Reblog: When I Say I Am a Christian

Amen.

A Pastor's Thoughts

 This is a poem I shared in a recent sermon. I share it with you

“When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not shouting, ‘I’ve been saved!’

I’m whispering, ‘I get lost!’ That’s why I chose this way.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t speak with human pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble – needing God to be my guide.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not trying to be strong.

I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m not bragging of success.

I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

 

When I say, ‘I am a Christian,’ I don’t think I know it all.

I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught.

 

When I say ‘I am a Christian,’ I’m…

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Come with Nothing

 

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Come to the table. Come, sit at His feet.

Come if you’re able, come if you’re meek.

Come if you’re broken, come if you’re lost.

Come, come touch the heavenly cloth

Of His robe,

And feel Him breathe into your soul –

All your discarded shards

Made whole.

 

It’s not glue that binds shards together,

It’s grace;

Grace for the humble,

Grace for the race

You thought you had lost,

Grace for the weary and scrap-heap tossed.

 

His yoke is easy and His burden is light,

His words are joy and His love a delight,

You won’t find Him in comfort

Or in success,

You’ll find Him when you’re sure you’re the last to be blessed.

 

He was there in your past, He’s here in the mess,

Come join the raggedy-taggledy fest!

Come to the table. Come, sit at His feet,

And learn from the Master the Way of the Least.

~ Sandyfaithking, 2016

 

I think it’s a bit too close to doggerel for my liking, but sometimes you have to write and be done with it, I reckon. This poem was inspired by these words from Laura Martin’s book ‘Positively Powerless’:

Isaiah 57:15 states:

For this is what the high and exalted one says – He who lives forever, whose name is holy, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

It almost seems a contradiction: God dwells in a high and holy place, but He also dwells with the contrite and lowly. It is a startling contrast: we get close to God by realising how far we are from Him… Jesus taught similar principles… The ‘blessed’ are those who are poor in spirit, mournful and meek – those  who realise they come to the spiritual table with nothing to offer.

Highlighting is my own, not Laura’s. You can read more intelligent, interesting insights over at Laura’s blog: lightenough.WordPress.com

 

Musings and Frost

I find in the work of Robert Frost both a heavy, in-birthed cynicism and a fresh dose of reality with an appreciation for all things. I think his poetry is often focused around this conflict and as such I have loved it since I was sixteen years old and received the collected works of Robert Frost for my birthday from my darling Granny. Aside: I never called her ‘darling’ in life but I wish I had; she was a dear soul. I often dream of my grandmother since she died. Strange. Anyway, I am in a strange mood – angry and fed-up but at the same time not caring one way or the other. Also I’m aware that I am alive and have a commission to serve. All things considered it’s not an easy combination but will overrides all and I will to follow God, whatever my emotions. Such is recovery from PTSD, soothly, as I gesse (l’il bit o’ Chaucer for you there – I told you I was in a strange mood). Well, in short, this poem reflects those kinds of conflicts within a backdrop of everyday reality:

A good reading. The last line is what resonates with me:

And they, since they

Were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs.

C’est la vie.

 

My dear son has been ill. We have an appointment at the hospital this afternoon for a scan but so far they’re somewhat baffled. He has missed school for weeks now and I don’t know what to do. He seems ok in himself, apart from running a fever this morning, poor lad, but for the most part I haven’t been able to tell if he’s really ill or if he’s faking it. Or partially faking it, because of his anxiety, which he says no one understands – and perhaps we don’t, not being autistic or OCD like him. I have had to be extremely patient with him, bless him. I thought he would be well enough to go back to school this morning, but ’twas not to be :-/

As for me, I am weary. Bored as much as anything, having stopped studying with the O.U. I am no better, physically, than I was, although I would very much like to be. I am trying to declutter and organise our house, which gives me goals each day, although I dislike housework immensely. I am not sure if it is a sign of organisation or madness to now have labelled shelves in the kitchen and an organised plastic container drawer. What do you reckon? I’ve been learning to speak Mandarin along the way. I can say, “I am English but he is Chinese,” and “She is busy. She is reading a book.” I’ve always wanted to learn Mandarin and they have a good course on Audible so I thought I’d give it a go. But it’s all pretty aimless, really. Is it ironic that the Chinese invented the examination, which was solely for the purpose of becoming a Mandarin, and here I am learning Mandarin but with no prospect of examination? Or is it just a tongue twister?

“In space things touch, in time things part,” she repeated to herself… her brain so weak that she could not decide whether the phrase was a philosophy or a pun.** 

My daughter started talking about careers the other day. She thinks she would like to be an architect or an engineer when she leaves school, and she has the aptitude for it. I do so love my children, but when she started talking about going to university and having a career I found myself unable to join in! My husband chastised me for my tone of voice so I shut up; I would never want to hurt my child. Yet there I was, overwhelmed with a sense of sorrow and, yes, bitterness, that I usually manage to keep under wraps. At least, I’m not generally aware of it. I have no patience for self-pity yet my thoughts were (and have been since) along the lines of: I was the one who scored highest in the 11+ out of everyone who took it that year. I was the one who should have gone to Oxford or Cambridge, or at least to a redbrick. I was the one who should have soared in the academic world of my choosing, following in the footsteps of my father. And what did I get instead? Nightmares and flashbacks and ill-health and a great steaming pile of bovine faeces.

