A psalm when I have no words,
A song when I have no tune,
Silence, where the melody of certainty once played.
But certainty lacked cadence,
A restrictive rhythm that told me what to sing and when,
Stifling my heart song.
For the truest words spring from a place of pain,
Captivating melodies emerge from the darkest corners,
I long for the songs I sang, before I cared how they sounded.
I still believe,
Though my whispered song has felt drowned out,
By the crashing of a hundred angry waves.
I want to sing,
Though the old words feel contrived,
And I struggle to articulate the new.
I’m searching for the brave song,
The melodies where faith and doubt embrace.
Speaking all into nothing,
Pillar of fire guiding,
So the journey could continue through the night.
Inspiring ancient hopes.
Bursting forth from silent skies.
Blinding in an instant,
Revelation piercing the hardest of hearts.
You, the Light for those who had lost their way,
Who’d mislaid hope in history,
Forgotten your promise in the bleakness of their present.
You, weaving light into lives darkened with despair,
Despised by the masses, rejected by those closest:
Warmth touching the untouchables and thawing frozen hearts.
Your light: darkness could not hide it,
Shrouded yet undimmed,
‘The light shines in the darkness,
But the darkness has not understood it.’
Pure light: Glowing unashamed,
Through all our fluorescent falsity,
Outshining every neon façade
With unblinking honesty,
Brave light: shining in the darkest places,
Unfaltering in the blackest night,
Brilliance that doesn’t fear the gloom,
But enters in and rescues us.
I didn’t understand what all the shouting was about at first. I’d gone for a walk to try and clear my head, to get a change of scenery, to try and calm my nerves and get some space from the clamour and head noise.
I thought perhaps it was a riot, or that there was a demonstration. My head, tired as it was, spun through potentialities of terrorist bombs or maybe an accident. There were sirens, and police in protective gear, and there were many, many people, all ignoring the repeated ‘there’s nothing here to see” ‘s.
I was tempted to turn around and walk in the other direction. This was not what I needed right now. Living in the city had its perks, but mass hysteria was not one of them, and the bustle and excitement of the crowds was doing nothing for my jarred nerves.
Something didn’t make sense. If there had been a disaster, why was everyone so enthiastic? Why were people fighting to get a view? Shouldn’t they be running, or screaming, or at least poised to back off if their curiousity looked like it would prove mortally dangerous? Then I wondered if they were watching out for some film star, making an impromptu appearance in our small South London borough. or maybe it was the Queen’s car or something? but would that really cause all this furore?
I gave up on my hope for a peaceful wander and stood at the back of the crowd, trying to get an idea of what was happening. I wondered how many other people had just been going about the busyness of a weekend and got caught up in the excitement. I heard snatches of conversation – apparently some religious figure was marching into the city, straight up the A3, and right into town. I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, never having gone in for that religious stuff much. To be honest I thought it caused more problems then it solved.
I waited for what felt like an hour. More people thronged in behind, and I couldn’t have retreated then even if I’d wanted to. People were saying that this was Jesus, that he was going to march in and change everything. Rumours that he was going to overthrow the Government abounded, helicopters circled overhead, clearly expecting chaos. The tension in the waiting ranks of police was tangible.
And then, there he was. I think I’d expected some sort of cavalcade, maybe some horses, maybe an open topped car, or one of those glass things the Pope rides in. I’d expected armoured protective glass; surely if you were going to march on a city you’d need that kind of thing. I expected him to be shouting about hell and damnation and stuff, or at least decrying the government and the state of the nation. As it was, the whole thing messed with my head.
Firstly, he was riding on a donkey. Just imagine with me for a minute what that looked like – a lone figure, riding the wrong way up the A3. Riding slowly, deliberately, past Barclays sat on a donkey. The other thing was that he wasn’t saying anything – no shouting, no hell and damnation, no whipping up the crowds into fury and violence. Everyone started shouting stuff – calling his name and welcoming him – I think they were hoping that would make him do something, do anything except keep riding at that slow and maddening pace, without saying a word.
Many thoughts circled in my mind as I watched the scene. The confusion I’d been trying to distract myself from was still there and still clamouring. If this man was God, why the bizarre set up, why the weird donkey thing? Surely it was a missed opportunity – if I was God and I had all these people watching me, I wouldn’t miss the chance to show off some of my powers! And surely that was the whole thing about religion – it promised a lot but delievered little. If he was marching on London to bring about transformation and change, he wasn’t going about it in a very logical way.
I tried to be angry with this Jesus man, as he walked on, out of my view, up the hill towards the town hall. I tried to heap all the rage I was feeling about the world onto his shoulders. I wanted to scream at him for doing nothing, saying nothing, for not answering the prayers I had whispered late in the night when there was noone else to hear, he made no sense to me.
But for the rest of the afternoon, and that night, when darkness fell again, the thing I remembered most about the strange procession was Jesus’ face. I guessed I’d expected superiority, power, judgement; but what I’d seen was humility, compassion, sadness even. His face was set on the path set before him, but even in his passing it felt like he’d seen every person in that crowd, and communicated something individually to each of us. Instead of looking into the face of an authoritarian conqueror, it felt like I’d seen the expression of a sorrowful lover, a man heartbroken and longing for reconciliation, and his humanity had done something to soothe my own doubt and pain and loss.
Today dawned bright and sunny but I was squirreled away working on creative projects. First these- cherry and choc chip hot cross buns (which involved the fun challenge of oiling cling film and learning what to do with yeast).
After that I spent a good couple of hours transforming a fabric remnant into a cushion cover. I didn’t excel in my textiles GCSE, but I was rather proud of my sewing efforts today! I love creative days!
These are just some thoughts I scribbled after spending some time with some of our Sunday Guests – people in the local community who struggle with addiction, homelessness or other social issues.
Across The Room
I saw you across the room,
And I couldn’t call you Father,
The words stuck in my throat,
I kept you at arms length.
I braced myself for your turning,
‘cause they always walk away,
I pretended it wouldn’t matter,
And I wasn’t fascinated by your face.
But you knew:
I was the girl on the swing,
Wanting to go higher,
With no one to push her.
I was the little boy,
Whose Daddy never showed him how to ride a bike,
Who told himself he didn’t want to learn
I was the teenager,
Pregnant and alone,
Pushing the truth from her mind,
Volatile and scared.
