Saying goodbye…

Bea

Today I went to the funeral of a 93 year old friend. We’d only known each other for the last year or so. She was a member of our church, housebound in the time I knew her. I hung out with her each Thursday lunchtime with a few others for a small group run in her home. Beryl was an incredible lady, a tour de force of a human being, a passionate woman, a deep lover of the overlooked and forgotten and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the many lessons I learnt from hanging out with her for an hour or so each week. I didn’t know her very well, I wish I had known her in her more exuberant younger years, I wish there had been more time to soak up her active nature into my soul.

She had lived a fascinating life and was very open in talking about her past, the children she’d had, the ups and downs, the heartache and the stretching situations she had lived in.  She never stopped being hopeful even in the midst of despairing over the state of the world and the injustices she saw all around her.  She was a walking example of someone who genuinely counted her blessings, I loved her delight in her electric blanket, the birds singing on her balcony and the ways she felt she was rich in this last season of life.

I’m employed for 16 hours a week to oversee pastoral care in our church, to facilitate small groups looking out for each other and ensure we are seeking to be more connected to each other as a church community. As soon as she found out about my job Beryl was on at me to improve the situation, to make sure we put words into action. She was utterly passionate about those who had no voice being given a voice, about the overlooked being seen and the vulnerable cared for. She couldn’t get out much in the last year of her life but she rang whoever she could to harangue them into caring about the burning situations on her heart. She lay awake trying to figure out how to make this world a better place.

I felt like life came into focus when I was sitting in her flat listening to her rage about the people who needed looking after, when I saw her putting action to words and doing what she could to show people she cared.  I’m not sure she ever really got just how much she was a massive part of the pastoral care which she so longed to see deepen in our community. She had a profound faith, simple, doubting like the rest of us but secure in the knowledge that she was loved by Jesus and that he loved everyone in this world. She struggled to understand the depression and mental illness that clings so tightly to many but enduringly prayed that these people would know breakthrough. I valued her prayers and concern for husbandface so much.

I loved hearing her stories of the people she would phone each day and week, the teenage lads she met with each week who kept on coming to see her, even when their official involvement in the good neighbour scheme they were part of came to an end. I loved her desire to go to a good party.  I’m going to miss sitting in her flat and remembering again the reality that God deeply cares for the people in this world, I’m going to miss the reminders each week that so many people are living on the margins of life and we need to care for each other. I am going to miss someone badgering me to care more for the people on the edges of our lives and community. I’m going to miss being reminded that sometimes all we need to do is to pick up the phone and talk to each other. I’m going to miss her optimism, the ways she got annoyed but never held a grudge and her passion for people.

I hope that I’ll learn from her legacy, I hope that I will get better in caring, in bringing action to my desire to care for people and I long, in someway, to live differently in honour of what she brought to my life and the lives of many.

So long Beryl, have fun ranting at God and enjoying his love as you hang out in eternity. See you soon.

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My first love…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_d187It was love at first sight, the evening we drove up from London, two friends and I, escaping the noise and claustrophobia of summer in the city.

It was love at first sight as I drove into the twilight

Up the M25, M40, M6, turning off at the A66 towards Keswick and then the winding road down past Derwent Water, up the Borrowdale Valley and onto the Honister Pass.

The sky grew silent and darkened.

The sharp walls of the valley reaching for the sky, silenced me in wonder.

Random sheep scattered everywhere made us laugh nervously, their alien forms a stark contrast to the urban landscape we had left behind.

Huge boulders littered the slopes, I slowed down, feeling remote, cut off, in another world.

We rounded the corner, driving along the shores of Buttermere, all around fells lined the sky.

Fells that soon I would know all the names of, Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks, Seat, High Stile, Red Pike, Robinson, for now unknown, unexplored, unfamiliar yet aching to be known.

I could not stop staring.

It was love at first sight.

It is hard to put into words the affect this lake and it’s surrounding watching hills has on my subconscious. The first time I came to Buttermere I spent hours staring at the fells out of the youth hostel window. There is something insanely profound about gazing on something which hasn’t been built by humans, which has been around for 100s of years, which has seen humans come and go for generations and yet has stayed pretty much the same. Nature changes in slow seeping ways, not in the quick fixes we seem to enjoy as we hop from one project to the next. Nature takes its time. Rivers run and run and the landscape morphs around them. Glaciers retreat and leave their deposits, giant rocks, rolling landscapes and sheer escarpments.