The ridiculous thing is that I know, perhaps more than most, that life isn’t what we expect it to be. We are spoiled, here in the West. We have the illusion of being in control and we don’t like to be disillusioned. When a billion people in the world are malnourished, when 6 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes, who am I to turn my nose up at anything? Yet I couldn’t stop those feelings! Like I said, one’s will is sometimes the only way to move, and movement is surely better than stagnancy: I might not feel a certain way, but I’m flippin’ well not letting it get in the way of what I know to be right and true and honourable.

I hate PTSD and I hate M.E. (note the full stops denoting abbreviation – I don’t hate myself, which is a minor miracle really because I used to). I loathe not being ‘normal’, or at least having the chance to be, but it is what it is and not wanting it to be a certain way is not going to change anything. Since when did a person’s wanting or not wanting change a thing? And because I believe, as a child of God, that I have a divinely-imbued purpose to love and to serve, then so be it. Deep calls to deep. It is inescapable.

 

** from A Passage to India by E.M. Forster

Poetry and Prayer

My words and thoughts do both express this notion,

That life hath with the sun a double motion.

The first is straight, and our diurnal friend;

The other hid and doth obliquely bend.

One life is wrapt in flesh, and tends to earth;

The other winds t’wards him whose happy birth

Taught me to live here so that still one eye

Should aim and shoot at that which is on high – 

Quitting with daily labour all my pleasure,

To gain at harvest an eternal treasure.

********

George Herbert (1593-1633) ‘Colossians 3:3’

********

My words and thoughts do both express this notion,

That life hath with the sun a double motion.

The first is straight, and our diurnal friend;

The other hid and doth obliquely bend.

One life is wrapt in flesh, and tends to earth;

The other winds t’wards him whose happy birth

Taught me to live here so that still one eye

Should aim and shoot at that which is on high – 

Quitting with daily labour all my pleasure,

To gain at harvest an eternal treasure.

Summer, Age 12

We waved off our middle child today,

All pink and rosy and full

Of bounce.

Or, not so much bounce, what with carrying a backpack

Cram-jammed full for a week of fun

In the sun and the dirt and the green.

And in

A week we’ll pick her up again,

Sunburned, dirt-scarred,

Still, no doubt, rosy

And smiling.

Seven nights under canvas,

Seven days filled end-to-end

And top to bottom

With climbing trees,

Building rafts and making friends.

This is the stuff lifetimes are made of

In the height of summer,

Aged 12.

Just a poem I wrote after Fluff went off to camp this morning. It’s not a great poem, but it has within it what I wanted to say and it’s a start on the road back to writing 🙂

Superglue

I was once a vase.
But vases are not generally considered useful things –
Unless you count decorative as useful,
Which it might be.
(Who am I to say?)

I knew a vase, once,
All shiny, pretty pretty and empty and all.
But I never was.
Not really.
Were you?
No, I was more a cold-touch terracotta jar
Like those used with ubiquity in antiquity
To store oil and such,
Cool and still,
Inasmuch as I might have brimmed full
With water or, if miracles divine combine
With pots,
(I’ve heard they do)
With wine.

Then one day,
When I was young enough to still be blurred around the edges,
And soft in between,
I fell.
I dropped,
Shattered,
Sparked into a hundred bright shards.
Ten thousand and more particles,
So light, so slight you could not see,
Blew up and briefly gleamed
Like dust absorbed by air,
Then disappeared;
That was me.

Kneeling mercy swept me up,
Sharp bits and all
Jagged and broken and raging
And small.
Love mosaicked me whole and,
Peace by infinitesimal peace,
Superglued me strong.

Eye to mirrored eye I see
That face,
That journeying homeward, plodding,
Soaring metamorphosis of grace.
I can look myself in the eye now, knowing
I’m not the same as before.

No longer smooth (was I ever really smooth?) but cracked and flaky,
But Love knew what to do.
Love got it just right.
Through the mosaic of cracks and gaps,
Through the zig-zagging prism,
Shines pure, and perfectly marvellous,
Light.

Immanuel: God Here, Among Us

 

Laying the table for breakfast;
Immanuel.
Raising sleepy heads from beds;
Immanuel.
Calming the storms of siblings;
Immanuel.
Waving goodbye at the gate;
Immanuel.
Wandering home, alone;
Immanuel.
Making the beds, sweeping the floors;
Immanuel.
Sorting stinky socks;
Immanuel.
Folding laundry;
Immanuel.
Hands in soapy suds;
Immanuel.
Cup of tea, rocking chair;
Immanuel.
Later – cries of joy, “Mummy!”
Immanuel.
Soft-treading home in cold, winter light;
Immanuel.
Telling her, “No!”
Immanuel.
Again, “I said no!”
Immanuel.
Helping with homework;
Immanuel.
Tears before bedtime;
Immanuel.
Prayers and stories;
Immanuel.
Goodnight kisses;
Immanuel.
Crawling into bed;
Immanuel.
Slipping into dreams;
Immanuel.
Waking, heart-pounding;
Immanuel.
Nightmares and memories;
Immanuel.
“Dear God, help me.”
Immanuel.
Circling soft arms, “Shhhh.”
Immanuel.
His breath on my hair;
Immanuel.
Falling asleep, loved;
Immanuel.
My poem, written January 2013. Feel free to share, if you think it might be of use. Please just credit its authorship to me. So often we forget the sacredness of life, of living. It is a thing of beauty.