Thursday, 24 October 2013

I will not let you go...

...until you bless me. (Genesis 32).

I "ouch" and "ooched" my way back up the road from the chemists earlier today, laden with heat wraps, passed a neighbour on the way -  we exchanged details of our respective back problems (as you do). Mine's been threatening to flare up these last couple of weeks, not helped by a wrestling match at the vets this afternoon either. I'm off on retreat tomorrow, so the last thing I want is to be immobilised with a wonky hip.

The vets visit was...well...let's say it was an 'experience,'  involving what should have been a straightforward kennel cough vaccination (For those not in the know, this involves squirting the vaccine up your pooch's nose) plus aspiration of a couple of fatty lumps in GP dog's armpits. Oh dear! It developed into a wrestling match with myself and a vetinary nurse trying to simultaneously hold and reassure a wriggling, squeaking, distraught and (oh the shame!) even a slightly snappy Fido (ended up administering the shot via a muzzle). As he  weighs in at a hefty 14kg, by the time we left the surgery, I felt as if I'd just run a marathon at least, and my back was grumbling even more than poor GP dog.

For some reason  - and I do make the weirdest connections -  all this has put me in mind of Kirsten M  and Antonia's blogs about  the icon of 'Our Lady and the Playing Child.'  As Antonia mentions, a more apt name would be 'Our Lady and the Struggling Child,' there's a real wrestling match going on there. It's heartbreaking for everybody involved. I've had times myself  when it's all too much, a mess, such a visceral rush of emotion that all I can do is rage and stamp at God until the anger and sorrow is spent. (at least inwardly. I'm far too 'nice' to voice my feelings out loud!)  And then? Ian Cowie puts it so well in his A Regrettable Prayer: "Good God, what a mess! Father, come and collect your lost child..."

I hope, I do hope, that the next time I'm in this kind of situation -and there will be a next time, I'll remember Jacob's encounter with God  at Peniel and say "I will not let you go until you bless me." And maybe - just maybe -  one day I'll be able to come through the other side  with the realisation that "I have seen God face to face."

Friday, 18 October 2013

Autumn - Nature's Bounty

Nature's Bounty - a few bits n bobs from my walk this morning

And what better excuse for a recycled Greenpatch. There must be some Useful and Acceptable Gifts I could make from this lot:

I was puffing my way up the hill to church last Sunday; at the last minute as usual, but I just had to stop and pick up these conkers.  I dithered for a nanosecond (I mean, a fifty-something year-old woman getting all excited over something like this - honestly!), but my inner five year-old won in the end, you'll be glad to hear.  The same inner five-year old that I remember popping out during my first retreat seven years ago now, as I wandered round the wild garden at CSF Compton Durville.   It was like exploring a jungle! I was  so thrilled! By the time I went home I must have gathered half of the Somerset countryside on my windowsill - plus any number of creepy-crawlies besides.
To return to last week,  off I hopped to church where I arranged my treasure carefully on the pew in front of me, and, I regret to say, didn't really take in very much of the service at all that morning. Never mind, for once I've managed to get ahead of myself, what with Harvest Festival coming up and all. I came out of the sacristy this afternoon to see one of the flower ladies busy decorating the place with a lovely collection of leaves, conkers and other autumal goodies. Somebody is going to find it rather difficult to concentrate this Sunday as well, and we're not just talking about the children. My inner Busy Fauve is dying to go for a run. As I'd suspect too,  the insect life that might have come into church with the decorations. Who knows? If they hang around for long enough, they'll be able to take part in the pet blessing service the following weekend!
 The beech husks in the photo are another 'treasure' unearthed by my resident Fauve and I on our walks which make me smile.  Do any bloggers remember the classic Joyce Grenfell monologue Useful And Acceptable Gifts where she plays a (Very Buckinghamshire) countrywoman giving a lecture to a Women's Institute on how to make a 'boutoniere' out of beech husks?  Wonderful. Any road, I'm not able to pass a beech tree at this time of year now without giggling quietly to myself. 
So, I'll be up there this Sunday, ploughing the fields and scattering away. And I'll be thinking about boutonieres, earwigs and the gifts of laughter and wonder.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Unclenched Moment

Gentle me,
Holy One,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go
of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy
that is you.
( from Guerillas of Grace by Ted Loder, Luramedia 1984)

As I've mentioned before, we're going through much change in the GP household just now. Reading Diggingalot's reflections this morning on  Let Something Essential Happen to Me   took me  back to another beautiful piece by Ted Loder  that I stumbled across months ago and that's since formed a  background to my prayers. It's so easy for this quiet joy to be drowned out by the noise and distractions, so thanks for reminding me about it once again.

And did you know - according to some of my bible reading notes - that the ancient Assyrian word for prayer was the same as they had for opening a clenched fist?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

I was doing so well

...with the Jesus Prayer the other morning. It wasn't until five minutes in that I realised that I'd been praying my National Insurance number.

Could it be a sign?