I’ve been trying think of a coherent way to string all the things I want to blog about this last bit of June together, but I have so far been unable to, in fact coherence in general has been somewhat lacking today. I figure the best thing to do is to just splurge about a number of things and not worry about it making sense. Yes, that’s a plan.
Last week I travelled down to Sussex for a couple of days retreat. I loved the rolling green hills and the quietness, waking up to the baaing of sheep was a novel experience, and I enjoyed a wondrous conversation with a local taxi driver, who wondered if I, having come from London, had never seen a tractor before. (He then went on to direct me to beachy head… a fact which fleetingly concerned me.)
We stayed in a big old house, I shared a room with three other girls. There was that initial awkward moment, where we didn’t know quite what to say to each other, but after a few minutes we were nattering away. By the end of the retreat had a number of hilarious moments to share. We renamed the place we were staying Jurassic Park, for reasons I shall not divulge. We laughed and cried together, and we took long morning walks and considered swimming in the lake. It was great to meet them and they helped make it an great experience for me.
I’m not very good at retreating, I learned! On the first day I could be found wandering around the gardens, with a notebook (as ever), asking God to speak about my church, my job, world peace etc… The heavens were resoundingly silent and I was somewhat frustrated with the good Lord. He did then point out that it wasn’t the best plan for me to try and agenda our every conversation, and that it would do me good just to be still for a bit, without ‘achieving’ anything in terms of hearing from him. So it felt like I spent a lot of time over the 48 hours lying on my back in the grass, just chilling and being with him. With hindsight I know that was powerful in itself (although I did inadvertently bring a lot of said grass home as a result).
The programme was good, intense but helpful. I’ve spent the time since coming back feeling a bit disorientated but with a real sense that good was done there, good that God will build on in the weeks and months ahead. So that’s exciting.
I came straight back into what looked like a manic weekend, so it was good discipline not to get all caught up in the busyness and lose the sense of peace I had from being away. I emptied the diary a bit and dispelled some of the madness, so actually managed to have a quiet couple of days.
On Sunday I led the meeting and preached etc… It was an amusing occasion for so many reasons. I bribed the congregation with gingerbread men to take part… no, they were all very responsive and mostly well behaved, with only one notable exception!
Today has been quite busy, but I have been having a reflective evening, being the end of June and all that (I can hardly believe it’s July, well nearly July, already!). These last thirty days have taught me some important things:
- When God starts something he will finish it, however tempting it is to wish he would/try to convince him to abandon the mission half way through.
- God’s timing is perfect, no really it is.
- However intriguing parts of this journey are, God is residing over all of them.
- Just when you think you have God worked out, he does something that you don’t expect (and likely wouldn’t have asked for!!), but it works out ok in the end!
- I have some amazing and faithful friends, and I am so grateful for their love and the privilege of journeying with them.
- Being 25 is great. York is a beautiful city. Surprises are lovely things. I love trains more than I thought.
- There are many more exciting times ahead, so there is plenty of reason to celebrate.
- Learning to ride a bike will take more than one attempt.
- Sleeping with rags in my hair to make ringlets is painful (though the resulting ringlets are beautiful).