‘Some prayers are silent. You just walk in them.’
‘Some prayers are silent. You just walk in them.’
What amazes me is that from the scars, the ugliness and the brutality, God makes it beautiful. That is a miracle.
My husband wrote an interesting take on this with his post ‘Does God Play Dice.’
I think I have always (somehow) understood that loving Christ requires sacrifice and that there is a deeper learning to be had in the sacrifice. There are paradoxes within paradoxes, it seems to me. St. John of the Cross talks about those of us who are (for whatever reason) weaker needing consolations. It took me a while to figure out what ‘consolations’ are, never having come across the term before two years ago. It is so different to the charismatic/evangelical protestantism of my adulthood, or the wishy-washy, wet-weekend in Portsmouth, middle-class Jesus of the non-conformist churches I grew up in (no offence to Portsmouth). Indeed, the main criticism of the charismatic/evangelical church of my adulthood could be that it focuses too much on ‘consolations’. I am not criticising; as Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe point out in Longing for God, every movement has its flaws. It is wise for us to be aware of them, lest we be deceived into thinking ours is the only ‘right’ way, or that ours is always the ‘best’ way. Everything begins with humility, as Teresa of Avila is so fond of saying.
Maybe people desire consolations because, as Pascal said, human beings operate, spiritually, on different ‘levels’ (I think it was Pascal, it may not have been). It’s all the way through the Interior Castle, too. I know Teresa of Avila wrote to address the needs of her Sisters (she says so in her introduction), and proclaims herself weak, but she does talk often about consolations.
The reality of suffering can make the strongest of us buckle and long for God’s touch with a yearning beyond anything else we will ever know. Suffering can, and does, bring everything into stark, sharp focus. Some of us experience suffering, and darkness, in order to learn the glory of the light. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that and I would hate for someone to be put off God because they’re miserable and think they’re not ‘good enough’. The reality is that none of us are good enough. None of us deserve the consolations that God does give. This isn’t criticism of the post below. Just thoughts. It is a very thought-provoking post, as usual from Contemplative in the Mud. What a blessing!
In conclusion, God is always good, even when life is not, and as Ann Voskamp says, all is grace. Now here’s the original post:
Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:
When I was first starting to take Christianity seriously, I read George Macdonald. (He is a Scottish-Protestant writer of sermons and various fantasy stories. You may have heard of him if you’re a C. S. Lewis fan, for C. S. Lewis thought very highly of him.) I liked his books very much. They were some of my first introductions to what Christianity actually looks like, and although I’m obviously not a Protestant, I learned a lot from him.
For one thing, I’ve always taken it for granted that what he said about the purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth is true (I’m paraphrasing): Jesus didn’t come to do everything and then leave us happy but unchanged; he came to make us like him.
And this Jesus died on the Cross. He died to everything and all: physically and also in the deeper things, for his friends abandoned him and…
View original 115 more words
Yes, Frank just announced that he has found our prayer die. It is a cube about 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and on each side is a prayer for saying grace. We each take it in turns to roll the die and read the prayer. It is part of our family. It is part of home.
This is strange, though, having a home – particularly one that we own and will stay in for the foreseeable future. For so many years nowhere felt like home. If you’d have asked, I’d have said somewhere on the moors near to where I grew up was the closest I could consider as ‘home’. So this rambling, frankly enormous, Victorian house, with its nooks and crannies and wheezing, geriatric idiosyncrasies, is nothing short of a miracle, if you’re me.
The house has plenty of problems that we have inherited from the previous owners. These include a roof in an unknown state of disrepair (the roofer’s coming tomorrow but there are slate tiles hanging by a whisker over the precipice), a shower that is leaking through the ceiling below, no hot water (thankfully this is not too expensive to fix – the plumber came this afternoon). What else? The sellers took the batteries out of the wireless thermostat so we thought there was something wrong with the central heating (who takes half-used batteries?). The boiler was not fitted properly (says the plumber, though he says it’s fine), and neither was the gas cooker (who takes risks with things like gas?! Carbon monoxide poisoning anyone?) so we now have no cooker until next Thursday. We inherited a filthy house; our cleaning lady (alias the blessed St. Molly) and her colleague spent six hours and only managed to clean the kitchen and the bathroom because the dirt and grease was so thick. Oh yes, and there was an inch of water in the cellar after Monday’s heavy rain. So, we’ll see what happens in the long run…
These things are just small, though. We are so thankful to be living in such a wonderful house. I have always loved these type of houses. We have six fireplaces (six!), though they’re not all working. We have gorgeous coving on the ceilings, original tiles in the entrance hall and around some of the fireplaces. There are bell buttons which were once used to summon servants (!) and no-longer-in-use brass bases of gas lanterns emerging from the walls in various spots. In short, charm oozes from every red brick. This house is a gift from God to be used for His purposes. It’s summer so washing in cold water is not so bad (at least not temporarily). Although we have no cooker, we have made jam in the breadmaker that I bought for a tenner in the charity shop (result!) from blackberries that the girls picked. I used the slow cooker to make some delicious rice pudding and Frank has been refining his culinary skills in the back garden, using our camping stove. It has all turned into a bit of an adventure! And now Frank has found our prayer die. I like this place. I am bowled over with thankfulness.
The day before yesterday my son, frustrated at the flies buzzing around his bedroom, asked exasperatedly, “Why did God make flies?!”
I told him, “God made flies because he loves them.”
My son looked at me like I was mad. “I hate them!”
“That’s ok, ” I smiled, “God still loves them.”
Of course, having autism, my son couldn’t leave it there, but the point is still valid.
Very interesting post over at Special Needs Jungle (see here: ‘Are We Hypocrites for our Baby Gammy shock?‘). I wholeheartedly agree – and I have to say I am only thankful that autism cannot be diagnosed prior to birth. The very thought is chilling. Hayley Goleniowska, author of the post above, is right. Eliminating babies with Down’s Syndrome is eugenics. It is no different to the Spartans who left disabled babies to die of exposure. It is no different, though we might kid ourselves that it is, from the Nazi plans to eradicate disability (note: people often use the behaviour of the Nazis to support their argument – I try not to, but here there is a very clear link).
‘The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me… the Lord… who formed me in the womb to be his servant…
…Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…’
From Isaiah 49: 1-15 (NRSVA)
My son with autism is beautiful, irritating, innocent, lazy, sweet, frustrating, charming… All the things a teenage boy should be, in many ways! Hard work, yes, but I wouldn’t change a hair on his bonny head. His presence in this world is God-breathed. His existence is a gift from God. He is special, in the true meaning of the word. I have learned more about life, about myself, indeed about what it means to be human from my boy than from anyone else, more than anyone can learn from their ‘normal’ child.
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
Matthew 25:45 (The Message)
Oh, I like this quote a hundred times!
Why, I wonder, is it that as I (we?) move closer and begin to reflect the Light more, I also see my flaws more and more, and my unworthiness to reflect any part of Him? Does always God deal in paradoxes, do you think?
For some reason Winnie the Pooh comes to mind. Maybe because the God of the universe delights in our simplicities just as we might delight in Winnie the Pooh… Maybe I’ll just have to think about that some more. There’s already been a Zen Book of Pooh. Maybe there’ll be a Theology of Pooh. Or Bagpuss. I can definitely envisage a Theology of Bagpuss.
Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:
When we do not love God as we should, we are wanting also in the love of our neighbours, for we feel neither compassion for the sorrow nor joy at the happiness of those who are very near and dear to God… We do not behave toward them with due charity, because we are imperfect in our love for Him who said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
Saint John of Ávila