Advent 11

The wonder of today:

Found in running around the bowl of green we live in. Faster legs and a happy endorphin filled body.

Sunny cycle to work.

Believing some of my joy talk for Sunday.

Grateful that we have a deeper hope when facing the bleakness of tomorrow. Whatever happens we have a God with us and Light in the dark. Which means we keep on kicking holes in the dark. We keep on caring and reaching out across divides and tribal boundaries. We keep on seeking justice and getting creative in how to bring hope to our neighbours and communities. It doesn’t take away the hard horrid but it does bring a bit of light to a dark sky.

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Advent 10

Today’s wonder:

Found in son2’s cute performance as an Angel in his nativity. All the feelings of how much he’s grown and flourished in the last 5 years. Supremely grateful for this wonderful boy.

Battling through talk prep to get to some kind of bare bones talk on Joy for Sunday morning. Accepting the process is messy and fraught but that’s not a bad thing. Being ok that my thoughts on joy haven’t changed much in 20 years. Because some things remain through the processes of faith reorientation.

Being reminded on my course of the feelings of exile after son1’s birth. 7 years on and I can look back at the weeping lady who wondered how she would ever sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land and whisper: ‘You’ll find a way my love. You’ll find a way. All is not lost. You are held.’

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Advent 9

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Sometimes I just like to write an old fashioned blog post in Advent. So here’s something from a writing session I had with lovely friends last Friday. I’ve been thinking about covenants recently…

Last week on my course where I am training to be a Spiritual Director we sat and traced the thread of Covenant through the Old Testament. Initially we reflected on the nature of covenants in general, when I was reminded that I’m in a marriage covenant and also in a friendship covenant. We generally concluded covenant brings clarity to a relationship, and good ones can bring safety and assurance in our lives.

We looked through the moments when God restated again and again the life long eternal commitment to what they had created. To the people, to the creation, to everything. No matter what. Even when it turned out that humans are pretty fickle creatures and wander off to the nearest shiny actual physical thing. Even when the humans treated each other appallingly. Even when the humans promised fidelity one minute and then turned away the next, time after time after time.

These moments of God restating the covenant made are buried deep in my DNA, they have been bedrock of my soul for many many years. In my 20s I would read them again and again and again, in the desperate search for hope, the desire to find someone who would really love me, the me deep down, the dark me. In these words I found a hope of someone who would come and fight down through those depths to bring me home, who would sing over me in the darkest nights, I found a love which would not let me go.

They told me of a lover who would be faithful over and over again, a Presence that would not ever be taken from the creation, a never giving up, never stopping, never failing love. They brought comfort on long dark nights.

In my 30s and 40s I think I’ve got a bit less intense about my inner world. I’m less inclined to beat myself up now, less inclined to wallow about bemoaning how sinful and awful I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m clearly not perfect, I hurt those around me and act selfishly, I lie sometimes, I get jealous, I gossip, I judge. But. I beat myself up less about these things, I am slowly learning to believe this love I longed for so desperately, I am kinder to myself, I say sorry and am forgiven. I move on.

I’ve also had less time to think about myself, I’ve had 7 years of sleep deprivation, a small world, a full on world of need. I’ve thought about God in different ways. I’ve wondered if there is anything there at all. I’ve become more relaxed about what I think and felt less need to nail down everything tightly, I’ve breathed in and out and sometimes forgotten about God altogether. I measure my relationship with God less in terms of external things, although sometimes I have got very lost because the methods I used in the past to relate to God have changed.

Then last week’s session happened and I read the old old words in a different time and context. I read these words and realised that this is what covenant means. It’s not about my systems of reaching out to God, it’s not even about my engagement with God and how I feel that’s going. It’s about God carrying on being God, carrying on holding onto the people created, carrying on drawing us back, wooing us back to our Maker, providing ways through the Spirit that we can dwell in love, giving us the ability to be kind, patient, good, generous, self controlled. I read the words again of God promising a new heart and a new Spirit. I read words again of God restating love to broken stupid people and I remembered. 

I’m in covenant with God.

Nothing can change that, things may change around me, my thoughts and ideas will change as life moves around me. Humans have had so many conflicting thoughts and ideas over time and yet the one immovable thread through the whole of history is this solid unchanging ridiculous commitment from Creator to Creation. I’m safe, I’m held, I’m seen, I’m known because of that commitment. I am in covenant with God.

It will sound obvious to some, it will sound bonkers to others, it will sound wrong to still more but to me this reminder was like a cool drink on a hot day, a cup of tea on a sofa as the rain and wind swirl outside, the feeling of being woken up by a swim in the sea. Something slipped back into place in my soul and I could not stop smiling. I am in covenant with God. End of story. No taking back. No returns. 

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Advent 8

Somewhere in my memory I remember that in previous years I’d just post a song on Sunday’s. On a tired Sunday deep in December with 2 more weeks to go until Christmas holidays it seems like a good plan.

So here’s a classic Christmas song to cheer your soul this evening. Sometimes you need a huge dose of cheery joy, and this always reminds me of our wedding as we walked, grinning stupidly, hand in hand back down the aisle at the end of the service to this song. (We got married on the 19th December, it fit with the theme..). I love that the boys also now enjoy belting this one out.

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Advent 7

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And sometimes the wonder is hard to find, because of small boys and coughs and 4 hours sleep. Some days you wander through in a haze, living purely each moment as it comes. Smiles from the eldest at Pump track adrenaline rushes, the random nature of Paradise Park in Newhaven, the walking around counting Christmas lights on the way home from the shops, eating together through the world of fuzzy heads. Life goes on. Wonder is there, just harder to appreciate.

So somedays it’s good to remember this:

“1 In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and [b]the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the [c]darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it].”

Boom. The Light shines on. Sticking one to the Darkness as always.

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Advent 6

Today there was much wonder in a slower day, a day of sitting on sofas reading books, of writing with friends and hearing lovely encouragement after I read something I felt fairly vulnerable about. (no doubt it will be appearing on this blog soon…)

It was also Christmas Tree day (and over exhausted meltdown day, but that’s another story…)   I love how each year the story of our life together grows on this tree. From the decorations given as part of our honeymoon tree 10 years ago, to the ikea bundle I bought a few years into marriage, to the random nursery and school tat, and then decorations collected over the years on countless visits to Garden Centres with the boys. Oh how I miss the endless Christmas time trips to Garden Centres that came with the preschool years.

Anyway, it feels like our tree is creating as much story as our tree used to when I was growing up (and still retains at my parents house to this day). I am glad we don’t just go for the aesthetically pleasing look. I loved the boys squeals of excitement as they pulled out memories from the last few years from the decoration box.  I love this memory tree of wonder. And I love the boys super abundant excitement at putting it up this evening.

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Advent 5

The wonder of today.

Found in:

The sunrise, the pink and purple sky, the frosty ground and the dawn of another blue sky day.

The chance to sit on the sofa for a while this afternoon with tea, a book and some lovely clementines.

The realisation that several years ago a solo dinner and bedtime with the boys would have felt scary and hard. Today it just feels like normal life, hanging out, reading by candle light and a whole lot less fear. I’m even looking forward to a Saturday morning out with them on my own. We’ve come a long way in these last few years.

Dancing around the kitchen to Rend Collective’s Christmas album. We’ve been doing this for about 5 years now. We are living the memories these boys will look back on when they are grown. No longer are they needy small things (well they are pretty needy and small still) but they feel like actual human beings, people who interact with me, who are affecting me and I them. No longer are they baby and toddler gazing at me in curiosity as I dance in front of them but they now join in the dance. (there’s a profound thought there somewhere..)

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