Living on the Edge

 

fireTHOSE WHO LIVE ON the edge, those who suffer without end, those who experience profound persecution, abuse, oppression, discrimination, those who hang, stripped naked on a Cross, do not find it easy, sometimes, to think clearly, systematically about what to do, if anything.

When you are nailed to the wood, the suffering is intense.
In such circumstances, it is hard to face our own nakedness, our inadequacy of response, our weakness, our fragility, our own helplessness in the face of injustice.

WE MIGHT WRITE. “WE ARE THINKING OF YOU”, “LOVE AND HUGS”, SAY A QUICK PRAYER, BUT IS THAT WHAT YOU SAY TO SOMEONE BEING CRUCIFIED ON A CROSS OF UNIMAGINABLE PAIN?

It is hard to find words that can meet the need and what difference can we make, if any? We have to ask ourselves, how can we truly be present in the face of grief and outrage?

Jesus once said that he had come to light a fire; how he wished it was burning. (Lk 12:49)

What kind of fire burns in my heart: is it a pleasant-enough warmth or is there a flaming torch in my hand: the torch, the sword of the Spirit, inspired by love?

Wielding the sword of the Spirit, protected by the Breastplate of Integrity and the Buckler of Truth, we go forward into battle, seeking and speaking the Truth.

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No Words

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Her pain is terrible today, her tears a fire, it is impossible to see the soft summer morning’s beauty, the gentle shadows, such is her agony.

Another day lost.

I have run out of words to pray.

We hold onto Love at the centre.

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All is stripped away from us by the circumstances and experience of this illness. The pain of the Cross is very real. The sacrifice of the one who loves is immense, the carer who loves and stays despite the pain and torment he both sees and feels, is ravaged daily by the storms of the Cross.
The love, the open-heart of the carer for the beloved is a wound that brings forth the greatest compassion and untold wisdom in the world of suffering. It brings clear sight of injustice and calls for the need for Truth and Integrity on the path ahead.
The sufferer too lies pinioned in pain on the Cross with Christ. Each throb of pain is an onslaught and a torture.
Each moment of inability, of incapacitating paralysis, breathlessness, is a moment of shared anguish with the Lord.
Each second of spreading numbness, pushes the sufferer further away from the world . Each exquisite level of torture played out on the person with Severe ME is a part of the suffering Christ on the Cross. There is no separation from the hurt of the world, for the Lord, the carer, the sufferer, all are bound in agony by their experience and by their love for each other.
God loves us. Of this be certain. God knows all our pain. Of this be certain too.
We are all bound to the Cross in His intimacy of suffering.
Few remain with us.

Few remain, yet all are loved. We hold to the Cross. We cling to each other and spiritually our need is great. Our hearts are all open. For whom can we turn to in such suffering other than to God ?

Even if it feels like He has abandoned us, this not so. We cannot always bear nor understand the level of distress and pain we suffer, yet we can hold fast to the truth.
We can bear our suffering with love at the centre. We can know in all certainty that even if we know not how we will cope yet still we will cope., and more than this, great gifts of goodness, great spiritual blessings, will flow from our steadfastness to love.
And that is all we must focus on. The Heart of Love, feeling our pain, becoming our pain, being all pain. And finally the Heart of Love healing all pain.

We may not feel healed. We may not feel God’s presence, even in the darkest depths of suffering, yet truly the Light of the World is with us and He bears all hurt for all time and as we enter too into this mystery with Him, so we are all saved.

For Love, though it appears to fail on the Cross of Good Friday will ultimately triumph and leads us always on to the Glory of God, to Light, to Healing, to Hope, to Mercy.

How much we need hope

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A life without hope is a desperate, oppressive place to be, with little meaning or direction. When things go well, hope flies high, yet when things go badly, hope can disappear amongst the jangling discordant chaos that ensues.

This then is the time to seek hope, to hold on to any seed of goodness within or without you that might bless and alter the dismal, bleak and crushing suffering that can destroy it or cover it over so deep it seems lost.

This then, is where we need God’s aid – for when we can find no hope of our own volition and despair looms too large to block it out, here then the Lord can save us by filling us with His hope.