The analogies to life with God spring almost too easily to my lips, the unchanging immutable nature of the Divine, the way the mountains surround and protect. The experiences of the people of God journeying through mountain country to Jerusalem to worship at the temple are echoed in these Fells. I join in with them as they draw their own spiritual analogies from the hills around them. “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken, but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forevermore.”

After the initial wonder of my first encounter with Buttermere, it became a place where I could not escape the reality which runs through my fingers so often in my life back home. Here became the place I longed to escape to. As the years went on I came back over and over again, almost addicted to this feeling of wonder and love. Desperate for more of these mountains who spoke so much to me of my Makers safe hand on my life.

Then I got married, had children and could no longer plan all time off work to be space where I drove the long road to my place of peace. Life altered, changed, I had to learn how to be me all over again. I didn’t want to bring my small ones into this space, I didn’t want them to have to compete with this love. I didn’t want their all encompassing nature to take me away from this love which I jealously clutched to my chest. I didn’t want divided attention, I didn’t want to have to try and share this place with people too small to understand that sometimes Mummy needed to not have demands in front of her face all the time and who didn’t understand how to stop and stare for hours. I didn’t want the resentment of these wonders to creep in, didn’t want them to disturb the peace without realising and for me to like them less because of it.

They slowly grew, I became less the star they orbit around. They are able to not be with me constantly and I let myself hope that one day my two loves could meet. Last year I gingerly drove my roads and felt the pull of wonder again. I introduced one of them to the slopes, the lake and then held my breath. I uttered a quick hello to my hills again and promised to return.

 

This year we lured the small ones up the mountain slopes, sugar helping their steps, a secret lake enticed them further up and I felt breezes of wonder hit their small brains. The sun shone and the luminous green hills lit up around us. We paddled in Bleaberry Tarn, in the shadow of Red Pike. We stumbled up and down mountain paths and ate ice cream. I felt the joy, I saw glimpses of it gripping them and let myself smile, holding loosely to the hope of them sharing my addiction to this place.

Buttermere will always be there for me, I know they must find their own loves, places and joys which sing the love song of their Maker to them. For now I rest content that the two deepest loves of my life can coexist, rest together and form new paths in the years to come.

My family met my first love.

It went well.

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20 years of friendship…

unadjustednonraw_thumb_c7f120 years ago

The start of ‘Relay’ training.

The start of a year out programme that was fairly impossible to explain to anyone, um, a year of discipleship, helping CU’s in universities, helping people learn about God, encouraging students, reading the Bible with people, drinking tea and being generally lovely to students in Chichester and Bognor Regis, getting to meet up with other people doing the same thing a few times in the year. Working with a ‘staff worker’. People either stared at me blankly or smiled in a vague encouraging way. Kath is going to do something for God. Sounds ok.

This was our first time together. Relay 1. The first of three training conferences.

I sat in talks.

I sang the words, ‘your majesty, I can but bow, I lay my all before you now’. I felt entirely me, that this thing, this encouraging people thing, was what I had been made to do. I felt alive. 

The first evening.

Sent into a room after a talk on integrity to be honest with a few others, to pray, to start a journey together of talking about how we were really, deep inside.

Anna and Sarah. Anna showed us pictures of her new nephew. Sarah had an actual proper mobile phone contract, the first person I knew to have Orange everyday 50, she used it to talk to her fiance, James, each night. I would be working with Sarah in the year, she in Portsmouth, me in Chichester. Anna would be in Exeter.

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Anna and Sarah. I have no idea what we talked about on that first night but from then the expectation was set. We met up on team days and conferences throughout the year, thrown together in a room late at night to pray. The weirdness of being the only people we knew who fully understood this strange program we were part of drew us together. The wonder of being able to be honest and call out to our God together bound us tight. My sisters.

The end of the year- Relay 3.

The final talk. Where would we be in 10 years time? Would we still be telling tales of God’s work in our lives? Would we still be in touch with anyone from this formative year?

We determined that we would carry on praying together.

We’d been through something. We needed each other’s understanding of this year to process and move forward. We needed each other’s tender gaze and the simple question ‘how are you?’ We needed each others understanding that we meant the answer to be much deeper than the ‘I’m fine’ automated response.

We said, we’ll do it, we’ll keep on showing up and giving our lives over to our Maker together.