I was the young man,
Trying to find a way,
to provide for him and his girl,
Uncertain behind the bravado.
I saw you across the room,
Truth for all my lies.
Hope for all my disappointments
Love for all that I’ve lost.
It wasn’t in keeping with their plans for the place at all. Months and months of strenuous decor had turned the rest of the pre-nineteenth century hand-me-down home into something clean, streamlined and modern. No awkward corners, no low mantles where scullery maids once paused to whisper furtively, no more pencil marks, smudged and forgotten, on the back of a door, marking the height of some long matured son or daughter.
Minimalist, the word they banded around at the ‘right kind’ of parties, while the neighbours peeked through the dusty windows and thought bleak. The icy white paint was a couple of shades too cold, the stripped back walls causing them to rub imaginary goosebumps from their skin. There was something skeletal about it.
This room had been left to last, purposefully of course. It couldn’t be seen from the windows, and they’d kept it locked, for fear of giving the wrong impression to some marauding dinner guest. At last, however, the transformation had begun.
They’d set out with aplomb, and a tantalising drive for completion, that would have concerned even the most efficient expert in the field. There was abandon in his destruction of the antique dresser, now dismembered at the bottom of a skip. She had fragmented the ageing china they had found within, creating an impossible jigsaw, an irrevocable porcelain mosaic. They had decimated a dusty old desk, overlooking the seal on its base speaking of true value. They’d splintered masterpieces and, in their haste, crushed crystal that had once served refreshments to royalty.
But they hadn’t counted on this. On one stubborn wall.
Manual tools had failed, as had the steam stripper that boasted speed and success. Peeling and scraping and scrubbing repeatedly had got them nowhere. And it seemed like the rich brown wallpaper, with it’s regal and yet unassuming gold leaf, was taunting them with its persistence, its enthusiastic refusal to budge. You would have called it magnificent, breathless at the sense of depth and movement its design communicated. You would have marvelled at the texture, reaching out as if to find comfort from its welcoming warmth. You would have questioned their obsession with removal.
And when they gave up on removal, you would question their purchase of the cheap white paint, the kind that comes in large quantity but with only watery quality, where one coat hardly shows at all. They slapped it on, layer after layer, longing for the safety of cool, sheer space. And the wall fought back. Small golden blooms blinked through the weak milky glaze, the rich chocolate hues glowed undaunted. Six, seven coats, and it shone through brighter than ever. Eight, nine and they gave up, despondent.
They walked out of the room and shut the door behind them, missing the shaft of sunlight streaming through the side window, shining straight onto the wall and bringing its colours to life.
She was Apelai for sure, a fact clear from the blue shawl tight round her small frame. They clung on to the Old, spoke of the days when blue meant peace, but we were more than they, and we shook our heads at their daft stance, and we made sure they knew their place.
They were few these days. Most had fled in the Fourth War, on the day it was set in stone, the day the Old Laws met their end. They ran to the coast, pell mell in haste. Some hung on, in hope; some were lost in the Spring Purge, caught up in the crush and rage as we all ran to burn each sign of Old Rule.
But all that fuss was long done now, and one or two had just crept back, and we, well we had let them be. Too weak to pick a fight, we thought; they were all but mute, they could cause us no strain. And of course, we were sure of our stance: The Old Laws just brought need. They kept us from our goal, taught that we should think and give and care; and this code cost us time, and had had small gain. We knew best.
She was gone too soon for me to see her face, no doubt wise to the fact she must be home by noon, home and safe and out of sight by then. And I thought, who would choose that life? who would pick the path of that old code? We had long learnt not to feel by now, but what of her?
We learnt the new rules fast, which were, in a nut shell, that there were no rules. We ran free, our lives wild and loud, we flung off the tight hold of Old Thought, the codes of love and grace and good will that had long held fun in check. We laid down all these, saw them as dead and drab, codes which could add no gleam and have no say in our lives now.
But what of her, and those like her? We thought they would die out, but still they kept on. What could be done about the tough grip held by this group who would not tow the line, a group which even in name chose to shun the New? If war could not stop them, nor the harsh acts of a world with no rules, how could they be taught? How could they be shown the dead end fruits of their choice? What would make them finally give up?
She was gone, with her flash of bold blue, but then I saw it in the sky, and I saw it in the bold stream.
And I was left to think, through the long day of Free Rein, as I took, and stole, and broke, that the gloss from the loot I made off with had been made dull. And I had no clue how or why.
She could have got away with it, potentially, had it not been for an unfortunate incident involving a technology project and several shades of purple.
She was new to the school, with a name that was complex to pronounce and harder to spell. Her eyes, expressionless; we put it down to a inter-continental house move. She hid at the back of the class, merging into the sombre slate of a borrowed blazer. She seemed perpetually nervous but, self-absorbed in adolescence, we permitted this.
Having never grappled with the complexities of plum, violet, indigo, and mulberry myself, I was stunned at the furore, at the flurry of panic emanating from the back row. Sitting nearby, I watched as bewilderment bent her impassive features into something that could only be defined as terror, and we flinched in uniform, as she flung her chair back with a crash, and tore from the room.
I heard later, a tale tangled in the way that playground gossip only ever can be, of the reason for her fright, the fuel behind her flight. They told me of a childhood lived pristine in black and white. And that she’d really never known it any other way, become accustomed to familiar shades of grey, and found a safety there. And there were we, provoking her with mauve, shaking all the rules from which she understood her world.
She’d assumed, until that hour, that everybody lived in monochrome. And we all whispered in assembly seats and dinner queues, how could this have crept by unseen?
And, just what would it be like?
We wondered how maths could be identified, save for the angry red textbook, and science for the murky green. But we didn’t ask her, presuming she found comfort in charcoal and cloud, that she was safe in the shadows of silver and smoke. She never said a word and, self-absorbed in adolescence, we permitted this.
It was his shoes I noticed first: Leather once, perhaps; yet now scuffed and threadbare. There was a suggestion of colour – the bright hues that every small boy’s shoes should shout, yet now their faded tones whispered neglect. I winced at their thin soles and split seams, bulging in mute protest against the winter weather and two summers of growth.
His outfit testified the same: all drab, all corroborating lack. From my vantage point a few feet away I knew he had no choice. He stood, face pressed close to the window, his small child fingers – too thin - tantalisingly close to their prize. The lights from the shop danced in his eyes, yet hope’s reflection was already dimmed in return.
