I went to an event called Soulful Wordsmiths this weekend, and was reminded of the power of words. Whether we like it or not what we say, and how we say it, can carry a huge amount of authority. Our words have the potential to welcome or alienate as we choose, or as others hear. I was reminded of the great need to take care as I communicate; to be aware that what I say, and what people hear might be very different.
This is the week of the year dedicated to Christian unity,
a time to join together to pray for the possibility
that one day we will be a whole body or community
which celebrates and commemorates catholicity.
A week where each of us align our intentionality
to that of God our maker our creator, and the reality
of the body of Christ which draws such responsibility
from each believer regardless of individual sensitivity.
It is so much easier to focus on matters of disparity
rather than actively seek those areas of commonality.
How happily we slip into ‘them’ and ‘us’ in our humanity
and quickly identify those points requiring conformity.
We fail to remain awake to worldly ways of destructibility,
instead straying like sheep, we are allured by animosity.
Previously indistinct notes become matters of legality
further severing bonds which bind with fierce brutality
What if one week became two, three or four of generosity
of spirit to our fellow believers? If we espoused the ambiguity
of the mysteries surrounding people and God’s interactivity,
and perhaps laid aside the centrality of certainty or clarity
on issues often known to divide like gender or sexuality?
Intent on establishing a universal and obligatory morality
which ignores God’s upside-down justice for austerity,
with the God of surprises does it not all lack reliability?
I pray for unity which extends beyond human probability,
one which disciples to favour quality over quantity
and places Jesus’ example and gospel of inclusivity
at its heart – Jesus of the marginality not the majority!
I pray for unity of the body of Christ where vulnerability
is held and cherished, with division hidden by invisibility.
A unity which recognizes Christ Jesus as superiority
and all who make up the body as existing in equality.
I have been really struck by someone’s words to me: “the fingerprints of God are all over the place.” Later someone else made a reference to the imprints of God on our hearts. I’ve been left with some really powerful images, and continue to ponder where I see the fingerprints of God, both around me, and within myself. How about considering these images throughout the week both in the world that surrounds and within the hearts of those we meet.
What if Adam and Eve had not been tempted by the serpent to eat fruit
if humanity had not got so self-obsessed that there was a huge flood
a flood to end all floods followed by a rainbow promise of never again
yet again and again we got it wrong so much so the Son came along
not only to show us how it should all be done but also to die in a way
which would bring life eternal to all who believed and repented
What if the ‘never again’ had been adhered to by all of humanity too
if we had not created our ‘in’ groups and ‘out’ groups for the sake of
safety in numbers and battled brutally and bitterly one against another
with no sign of the beauty of selfless loving mercy grace or forgiveness
previously shown through the rays of the rainbow promise shining bright
yet we prove again and again that our propensity for hate not love reigns
What if our default first thought or factory settings were love not hate
if we could look at the other standing before us and see their beauty
bursting out of them not in the way the world judges beauty but real
unavoidable beauty of the soul not seen but known intuitively whole
celebrated by being recognised acknowledged and held rather than
punished with jealousy envy and disdainfully offering a look of dislike
What if we were patient and kind with one another and did not need
to record each others’ wrongs for protection and self preservation
if suspicion were not one of the first feelings to be roused following
acts of random kindness from those whom we do not know or know
but know we do not like or know but know they do not could not like us
it seems impossible to merely accept the act with grace and move on
What if we could move on and take people’s words and actions at
face value rather than forcing everything through our own unique
filtering system a system shaped by experiences of actions and words
of others others who fall into similar categories to those who stand
before us now others who have influenced our long held stereotypes
formed from one persons cruel act now the act of the whole out group
What if we could really say and stick to never again
Would it be an instant end to dictatorship
The use of nuclear weapons
The rise and rule of Donald Trump
Stomping over all that is good and wholesome
This Flame of Peace is a fire of hope for eternal world peace at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
The following was written as a response to accompanying someone in the last moments of their life. I have remembered it this week in response to leading an All Souls service where the veil between heaven and earth felt quite thin at times…
One meets another
Light shines forth
HaShem with us
Less one life
Hand in hand
Side by side
Earthly home fades
Traveller life forces on ahead at the speed of light.
