Goodbye Death

Its hard to say definitively that I’ve said more goodbyes than your average 30 year old, but I suspect I may at least be above average in these stakes.

The more I say it, the more it feels like death, even if I know it is not a forever-farewell.  Maybe it is the very fact that I’ve turned 30 that makes this process harder?  Something to do with my biological clock perhaps???  Or maybe just that, as a spring reaches the point of no return, I’ve said so many in such a short space of time that I’m fast approaching the “I’m-done-with-this-can’t-do-it-anymore” point.

Whatever it is, it sucks.

And yet…

The pain of goodbyes and changes is in direct correlation with the joy of love.  It hurts only because we love.  Okay, so I’m sure that it is not always purely altruistic – I might cry when you leave because I’m lonely and don’t want to be – but a large part of it is because of love and our pain serves to help us see and appreciate that we love and are loved.

If we allow ourselves to ignore the pain of goodbye, we are in denial of love.  If we focus only on the pain of goodbye, we miss the joy of love.  To engage fully with the relationship between love and the pain of farewells, is to celebrate the power of resurrection life.  Jesus did not merely ‘come back from the dead’, he passed through death, he went beyond it and broke its power over us.

We need no longer fear.

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Good news

When all is said and done,

We spoiled it,

But He made it all okay again.

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Roomie

Remember that night you were coming home late

And I stood up at the window in the door while you were putting your key in the lock?

You screamed blue murder and alarmed the neighbours

While I crossed my legs and we laughed til our bellies ached.

 

 

Remember that night I came home to an unexpected correspondance;

I fell to my knees at your door and wept?

You too wore out knees and tissues

While I grieved and doubted and raged, we sobbed til our throats were raw.

 

 

Remember I used to leave ends of old baguette on the kitchen counter

Like a little present unasked for but not entirely unexpected?

You’d smile and leave it there til I’d remember what I’d done

And we’d laugh and sit down to eat your diet soup without bread while the cat scratched at our jeans.

 

 

Remember we refused to get a television because we were oh so cultured darling,

And we put your PC in the corner out of the way, because there was nowhere else for it?

You’d casually switch it on, slip a DVD in the drive and with a sideward glance at my nod

We’d watch Friends back to back til bedtime.

 

 

Remembered vignettes of a shared life, a witnessed life, a different life;

Moving in, moving out, moving on…

Things change, memories make it worthwhile

But now I have to do all the dishes.

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Oh Daddy please, you know you’re still number one

There are often posts in My Small Corner about women.  What can I say? Its a topic I can’t help but be interested in, being one and all that.

But this weekend, in honour of Fathers’ Day (et Fête des Pères), I wanted to post briefly about men.  I can’t help but be interested in them either, but for entirely different reasons, you understand.

I’m reading a book, whose title shall remain a secret for now (I hope to blog through it a bit, so don’t want to raise expectations or spoil the surprise!), and I’m glad it arrived when it did.  I’ve just read the Introduction and the first chapter and already it has given me stuff to think about in regards to my Daddy.

He’s what some people might call the ‘strong, silent type’ – maybe not outside of the home (he is a salesman after all), but growing up and still now, conversations between myself and my dad are short and sweet.  The effects of this common father-daughter relationship are the stuff of psychotherapy dreams I’m sure and often leave me not really knowing what to think about our relationship.

But what I realised in reading is that my Dad has worked a job his entire life which is really hard graft for sometimes minimal return.  Why?  Did he choose this kind of work?  Did he, as a little boy, dream of trying to sell goods in order to eke out a living for his wife and three children?  Probably not the stuff of dreams for him.  However he took his culturally assumed responsibility as ‘primary breadwinner’ seriously and did what he could to make sure we grew up with food in our bellies and a roof over our heads.

Sure, the divorce of my parents is no fairytale ending to what was/is our ‘family’.  The way it all played out was no ideal either.  The consequences are ongoing and the pain still real; the temptation to point fingers and shake heads is hardly negligable and yet…

I am grateful that he spent himself on providing for me the best way he could, the only way he knew how and he did a good job.

Thanks Daddy.  I love you.  Happy Fathers’ Day.

 

 

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The Name

It doesn’t have a name.  This thing that pulses in my gut, it has no name.

 

So how do I pursue it when I don’t know what to tell the driver?  Follow that car!  Which one? Er.. the one with the… in the… where the…

 

I shrug helplessly and sit back down on the bench in Park Frustration on Despair Street.

 

I know.

 

It has beauty… creativity and freedom and colour.

It has connection… conversation and sharing and tears of all kinds.

It has discovery… understanding and newness and joy.

 

But it doesn’t have a name.  At least not within my current vocabulary.

 

So what do I do?  There are no maps for No-where, no buses to Every-where, no GPS satellites anywhere.

 

Take root here? Go anywhere but here?

Cry out Hope and shout down Fear.

 

Pick myself up, look at the horizon and start walking.  Spend time in Beauty, cultivate Connection, pursue Discovery.  Hunt it down, seek it out. Find.

 

* * *

 

But what happens when all roads seem blocked?  When there are no doors, no windows… Just this bench called Waiting.

 

Choose still.  Wait in Hope, weight in Fear.  Does the cut wood build a boat or fix the roof in preparation for the coming rain?

