Generation of Joy

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Is joy born, generated or created? Does joy exist only as one of the emotions? Or does joy exist in its own right and then, a ‘window’ in our soul opens and we perceive it?

I think maybe at least sometimes, it surprises us, thus our perception is that it exists in ‘kairos’, which we suddenly enter, apart from ‘chronos’.  C S Lewis’s  Narnia Chronicles illustrate the reality of truth as being independent of chronological time. I don’t really ask in order to introduce some philosophy on joy, rather, to explore common ground. Is this an experience you can relate to? – Being surprised by joy? C S Lewis wrote a book about it and he seemed to think so. Common ground.

I was not feeling especially joyful as I gathered poppy petals to press in the stream of pleasant jobs there are in preparing for a wedding. I have referred to this preparation time and why I’m writing about it, in previous posts. I felt simply calm, perfunctory as I laid the petals out after collecting them, onto papers where they’d be pressed flat under a rug between sheets of paper. Quietly, with a cheeky wink of innocent mischief, Joy came in, as a sister might, and sat on the floor beside me. The colours of the randomly laid petals were intensely beautiful, regulated in spacing to maximise the available pressing area. But there was an explosion in my senses that sparked a memory of an art exhibition of filmed explosions of floral arrangements. The exhibition was called ‘Flora’ and held in the Arts Centre in Aberystwyth in the summer of 2016. Common ground there is in simply exploring juxtapositions of flowers, their colours and how they impact us, disassembled, or even exploding!

I am preparing for the moment in a few weeks when these petals will be showered over a newly wed couple. It will be an expression of joy shared, love poured out with the blessing of family and friends when we, as parents, will let go of our respective ‘children’. Simultaneously, two individuals will be joined as a new unit. We will be illustrating joy with the tumbling of broken flowers.

Although this will be the end of the poppies in their natural form, the joy we celebrate when we throw a confetti of petals is for the marriage itself and what will be generated by this union. Parents in letting go of one child receive back two, with a different set of boundaries and responsibilities towards the couple from those that they relinquish as their son and daughter marry. The new couple will be exploring, evolving, generating new responsibilities and boundaries, and assuming some existing relationship ideas,  as their marriage strengthens. I anticipate it will be blooming marvellous, if  at times, a tad messy!

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Diary of a Country Wedding.

Ephesians 4, 11-16 talks about how Christ gave the church people different skills and jobs to perform in order to get everything done that’s needed to create a functioning, unified church.

I’m drawing a parallel with that in how we are preparing for the wedding of our daughter, Ann Marie, and her fiancé, Mark, in a couple of months’ time.

I didn’t keep a diary of the wedding preparations of our other daughter Catie to Pete, specifically, and it is likely that any diary I did keep of the months leading up would have been sporadic and subject to the days as I experienced them, rather than intentionally observing the ways we worked together towards it and how life is interwoven with it’s own agendas, important but unrelated. So I found the momentousness of the day difficult to experience. It was happy, exhausting, beautiful, stressful when I was cut off by a carnival, holy and having huge, eternal but intangible significance: Catie and Pete became one in God’s pattern, and for me and Rod, she was no longer legally our next of kin, or vice versa. We have to comprehend these things in some way and make mental and emotional shifts. If these shifts could be expressed through a dance, I would have been portrayed as a clown in large boots falling over at all the tender and significant moments, blinded by the stage lights and imoblile when I was supposed to be making up an eight for ‘Strip the Willow’!

So I hope to prepare my heart and soul for this. I’ve been doing my little bit preparing in lots of external and practical ways, don’t worry. Two months to go is too late to start from scratch.

I’ve been growing the flowers for it and picked the first bunch today. I have to pick them in order to keep them flowering. I’m not sure about which will or won’t and how the timing will work, so am spreading the risk with a variety of strategies.

Mark, Ann Marie’s betrothed; (have you noticed how some words have been ditched for less committed sounding words? So I’m flippin’ well using them!) is having a great week this week. He hasn’t said so yet in so many words. But someone has to be prophetic if we’re taking tips from scripture!

