Under a sweeter sun these berries ripened
that now lie bruised, inert in the dish
to eat them is the process of forgetting;
into the avarice of disatisfaction
they bleed their red juice
onto the sour tongue.
Inured, love obscured.
To be honest, I get anxious and I’m getting it sorted: I have a manual that tells me that I’m not responsible for anything I don’t have the right or ability to control.
I thought I’d just let that sink in.
Coming from where I have been, responsible for everything I care about…(wrong but honest), I have prayed for these things.
My children, and my parents, for a start. Reflecting, I could wax lyrical about my brother and husband and the prayers I’ve prayed for them. And on and on for all sorts of people I never thought of as off limits because I have no right or ability to control them either.
When we are thankful, we parents, surveying the landscape of our children’s lives and it is like a sunny picnic, our words flow like bubbling streams, sparkly and fresh and joyful. Our hearts feel soft and tender like a beautiful meadow where the sheep lie down and rest. Our thoughts populate our spiritual sentences like buttercups and celandines, violets and daisies, Hopes and dreams like distant spires rising from the deep green canopies of righteous oaks and fluffy clouds dot the horizons and we are so peaceful with the vista before us.
When we pray over an earthquake in their lives, our hearts bulge, bleeding through the concrete circumstances and pour out like molten lava with desperation and a search for direction and hope, flowing with the invested energy of past ages all spewed out and potentially for ever gone. Our words rip up uncaring order and fling aside mundane bill board issues and pierce unwitting unknowns searching for answers and promises we forgot to file carefully in earthquake proof cellars. The angry tears and broken dreams create a filthy mush of debris where the children were supposed to play.
No I must only be anxious for the things within my control and then I will be free from anxiety.
It will take a while to learn this. Maybe I’ll report back. But don’t wait for the conclusions; they’re outside your control!
That’s how I used to see what happened if…. The ironing pile grew bigger or diminished when labelled as a numbered ‘social experiment’, Another example might be the bowl of uneaten breakfast cereal left on the kitchen work-top. Either you skivvy on and on, picking up all the things that nobody wants to deal with or you let everyone know that you’ve noticed and all you’re doing about it is seeing what they think their role might be when action is required… What were the results of these experiments? The ‘collective consciousness’ (to borrow a phrase from Nicholas Wolterstorff, I think,) of the family was “The experimenter’s tolerance level is less than ours. Do nothing (usually for months, if not years) and she will move the bowl of rotting ‘rice krispies’ herself.” The thing I learn’t from the general body of these experiments was not to do them. The tension and objectionableness of waiting for a positive result wasn’t worth the price it would have cost (me) to have dealt with the ‘test material’ e.g. unwanted cereal, unposted phone bill payment, pile of THEIR-clean-dry-folded-and-ironed- clothes-not-yet-put-conveniently-in-their-drawers-for-THEM etc! To accept that (I am) the skivvy; the person who wants to establish minimum standards and maintain them while nobody else is bothered either way would have been the less painful course of action.
What is this experiment about, then?
I want to explore, and to embrace rejection. ( Like I want to dive, ever again, into deep, clean, cold water, so pure and so uncompromising in its iciness that surviving and breathing through the shock of it consumes every neurone of consciousness) Could this be a project more worthy of pursuit?
What I’m recalling here is that rejection HURTS! Why do it?
Because love travels with the rejected through to wherever that journey leads. Not to is desertion. Ask any soldier or a hero or heroin of your choice. I recommend the story of Naomi and Ruth, off the top of my head. And we have all travelled that route whether we wanted to or not. As the object. The Reject.
Now how does that feel?
Go on recall it. Unrecognised? Misunderstood? Undignified? Have you since thought of what you wish you had said? Restored your pride with a flourish? Better that you didn’t.
This is just a random flow of exploration. I recall a letter I had from a conservation body. An organisation I had catalogued in my mind on the basis of a few random experiences, press releases and so on. They were demigods. I had an interview to work for them. A dream opportunity. You’ve probably guessed! No I didn’t get the job, but instead of thanking me for considering their post a worthwhile way to spend my time over and above raising my 18month old, they sent out letters saying that nobody had been selected for the post because all interviewees had been of such a low standard that they would have to readvertise. Well they failed to reach their objective as much as their interviewees did, then, no?