 

Will it come at all?

 

The reign of hope over fear.  Known and unknown.

 

The rain.

 

Untamed.

 

The Name.

 

Face upturned, open hands.  I wait.

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Filed under beauty, change, fear, hope, questions

Me in my… world.

I just read this post on a blog I really like and it got me thinking about the idea of imagination as our capacity to enter the world of another.

The author of the blog talks about how she’s making a conscious effort to slow down and to “walk alongside into the dark alley” of her children’s minds.  It sounds a bit weird out of context, but trust me, its not!

In recent times, I’ve been thinking about my place as the youngest in my family and how, on reflection, I’ve realised that my immediate family’s strong point was not to allow my artistic sensibilities/emotional sensitivity the space I needed it to have.

A quick example… At the age of about 9, or maybe younger, my grandmother moved out of the house my mum had grown up in and that had a significant place in my young heart.  A fleeting moment on the stairs with my eldest sister: “Where will all the memories go?” I said (and can still feel the wistfulness with which I spoke), “Don’t be ridiculous” she replied “The memories will go with us!”  She was right, but…

There’s something about that original blogpost which helped me see that the “sticky plaster” of such a quick response to my inner world was indicative of a whole way of interacting that was teaching me to keep the doors closed, rather than inviting me to throw back the bolts and fling wide what God had given me to bring to his world.  It taught me that those intimate stirrings of my imagination and empathy were not welcome and perhaps even Bad.  And I did NOT want to be Bad.

Furthermore, when the intimate imaginings concerned are fears, like in the blog, a failure to “walk alongside” in that dark alley only reinforces that the alley must be walked alone and that it really is to be feared.

***

Someone I respect and trust recently suggested that I may need to consider the role fear is playing in my life.  I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘fearful person’, and I’m not sure I am in the way that I usually understand that phrase, plus I’m not currently in a situation that I consider “normal” on which to judge that.  But what I DO know is that I often talk about my fears; the words “I’m scared that…” are often on my lips.  Whether they are on my lips more than on your average person’s lips is hard to tell.

All I know is that when I outwardly express the fears that exist in the inner world of my imagination, I am not looking for quick-fix “Oh don’t be silly, of course not, it’ll all be fine”.  Partly because sometimes in this broken world, our fears are well-founded and sometimes will come to pass despite all efforts to live the fairytale ever after.  But mostly because I want some company in the alley.  I want someone to hold my hand as I look the beast in the eye, to consider its heights and depths with me and to enter my world and say “I understand”.

Then we can talk about the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘probably nots’.

It takes time and effort to do this, you see.  Its rarely our first inclination.  Especially when it comes to fears or suffering – we can be pretty quick off the mark with the spiritual sticky-plaster platitudes.  Consider for one moment, however, an eternal God taking the time and effort to grow through nine months of incubation, babyhood, infancy, puberty and so on in order to illustrate – in full-colour, high-definition, flesh and blood visuals – a firmly resounding “I understand”.

Wow.

 

And I think a little bit of Brian would not go amiss here.

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Reflections on Corporate Worship

Corporate worship is not only the crux/cornerstone of what we DO as the Church, but of who we ARE as the Church.

If this is the case, why are so many people dissatisfied with what that looks like in practice; some to the point of abandoning ‘going to church’?  How have those who officiate church services gone wrong?  How have those who attend (or used to attend) church services gone wrong?

Church History according to Me in my Small Corner

“Church” was fairly simple to begin with, just sort of hanging out and enjoying it.

A while later, some world leader guy converts to Christianity (apparently for fairly ambiguous reasons) and decides everyone should join him.  I’m guessing there’s some sort of link here to how the church became a little bit more like the church that was kind of early, but without being the Early Church?

So the Not-so-Early-but-still-earlier-than-now-Church, all used to be in a language only the clergy understood, so some guy caused a bit of a stir until eventually the bible etc were beginning to be in the vernacular and things got a bit better.

No, I don’t mean Eugene Peterson.  But he did a pretty good job too, à mon avisRob “WHAP” Lacey, not so much.  And I don’t know if its fair to say, but some people might be taking it too far.

Don’t tell Ballymoney I said that.

Then for a while, lots of people decided that they didn’t particularly like the way things were being done, for lots of different reasons and so went off and did it the way they liked.

Fair enough?

Some thought things were too fancy, some thought things were too dull, some thought things were too emotional, some thought things were too intellectual.

Recent History according to MIMSC

More recently (à mon avis), people thought things weren’t friendly enough and so started a movement of church services more geared to ‘fellowship’ and making sure people were included and words like ‘missional’ and ‘integral’ began to emerge as part of the vernacular.  Except that in defining themselves in these ways means that people’s expectations of being welcomed and befriended are raised waaaaay high to the point where they’re just all the more disappointed when they feel excluded/undervalued etc.

Increasingly, churches are shaping their corporate worship around the desires/preferences/felt needs of those who attend.

Increasingly, people are walking away from corporate worship.

These are statements, not critiques.

My question is that if my opening statement is true, where do YOU think our corporate worship is failing to be a true expression of who we are as the body of Christ in the world?

Discuss…?

Once you’re done discussing, you can research the first Christian Church Meeting (unless you’re of a sensitive disposition).

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