Friday, 27 June 2014

Very personal Psalm 139

At my retreat at the Community of All Hallows last month, Sister Sheila encouraged me to read through Psalm 139 (verses 1-18) again. I sat in the sunshine, slowly reading, and as I did so it seemed God asked me to turn the words around so that He was speaking instead of the Psalmist......

I have examined you
and I love you. 
I love you at rest and in action;
I love all your thoughts.
I walk with you in your journeying
and stay with you in your resting;
I have walked all the paths you take.
I have heard all the words you speak.
I guard you closely behind and before,
and my arms are always around you.

Where could you go to escape from my Spirit?
Where could you go, that I am not?
I am in your highest praises, your greatest joys,
and I am in your darkest places, your deepest fears.
I am in your Light Days,
and I am in your Dark Days;
my Presence fills even your Grey Days.

I it was
that called you into being.
I imagined you
and breathed you into life.
I rejoice that I made you!

And all is for Love - I love you!
Shout it from the hilltops - I LOVE YOU!
Whisper it to the trees - I love you!
Sing it
dance it
write it
roll in it
spin in it
revel in it - 
I love you!
I love you!

And I always will.

Now, dear reader, go back and read it again, but put your name at the beginning!  

Monday, 23 June 2014

To Elizabeth

Some thoughts on the eve of the feast of the birth of John the Baptist....

Were you anxious, Mother Elizabeth?
Barren all those years, yet now - miracle of miracles - pregnant!
At your age!
All those years of scorn and pity from the other women,
all those years of self-torment and self-blame:
"The scriptures say the good man will be blessed with many children,
so what have I done wrong?
Or is it my husband, Zechariah, who has sinned? 
Is God punishing us by withholding life?"
But, no, Elizabeth,
God has a very special job for you and your husband!
You are to give birth to the Messenger,
the Herald,
the Way-Preparer.
Your tiny son, kicking in your womb,
will bring the dawn of the new age,
a new covenant, between God and the world - 
yes, the world! - 
not just your own people, the people special to God,
but all peoples because, 
at last,
Israel is ready to learn that all peoples are God's.

So here you are, on the eve of the birth,
pacing around,
panting with pain,
coping with the pangs of the coming birth.
Are you afraid that your old body will not cope,
when even young women labour so?
Do you fear you may die in the process?
Yet, like all mothers-to-be, 
you probably feel it will be worth it,
that your own death doesn't matter,
as long as your child is born safe and well.

I wonder what Zechariah is feeling?
Mute, he cannot easily share his concern for you.
Tensely sitting with the other men,
left out of Women's Mysteries,
waiting for God's miracle to be born.

And what of your cousin, Mary?
She, too, carries a Miraculous Child -
one more amazing than anyone can imagine!
When she visited you in your sixth month
you felt the Quickening of life recognizing Life.
How you both rejoiced!
Has anyone thought to tell her and Joseph
that your child is on his way?
How glad she will be!
And how many questions she will have to ask
of what it is like to give birth!

Ah, Mother Elizabeth, bear with the pain,
for it will all be worth it 
when you hold your special child in your arms!
Rejoice, Mother Elizabeth,
For the herald of your Saviour
is soon to be born!

Image by Google search

Monday, 2 June 2014

Let Your God Love You!

I have recently returned from an individual guided retreat at All Hallows Convent, Ditchingham. I have visited All Hallows a couple of times before, staying for a few days each time, joining the Sisters for worship and a midday meal. It is a place of peace and of welcome, and I felt at home there from the very first visit; indeed I wrote in my journal that I could hear God singing from the roof there, like a Chaffinch or a Robin!

We were greeted with tea and cakes, and with a beautiful little vase of wild flowers in our rooms. After tea, we maintained silence (except for worship, and for chats with our guides) until breakfast on the last day. It was tricky remembering to show the day to day civilities by gesture instead of in words, but  there was a real feel of Companions On The Journey Together with us retreatants. And, my goodness, did we make up for it with chat at that last breakfast!  ;-)

Each day we met our guides, talking together, sharing together and going away with Bible readings or other quotes to think upon. We then prayed, meditated or thought in silence; in our rooms, in the communal living room, with the baby bunnies and red-legged partridges in the gardens, or as we walked the beautiful country lanes around there. We read, we stitched, we knitted, we slept, and we just allowed God to reach us as He wanted to.

Sister Sheila was my retreat guide. At the first meeting, she gave me a poem/prayer that really hit deeply, so I thought I would share it here. I don't know who wrote it, but will gladly acknowledge the author if I ever find out! Here it is:

Be silent. Be still.
Alone: empty before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
He knows.
He understands.
He loves you
with an enormous love!
He only wants
to look upon you
with his love.
Still be.
Let your God
love you!

Image from Google Images search