Saturday, 16 April 2022

The In-Between Day


Don't you just hate it when someone tells you the end of a story before you've got there yourself?  But of course, that's the situation which we find ourselves in on this day; the in-between day, the day between the horror of the cross and the joy of Jesus' resurrection.  We know the end of the story: with two thousand years of hindsight, we know that this remarkable story is paradoxically Good News. 

No one at Golgotha could have imagined that yesterday. For those who fled the scene, for Mary at the foot of the cross, for the ones who had laid his body in the tomb, it was all very different.  

The Day After, the day that the church now labels Holy Saturday, that day was a day of deep shock and unimaginable grief.  An unexpected and completely senseless ending of an era that had held such amazing promise.  A day of unanswerable questions.  A day of the deepest possible loss.

It was over.  

I wonder what were the strongest images imprinted on the minds of those who had lived through that Friday?  What were the scenes that replayed in their head with technicolour precision?  What were the strongest flashbacks of the day?  The sounds that echoed through their nightmares?  What were the awful memories which would stay with them forever?


The day after that awful Friday, that Saturday in Jerusalem, was lived out in the kind of shock that fills the body with tensions and numbs the mind in fear and disbelief.
  The kind of shock that defies description. The kind of shock consuming all whose lives and loved ones have been shattered by undeserved horror.  

The kind of shock being played out for millions of Ukranians today.

However, you choose to spend your Easter, please enjoy its wonderful blessings.  But please don't race on too quickly from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.  Something of the enormity of the crucifixion risks being lost if you and I do that.

Take some time to wait ... to wait in the mystery.  Take some time to ponder ... and pray. 

Pray for those who even today bear Kingdom scars.


Image credit: Wintershall Passion Play, 2022

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Rhythms of Rest


I'm so grateful for the rhythms of rest that are built into creation.  What a different world it would be if the darkness of night and the renewal of sleep were not part of our lives. In the animal kingdom, it seems to me that every other species lives in such natural rhythms without question. But, in today's pressured and 'always switched on' world, we humans are becoming different.  This is even true compared to how our parents lived just a generation ago.  Technology is changing us, and not always for the better. It is increasingly driving us and seducing us to push beyond our natural limits, to fail to honour the rhythms of sleep and rest and the renewing nature of simple down-time.

Deep rest is important.  It's built into our world and we override it at our peril. Simple rhythms of 'work, rest and play', as the Mars bar advert used to say, help us to function at our holistic and healthy best.  And they certainly enable our clear thinking and creativity.  Which is why I'm about to take a sabbatical.  I'm fortunate to be taking time out from daily life to steep myself in rhythms of prayer and rest.  And hopefully the outcome will be not just a renewal of my mind and body but also some productive writing.

Virginia Woolf once famously said, "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write". 

Through the kind financial support of friends (thank you - you know who you are), coupled with the generous hospitality of Penhurst Retreat Centre and a significant donation from the Coverdale Trust, those requirements named by Virginia Woolf have come together for me.  I am embarking on a short sabbatical which I hope will enable me to make significant progress on a new book about inner healing. It will be a working sabbatical, if that's not a contradiction in terms, but not a driven one; an easing back into rest and prayer so that creativity can flourish.

I realise that not everyone can take a big chunk of time out of their life in this way. But we can begin with small chunks.  On the cusp of this new year, it's worth asking yourself the question - 

what one thing can I change or let go of to free up time for a little more deep rest in my life?  

Give some thought to that question.  Your health will thank you for it.

For now ... I'm going under the radar for a while.  I'll be in that 'room of my own' at Penhurst.  I'll see you when I'm on the other side.

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The Coverdale Trust supports artists in the task of forming and transforming culture from a biblical and Christian perspective.  I am indebted to them for their support in my current project.