Lovingly created chocolates taunted him, with their golden gleam, from behind the thick glass. Cherished sugar-craft, nurtured in privileged safety, awaited transportation to another warm home, another brightly lit abode where childrens shoes shone and treats abounded.
Quickly he turned away, dejected, the proximity of luxury serving only as a stark reminder of his status. Wrenching resentful eyes from the scene, he scuttled off, depriving four other hungry senses their momentary escape. I lost sight of his scuffed shoes then, as he dissapeared swiftly into the anonymous crowds.
“Divorced from the brilliant light, we live in a type of exile from our true selves and from what is deepest in creation. Forgetful of our nobility we live in ignorance instead of wisdom, fear instead of love, fantasy instead of reality. The gospel is given to restore our memory of what lies deepest within us.” (Philip Newman)
This has to be one of my favourite quotes. I heard it in a teaching seminar years ago. Now it is tacked to the side of my pc screen. So, in theory, I see it every working day. But mostly, I don’t notice it. I’m used to it, you see. Just like I’m used to the post-it Bible verses stuck to the disk drive, the smattering of prophetic words pinned to the desk-divide, and the cut out songwords that reminded me of a once striking truth.
The irony of that amuses me. The quote speaks about how easy it is to forget who we are, how loved we are, the value of our existence, and there am I overlooking it, transfixed instead by fleeting words on an email or something.
It isn’t just the forgetting that strikes me as a problem. Sometimes life throws stuff at us which is expressly designed to cause us to forget who we really are. We get bogged down by guilt, regret, shame or condemnation. Some friends of mine have an older car. When you turn the windscreen wipers on they just smear the water around, until it’s harder to see than before you did it. Often we’re trying to see through a windscreen thats splattered and smeared and our visibility is restricted.
And then I lie awake at night thinking… But, what if we remembered? What if the windscreen got cleared? What if the scales fell off our eyes and we could truly see ourselves as God does? What if fear and fantasy fell away? if shame and secrecy became a thing of history? What if we woke up knowing?
What lays deepest within us is not the decisions we have made. It is not the paths we have choosen or those we were led kicking and screaming down. It is not the smattering of skills we have managed to attain or the fragile relational structures we hide within. It is not the information we fill in neatly on census-forms, or the way we see ourselves when we gaze mutely into the mirror. It is not the mistakes we made and then franticly tried to cover-up. It is not the whispered fears that plague our sleepless moments.
What lies within us. All of us. Is good.
The image of a creator, treasure unmarred by circumstance, hope that will beat away unbreakable. It is the knowledge that this is temporary – this hurt, this struggle, this loneliness is not for keeps. It’s the capacity that grace awaits to fill. It’s forgiveness, that can clear a path through the thickest, most choking weeds, and find the garden blooming away unhindered behind secret doors. It is what it means to be a child of the Most High. He who never slumbers or sleeps, guarding every step, counting every tear. It’s the yearning for home, the pull towards redemption, the truth that who we are does not amount to what we have done. It is the capacity to love, even when all we have known is the opposite. It is the breath of I AM, bringing us to life.
Unsafe, she grabs a T-shirt and runs.
She doesn’t think where she is going, just away.
Away from the noise and tension and instability.
Away from rules she doesn’t understand and love that shifts like shadows.
Away from hope that rises up, only to be dashed again.
She is bold tonight, adrenalin making her brave as she bolts for freedom.
She has been waiting for this for so long, and nothing will stop her now.
Irrepressible from the start, her spark never could be shut out.
Maybe it was the gritty east-end DNA, or the fire of the spirit burning away unrecognised in her veins, but it burns defiant from her eyes.
And she keeps getting up; no matter how hard the knocks, she bounces right back, hopeful.
She doesn’t stop to lick her wounds but runs ahead, plumbing the depths of a future designed.
Now she is running through dark September streets.
She is frightened but there is no need to look over her shoulder now.
An angel army camps alongside her.
Promise beats steadily in her scarred heart speaking of life in fullness.
Hope for captives in dark dungeons.
Beauty instead of ashes, and a garment of praise in place of heaviness.
She will take the chance.
She will push to see the transformation she has dreamed of for so long.
She won’t stay in the places where visions are locked behind iron bars, but will run till she finds ground where they can flourish.
She is dangerously optimistic.
Even the worst bruises fail to subdue her belief in a happy ending.
She does not advertise her misfortune or seek vengeance but holds tightly the hand of her Redeemer.
She gazes into His eyes, encountering tenderness.
Her guarded heart dares to peek around its barricades and begins to open up.
She looks up at the stars and focuses on their beauty.
Sleeping on friends floors she breathes safety in deeply.
Towers fall and it seems her world has crashed down too, but she is resolute.
She will hold on until spring comes again.
She will paint the watercolour of grace over the smudged pastels of despair.
She will compose symphony from the jangling discord of her loss.
There is an intimacy that will blossom up from this soil.
And she will look back and marvel at its tenacity.
The grace pulsating through the years since that cold night, unchanging.
Keeping her going as she learns to fall into her Saviour’s arms.
Loving her back when she chooses distance.
Speaking consistently as she bends to hear.
She revels in Him.
And He desires her.
God of Good News
See these ruins surrounding us.
Observe the chains of our captivity.
Give ear to these songs of bereavement.Father of Light
This night has been long now.
Dawn, just a fading rumour.
We’ve stumbled in the bitter dark.
Lord of hosts
See these crumbling citadels.
We have been plundered.
The gold of our inheritance exchanged for iron bars.
Give ear to us,
You who love justice.
Come quickly to our aid,
As we groan under the load of exhaustion.
Forgive us our many sins.
We lie, face down in the ashes.
Wash away the stains of our idolatry
In your mercy, restore our purity.
God of grace, we long
For a crown of beauty, for ashes.
For the oil of gladness, instead of mourning.
For the garment of praise, for this spirit of heaviness.
Let go, let yourself fall.
I will catch you.
I know you feel like you can’t keep holding on, you can’t fight anymore.
I know you’re exhausted, and I’m here to tell you that you can trust in me.
I know it terrifies you – the possibility that you could fall and fall,
The surrender of your life into my hands,
Taking your hands off the reigns.
