I have stopped, I am supposed to have stopped, I am on sabbatical. I needed a sabbatical because it has made me do exactly that, stop…
Stopping has been uncomfortable and hard, and has forced me to see that I have been running, well keeping myself going for a long time!
I have kept going through the death of my mum, 4 moves of house and in many senses work, because every time you move while the title Methodist Minister remains the same, every situation is different, every move means getting to know new people and new places… and in my current appointment every year of the three has brought a change!
I have kept going as my children have all gradually left home, and now they are beyond university and have homes and families of their own. I am coming to terms with the fact that I have delayed empty nest syndrome! My home is set up for a family, and I live alone…
I have kept going as my marriage crumbled and ended in divorce….
I have kept going as I have finally discovered who I am, and have come out of a closet that I did not know that I was in until I finally gave myself permission to ask myself deep questions that I ignored for years because they did not fit my neat and tidy box…
I have kept going through difficulties in ministry, in life, in relationships, and I have to admit that I am rubbish at being kind to myself….
I have lived in a whirl of disorientation, and if I were to go back further into my history I would probably have to admit that I didn’t notice because I have lived with disorientation for most of my life….
But I have stopped…..
I have stopped and sat by the “rivers of Babylon!”….
But when I look back what do I look back to, I have no Zion, no Jerusalem, and yet in some strange way I do, I lament my desired path, my desired path, and I have to admit my romantic notions of what life “should” be like. Those notions if I am honest have come from rather crazy expectations of getting it right and fitting in, of being who others expected me to be, or possibly of being who I thought others expected me to be….
So I have hung my harp on a poplar and considered my song….
the song that tells me I am not enough…
a song that tells me that I have failed…
a song that pretends to like me but hides the fact that this has been an ongoing struggle….
I have hung up my harp in search of a new song….
Over the last few weeks I have met with and spoken with people from my past who have unexpectedly affirmed me….
Over the last few weeks I have begun to hear a new song stirring….
Over the last few weeks I have acknowledged my need to lament loss, concrete loss and the loss of desires, beliefs and my own expectations both good and bad….
I have hung up my harp in search of a new song…. a song whose melody runs deep….
I have been disorientated I am seeking reorientation…
I need to seek reorientation, to step out on the sea of doubt and fear to look for the way of the divine both within and without me….
So I am seeking….
I am seeking and receiving the affirmations of friends old and new…. I am receiving them as from God, of Christ who calls me to transformation….
I am seeking because I have allowed myself to stop and to weep…..
I am seeking and also weeping for what has been and not refusing to feel the pain….
This week brought the pain of dear friends who are moving on, and I allowed myself to feel the feeling….
I have acknowledged that sometimes I am cr*p to my friends, and sometimes I demand too much from them….
and I am learning to forgive myself…
I am learning to forgive myself as I learn to let go of my own expectations, releasing them to the river of expectation, the river of denial, the river of grief, despair, yearning and learning….
I have hung up my harp and am waiting for a new song to emerge…. I have stopped….
I like and don’t like what I see….
I like what I see as I dare to receive the unexpected affirmations of others, affirmations about who I am, about creativity, about my abilities….
I don’t like the fact that I have hurt others, demanded too much, sometimes been unaware of my effect upon them… for these I can only apologise to both friends and family….
so I lament pain, mine and yours…
I have to acknowledge my own emptiness….
I acknowledge my own emptiness, and I look for divine fullness, and have to acknowledge that as I lament that I am being filled, as I have stopped. and I have struggled to stop, that I have begun the process of reorienting myself….
As I do that I face the fact that I must make a decision in the coming year about going or staying in Sheffield, but I also know that the answer does not lie in Sheffield itself, but within me as I am hidden in Christ with God…
In his book “The lost message of Paul” Steve Chalke speaks of how it might be that Christ is the refining fire, the ultimate love who meets challenges and changes us, irresistible, the Christ in whom all are included… in whom I must acknowledge that I am included…
I am included and loved….
I am included and loved, even as I hang up my harp, even as I sit down, even as I dare to look myself in the eye in the mirror of unconditional love…
I am emerging through the fire of love, reorienting myself, forgiving myself, getting to know myself, and finding my way…
I don’t expect that I will achieve all of that in the next few weeks, but I am seeing where I am…
I am thankful for the many who have shared my journey, who have shared my pain, who have shared my joys, who have shared… been friends and companions…
I am thankful for the creativity that has emerged as I have journeyed, especially recently, and for those who have encouraged and shared in that…
I have hung up my harp…. and I wait for the new song to emerge….
I have been disoriented, I wait for reorientation ….
All pictures mine as part of my sabbatical project, with thanks to those who have inspired them….
A sound track to this journey is supplied by my friend and co-creative companion on the journey James Morley: https://soundcloud.com/morleysmusings/cave
The pictures that go with this are: