart goes out Judas. I am Judas. I don’t judge him, or hate him, I love him, and I hope that in his final moments he found peace with God. There are words from Jesus earlier which suggest that Judas may not have found that wonderful peace (John 17:12 ‘None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.’ and “…. woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” Matthew 26:24). But I trust in the goodness and rightness of God, for Judas and for me: God doesn’t fail to love or to forgive, and nor does He turn a blind eye to sin. His is the perfect balance, not mine. Maybe those thoughts tonight about the love of Jesus and the weakness of mankind, maybe they paved the way for my doorstep moment.
Or maybe my heart was receptive because I’d just watched a witty and touching episode of ‘The Kominsky Method’ (Netflix… worth a watch, just 8 half hour episodes) It’s the portrayal of a friendship between two old men, and it’s funny and touching – not always brilliant, but then, none of us are. It strives to be honest in a dishonest medium.
Or maybe my soul was primed to be stirred because yesterday morning I saw the ‘Super Wolf Moon’. Yes, maybe it was that. I left the house early yesterday because I was taking a friend to a chemotherapy session and I had to walk the dogs before setting off. We were on the beach by 5.30, pitch dark, and I got out of the car already fumbling for my torch (phone). Then, just as on my doorstep tonight, I looked up. I had read about the Super Wolf Moon the day before but my early morning cotton-wool brain had forgotten. There she was, the moon, over Camaes Head, strangely large, strangely bronze, ethereally beautiful. As the dogs scampered away I stood there, lost in wonder and awe, understanding why so many cultures had woven religions and myths around this wonderful moon of ours.
Or maybe what followed my walk on that velvet black beach paved the way for the moment of joyful humility tonight, because the chemotherapy unit was peaceful, well ordered, and yet as I looked at the patients, hooked up to iv drips steadily dripping selective poison into their veins, I saw the vulnerability of our physical lives, and sensed the turmoil of our silent thoughts and fears and hopes. And again, I was filled with the knowledge that God loves us with a terrible and wonderful love.
Joy and sorrow, hand in hand. Life is a wonderful paradox. That we can be so small and insignificant, one soul in a billion billion souls, and yet loved with an eternal and perfect love, by Love Himself.
Do you remember the childish game of putting your head back at far as you could, so that you were truly looking straight up int the sky? You could turn around to increase the sense of dizziness, but even if you stood perfectly still, the simple act of looking up into the sky, with no visual reference to anything on the earth…. that was enough to do something weird in your inner ear, to tilt your world on its axis, creating the illusion of an awareness of eternity and space. That was enough to take you out of yourself and into the beyond. It was scary. Still is. It reminds me of when Lou, our daughter, was about 6 and we heard her crying late one night. Lou loved her sleep so this was unusual enough to make up both hurry to see what was wrong. She stood on the landing, wailing ‘I don’t want to think of space any more.’ Puzzled we suggested that she tried to think of something else then, and she said ‘But now I’ve started, I can’t stop because space just goes on and on and on and on…. and it never stops!’
Maybe her first intimation of our place in the Universe?
Listen, you gorgeous creatures, I’ve spent my whole life not trusting God enough to look up. When you look up, high, you know how small you are, how helpless. It’s undeniable. I spent my whole life afraid to look at the truth full in His beautiful face, afraid to be dizzied by God’s magnificence and power, afraid to recognise it, afraid of Him. Shamed and fearful.
What a waste, Lord. What a waste of all those years when Your love was there, all around me. What a waste when my very weakness and insignificance were precious to You. What a waste. Now, dizzy me, Lord. Dizzy me until I am disoriented. I trust you enough to put my head right back and lose sight of everything but you. If I fall down, so what? You will pick me up. Thank you for the moon. It’s like that old saying ‘I’d give you the moon if I could.’ And, Lord, you have!. That lovely moon tonight, that amazing moon yesterday.
So. There you go, my little crispy ducks. Life in my house and my head tonight. Oh. It’s past 2am. So when you read ‘today’ it was yesterday.
Anyway, anyway, anyway, don’t forget to look up, eh?
Look up to see how small you are, to see how immense God is, and to experience His love. Once you’ve done that, life will never be the same again.