The thing is, you can’t grasp how precious you are to me
and that it’s safe to let go, because I’d never do anything to harm you.
I only have your best interests at heart.
I won’t let you fall too far.
I won’t let you plummet into the pit.
I will catch you, and we will soar together.
I’ve seen your resilience, I made you a fighter and and have fought well.
But I long for you to learn that you don’t have to always be the strong one,
That you can rely on my strength,
That your gritted teeth determination often puts distance between us
I want to fight for you, but you are battling so hard to survive.
Child, I hurt for your hurts.
Your every bruise tears my heart.
I weep for your sorrow, your confusion, your fear.
And I long to lift every burden from your tired shoulders.
Once and for all.
Falling isn’t failing. You don’t need to measure or compare yourself,
Don’t worry about ‘doing it right’, just take this time to feel what you need to.
Daughter, there’s going to be a morning so much brighter than these.
Joy will wash away these tears of pain.
You belong to my family, and my plans are for hope, redemption and abundance.
We’ll dance in celebration, on a day not too far from now.
But you can leave the timings with me, before you ask!
For now, you can let go.
Open your fists, release those tightly held fears,
And you’ll see how faithful I am.
Go against every coping mechanism you’ve ever learnt and allow me to carry you through.
You’ve learned the lessons of militance, and learned them well.
You’ve laid a foundation for truth.
But now I want to show you a different kind of strength:
Strength that appears vulnerable, broken, handed over.
Life that looks veiled by defeat.
Power that chooses to submit itself to a cross.
Sovereignty silenced for three days in a tomb.Suddenly that scene means a lot more.
I’m not going to abandon you.
You can be messy, uncertain, fragile and dependent.
You don’t have to hold it together.
You’re allowed to be angry and honest
Your rawness doesn’t faze me in the slightest.
You can say anything you need to here.
You can be you here.
Go on, take the risk,
Though it costs all you have,
Though the surrender terrifies you, let go, fall into me.
Find me: faithful, ever-present, more than enough.
Find me your Comforter.
Find me your Healer.
Find me your Strength and Shield.
Find me your Light and Hope.”
King stripped of royal robes
Over-flowing One poured out.
Father’s precious Son so far -
From light and hope and joy.
Holiness sullied by my mistakes
Hanging there, the weight of the world
On innocent shoulders
Redemption wasn’t cheap.
Great light of the world, Speak life to my darkness
Weave coloured threads into the grey of my shame
Transform my petulant scribbling into glory words
Create a landscaped garden from this scrap-heap of sin.
I watch the procession from a distance at first, too frightened to get too close. What if someone recognises me? What if they can tell just by looking at me?
I’ve felt so different for so long, I’m sure it must be obvious. Is it written all over my face, – the label, this experience, my suffering?
Shame whispers its familiar suggestions, tormenting my bruised spirit: I shouldn’t be here. I am unworthy. He will reject me. He will look upon me and despise me. They will all know. I should be hiding, not out here in the noonday sun, not amongst these people, not daring to even glance in the direction of this Rabbi. Hope is not an option. I should turn back.
But it took everything I had just to get here; just to get close to him.
He was the one they were all talking about, rumours of his miracles filtering into desperate conversations, his name infiltrating the camps of the broken, the isolated, the dispossessed. Our hearts, long closed to the possibility of anything except barren survival, were roused by unfamiliar wonderings. We tried to pretend we weren’t bothered, we didn’t need anyone, we were fine just as we were, but secretly we saw him in our dreams and longed for him to find us.
Jolting back to the present, I remind myself that dreaming is futile. What was I doing here? Was this just another foolish whim? I try to squash the unwelcome bloom of desire deep within me. What if this was like before? Unbidden, the memories return: memories of a still hopeful-me, believing their promises, handing over my money, my dreams, myself, in a desperate search for wholeness. I did what they asked. I followed the steps. I drank their potions.
But it was never enough.
Hope is a dangerous thing.
Self-condemnation taunts me: I’m not good enough to be healed. I’m being punished for my sins. Obviously God knows how bad I am. I deserve to be alone. Maybe I should just accept my fate. Walk away from this man, this crowd, this last chance.
But I’ve got nothing left.
If this doesn’t work, I’m not sure how long I can fend off the flames of despair that persistently lick at the dry pages of my existence.
Hope is fragile. I’m hanging on by a thread.
Someone told me I was plucky, once, which is why I’m here. It’s why I snuck away from the only people who have ever shown me any acceptance: the unclean, the unloved, the other unworthy ones. It’s why I left before the sun rose, walking lonely miles battling with the thoughts in my head and the war in my soul. I guess it’s why I’m standing here, feeling so sullied and unworthy and degraded, amongst these- the normal the righteous, the whole.
But I didn’t walk all this way to turn back now.
Even as fear runs fluid through my veins. I must step forward.
Even if they discern my state, see my shame.
Even if they push me aside, reinforcing my worthlessness.
Even if I am crushed into the ground for attempting such a thing, At least then I’ll know I tried everything.
Even If they stone me to death, what could be worse than what I am living now, anyway?
Hope is persistent. I’d spent days attempting to quieten the nagging conviction that he could make the difference, to no avail. And now, only metres from him, the belief is stronger than ever. I don’t understand it. Belief is something I’d tried to abandon: belief leads to hope, hope leads to vulnerability, vulnerability leads to disappointment. I knew this bitter cycle well.
I’ve tried everything, every route available. I’ve tried to heal myself; I’ve tried to pretend I don’t need healing, but I could never quell my desire to be like everyone else, to know love, to feel clean.
It’s now or never, and I’m not feeling so plucky now. My head screams at me to run, to turn back and slink away. A thousand ‘what-ifs’ taunt me with their consequences. I’m frightened.
Head-bowed, I step forwards, steeling myself with my familiar mantras:
Get it over with quickly.
Don’t make a fuss.
Don’t let anyone know how you feel.
Concentrate on the task at hand.
The jolting of the crowd shakes my lonely core. Physical touch is a sensation long forgotten. Trying not to think about those who crash against me, I must push forward. As for him, the Rabbi, I can’t speak to him, I couldn’t touch his hand, or look in his face, or let him see me. He would see, he would know, and, now I’m here, I’m not sure I could bear his wrath.