Ann Marie has lots in the pipeline. She’s been organising the catering; (very excited about the potential horse box converted to kitchen,) the guests’ replies and co-ordinating all the different people who are going to play a part in making the day happen. There’s the worship leading for the ceremony, the celebrant minister who is a long time friend of Mark’s, marquee and furniture to buy and set up. Bunting, lights; cue generator, cue queue; portaloos. Strings and tangles of thoughts, connections and confusions run riot over lists spread around the workspace that is our home.

Rod has been the van man collecting chairs with Ann Marie from Cardiff. He’ll have a marquee carpet to collect in a few days’ time, we hope! Before that can be laid, there’s the ground preparation to do with Steve, Mark and any other willing hands.

Not much has yet been said about some significant garments! Next post. No spoilers.

The first flowers

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Reject or Project?

 

This is another of my social experiments!

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 heroine 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?

To be rejected is to be at the frontier of redemption. It still HURTS.

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?

Valentine Joy!

It is raining on the snowdrops.

It’s a very unremarkable kind of mild day, where I can turn the weekend events over in my mind, mentally mineralising the memories into my spirit as I walk the dog through the dripping woods and marvel.

This is Joy on very different levels. The laughing kind; the serendipities where I sense God’s manifold humour sparkling on the edge of the dimly perceived mirror, and the deeper, quieter, ‘syfrdanol’ kind.

Thank you letter type prayer starts polymerising, but that’s for a little later.

Last night was our Valentines meal together, and with such a busy schedule we didn’t have some great idea about where. To me, the anticipation of the date was like a picture of a big, squashy sofa and a glass of wine, and I wanted it to be Saturday evening not Tuesday, the alternative because the squashiness of the sofa would be limited by work stresses on Monday and Wednesday.

How many people are looking for total chill out moments in their week?

We ended up in ‘A Taste Of India’ in Borth, and arrived in an empty little restaurant with a potentially pleasant atmosphere, for Borth. We were directed to the table for four by the window and brought popadums.  I waited for the circulation to return to my hands, frozen from sitting doing accounts in our chilly lounge for my imminent annual inspection by the Organic Control body. We were having an experimental evening and I tried hurrying the warming process with some nose wringing lime pickle! We perused the menu and decided to take a chance with the ‘Indian Banquet’ and the chef’s discretion. Before long our waiter was busy serving our starters, which were very tasty, with special minty sauce. He was eager to tell us about his life as a missionary. He is part of the fellowship of St Matthew’s in Borth but is a Pentecostal himself. I thought my jewellery didn’t offend him, though. We thought it would be lovely to come with Nina, Shedrack and family. The high and lowlight of the evening  was the bizarre background music! In fact it was the music which inspired me to blog it! The problem of creating atmosphere conducive to relaxed chatting in restaurants that are empty but for one couple can be solved easily by background music, so it was a good move when the waiter put the radio on, albeit a bit wheezy. He fiddled with it for a while and managed to cajole from it something that sounded like a reporter in a war zone rapping across a bad phone reception, and as that was all that could be sifted from the ether, he left it at that. After a short while the restaurant had filled up with what seemed to be a relaxed and regular clientèle, and perhaps perceiving this, the rapper down the line hung up, leaving nothing but an intense hissing and crackling. We were a little distracted by this and snatched glances at other diners to see if they were at all put off by it. By all appearances everything continued as normal and we persevered with our conversations. The restaurant manager came over as we finished our starter and asked if everything was alright. I too hurriedly asked if maybe the radio could be retuned and he smiled graciously and switched it off, as he carried our plates away. “Oops,” I thought, ” If he didn’t like me saying that without first thanking him for the lovely first course, I may be in for a  taste of his displeasure next!” On the contrary, we were treated to such an amazing feast of delightful  dishes and delicious naan bread that we continued trying to work our way through them all well after we felt replete!When we were finally defeated by the banquet we asked for the bill and our missionary brother came and began working out with us how our doggy bag could best be packed! As I’m vegetarian, some things couldn’t be mixed, and when that puzzle was solved and the bill paid we were presented with a large paper bag full of perfectly wrapped parcels of delicacies. As we flumped hugely into the car, we laughed at ourselves for forcing so much food into our drum tight bellies, as we’d have a bigger lunch the morrow if we’d stopped sooner and at a more comfortable stage of full! However, all in all the evening was a great giggle and the chippy left with the manager wringing his hand and saying to leave his card, in case his help was needed with renovations to the premises beginning next month.

