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.

The moon is back

_46468036_008043128-1Of course, the moon never went anywhere. This is the first time it has been visible at dusk in a long period of grey days. No wonder her freckled, silver face looks so helpless: Check out the news….another tsunami, another couple of earthquakes today and tremors continuing and numbers of dead rising.

I was outside, having dealt with all my little Wednesday tedia, unravelling my thoughts and a blanket of knitted trefoil roots. It was so lovely and peaceful here. Seems incongruous. The sky, which has held back significant rainfall for over a fortight was heavy, sleepy lilac, like Katie Melua’s song. One lonely star, the tearful moon, a shredded veil of clouds framed my tiny, undisturbed, unkempt patch of Wales. People are trapped and crushed in terror and rubble, probably some wishing even the relief of death would come soon. God…..?*?*?……Help them. Thank you…the toddler washed away, the woman who’s children were swept out of her saw it all and allowed it. And we don’t have to make excuses for you, and you are merciful and good and loving so thank you because you have the answers…I’m just praying you give them to those people, not me, (despite the accusation my heart feels yet again and cannot hide) or anyone who merely observes and wonders. Thank you that there are people on this planet right now who, though they have lost their loved ones, yet they know you are lovingly in control. Help them to help the ones who don’t know that love and are grieving.  The glory when we all understand how the jigsaw fits together will certainly be beyond all imagining. Is Job weeping with the moon up there or is he smiling, I wonder? I trust he has moved on from where I stand. Yet I stand here not wanting to be at a distance from you. I want to be right up close, Yes you are good and you have your arms around me, and the suffering ones. I pray they feel your safety in their danger, somehow, and I believe grace makes it possible for them to.

These are the other things I pray for, no matter how far the scale of need ranges, I’m not going to ‘scale out’ these prayers! God has the most amazing zoomability and for him nothing is overwhelming or too insignificant by comparison.

1 Sophie; please help her to sleep. Please bring healing to all the things that have been wrong and which stop her from falling and staying asleep, feeling secure, being able to concentrate or trust or any other wholesome asset in her life. Thank you, Jesus, that you bring ‘life to the full’ to those that receive you. Thank you that you deal with people on an individual basis and for your unconditional love for Sophie. As each day of the term unfolds, please give wisdom, patience and understanding to Liriene and vast resources of good humour!

2 Joe T Shuster; Let him find plenty of space in all his relationships to be himself, for you in him to minister to the youth and the church in general. Please enable and bless his relationship with his mentor/manager to be really constructive, built on Godliness, trust, understanding and repect. Let the young people recognise you in him and that  they are accepted and can be themself too and continue to let them grow in grace, as Christ grows in them. So wonderful God, let the church’s joy and confidence and hope in you be daily renewed. Let them see your kingdom come, their family unity grow and your glory displayed, so more people of the wider community see you and that you are alive and good and The Saviour. Amen.

3 The chippy. Oh Dad of all dads, lift him up and give him lots of peace and reassurance. Please help him every time he worries about work, the future and all the things that weigh him down, to lean it all on you. All of it. Please have an answer to those concerns too. In the meantime, while we wait to know, please help him to sleep well, not to ache, to keep patience and gentleness and kindness in his heart for all he meets, not just those who deserve it. Let him feel you feeding his soul as he waits for refilling of your Spirits counsel. Thank you that you will never leave him or ignore him. Thank you that you love him beyond space and time. keep him right there knowing you do and that you are the ROCK.

4 Thank you for The cherub and all that she is and is becoming in your love and care. Thank you that you have done so much and that she still loves me, in spite of what I have been. I am really grateful for what you have placed in her soul; for what you invest in her for the training and discipline you keep on using to make her so beautiful as you form Christ in her. Let her be more and more stunning, I would call myself  greedy for asking for this except that it is all for your glory and we are so priveleged to get to see it even slightly and dimly. So let your plans and purposes be fulfilled, keep her teachable and ready to go where and when you call. And God, you will refine these foolish words, I know, so please do only your will, but please always be so gentle and spare her pain if it isn’t necessary. I know you are the most trustworthy parent and I shouldn’t want to protect her from refining fires, but I know you Jesus, even on the cross saw the human needs of his mother and John…Thank you. Please see her and Adonnise home without any stress or worry, especially regarding tickets and railcards etc.

5 The Tidge. Ditto most of the above. I am so grateful and I want you to have all your own way because it is you in the person, you in the Tidge, that is so glorious and nearing perfection. So beautiful. So inspiring of praise and joy and delight. Thank you that she desires that. Keep that desire alive for her whole life and satsfy it with yourself, dear God, please. I love seeing the bigger picture but again, when I think of the details on a day to day level I fear for her because she is just a fragile human, and my own. I want her to grow but I dont want the growing pains. Still you are good and I know she wouldn’t want to be limited to a stuffy little comfort zone. So keep her trust and hope in you vibrant and vital for the simple fact that you live in her and will never leave her. Take her hand as she finds her way in the new surroundings and help her deal with all the challenges ahead with wisdom and proper proportion. Thank you.

6 My parents. God you know what they need, you have all they need and I pray that you meet that need in Christ, in them, day by day. Thank you for your grace and infinite wisdom. Let love and faithfulness never leave them. Not for one minute. Let them find they are uplifted more as they lean on you more. Give Dad new flying lessons…that make his previous flying days come to mind and be eclipsed. Have the glory from horizon to horizon. Thank you for them. Thank you for the life and newness that you bring to every area of  my relatinship with them that I bring before you in faith. There are things I ‘worry’ about and feel that Dad just doesn’t accept/understand that are the truth. Please help me to either help or leave it to you and to know which to do at the right time. Thank you so much that you are  Saviour, Prince of Peace and Counselor. That is all I need. Thank you.

7  Tonight. Please may I sleep? Please don’t let the accuser use the ‘sleep scriptures’ to imply that I am not loved because I don’t sleep. I guess that’s my responsibility! Thanks for equipping me.

moon at dusk