His rejection might just smash through the fragile dam holding back the agonising pain of every other rejection, all the loathing and hatred and despair of these twelve long years. I’m frightened that he will see the depths of the blackness in my soul, the clamouring fear and pain and disgust.
The noise frightens me, the pain nags consistently, the pushing and shoving threatens to overwhelm me. But it is just a few steps now, just a little further and then I will be able to touch his cloak. I can’t give up now. I can’t let the terror swamp me. I have to shut it all out, focussing only on touching that hem, that fabric, that life-line. I reach forwards.
I touch the dusty tassles of his cloak, and, in an instant, I am changed! I feel the fabric in my hand and the change in my body. It feels like everything happens in seconds and, at the same time, like all of time stands still. The bleeding stops. I am well. My heart swells but I won’t let myself cry out. I have to shrink away before anyone spots me.
But, to my horror, the Rabbi stops walking. He turns around, sweeping the crowds with his gaze. I look downwards, contempt creeping up the back of my neck, my face flushed with shame. He knows.
He says that power went out of him. There is noise, confusion, but I can’t hide, I’ve been caught. I brace myself, knowing there is no escape. Flinging myself down on the ground, like the nothing I am, I resort to the one option available. Falteringly, I tell the truth, spilling out why I came, what had happened, why I’d done it. Then I wait, face-down, for his rage.
But nothing happens, and I dare to look up then. I look someone in the eyes for the first time in years. The shouting crowds and their loud cries are silenced in those moments, as I look into eyes of pure love, pure compassion, pure mercy.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
This time, it’s not a physical sensation that takes my breath away, but the feeling of the self-hate and shame that near-consumed me, uncurling its tight grip from my heart. It is a peace I have never known seeping down into the depth of my soul, washing away the muddy residue of rejection, resentment and pain. It is the warm rays of love spreading into places long deadened by rejection and abandonment. It is hope unfettered, crowding out the decay of years of captivity, speaking of a fresh beginning.
I am astounded, awe-struck. He called me daughter. He accepted me. He made me well.
In that instant, my darkness is dispelled by a deep sense of cleansing and release. I feel whole, I feel renewed, I feel like there are colours in the spectrum I couldn’t see before. I feel shalom.
I know then it was worth the struggle, worth the jostling and uncertainty, it was worth fighting for this. On my knees before him I know he has transformed my broken life into something that reflects glory and light and purity.
Standing to my feet, with my head no longer bowed, I know where I need to go from here, now my shame has been taken away. It’s back to the others, back to those still bent double with despair and contempt. I’m desperate for them to touch his hem, to find that he will stop, pick them up, look them in the eyes and bring about a wholeness they could never have imagined.
“You know when I sit and when I rise, You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.” Psalm 139:2-4.
You’re there, in my waking moments. There, as I stumble, semi-conscious, rubbing sleep from my eyes. You watch me, awkward and uncoordinated as I am, and you love me. Even if I forget to think of you, your thoughts still turn to me.
My thoughts don’t escape your attention: the excitement of future plans, the uncertainty of relationships, the yearning to see things more clearly; you see and know it all, from the trivial to the complex. You know my most noble intention and my most selfish desire, and yet your delight in me does not shift.
Whether I feel brave or frightened, surrounded or alone, thrilled or desolate; you are Lord of my emotions, and you are constant. My uncertainty does not unnerve you, and you hold on, whether I am trusting resoundly, or doubting nervously.
When I rush around, filling my days with busyness, drowing out the cry of my heart, you’re there too, nudging me towards stillness. You understand the complexities of schedule, you weave in and through my appointments, breathing life into my to-do list.
You call me to sabbath, leading me to places of calm and rest. You minister to me in the solitude, bringing your touch of peace. I sit beside you and we muse together, comfortable in the silence. You watch over me as I sleep, protecting and refreshing me. You dance into my dreams, infusing my imagination with holy colour.
When I am travelling, you’re there too – my constant companion. You stand at my side through long hours on crowded trains. You whisper, “Look up, look out of the window.” And I see you in green hills and golden fields.
We laugh together, you appreciate my humour completely, you crafted it and you love to see my joy. You speak correction too, gently pointing out aspects of my character I need to submit to you, placing a loving arm on my shoulder when I go to step off course. You rescue me when the night draws in and the thunder rumbles, you hold me when tears overtake me, you are faithful through every season of my life.
You preside over my vocabulary. You formed the words on my toungue, marvelling as my gurgling and babbling became coherent speech. You hear the phrases forming in my mind, and you infuse these with your ideas, your thoughts, your truth. You use my story for your purposes, to glorify you. I am awed and amazed by all you are and all you do.
“I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMP)
It’s true. I am certain of it. There is no doubt in my mind, that the God who got me started on this journey, who kicked me off, set me on the starting line and encouraged me to run, who nudged me to look forwards and strive for what is ahead, who birthed this irrepressible hope in me; is willing and able and strong enough to finish what he has begun.
It wasn’t my doing. It wasn’t my idea. I was satisfied enough with my half-built happiness and cobbled together contentment. I thought I’d done well to construct something resembling survival out of these ashes. I was surprised at His suggestion that there was more to life than this. I was unnerved by His promises of life in abundance. I wondered if it was better to ignore His incessant whispering and make do with what I had. Putting myself in His hands was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do.
But I believe what He says, now. I believe that He won’t give up on me half way through, that He won’t leave me flailing and floundering around in the deep waters. It is not His character to taunt me with rumours of redemption and then abandon me without rescue.
His idea of wholeness, His grasp of completion are so much more perfect than mine, like comparing a complex mechanical drawing with the scribbles of an angry toddler. I see in greyscale 2d, while He sees in colours the human eye could not perceive, and in wondrous multi-dimension.
There’s little point in worrying about how long this journey will take, and when and where completion will come. I do not need to question His faithfulness, His knowledge of what is best for me, the purity of His intention. All I can do is keep walking.
The ultimate completion is in Him, when I see Him face to face. Until then, however, I know that gradually more and more will be revealed. Each day I’ll see more of His colour, His fragrance, His hope spilling into the places that were barren and dry, and that is enough to encourage me to keep going.
God, I’m done with my independence and distance, it’s such an effort keeping my dreams secret and my desires seperate, holding everything and everyone at arms length. Will you take my clenched-fist stubborness and replace it with open-palmed vulnerability, Bare skin openess. I’m laying down my armour.