And we did. Through weddings, moves to London, moves back home, starting new things, doing the same old thing, journalism courses, knowing the next step, not knowing anything, through tears and pain, through joys and wonder, through cancer, through the darkest days, through a funeral, through the forming of new lives, through miscarriage, through finding partners to walk this life with, through more weddings, through childbirth again and again and again, through job changes, sickness, through the plodding on, through the seasons of our lives, we stuck together.

To say I am thankful for these two amazing ladies and the life we have shared over the last 20 years is an understatement. I don’t know how I would have ridden the storms of life without them, I am honoured to have shared in riding some of their storms with them.

I cannot express the wonder of friendships over the years, of people who know me inside out and have seen me throughout the changing seasons of life. I love these two sisters of mine. I’m so glad to know them and to know that we have a few more years in us to finally get a photo of the three of us where we all look good.

Anna and Sarah, I never had sisters, until I met you. Here’s to the next 20 years of journeying through this crazy wonderful life with God thing.

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Books I’ve read, the May-July edition.

Phoebe – Paula Gooder

A story based on the life of Phoebe from the letters of Paul. It’s a lovely imaginative piece which helped bring colour to the life of the early church and made me ponder all over again what it must have been like to be part of this crazy movement of people trying to take seriously the words of Jesus and start a whole new way of living. I think we often get so preoccupied with the minutia of how we are living as Christians, stuck in our tribal ways of acting, that it was refreshing to take a step back and look at a bigger picture. Paula draws us into the world of people eating and living together and trying to work out as best they could what Paul and Peter were on about when they wrote them letters about life with Jesus.

Searching for Sunday- Rachel Held Evans.

A beautiful manifesto for what the church could and probably should be. A bunch of weirdos trying to love and connect with each other because of the One who loves us and holds us together. Worth a read if you’ve ever struggled with church (I can’t imagine there are many who haven’t…). It’s a book that gave me hope again to persevere with the rather odd reality of church.

She says things like this: “The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace”. 

And this: “But the gospel doesn’t need a coalition devoted to keeping the wrong people out. It needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.”

Her early death seems all the more untimely and hideous when she wrote such refreshing welcoming words, that gave hope to so many people on the margins of this Christian thing.

Middle England – Jonathan Coe

I love Jonathan Coe books, he seems to have an almost prophetic insight into what the ‘English’ mindset is like. This one is the third in a series following a group of friends from the 70s to the present day. It’s a fairly depressing read considering the political landscape we now inhabit but one with an interesting social commentary on our times.

The Outrun- Amy Liptrot

A beautiful book about a recovering alcoholic returning to the Orkney Islands where she grew up. Nature, the sea and living a more simple life all aid her recovery. Wonderful for her honesty, descriptions of the natural world and the sense of hope she leaves the reader with at the end. I loved seeing a life redeemed and the confidence of someone breaking away from most of the social norms we take for granted.

Being Christian- Rowan Williams

A pretty good little book of reflections on baptism, prayer, the Bible and communion. It left me feeling hopeful that there is a space for me in this being Christian thing and enjoying the breadth of people’s experiences of what it means to be Christian.

The Salt Path- Raynor Winn

Another redemption through the natural world memoir book. Two people suddenly have everything ‘secure’ in this world taken away from them and are left homeless, one with fairly debilitating health issues. They decide to set off on the South West Coast Path and see how far they get on £40 a week, sleeping in a tent on the side of the path. I got properly itchy feet after reading this one. It’s a beautiful read and asks pretty big questions about how close we all are to the edge of what we expect life to give us.

The Core of the Sun- Johanna Sinisalo

Because everyone needs a slightly odd dystopian scary world where women are trained to be fluffy and stupid, their only purpose to attract a mate, and men can pretty much do whatever they want with them. Throw in a few female outliers, an addiction to chili, some major chili dealers, then follow a female and male who don’t fit into the social norms as they try and get out to freedom and you’ve got a pretty good read.

The Clockmakers Daughter- Kate Morton

Another one of those books she writes so well, two or three different timelines woven together in a mysterious story across the centuries. Pretty engaging to read.

Trials of Morrigan Crow- Jessica Townsend

Billed to me as the next Harry Potter I eagerly jumped through this one. It’s pretty good, an interesting, different take on a lot of themes popular in YA fiction. Other worlds, magical happenings, trials of one sort and another, a main character learning a new way of looking at the world around her and who she assumes she is. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes.

Spiritual Direction- Sue Pickering.

