It has to be one of my favourite months. And, it is a good one for reflecting on what has been a beautiful summer. The weather has been beautful. I’ve enjoyed some lovely time away with the family. I’ve had a great long weekend at Greenbelt. And I had a good retreat time away in my little hermit tent in the depths of West Sussex. It is that I want to write about today.
Sometimes when you go into the silence there’s a sense of bliss, rest, peace. At other times, it is not so blissful and it can be a bit of a slog. There can be consolation in silence. There can be desolation in the silence.
This year started, to be very honest, in some ‘desolation.’ I knew this before I went. I could sense all sorts of concerns, strains, rogue anxieties bubbling up to the surface. I knew what I had to do. I just sat with them – quite doggedely, quite intentionally. I’m the world’s expert at keeping things locked inside – I’ve had 38 years practice. But I’m now almost equally expert in giving stuff space and to observe what’s going on – to let it pass without judging it, and see what light comes the other end.
After about 24 hours, my mind and heart settled enough to begin to see what was lurking within. I immediately knew that I then had to engage in a time of allowing myself to be moved. To tears in fact. Holding before God people, the church, the world, my own brokenness, and the plea for God to help me see and understand aright.
I was accompanied during key prayer times by a robin. Not an unusual experience for me. Familiar. Strangely comforting that God should direct theses curious little inklings of creation to minister God’s awesome presence in such a small package. And so, in the desolation: God.
God led me to read the book of Lamentations. Not one of Jeremiah’s happiest collection of thoughts, but thoroughly helpful and cathartic. To the soundtrack of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, too…the perfect cocktail for the soul. Sometimes we just have to find another’s words and sounds to express at least something of what we sense and feel.
I appreciate this might sound all too miseable, but there is a necessary suffering in life that we so often push away. We don’t deal with it. The silence helps me to process and sit with things.
And then…the shadow lifts and I’m drawn to Romans 12: 9 – 21. God renews my passion for community, love for people, compassion for the hurting, the desire to submit to availablity and vulnerability. This is what I needed as I move into September as sole pastor at HBC for the time being. God calls me to live out some key intentions. I travelled to a local cathedral and lit 4 candles…each representing those 4 intentions which will inspire and provoke me for this next season. And God is my witness, with Christ and the Holy Spirit.