This morning we were privileged to have Dr David Ceri Jones preaching from Peters 1st Epistle, Chapter 1, in St Michael’s church Llandre. We Christian’s are supposed to have this ‘unspeakable’ or ‘inexpressible and glorious  joy’ because we live in the company of Jesus despite the trials we experience today. It was so apt a word as we now have in our sights the arrival of a new incumbent, Rev Peter Jones with his wife Carol and daughter, Elen.  We had been told that they would be coming to meet the congregation today, and so I wanted to be there. I am so delighted to discover that there will be this new opportunity for growth and spiritual reality being lived and breathed and explored right here in Llandre. Part of the outcome of being so eager to meet and discuss hopes for us was that it seemed as if I was being ridiculously demanding, and poor Peter, who isn’t beginning his ministry here till May, asked me at one point how long I was giving him for all these transformations to take place! It’s just that I wouldn’t have dared to hope we could have that conversation with a minister in this church. Shame on me, but now, all the more, joy and hope! I can’t claim not to be biassed but I thought the hope was tangible. Not in the singing though, which was as dismal as usual! I am genuinely thrilled for Roger, who seemed to have a huge smile on his face whenever I glanced in his direction, and for Doreen his wife. They have worked tirelessly through all the years when the  only the lights of hope were in their souls and the eternal promises, none were in outward circumstances.

I walked home through the rain with a smile on my lips and became aware of the little green clio at the bottom of our lane, with my husband waving to me as I approached. I literally jumped for joy as I explained that David had told me to go and listen to Peter Jones on the Hubberstone web site, and what a great preacher he is. I have just done that. Yes, there is much to be thankful for and to pray about and to celebrate.

Now I’m going out again to enjoy the rain with the snowdrops.

Refocus a great deal!

If I picture that Jesus is standing between me and him, then every time he says something to put me down, I know Jesus is saying to me, “Are you giving him permission to do that to you?” And I am trying to say “No” but I can feel myself slipping all the same. And I need to really believe Jesus when he’s telling me, “If you won’t, then neither will I.” I have to want not to be torn up like rubbish and to believe also that Jesus doesn’t either. If my heart was a computer I would have this protection programmed into my hard drive!

I have hardly been able to talk to anyone since I was there, being shown the gritty, dirty ground where I get my face rubbed with his every comment and put down.

So I guess this is Jesus’s deal with me. I’d like to accept. I had said before-hand, “I take an oath with myself.” I’d said it out loud with my hand in the air like a stop sign! “I won’t let anything he says hurt me.  I forbid the words to enter my personal space.” But they did. I had virtually scrambled into the car to get away, in the end. I don’t want Mum to know. She deserves never to know. So I have to try to act normal or like I’m laughing. On the way home I couldn’t talk or cry. My chest ached and it wasn’t angina!  I went to sleep as an escape both nights since. ( A miracle for an insomniac!) But I woke still hounded by the rejection. Well, I don’t have any better deals to sign up to and I actually believe this one will be best in the long run. It takes such a big upfront payment though. Not to blame, not to imagine vengeful things I could have said…not to be natural.

So yes, Lord, please come and stand between him and me. I want to see you when I look at him and I want to hear you when he speaks. In return, I want him to see you when he looks at me and to hear you when I speak.

Done deal.

I will fail. Help me help me help me help me help me help me!

Visit To Newcastle

Re: The two things you asked me, Tidge:

Firstly: What was I praying, Sunday night?