Last year I decided that really all I want to do with my time is become a Spiritual Director operating from a campervan. I have the van, all I need now is the qualification to be a Spiritual Director. For those who aren’t aware, Spiritual Directors are people who are trained in the art of coming alongside others in their journey of faith, providing space for people to notice where God might be, where they might be in relation to God and to be a nurturing place for people to pay attention to the divine in their life. Someone to provide companionship, to walk alongside you for a bit of the journey. They aren’t counselors, not psychotherapists or mentors but occupy a space to help you think through life in relation to God. I’m going to be starting a training course in October in London to be a Spiritual Director and reading this book was super helpful in that discernment process. It’s a brilliant book for anyone to read as it covers so much ground in thinking through how we listen to God, how we hear the Divine presence in our lives, how we can listen to others, what stuff we bring to the table and how we can work through that in our interactions with others. It made me want to pay attention all over again to the presence of God in the midst of everyday life and be listening out to what God might be up to. She says things like this:

“As we, and our directees, begin to develop an awareness that God can be found in the midst of ordinary routines, and as we realise that any aspect of daily life can be used to aid reflection and connection with God, life becomes a real adventure. We become aware of the unexpected moments through which the Holy Spirit may touch and teach us, using the most common symbols or the simplest events.”

End of the World Running Club- Adrian J Walker

More depressing dystopian stuff. A fascinating insight into our society at the moment and a very honest main character who isn’t all that sympathetic but as he runs towards being reunited with his family through an England ravaged by meteor explosions he grew on me. Worth a read if you like that kind of stuff.

The Day the World Came to Town-Jim Defede

Story upon story of the week following 9/11 when 38 planes were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland as American airspace was shut down. Fascinating, heartwarming, humbling, inspiring, the superlatives don’t really do this true story justice. It was written a couple of years after the events and contains some of the stories told in the musical ‘Come from Away’, but also loads of other stories as well.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing- Delia Owens

The most beautiful book I’ve read all year. The story of Kya, a girl who lives out on the Marshes in the south of America. It’s so wonderfully written, is such a tender story, is full of the wonder of the natural world and had me in tears many times. Get it now.

Normal People- Sally Rooney

I gave this a go having hated ‘Conversations with Friends’ when I read it at the beginning of the year. The characters in this are slightly more sympathetic but I still just didn’t get it. It felt cold at times, written well but with nothing I could relate to. I think that was probably the problem, there was just a disconnect that I’m struggling to articulate. Maybe me and Sally just aren’t destined to get on. Ah well. It’s just that everyone seems to tell me that we should.

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The term is over. The holiday has begun…

I’m feeling in the mood for a roundup of our times. It is the last day of term. Tomorrow we drive up to the Lake District for the start of the holidays and a return to my favourite place in the world.

Mostly we are in good shape. I’ve packed the van thanks to an excellent friend taking son2 off for the morning. The heat is making me very sleepy and I’m looking forward to finally being able to stop thinking about packing and get on the road in the morning.

We’ve been rolling along life for the last few weeks, undulating up and down, nothing too major, nothing too minor. Here are some of the highlights:

We’ve been loving our new van, combining the car and old van into one multi purpose van was the best plan. It’s a great layout inside and works well as a weekly transporter or longer get away vehicle. She’s called Hope because I want to lean into the reality that I can dare to hope in this world and not just sit and feel overwhelmed by circumstances.

I’ve come to the end of a block of counselling recently, it’s been a great journey of reaching into the past, not being scared of it anymore. I’m owning the affects it’s had but also enjoying it not defining who I am now. I’ve been working on loving my inner critic so she doesn’t need to beat me up anymore and enjoying the unfathomable reality that I am enough. It’s been a good journey and I think I have much to work through moving forward. I recommend counselling. Go get yourself some time to process life.

I’ve applied and got onto a course to train to be a Spiritual Director. Starting in October I’ll be heading to London every Tuesday evening to ponder how to walk with people through this journey of faith thing. One day faithinavan will be a reality and I’ll be offering Spiritual Direction from a camper van. I’ve loved reading Sue Pickering’s book about Spiritual Direction and the joy of finding something I think I was made for.

Somehow in the midst of all of that we appear to be coming to the end of the preschool years. Son2 starts reception in September. I have all the feelings. I feel somewhat unready for the changes. I have the feeling of having learnt how to have babies, toddlers and small people and now having to learn a new set of skills. (If you have read Quentin Blake’s Zagazo you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t go get it now!).

