Today I feel like a tortoise. All I want to do is pull my head in and hibernate. With a nice thick shell, and a bundle of warm hay to snuggle into, I think I’ll feel safe from everyone that wants to have a piece of me.
But no. I must get up and face the day. I cannot remain hidden away, isolated and alone. So as I go out into this new and scary day, I ask God to be my shield and defender. With Him I am safe, and with Him I can face whatever the world throws at me.
I have a number of friends going through tough times, uncertain times and incredibly sad times. And this morning I heard a song in my head, the tune and words singing inside me, so intense that I couldn’t keep them in, and the song just bubbled out. So if you too are going through hard times, uncertain times or sad times, I offer you the words of this song straight from the heart of God. I don’t remember if fully, and you will have to imagine the tune, but it went something like this:
My peace I give you, a peace beyond understanding. I give it to you freely, but you must reach out and take it. Then I will hold you safe despite the all-encompassing confusion and tumult. The world around may still be a furious tempest, but do not be afraid, you can be secure within the calm of the eye of the storm. So just reach out and take my peace, then although the turmoil and whirlwind still rage, you will be kept safe from harm.
The other morning I was on my way upstairs with a cup of tea in one hand and a pile of clothes in the other, when I felt a sudden sharp pricking in my eye. It really hurt, so I blinked hard, but to no avail. I gave my eye a good rub with the back of my hand, careful not to spill the tea; but it didn’t stop pricking. When I reached the top of the stairs, I put the tea and clothes down, switched on the light over my mirror, and had a good look in my eye. Under the bright light, I could see an eyelash, right in the corner, and with the help of a tissue, I carefully removed it. Although the eye lash was gone, my eye kept watering and felt uncomfortable for quite a while; and it reminded me that I had needed to put everything down in order to discover what was wrong, and deal with it. And I thought sometimes we can be like that. We’re holding too much, spinning too many plates, and although something hurts, we often don’t realise what it is until we stop, put everything down and give it the attention it needs. Only then can we try to sort it out.
I stand at the window looking out into a cold and blustery winter afternoon. My mind is still. I wait, expectantly, but for what? I see the wind rifling through the dead leaves in the gutter, worrying at them, tossing them high into the air with abandon, as if by the hand of an exuberant child. The clouds zip by, their shape and colour constantly shifting. Now, as I see the light begin to fail, I wonder at how the days slip by so quickly; we are half way through January, and February is already on the horizon. As the forever changing seasons move inexorably on, I realise that spring is a mere heart-beat away. I marvel at how the sun comes up each morning, although at times it is obscured by cloud; and how the moon waxes and wanes, and the tides ebb and fall. I consider how rain waters the earth, and how the sun warms it and brings forth life. And I have questions about myself; how I can be here by sheer chance, and what is the purpose of my own existence? I weigh-up the possibilities. Is all this intricate detail some great cosmic mistake, a huge coincidence or confluence of separate events? But surely not! Surely there is a creative designer and all-powerful hand behind the astounding complexity I see around me, and in me.
Then, as I wait, I sense a voice in the deep recesses of my mind. “I am here my child. I created all the wonder you see around you, and I created you. I created your inmost being, and I knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are not a mistake, you are my beautiful child. There is a purpose in your existence. Wait and see what wonderful things I will accomplish through you.”
This morning the sky is an unrelenting grey, sombre and lifeless, sapping my very being. The trees are mere skeletons, each tiny twig hard and stark against the cold sky. Yesterday I felt full of energy and life, but it seems to have evaporated over night, leaving me low and dispirited.
Then up high there is a movement, and I see a single solitary seagull wheeling across the bleak expanse of cloud. Suddenly a squirrel catches my eye as it scampers along the top of the fence, and a small flock of starlings fly overhead. A couple of pigeons alight on the pergola, rather early in the year for their amorous courtship. I can hear a bird singing, a blackbird or robin, the sound reaches me even though my window is closed against the chill air. I see green ivy twisting and turning around the lower branches of the old oak tree. The world outside is not dead at all. I begin to come to life myself, and despite the grey skies my spirit lifts a little. To my mind’s eye, the steely grey sky becomes slightly softer, the twigs become more feathery and less harsh, and somehow full of future potential. When I look closely, even in the cold of winter there is life.
This year is quickly slipping away. The sands of time sliding
through the final hour-glass of 2017. We can’t rewind, can’t
live it again. It will be gone forever.
I think of things lost, and things gained. All the missed opportunities. Words I’ve said, and wished I hadn’t. The ideas for blog posts I’ve never got round to writing. All the ‘I wish I hads’, gone for ever. But I can remember good things too, treasured reminiscences. The triumphs, however great or small. The races run and won. The long lazy days of summer and the warm cosy evenings of winter, enshrined in memory.
So 2017 is on the brink of history, and for some it’s already gone and the New Year begun. (Thanks Sister Sue for New Year pictures from Down Under!)
So what hopes do I have for 2018? Peace and good will to all men ………. now where have I heard that before?
And my prayer for 2018 is almost the same as for last year – I’m still working on it!
Please God help me to use this new year better than I did the last. Help me to waste less, and live more. Help me think of others before myself, and be the good friend/parent/sister/grandma/auntie that I would like myself. Help me to be your hands, your feet and your voice to those around me. Amen
I don’t know about you, but my Christmas dinner was perfect. The turkey was cooked to a turn, with succulent chestnut stuffing, crispy potatoes, and lots of tasty veg. Then we had homemade Christmas pudding and delicious orange brandy butter. All the preparations paid off, and everything was ready at just the right time (or very nearly).
The star hovers over Bethlehem, and there is the sound of a baby crying, Mary and Joseph had found the stable in time. The angels filled the sky with their songs, and the shepherds were suitably amazed and rushed straight off to see the baby. The Wise-men, however, are still en route from the East, but we always knew they would be late – they’ve had a long way to come!
And so, the stage is set, the cast is assembled, and the baby born. God’s preparations were impeccable, everything happened at just the right time. And now we watch and wait, because through the birth, and through the life and death of this baby, God will change the world, one person at a time.
Christmas blessings to all my followers, friends and family, and all who read this post. May God shine his light into your darkness, and may He give you peace.