I had just spent the whole weekend having a tour of your new life; an ‘open day’ view of Catie in Newcastle. OK, yes, it had it’s glossy aspect; I didn’t have to attend a lecture and do one of your assignments! Nevertheless, we had a taster of the places, the people, the number of things you do, and how often, hearing of the many mornings a week getting up early to go to prayer meetings, amongst other regular slots. It wasn’t hard to imagine the late noisy nights in hall, at the other end of the proverbial candle, as you gigglingly returned the broken table leg to it’s hiding place in the kitchen cupboard. We did muck in with cleaning up  ‘polystudent festidensis’  in the communal area! This experience admittedly being considerably more rewarding, on meeting some of your flatmates, than the Damien Hirst ‘installation’ we viewed earlier in the weekend.

So, by Sunday evening, I felt I’d built in my mind, a well illustrated resume of your first term and a half at university. It was impressive. I compared the wholesomeness of your student life with what mine had been at roughly the same time. There was no comparison. I had a quick ‘fast forward’ impression of both our lives, and of mine since, as obviously, I have a lot more years on record! Suddenly I recognised that I could ask for more potential to be fulfilled and released, in my life. It was the starkness of the contrast, having seen myself at 19 and then you. So I just wanted to have more readiness, higher expectations of myself and life, less worry that I was unworthy, inadequate, rubbish…more grace outworking, more reliance on Jesus and therefore resiliance. I was celebrating all that God has been able to pour into you and through you, all the life that has flowed and all the rhythm that has been swelling the glorious heartbeat of heaven. This probably sounds crazy to you but I don’t know how else to put it into words. I was celebrating and yet suddenly dissatisfied with what I believed to be consequences of my broken and confused eruption from a sense of powerlessness, being passive, having an ignorant acceptance of the inevitable to insecure, somewhat rejected but nevertheless independent existance. I had such a long way to go, didn’t I? And I am glad that God has brought me this far. Yet I believe there is still much more! Life is full and I am very blessed, but during that worship I suddenly wanted to live more! So I placed all that before the cross. The past is dealt with, no more tears over that, at all. What I put before the cross was my whole history as a context, as if it’s a sealed unit. My now also, and myself. ‘Take me all: I want transformation beyond what is humanly possible.’

I have filled out what I actually prayed because when sharing this with another, so much more qualification and explanations seems to need to be given.

As I said when I was summoned by Mark, we sang the line…”my life is in your hands”… I was all the while participating fully in the worship. So I knelt down, because it was like a compassionate..”OK, I hear you,” from the father.

And secondly: What was prophesied over me?

Mark saw an annointing on me, and said he had seen it from the beginning of the evening. He saw the word ‘Deborah’ over me. He saw that there is a ready warrior in me, and related the example of Deborah agreeing to lead the Israelites into battle when a man would not go. So Israel was delivered into the hands of a woman that day. He saw that the specific area that I would stand against was the occult. I would not be alone. He saw it was as if I was walking down a hill and witches and demons were fleeing, and I was surrounded by angels who would protect me. (Quoted about the angels who encamp around the righteous.)

When he said these things I was not too grateful! I didn’t really want to have to go any where near the occult! Such a ready warrior!!! However, I will let it sit in the scales of my spirit and let it be weighed before the Lord. He prayed that whatever was not of the Lord would be forgotten. I think the bit about being a warrior is probably true. I have a spirit that becomes indignant for the things of God, especially his people and especially if I think they are getting spiritual attack…so….

Then I heard from Jenny, (I am grateful that God gave Jenny sight of my broken and softer side). She saw me in God’s hands. (C:) His hands were cupped all around me. The picture became even softer than that. As if I was in a womb, so fully surrounded and in such a place of sanctuary and safety and protection. It speaks into my spirit of acceptance as a wanted child also. Very healing.

So these are your questions answered. I hope that I have explained well to you, especially the first bit, but I fear the first bit will get a bit lost in translation.