Aside from that. I think really I am ready. Ready for some new adventures with the time freed up. Ready to guide the small ones through the new stuff they will face. Ready to enjoy them and delight in them over the summer. Ready for books, hugs, baking, laughing, exploring, cycling, scooting, parks, wide open outside spaces and the beach. Ready for the fights and the making up and all the ups and downs of small boys finding their way through this world.

On Wednesday I sat in a park having a picnic with an Arrdvark Music group, we haven’t been to a session for about a year but Arrdvarks music was one of the pillers to keep me sane in the tiny people years. Songs of New York City life, songs about bagels, taxis and big old trees. Songs that didn’t want to make me poke myself in the eye like the nursery rhymes of old. We sang along and it felt fitting to end son2s preschool years with one last group. I looked around and knew I didn’t fit anymore. My boys are growing up. Life is changing and that’s really all ok. We are moving into the next stage and this summer will mark the transition. I’m looking forward to more chilled times with the boys and trying to remember the good moments when they are trying to kill each other.

And so we are off for some fun in the van. I’m going to clear my phone of social media and emails and just use it for music, maps and staring at the weather for the best day to head to the lovely Buttermere, my physical place of most joy in this world. I’m going to attempt to enjoy the simplicity of one place, one set of people, one focus for a week. See you on the flip side.

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Finding God in ‘Come From Away’

Life is hard. For many of us. Life is a long hard slog. Recently I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning in the dark, just surviving until the end of each day. There has, however, been a thread of light which is getting me through these times. Without fail, I think I have listened to the soundtrack from the musical ‘Come From Away’ everyday in the last four weeks since we saw it. This musical tells of the 38 planes which were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland, in the week following 9/11. It tells so many stories from that week of how the locals cared for the ‘come from aways’ and many incredible stories from people on those flights and how they coped with life against the backdrop of such a hideous moment in history. I am in love with this musical because it is so full of human hope and dignity. In a time where the worst of humanity was on display, the best was also able to shine.

I can’t stop listening to the lives of the people caught up in these events. One song is dedicated to telling the story of the first female American Airline Captain who just happened to be flying one of the planes. The real life pilot has watched the musical over 60 times in awe of the way her part in history has been honoured night after night. I’ve watched everything I can on YouTube about this musical and been astounded by the way it’s brought together the actors and their real counterparts.

I love that this story has been told again and again and again. I love that hope is being shouted loud from the rooftops and that hospitality is being honoured as a way of bringing light in this world.

I love the powerful sense of identity that comes across in the community of Newfoundlanders. The refrain ‘I am an islander’ plays loud and strong in the opening song ‘Welcome to the Rock’. The rest of the musical unfolds and expands on what it means to be an islander, to welcome the ones who have come from away, to always keep the light burning for those who have left and to let all know that the door is open and the kettle is on.

To the ones who’ve left
You’re never truly gone
A candle’s in the window
And the kettle’s always on

When the sun is coming up
And the world has come ashore
If you’re hoping for a harbour
Then you’ll find an open door

(From ‘Welcome to the Rock’)

It’s here that I choke up the most. Because. You know. You have to know where I’m going with this. It is not a hard leap to see that this story of hospitality and harbour echoes loud and long the story of the hospitality and harbour of the Maker of this world.

I love this musical because it has become, for me, a profound symbol of God in this world, a profound statement of the God who always leaves the light burning. Who always welcomes the ones who have come from away, who always has a fireplace to come and sit around.

The other week we sat in church and Dave our pastor asked us to imagine God with us, to imagine enjoying God. I wasn’t really in a place where I wanted to enjoy anything but I closed my eyes and tried. Something new came to mind. I’m pretty sure it was influenced by this musical entrenched in my soul. It was of an old fisherman’s cottage on the shore of an island. It was an image of a darkening sky, an open door full of light, a fireplace glowing, 4 chairs around it, three figures in the room.  They were the ones, the ones who’ve walked this life with me, a couple of them turned to me in welcome, the other put the kettle on and all smiled that knowing smile of ‘Kath, dearheart, we’ve been waiting for you, come and sit with us a while.’

God in their personhood. God in their welcome. God in their trinity relationship dance of knowing warmth. God whom I could enjoy. God my harbour and open door. God my friend, my counsel, my smile of knowing, my safety.

