We Need Each Other
We Need Each Other
“Life is hard and if there is no God then what is the point in all of this?”
Her form opened and closed,
Like the eb and flow of a glistening hopeful wave that slipped across the shore,
Her salty lips shaped a sarcastic smile,
Confusing, like a warm day brewing a storm.
Looking up, eyes wide, swallowing back the saliva of desperate words,
Waiting for him to respond,
Yet he said nothing at all,
Still, like the sand,
So she blew to scatter it.
“He must be real, mustn’t he?”
Her last SOS flare fired,
Drowning deep in his pause
A weighty frustration of waiting,
“Come on then?!”
Feeling like it was that time of the night,
When bev’d up lads leave the club looking for a fight.
One look and she’s arrested by her own conviction,
Feeling bitter cold by her distance,
Shuffling back to lean against him,
resentful yet warm,
Erratic breath slowing to his
As her eyes move towards a blushed horizon
Painted for someone loved,
Together with all her questions, saying nothing at all,
I wrote this poem a few years ago now, my friend and I decided we needed to get away and so headed to the coast for a few days. Both of us had difficult things going on. “If there is no God, then what is the point in this life?” My friend uttered as we sat on the beach twiddling with stones. I had nothing profound to say, I felt the same anyway. We decided to just sit in the silence together and watch the beautiful pink, orange and yellow sunset. Looking back to that moment, I feel the pain but I can also see the beauty. I also imagine, as reflected in my poem, that Jesus would have sat in the silence with us because he cares.
Recently I have been meditating on Luke 5: 27-28.
“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,”Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”
And I keep coming back to this thought about the way in which Christ might have said things, wondering in what emotion and tone he would have called Levi to “Follow Me.” I began to imagine Jesus' call being tender, unlike the voices that Levi was used to, being such a disreputable character in his time. To drop everything seems to me that Levi was taken in that very moment by Christ’s invitation. Although we can never be sure how Jesus said those words, we can rest on God's nature to find discernment. However I think I would like to ask God one day about stories like when Jesus wrote in the sand, stopping the people from stoning a lady caught in adultery, lies and mystery!
For some of us, it might be feel like God has been on mute.
"Andrew Murray, a nineteenth-century South African writer, said that “the power of prayer depends almost entirely upon our apprehension of who it is with whom we speak.” When we are scared and hurting, when life feels chaotic and out of control, it is more important than ever to anchor ourselves in the absolute and eternal truth that we are dearly loved and deeply held by the most powerful being in the universe. Let this be the great non-negotiable in our lives, the platform for all our other thoughts, and the plumbline for our prayers."
~ Pete Grieg
In the last 18 months, for many of us, life has been all of these difficult things. I know for me it’s like being driven out into the wilderness, feeling lonely and ill equipped. The voice of God has been harder and harder to differentiate between my own voice, the voice of shame, the voice of fear... What about you? Because how we perceive God is so crucial to understanding what we have internalised and what pours out from us.
Last Thursday I left home to join a cohort of deacons, soon to be priests, for a silent retreat. I felt anxious. I’ve always struggled being away from home with lots of new people... plus to add dramatic effect I was facing the call to priesthood on the Saturday.
I scuttered away to my bedroom carrying a heavy load.
The first night I tossed and turned, “God I can’t do this, I can’t be here.” I cried out, panicking. The only interaction I had with my fellow priests-to-be was on screen during zoom meetings. And with the online world only showing others in part, I felt alone with my stuff.
However, I learnt quickly over the coming days that every single one of us felt the same, as I heard stories, we laughed, we comforted and we prayed. I came away feeling so encouraged and cared about. It was like God was giving me a big hug and it was as if I was encountering God, in tenderness, love and grace again. Being with a worshipping community re-centred.
It’s made me realise again just how important our call is in this world to be people who internalise God's character, to meditate on his love and mercy. Sometimes we get lost and get focussed on things that cause us to get stuck, whether it be our busyness, stress, forgiveness, fear or anxiety. Sometimes we just need to re-route to come back to be commissioned again. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be found like the one lost sheep.
But we need each other, when things fall silent we need encouragers, we need compassion, we need faithfulness, listening ears, teachers, those who discern, those who are wise. The pandemic made our world small, confined to our homes... and our priorities were, rightly so, to take care of ourselves and, if we have them, our families. But this family we have in Christ is bigger than blood, we need each other.