God, I’ve been fighting so hard, but only now do I see that you never ask for inpenetrable, invincible stoicism. You don’t call me to grit my teeth and keep my distance. I’m not supposed to battle on through brave-faced but internally bruised. You embraced brokenness and you don’t hide your face from mine.
God, for so long fear has kept me bound. A tight bud flower too frightened to risk the light. Thankyou for your gentleness, never forcing me to bloom. Thankyou that you wept with me, all the days I hid my true colours from the world.
God, I need you. I need your Warrior strength and your Mother comfort. I need your King victory and your Almighty hope. I need your Father love and your Spirit wisdom just to get my through these days.
God, I need these people. The fragile and fallible you have wrapped around me. I need their friendship and direction, their humour and correction. I need to bounce off them and grow alongside them. They refresh me and protect me. We share your light. They repeatedly show me a love I have never known, and in its safety I learn to trust.
God, I’m opening up the gates of this closely guarded heart. I’m tearing down the shrouds and letting in the light. I’m digging out the paints and splashing bright-hued boldness over shades of grey. I’m breaking down the fences of this demarkation zone.
God, will you enter in?
It’s still early, as I slip out of bed and plant my feet on the cold stone floor. I wrap the crimson and gold coverlet around my shoulders, wishing last night’s fire was still burning in the grate, filling the room with warmth from its friendly, dancing flames.
I walk over to the narrow window. My room is high up in the castle walls, and through the slit I can see for miles across the landscape. The sky is yet pale, the sun hasn’t yet managed to break through the morning haze, and a mist hovers just above the ground. It is very, very quiet.
Scanning the horizon like this is a very strange sensation. After months out there, fighting through thick forest, fording deep rivers, creeping through silent caves, and crawling through arid deserts, part of me can’t yet believe I’ve reached this destination. My first thoughts when waking are still how to survive another day out in the open, wondering what enemies I’ll encounter along the way, how I will fight, where I could hide if they were too strong. I still find myself thinking where to scavenge food, or find fresh water, or herbs to treat the battle wounds picked up along the way. I had become adept at survival, and it feels a little odd now I am in a place of such safety and shelter and provision.
My mind wanders to some of the sights I saw along the way. From this height, everything looks serene, but even from here, signs of the state of the land are visible if I just focus my attention. Along the journey I saw such devastation, as if disaster upon disaster had stolen all beauty from this place: There were forests razed to the ground by blazing fires, rivers that once teemed with life now parched dry, gardens that were once tended lovingly, now overrun with weeds.
I saw deep pools that had become stagant ponds, towns that were ravaged and looted and left as skeletal monuments to destruction. Worse than that were the wandering orphans of war I encountered along the way. Horrified by what they had seen, they never spoke; desperate for food and water, they had been stripped of hope and dignity. The years had been cruel, the landscape was gouged by conflict, the marks of chaos ran deep.
Along the way, there were many skirmishes with the enemy, the forces of the dictatorship that had exerted itself over this land for many years. They fought cruel, with no gallantry or nobility. Domination, humiliation and death were their only goal. Many times I ran from them, seemingly losing more battles than I won, often wondering if I really was getting any nearer to the place of safety I had been tasked to search for, or whether this too would have been subjugated by their tyranny.
I remembered the intensity of the last battle, when I realised that this fight was not mine, but that my journey was part of a bigger war, the clashing forces of good versus evil, of the King, the One True God against the powers of darkness. I remembered the noise and chaos of the confrontation, the pain of hope seemingly lost, of wondering whether surrender was the only option. I remembered the tables turning just when it looked like the darkness would win, the golden light that flooded the battlefield with blazing purity, the howls of the retreating forces, realising their hold on this place had finally been defeated. I remembered the silence of the aftermath, laying there dazed, exhausted in my armour, wondering if it truly was over. I remembered the love of the King, carrying me into the castle, whispering that victory had been won and good had been established, His voice soothing me and saying well done.
I remembered sleeping, resting for a long time; the rigours of battle and the exhaustion of this journey finally catching up with me. I remembered Him sitting by my side, waiting as my wounds healed and rest calmed my soul. I remember waking and knowing I was safe, knowing peace for the first time in years.
Standing there by the window, I marvelled at all the things that had been done, and the difference that living in the King’s castle had already made. My heart uttered a silent thankyou, and I felt the swell of joy that came from knowing the stories had been true – this place did exist, He really did choose to fight for me, there really was hope for this ravaged land.
My thoughts turned, then, to the months ahead, to the plans the King had spoken to me as we dined together the night before: Plans of restoration, plans to rebuild ancient ruins and make safe the ancient paths, plans to gather the orphans and place them in families. Plans to open the dungeons and rescue those hidden there, plans to liberate the tiny villages who had not yet heard that redemption had come, plans of hope, life, love and joy. Plans to find and rout any remaining hostile forces, wandering in isolation through the land. Plans to make sure destruction could never again enter this place. Plans to return it to its former glory, and beauty that was even beyond what had gone before. Excitement floods my heart as I stand there, overlooking the place that has been redeemed, and will continue to be transformed in the weeks ahead.
It’s time to stop thinking for now though. All this will come about soon enough, for now I will join the King for breakfast, listening to His tales of great victories, revelling in the light that exudes from His presence, drinking in the love and purity and hope that fills the very atmosphere of this place. All is well, all is going to be well, this is a good place.
I’ve probably said before that if you forced me to only talk about one topic, if I could only preach on one thing, if I could only write about one area, it would be the area of identity, and the importance of knowing who we are in Christ. I’m careful not to make it a soapbox, but it is something I’m passionate about, and I love watching people grasp the truth in this area.
Anyway, so i’ve been rooting around on the internet today looking for pictures and words for some stuff I’m doing on this topic next weekend. I came across this piece of writing, which is a variety on the usual list of bible verses on this topic. It really inspired me to write, to plan the things I needed to, and to let the truth sink in a little deeper. Here it is anyway:
Because…..I made her…she’s different. She’s unique.
