When your hands are empty and your mind isblank, and a sense of purpose eludes you, there’s always a scrap of paper like thisone to fill with scratchings and stain with words. I wonder if this is how those ancient cave drawings started,the graffiti of boredom? Somethingto fill the nights and to gaze at with pride on long shifts tendng the winterfire. I’m tryng to tend my innerflame, which isn’t guttering but is struggling to find good tinder. So I write, I scratch, I stir theembers in hope that a blaze will spring up again, as it has many times before. I’m not snuffed out yet. I can still feel a glow down below.
This is old news, but I came across these notes I made just after my corneal graft surgery, almost 2 years ago.
21August. Nearly 2 weeks since the op & this is the first time I’ve felt like trying to write as my vision’s all over the place just now. One minute I can see the screen really well, the next I blink and it turns to mush. Well the op was a success, though I’m having to be patient & let the healing process take its time. I was nervous going into surgery, but not as much as I expected I would be, & I had a lovely nurse who looked after me, kept calling me ‘darling’ (great bedside manner), wrapping me in heated blankets, making me feel safe. When I woke up I had a patch on my eye & I could discern light through it so I knew I hadn’t lost my sight altogether (a ‘catastrophic event’, as they euphamistically call it). I was a bit groggy but not too bad considering I’d been out for 2 hours. As the evening wore on I began to notice a lot of detail about the patch, the weave of the material etc, and little specks of light that leaked in at the edges seemed bright. When the patch was taken off, about 8pm, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Colours so strong, everything super sharp (by my standards at least), everyone & everything had a halo, aura of light around them. The nurse standing in front of me looked like a benign alien, beautiful, glowing. I wandered around the ward staring at everything, reading signs I couldn’t have read a few hours earlier. Raving, probably, to the staff about how great it was. That night has imprinted on my mind forever – now I know what miracles must feel like. This glow lasted for days.
“Except you become like a little child you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I was sitting amongst the trees on the grassy hillside behind the monastery this afternoon watching some children playing in a field below, and thinking about something I’d read – “For children, play is real. It’s their work” – and I thought therefore that if you play at something then it may become real for you. Is that what following God is – playing at being spiritual till it starts to be true? Then we could say that all our denominations must just be the different games people choose to play. So, you’re free to choose the play you like! As long as it sticks by the general rules, I guess it’s fine. Perhaps God enjoys watching us at play, trying to work out his world?
There are many ‘revelations’ I’ve taken in the past to have been from God, but I wonder if I actually understood right?
It can be dangerous to keep your revelations to yourself; “In the multitude of counselors there is safety…”. We need each other to keep each other straight.
For instance, many years ago I read in Ezekiel 33, “But you are like a singer of love songs, who has a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well. People hear you and say ‘How wonderful!’, but they will never do what you say”. And I presumed this to be some oracle on the ineffectiveness of music, & that I might as well just give up. But recently the verse came to mind so I looked it up, and the next verse says, “But when your words come to pass – as they surely will – then they will know that there has been a prophet amongst them”.
The prophet’s job is to say what she/he’s been given; the consequences are not her/his responsibility. This puts rather a different light on the subject. My prior understanding of this verse probably dis-empowered me, at least to some extent. How many other misunderstandings have I/we laboured under? How many have I/we passed on to others?
Way back, I received a prophecy from a visiting preacher which said “Don’t struggle to put yourself forward, for a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before those who are great”. Nice sentiment, but “don’t put yourself forward…’ isn’t part of the text (Proverbs) and the proverb is actually about the use of gifts (bribes) to get into the king’s presence. My understanding tended to make me passive rather than proactive.
Misunderstandings like these can cost us countless opportunities and years of our lives. What we can say is “Lord, I didn’t know. But I do now. Please give me the chance to make up for lost time.”
Our lives may last many years – or few. The impact we have may be sudden – or gradual. The influence we exert may be momentary – or eternal.
Moses didn’t receive his calling till he was 40. He didn’t start his ministry till he was 80. It took one encounter with a burning bush – maybe 10 or 15 minutes duration – to change the world and create a legend.
Jesus lived maybe 33 years – but only 2 or 3 years doing his thing – but they were enough.
Every burst of glory needs some prep time. The wick needs to be teased out; the candle fitted securely in its holder. The flame held near.
It occurred to me recently that just because a person has a miracle doesn’t mean their life is going to go smoothly from then on. I had one the day I woke up with my new cornea (I had a transplant) – it was amazing & I can still feel the wonder when I think of it. But then things went wrong again.
Think of lazarus; he went through all the trauma of dying, got raised back to life, but still he would have died eventually, so in fact he had to go through the trauma of dying twice. Bummer! & all those people who Jesus healed; I wonder how many of them were sick again a few months or years later? Not perhaps of the same thing, but some bug or accident, or the throes of mortality, will have got them sooner or later.
Miracles aren’t the end goal – even touches from God can be temporary things. We still long to experience them nevertheless.
It’s a paradox that none of us matters scarcely a dot in the grand picture of creation, and yet each of us matters immensely in the grand picture of love. Perhaps paradox is the central truth of the universe. The universe is forever expanding, yet each of its creatures is breaking down, a subject of entropy, running out of time and energy. Are paradoxes explainable phenomena? One great paradox is that we search our lives for answers yet are never sure that we’ve found them. Faith asks us to believe in the invisible, the improbable, the un-provable. To call nothing something.