Ridicule. Age 8 or 9. I’ve seen it happen and experienced the withering scorn; public humiliation of a child because the teacher failed to see the vision as expressed in the work of the child who failed to see the unspecified expectations of the teacher. That is just abuse of power. Milstones round their necks! The millstone? Hewn from self-importance.
Sounding a bit familiar, now. Isaiah 53. I have drunk in some of the verses therein. Tears of relief and grief the chaser. Because whether we beleive in HIM or not, we believe in what he stands for here. The misunderstood, rejected (by fools), noble, worthy, loved and accepted (by Wisdom) one. Why so familiar and so loved until we are the ones who are blind and despise and mistrust? We repay rejection or misunderstanding with the same rejection. We are guilty. We are too small and feeble to accept, to embrace, to resore. By the same token that we did it to the least of one of these, when we fed or clothed or gave them a drink of water, did we not also when we rejected one of his little ones not also reject him? If he has given citizenship to any, who are we to turn them away at the city gates of our hearts, if our hearts are indeed his territory? That is why he had to do it himself, take the rejection so utterly upon himself. Ultimately, in his house, with many rooms, there is a place for all who accept him. We will not have any just objection to their presence!
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone. Of this same, many roomed mansion?
Was it not so smooth and regular as the other stones? Did it go against the criteria of good stone selection according to the guild of master masons? In accepting how good are we at running with the unfamiliar, the irregular and the non-conforming?
This is an ongoing project.
I have listened hungrily to a song by the blessed ‘Rend Collective Experiment’ hoping to have a reality transfusion for some people I love from this truth into their lives, as yet an unanswered prayer;
‘ My Future hangs on this,
you make preciousness from dust,
please don’t stop creating me.’
Are we in our ‘seeing others as dust’ mode or have we seen their unique and stunning preciousness yet?
Ok all of you. Listen please!
Please line up here on my right for forgiveness if your failure or sin arises from any of the following;
You spilt your coffee,
You were late picking up the children from school,
You set your alarm on weekdays but fail to set it at the same time so you can get up early to pray on the Sabbath ! (Oh MY!!!)
You have made sarcastic remarks about politicians while listening to or watching the news,
You broke your resolution not to have cake or biscuits with your midmorning drink and openly encouraged others to indulge in a brownie with you,
You pronounce ‘research’ reesearch,
You took a DVD back to the hire shop late,
You watch football while talking to your girlfriend when she would prefer to have your whole attention for the duration of the evening.
You offer to help dry up but only because you want to ask your mum to check over your job application while you’re in the kitchen together.
You are kind to your pet but turn a blind eye to the way farm animals are treated and enjoy your Sunday roast with gratitude.
You are patronising but they can’t tell because they don’t know any better,
You look into the face of the person speaking to you and realise as they are talking that you have let your mind wander, but then, of course, you return to focus on the plot the moment you notice you’ve drifted off.
Don’t worry. God has a plan to forgive you. He has a form. Tick the box that vaguely describes your category of failure, omission or oversight. You have got to admit to the full weight of responsibility even though you didn’t mean to cause any offence or hurt, and you weren’t the one who orchestrated the circumstances anyway. He Understands. Hand the form in to the Heavenly Operative or their Representative in the event of short staffing. You will receive a dispensation in the next three months or in the event of an incorrectly completed form….
Excuse me. Sorry, I have just had an update. There seems to have been a change in policy.
I am reliably informed that The Lord God has sacrificed his only son, Jesus Christ. (Weirdo or what?)
He sent his perfect, innocent son to die, but not just die, he underwent a fake and unfair trial with liars for witnesses, endured torture, ridicule and rejection in public, naked and humiliated, declared guilty, nailed to a cross until he died, he prayed for his enemies…(Who were they that were so blind to his innocence and deity?)
Towards the end of a slow, suffocating death, he experienced an agony of separation from his loving Father, with whom he had until then known the most intimate and loving relationship that has ever been enjoyed in history..just in his moment of most extreme need. Then he died. Forgiving.
All for spilt coffee? Seems a bit extreme, really.
No wait, sorry I seem to have got a bit confused again. Most terribly sorry! I am sure he has a plan.