With love I formed her in her mother’s womb. I fashioned her with great joy. I remember with great pleasure the days I created her. (Psalm 139:17 )
To me she’s beautiful…I love her. I love her smile. I love her ways. I love to hear her laugh and the silly things she says and does. (Psalm 139:17 )
She is herself and no one else…this is how I made her. I made her pretty, but not beautiful because I know her heart, and she would be vain…I want her to search out her heart, and learn that it would be Me in her that would make her beautiful…and it would be Me in her that would draw friends to her. (1 Peter 3:3-5 )
I made her in such a way that she would need me. I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be…only because I want her to lean and depend on Me. I know her heart. I know if I had not made her like this, she would go about her own chosen way, and forget Me…her creator. (Psalm 62:5-8 )
I have given her many good and happy things…because I love her. (Psalm 84:11, Romans 8:32 )
I have seen her broken heart, and the tears she has cried all alone. I have been with her and have had a broken heart too (Psalm 56:8 )
Many times she has stumbled and fallen all alone only because she would not take My hand. So many lessons she has learned the hard way, because she would not listen to My voice. (Isaiah 53:6 )
So many times I have sat back and sadly watched her go her merry own way alone, only to watch her return to My arms, sad and broken. (Psalm 34:18 )
And now she is mine again. I made her and then I bought her. I paid a high price for her, because I love her (Romans 5:8 )
I have had to reshape and remould her…to renew her to what I had planned for her to be. It has not been easy for her…or for me. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I want her to be conformed to My image. This high goal I have set for her because I LOVE HER! (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Last week was my birthday, a fact which I advertised widely. On the day itself, I spent the evening at a poetry evening, organised by a guy in my church and involving an eclectic bunch of writers from across the borough.
Previously we have just read our work, but last week afforded us the opportunity to attempt writing something. We all wrote three lines each, and then passed it to the next person. At the end the poem was read aloud with aplomb, and we were all amazed at how cohesive it was, bearing in mind the only thing we knew was that our lines had to be about birthdays.
Birthday Poem 12/06/08
Gonna bust the blues
On birthday time
flies when you’re having fun
So we say come
The old day’s done
And God has sent His only Son.
The ultimate present
Unexpected and undeserved
Given with love to a hostile world.
For this is the hour for a rhythm that’s new
Goodbye to the repetitive drum beats of despair
Grace that’s encased in a melody of hope
And countless responding in true celebration.
A mighty occasion none would forget
Stories told through generations
Keeping the excitement, the enjoyment alive.
And now the birthday is over
But I will carry the memories forever
The joy of this day will carry me through
The times of grief and turmoil
All the year long I will remember
Until the time comes again
To celebrate the life you have given.
God is in this. He is greater than the darkness, He is bigger than all that would tempt me to give up, and He is fundamentally good.
My God sees the bare facts and yet does not reject me. He sees my struggle and uncertainty and waits patiently. He speaks tenderly to me in the midst of grief and pain.
I trip and land face down in the dust, tired tears mix with the sand and the cruel sun taunts my aching back. Every aching muscle complains – surely slavery was preferable to this uphill walk to freedom?
Momentarily I consider rolling over, using the last of my strength to roll into one of the deep ditches along the side of the road, to sink into their anonymous, stagnant shadow. The whispers I have fought to silence begin to babble afresh:
“This is too much for you. He has abandoned you. You’ll never make it. Give up now.”
Despair waits to claim me, with alluring promises of numb oblivion. I got this far, surely that was achievement enough? Surely it’s permissible now to rescind the vows I made that I would fight my way out of this captivity? Self Pity mocks: “Haven’t you fought enough?”
I close my eyes, still face down on the dusty ground. I fight to hear the tender voice that has led me so far. I feel like there is nothing of me left, but He hasn’t left the scene, He hasn’t changed, and as I reach the end of my own strength, I believe that His is still abundant.
Forcing myself to focus on His words, the harsh tones of accusation and condemnation begin to diminish, drowned out by softly spoken words of acceptance and love. I have no energy but His words are like an elixir of life:
“Freedom is possible. You have been redeemed. The path is difficult, but the treasure is great.”
I lift my head then, to see Him standing at my side, spotless in white. He reaches down a hand to me and helps me to my feet. I am unsteady, but He is immovably strong, supporting me as I get my balance.
I lift my head and look forwards, the road twists and I cannot see where it leads, but I know I do not walk alone. I may trip and fall again but these falls do not mark the end of the journey. Every trip is a chance to learn something new about the unfailing love of the God who stoops down and helps me up again. He reminds me that His love is the same when I walk fast and when I stumble and fall, His forgiveness is complete whether I am resting in confidence or assailed by temptation and doubt. ‘He is sheer beauty, All-generous in love, loyal always and ever.’
I talk with Him, as we begin to walk forwards, and we share dreams of redemption and adventure. We share strategies to help others fallen on the road or sinking in the ditches. Hope blossoms and fuels each forward step. I remind myself – difficult is worth doing. ‘There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere.’ We must keep onwards.
I will not allow myself to reminisce, to permit the hollow suggestion that slavery was preferable, to consider that my life was better lived in unidentifiable chains. God has led me on this path and therefore how can I complain? Looking back is futile, especially when I carry the promise that the future is brighter, especially when the glimpses I catch are of a life more full and free than I could have imagined. It is for these realities that I push forwards, that I keep walking, that I reaffirm my trust in Him afresh.
“God often sends you somewhere you didn’t want to go to teach you something you thought you already knew.”
When I was growing up, I spent days and hours reading Nancy Drew novels, and the Famous Five series. I never was very good at predicting the ending or solving the mystery, but I revelled in the complexity of the plots, and I admired the intelligence and perception of the heroes and heroines.
I also enjoyed the sense of unpredictability. You could usually guess that at some point there would be a happy ending, but there was little else of certainty. Sometimes the most trustworthy character turned out to be the perpetrator of a heinous crime, sometimes it looked like everything in the world of the story was irrevocably damaged, sometimes I wanted the author to airlift her detectives out of the danger and uncertainty, and to abandon the plot entirely.
I was always struck by the subtexts and subplots in the stories. They were not just rescuing lost sailors, finding missing gems or thwarting smugglers. Throughout their stories, the Five, and Nancy found themselves discovering much about the world: about human nature, about the consequences of the choices that each of us make, about greed and misadventure.
The other thing that always made me smile as a child was that the children never specifically went looking for situations which needed their detective intervention. These just seemed to, well, happen in their midst. Even if they went on holiday somewhere utterly new, it wasn’t long before they were embroiled in cunning and intrigue.