Hope that brings light, truth, strength, wisdom, comfort; hope that is all powerful, a saving grace from all three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bringing not only hope but proactive hope carried on the wings of the Spirit, to bring change to the most desperate of moments, for hope is Love in action, come to unite us with all that is good.

May it pour out upon us and renew and strengthen us. Amen

True Suffering

18422973_1481223138615090_1120248344174667756_oTrue suffering is unrelievable. If there are choices that can save you, look for them and make them, God will always help you.

But if not, then throw yourself on God’s mercy and His love, immerse yourself in the Heart of love and there place your awareness, that the suffering you are forced to endure, which may be or become totally intolerable, unbearable, tormenting, tortuous, deeply disturbing, not destroy or despair you.

Here you find God’s grace, touching you in the formless void of inexpressible agony.

For only One who has suffered depths of indescribable, annihilating torment, yet been sustained by love and remained loving still in His heart, can reach out to you and touch you and bless you in that moment that you most need it, whether through the caring of others or through the grain of hope that remains or is found in the depths of emptiness, whether the means to keep going on, in intractable pain, is miraculously present, whether kindness unexpected blesses your life and helps bring much needed comfort and sense of communion, not desperate isolation.

This then is what we pray for, to be given strength in utter weakness, to receive light in the darkness of moments, to accept hope in the desert of despair, to be touched with love in the secret, hidden depths within us, that are in desperate need for comfort, to feel known, seen, heard, cared for in Spirit and in life, to receive multi-layered healing, to find new awareness, possible paths to move forward, to break stuckness, limitation, lostness and feel found in the centre of your being, by God Himself and all who know Him, to cope and still endure the unendurable, for love lives with us.

Amen

(An extract from”Holy Way”, new book out soon.)

 

Easter and Suffering

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What does Easter-time mean when the one you love faces yet another day of screamingly awful, unimaginable physical torment ?

What, exactly, is there to celebrate, all the time she hangs, nailed, in agony, to a cross of gross medical, social and political neglect and denial, lies, manipulation and deceit, spanning decades ?

What does resurrection mean, in this place of no prayer, of no thought, of naked, stripped to the bone, nerve-throbbing-being, where minutes are measured by the moments in between pain and hours by the restless shifting into ever more extreme levels of suffering ?

You might think I am crazy. But on my bike yesterday, Easter day, battling through a strong, cold headwind, I fancied I heard a patch of bright yellow dandelions, singing their hearts out ! Then a pair of black and white gulls, I am no bird expert, darted right across me, I felt their joy.

Another bird soared up high where the clouds hung ragged and broken. A song was born in me.

What was it Jesus said just a few days ago on Palm Sunday : “Even the stones will ring out !!”

It is not written yet, but I have had a go on the dulcimer and I know the chorus is : “The Light has broken through !”

Yes, that is why Easter is so painful for us, yet so full of hope, so critically, so infinitely important.

You learn a great deal about the mystery of the Cross here, that it is so much more than pain; it is the light , the truth, the wisdom and the power of God , shining forth from what is the ultimate healing moment for all mankind.

A friend, who also knows great suffering, phoned yesterday, I am so inspired by his words : “Life is full of small miracles.”

Here is Church

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The spread in the Guardian was a dramatic 360 degree view of St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, hundreds of priests, Pope Francis leading a splendid, in every sense of the term, Holy Thursday service. I was captivated by the amazing photo. It awoke fond memories of Church.

But something in that Holy of Holies was out of place. Then I saw it, right in the foreground the priest with his mobile phone , held up up high , filming or taking a picture, or searching for a signal, I don’t know. But it was sad.

It made me think of Linda and how she might be if she could be there.

But she can never go to a Church, never mind Rome. Her world is a cast-off, battered, old settee and the one room.

But when she prays, when she speaks of her encounter with God in suffering, it feels like the holiest place anywhere.

There is enormous stillness , intimate presence, the space between us suffused with the golden radiance in her deep brown eyes and the power of truth, spirit, knowledge and light sparkling there.

Here is sacred, fragile ground. The slightest wrong movement or word on my part is enough to send her plummeting into screamingly awful depths of paralysis and pain.

Here is Church, here is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit humbly with us. The very air holding its breath.

The eternal silence. Our little room.