The shinkansen practically flying along bullet speed lines.
Moments have passed, “Mamonaku! Tsugi ha…”
“Attention please! Our next stop is…”
There is barely any attention for the present, the here and now!
And yet already travellers have reached Tokyo. “Tokyo ha shuuten desu”
“This is the last stop this train will make”
Lives once lived and now gone.
And for what – achievements, marks made?
What remains in these once occupied seats?
They lie in wait for the next travellers.
Lost property is moved on to join a throng of impressions.
Allusions to travellers emeriti lie amongst unaffected effects.
Just occasionally one such suggestion is left behind.
A find which causes future travellers to ponder. “What went before?”
“Or more aptly who?”
Such intrigue is unusual on this otherwise silent journey.
Travellers are lulled by the steady rhythm of the shinkansen. “Mamonaku! Tsugi ha…”
“Attention please! Our next stop is…”
Could such curiosity be imagined?
Or does such an object point to hope for this journey?
Perhaps the unknown destination is not to be feared.
Yet all travellers can do is remain;
reading their newspapers on the train,
littered with everything and nothing, perceived yet rarely known…. “Mamonaku! Tsugi ha…”
“Attention please! Our next stop is…”
Is attraction beauty
or is it more desire?
Am I attractive due
to my humour, care
or kindness to others?
Or is it more my hair,
facial features, physique?
Perhaps this all absent….
Sixteen year old me seeks
to be noticed and known.
Innocence affirmed, shown
love rather than mere lust.
Pure feelings which draw, hold,
rather than fixation
which invades, pervades, gives
violation to voice.
When I declared #MeToo
that maddening black hole
surrounded me with shame.
Whilst knowing I’m not to blame,
I’ll never be the same.
Scars may well heal over;
never will they fully
disappear out of mind.
In the darkness of night
kept safe from prying eyes
those scars begin to itch,
skin tightening around
impossible to hide.
As light shines in shadows
slowly the life comes back
as I dare to believe.
I begin to see this
injustice, to own it!
Other women declare
#MeToo – I take courage.
This is not just my fight!
but will that be enough?
It’s sort of like opening the curtains
on a morning thick with fog;
difficult to orient the self within,
impossible to see a way through,
or detect the familiar which undoubtedly
surrounds, yet remains out of reach.
Walking through that same fog
further distorts impressioned reality,
challenges each of the senses.
Or similar to swimming underwater
away from bright surface light;
no breath, aware of impermanence.
Distorted sounds mingle together,
vision impaired by stinging cold water.
Need for oxygen overpowers all feeling,
get out, rise — rush to the surface
to greedily gulp in fresh, crisp air…yet
light patches become spots…dots.
Imagine waking in the middle of the night
in a strange, unfamiliar location;
unable to find a bedside lamp or light switch.
Eyes adjust to dark but still do not see.
One foot tentatively in front of the other
with arms desperately stretched out ahead
and breath firmly held so as
not to betray this fragile presence to
unknown, unidentified enemies.
Or envisage the fear running through
every millimetre of the body,
as understanding of just how lost
it is possible to be in this strange
unfamiliar place begins to unfold.
No idea of that intended destination
from more than an hour ago,
even less inspiration regarding
where to start to head back.
Then the beautiful armchair in which to be enveloped is becoming rare,
with warm comfort of familiar brew, often accompanied by a biscuit or two…
That is safety, refuge — but how do I get back there?!
The comfortable security
gently draws me in.
The old leather arm chair
sits in the corner waiting
to envelope, to take me home,
back to a time and place
which no longer exists
with the charm and charisma
of wonderful nostalgia.
The leather smell releases
as I sink deep into the chair
which empowers the dreamer
to dig deep into the soul.
I close my eyes to explore
the space and place I have
been brought – past, present, future?
None of it beyond reckoning –
I am outside time and space.
I sit at the top of a castle tower,
overpowered by darkness.
Light clusters around a small candle
to my left – I reach out for it
and take it as I tentatively lean
towards the top of the steps
the urge to step out and explore
overtakes me…and I go!