Anyway, why am I ranting on about my juvenile literary preferences? And what does it have to do with the quote at the top of this post?
When I think about the way God teaches me things, I am so aware that it is often through situations which I would not have chosen. Circumstances where, had I been orchestrating the path of my life, I would have gone out of my way to avoid. When these arise, I sometimes feel a bit like Nancy Drew: facing a mystery with seemingly not a clue in sight. Finding myself scrabbling around looking for a hint, weighing up the options and hoping for guidance. I feel like the Famous five children: I did not seek these situations out, they just seemed to happen around me.
When God leads me into a situation that looks disastrous, I know that there is a bigger picture: more to the plot than meets the eye, the opportunity to learn from the situation, gems to be found amidst the soil and mud of the hard times.
Like the old fashioned mystery stories, often so much is unpredictable. God takes us to places we don’t really want to go, but it is through them we find the greatest and most meaningful truths – how mindblowing is that?!
2 Corinthians 4 puts it like this:
“We’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among
them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’
life all the more evident in us.” (The Message Version)
If you had asked me last year if I believed God brought beauty from pain, I would have said yes. If you had asked me whether he had the ability and desire to use all situations for good, I would have agreed. If you asked me if he was my ever-present help in times of need, my answer would have been in the affirmative.
Somehow though, from where I am standing now, all of those truths sparkle with greater clarity. I feel like I know them in reality, as if they are shape my waking hours at present, rather than just existing as simple truths I have read on a page since childhood. God has truly taken me to places I would never have chosen and used them to show me things I thought I already knew.
One of the things that frustrated me about the childhood stories was their neatness. By the end of the 200 pages, all the loose ends were tied up, the disaster averted, and normality restored. Even as a small child I knew that things were rarely this simple in real life. As I walk this journey with God, I find that rarely are things tied up this neatly. We never really reach the end of our mystery stories, but we move on to the next chapter nonetheless carrying the truths we have gleaned and growing in hope because of them.
Camped here, in a small fabric tent, I am at first paralysed. Days pass, made motionlesss by my quarantine, I wait and wait.
Unidentified mornings pass, empty evenings stretch. Sometimes I glance briefly outside, catching a glimpse of my surroundings before retreating back into the safety of what I have come to know. Rejecting the offerings of my surroundings I remain, still, as vacant days pass.
This morning, however, something seems different. Maybe it is my old vigour returning, or maybe inquisitiveness is overruling fear. Maybe I am frustrated by the confines of this tent, maybe I am desperate to feel the sun on my face once more. Whatever the motives, I stretch aching limbs and rise unsteadily.
Hesitating at the entrance I consider stepping back. My legs are unused to movement and my eyes blink in the sunlight. I am surprised that, instead of burning with anger at it’s daring to shine, somewhere deep in myself I am comforted. I am quieted by it’s certainty, reassured that there is still day.
I am disorientated. I have slept long hours at odd intervals. I have lain awake through protracted silent nights. I have whiled away hours staring mutely into space. I have fought to grasp fleeting moments of hope. I have lost track of date and time, shunning the normality of the calendar.
Outside the confined, quiet tent, I am shocked by how exposed I feel away from its speechless cameraderie. The vastness of the wilderness is overwhelming. I feel like a speck, unnoticed, unseen, undetected. I could scream and no-one would hear, I could remain hidden in my tent and no-one would find me, surely I could disspear?
I cannot yet allow myself to consider the circumstances that brought me here, the journey to this battered tent, deserted on this sandy plateau. I have begun to grasp, however, after a hundred tiny signs, that none of this was accidental, that somewhere in all the anonymity is the fingerprint of a loving God. There are moments when I sense him reaching down to his beloved, bringing me to a place of aridity and tears and yet sending angels to watch over me. There have been definite times when I have caught his determined whisper, over the ferocity of a desert storm or the deafening hollering of solitude.
I realise that the sun I thought would burn me, has shone on as a symbol of warmth and hope. The sand that first dismayed me with measureless abundance, has reminded me of His plentitude. This quarantine, instead of orchestrating despair, increasing shows me the reality of grace, the meaning of hope, the all-pervading nature of joy. I am here and I don’t understand it all, but He is more than enough, and there are priceless lessons to be learned in this place.
Pondering all of this, at the entrance to my tent, I notice something shimmering nearby, that I did not perceive before. I hesitate again, to explore will mean to leave the relative safety of this entrance, to abandon the feel of dependable polyester, to trust myself to stand up straight and take a risk. What if there are snakes? What if I get lost? What if it’s a trap?
To not know would be to always wonder, I tell myself. And summoning up the dormant shreds of courage I possess, I take a step. My mind stuttering unsophisticated prayers for help as I walk.
As I walk forward the shimmering increases, as if the sun is pointing towards this place. I wonder if it will be a cruel mirage, and whether I will have the strength to make it back if so. Is the risk worth it?
Rubbing my eyes, the scene remains, and clarity increases as I continue onwards. Soon I can identify the scene, and though shocked by it’s reality, I am reminded of old promises. I quicken my pace, encouraged by the sight. For the first time in days the hope of a future outside of this place ignites within me, much more than a fleeting spark that dies out before I can be warmed by it’s truth.
Reaching my destination, I fall to my knees, breathless and hopeful, uncertain and thankful, willing this not to be a dream. For a stream has appeared in my desert, cutting a confident path through the desert sands. Not a fading, insignificant trickle, but an abounding, prolific torrent.
Shocked at my own bravery I plunge my hands into the flow. I am refreshed immediately by it’s coolness. I bend downwards, feeling the splashes on my face before drinking deeply from cupped hands. Even after my deep thirst subsides, I remain, transfixed by the gushing waters, enlivened by their singing current.
The stream symbolises so much: the way God’s presence can pervade even the darkest and dryest of places. The reminder that Living Water from him can sate every thirst. The knowledge that I am not unnoticed here, that even from the Valley of Sheol, He brings life and resurrection.
I am immediately aware that the landscape of this place has changed. That, though necessary, my days passed hiding in the tent are over now. There God’s providence came, with raisin cakes and tending ravens. Here, it will be found in new ways. My heart is brimming over with joy I return to my tent and gather the few possessions I entered it with. And then I walk back to the stream, and begin to follow it to the next phase of this journey.