He went through all that because that is the actual price, a straight exchange, a fair assessment of the, ( I must have got this wrong).. NO PLEASE; STOP!!!! (They’re all stampeding past, I have lost control of this huge crowd!)
There are all kinds of people, young, old, clever, stupid,(frank ly), humble, arrogant, educated, ignorant, poor and wealthy, healthy and ill…all running, stumbling, even crawling past the gates! I’m just going to ask a few stragglers for their form. BBS!
Well, I did say listen but they obviously haven’t listened. I have completely unacceptable categories here. Look at this one! It beggars belief;
Stole money from my Dad, and these..
Worked so full time I couldn’t love my family, go to Church, care for others who needed my love,
Felt fear / doubt / distrust (eh?)
Let it decide my future ( under the guise of a better name..discretion / prudence)
Obeyed the law of the land and disowned the Truth
Looked with lust.
I don’t know what to do with these! These are not the categories I am familiar with. God, have you got a plan for these? These are not what the Gospel alone can handle is it?
It can!! Really? If I need it for THIS, is it still true?
No, You have to prove it.
LIVE BY IT!
Grief oiled the hinges of her bones
so she ran easily
into pools of joy;
of sunlight fingered petals
on the fading bluebell
in the heat of latter May,
pregnant with seed.
So she prayed
destiny discovering, probing
release from centuries of programmed
growth and entropy.
Patience sang a slow song in her head
so she laughed impulsively
at Pride’s solemn conviction;
‘Guilty and Redundant for All Time’.
Yet the only chains that held her
were these words.
Repeated in the chain mail rattle
of the surrounding army
where she found herself a prisoner.
Promise held the sinews of her heart
which sometimes missed a beat
in fear’s glare
But around her lay confetti
from the wedding day;
that sealed hope over her quieter mind
like a silent witness at her trial.
In innocence she would be released
into the first embrace
That weighed her whole being.
The doctor’s opinions are likely to be the most significant and appropriate ones for us to listen to. ‘Inappropriate’: bully speak euphemism for “This is not the propaganda we are promoting!”
“In the Commons Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, asked Lansley if the trust’s action showed it was now his “policy to threaten NHS staff with disciplinary action if they speak out about his reorganisation”. He challenged the minister to reconcile his “new top-down bullying policy” with his previous strong support for NHS whistleblowers.
Prof John Ashton, county medical officer for Cumbria, received a letter from his PCT last week after he joined 22 other signatories to a letter in a national newspaper criticising Lansley’s health and social care bill. The letter read: “You are bound by the NHS code of conduct and as such it is inappropriate for individuals to raise their personal concerns about the proposed government reforms.” Ashton will have to “explain and account” for his actions at the hearing.”
Denis Campbell and Patrick Wintour guardian.co.
I would have thought his explanation and account is quite obvious, something like, “I agreed with the letter and last I heard, this is a free country!”
More and more evidence shows us that it isn’t.
I use here, as an example, an extract from an article in The Guardian, Sunday 12 February 2012 by Al Murray on the Twitter joke trial: ‘Problem is, the law don’t do funny’
”…..poor Blairite terror legislation (“not a joke!”), a bureaucratic tendency to timewaste and the speed of technological change brought about by the internet. Add to this a feeble-minded sense of humour failure, a failure to realise that not finding something funny is not the same thing as being offended, and that being offended is not the same thing as having an actual opinion, and that a metaphor born of frustration – “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!” – is not a terror threat. Even having to point that out is wearying, bewildering, soul-sapping.”
I don’t mean the frustration of disrupted public transport; that is annoying but in a way, endearing. It is still possible for Brits to be reminded by large organisations that humans get stuff wrong and life goes on. We deal with it, and remember that the agendas of our lives are not big enough deals for the universe to grind to a halt when we are held up. No, I mean the totally out of proportion reaction to someone doing or saying something that a moron would see as a breach of some law, but anyone with any common sense would see as just the way people are when they’re being genuine but harmless.
We are sleep-walking into insanity and I hope enough people wake up before its too late to improvise, instead of repeating mantras of PC script written for us by the Ministry of Thought.
I’ve already had threats of dismissal for the most innocently made remarks about work on a public networking site. I think we all vote for the Regime of the Republic of Fear if we give in to such empty threats, because it will brainwash us into thinking that thinking is actually illegal. Just watch….