There is hope. Walking around with us. My soul may be storm battered and bruised but I will always have a harbour. There is hope. There is a presence with us in the storm, a light that will not go out and an unseen reality I can no more deny than the air I breathe.

Now to figure out how I can preach on this in a few weeks time when I’ve been given free rein of talking about anything 🙂

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What makes a ‘safe place’?

I’ve been wondering recently what we mean by a ‘safe place’. I’ve heard this applied to places either online, our church and various other communities. These spaces are described as ‘safe’ and I’m wondering what is meant by that. 

This train of thought was sparked when I went to L’abri for a weekend with a friend back in May. For those of you who don’t know what L’abri is, it’s hard to explain. Their website is here. That might help. Briefly, they are an intentional community set up to help people explore the nature of truth and to find their creator God as they question what the heck this life is about. 

There is a monastic quality to life in the community with space set aside for work, study, creativity, prayer, play, tea drinking and discussion of big questions about life the universe and everything. They run on a termly basis with students coming for either whole terms or a few weeks/days. Onsite live a host of workers who help with the day to day running of the place and help to guide the students through their thoughts. It’s an interesting place to hang out. 

I hung out there a fair bit back in my days of working as a student worker for UCCF. Back then it felt like a super ‘safe place’ to explore my huge doubts and questions about this faith thing. I learnt there to enjoy the vast complicated space between the question and the answer and to soak in the wonderful creativity of our Maker. 

I hadn’t been back since the arrival of small people in my world and stepping back into the Manor House,where L’abri England is based, felt like returning home. I breathed in deep of the air of community life.

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(Small geek moment: It might sound odd but the place I love most at L’abri is the rota board, the clear rhythm of days laid out, who is doing what obvious for all to see. I love a sense of peaceful order. Anyways. It was good to be back.)

As I walked around through, I noticed some jarring elements. The library was full of books of my past. Books that triggered fears of exclusion, of being judged for my lack of exact theological framework, books that I feared because their counterparts weren’t there. The well argued other side of debates felt missing. I worried that my greater ease with the expansive nature of faith wouldn’t be welcome. 

I started wondering whether friends would find this a safe space and then started questioning what on earth was a safe space anyway. The next 24 hours gave me some ideas.

I chatted with one of the workers, still there from when I last came. As we chatted I had the profound sense that here was someone who wanted to know me beyond where my theological framework (whatever on earth that means) was at that moment. Here was someone who was interested in me as a person. What I believed was fairly secondary to the connection as human beings. I found this again in the lunchtime discussions, with 10 or so people around a table chatting about a big idea. As the hours unfolded I felt again that this was a different kind of safe space. A space between question and answer. A space where firstly it matters that you are a human being rather than a set of ideas. A place where disagreement can happen and there are always more questions and space for questions rather than a shutting down with the ‘correct’ answer. 

L’abri is a place that is searching for Truth so it’s going to lean more towards finding some answers, but, it seemed to me, a safe place to explore and be ok with disagreement because of this constant desire to treat people with dignity and worth. It isn’t a space where everyone agrees all the time and I wonder if this kind of  safe space is more realistic than my desire to have a safe space sprung from things we all have in common. Those kind of safe spaces, the ones born out of the rush of finding people who seem to agree with you on everything, can very easily can disintegrate into an ‘unsafe place’ when you change your mind and think things outside the tribal norms. 

(Should safe place have quote marks around it? I can’t decide…)

Anyway.

Maybe in our tribal world we should seek these kind of wider safe spaces, ones where different ideas aren’t stamped on. Places where we can treat each other as humans, before treating each other based on our set of ideas about a subject. I think it’s a bit like Brene Brown’s vision in Braving the Wilderness (Well worth a read). She argues for listening, for not devaluing people, for not forgetting that all those around us are just that, people to try to understand and love. 

Maybe it’s about not seeing people as ‘other’ but to seek to see each other as image bearers of the divine. To ask questions. To love through the differences. To be safe spaces for each other because we treat each other carefully and with kindness in the differences. 

Here’s hoping you can treat me like that and I can treat you like that. That we can push through the instant buzz of seemingly connecting with people who think exactly the same as us to the deeper work of understanding why we think differently and finding a deeper connection born of love. 

In any chat about what we think and believe let’s edge closely to the patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, mercy and grace of our Creator in their insanely patient dealing with humans throughout the mess of history. (It comforts me immensely to know no one has ever in the whole of time got this God thing totally figured out) 

Let me know what you reckon. Is any of this achievable? 

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