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.

Palm Sunday

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Today is Palm Sunday. It is a glorious sunny day with a hint of cool in the air still. The daffodils still lingering, the hyacinths glorious and the tulips announcing themselves to the world. Spring at its best – the garden and the light are calling. Stuck indoors with acute hypersensitivity to noise, light, movement, chemicals, the garden beckons still, to come and celebrate Palm Sunday by giving thanks for all that is generously given by God, in nature especially, to bless this special day.

Yet across the fields, a mile away there is an event with an appallingly loud PA system, blaring out every word, unbelievably loud, so that they might as well be shouting in our garden, tormentingly noisy and painful.

The peace and the beauty, the stillness, the wonder of the day are wrecked for us. Every noise hurts, every word grates, harms, results in shaking and ends in paralysis.

It is surely not a fair transaction, in this spiritual place, that the person most in need of communion, the one in tormented nightmare suffering, is being battered ; our space invaded by a loud speaker system that has disregarded the privacy and respect for people’s lives across the fields, while they enjoy their celebration.

So we are left trapped in the cold and dark indoors, in a moment that could actually, for once, be blessed by the fresh air and the beauty of the garden, if it were not for this cacophony of sound, way too loud for anyone, ill or not.

We are for celebration and rejoicing, however why is it that so many seem to take that right for granted and do not take into account those more sensitive and vulnerable, who surely should have an equal right to prayer, praise, thanksgiving and the sunshine and fresh air on such a wonderful day, in their own home, without such an offensive and catastrophic noise assault?

Yet still we choose to celebrate Palm Sunday, despite the aggravations and torments.

So what does Palm Sunday mean to us? It means make your path straight, as prophesied by St John. It means make your life Holy, it means celebrate who you are, show yourself and what you stand for and be bold as Christ was. It means be humble and be true to your path, as He was.

So all these things we celebrate and all these things we strive for, within a context of suffering few know, few can imagine, few seek to understand and few bother to try and comprehend and then take in to account.

Despite the aggravations, the torments, the trials, the injustice and the ignorance and selfishness of others, we still cling to God and say ‘Help us make our paths straight and bring meaning out of our suffering.

Help us celebrate all that is good and of beauty, even in the hiddenness of our lives so that we can still ‘stand tall’ and be who we are, even if it is invisible, God sees and knows and loves us and celebrates with us, all that remains of goodness and hope in our own hearts.

And we pray for better days ahead, we pray for hopeful moments, we pray that God will heal and save us, we pray for wisdom, discernment, understanding, kindness in others, we pray for genuine concern to be awoken in those who are ignorant and hurtful to us, we pray for a banishment of all that assails us, we pray for hope to bless our lives, we ask that truth and beauty shine in us like a beacon, inspiring all, blessing all, lifting all, bringing healing and light to the world.

We pray that we can be all that God has made us to be and we celebrate that gift today as we remember Jesus riding on a donkey through the palm strewn streets ; the people shouting Hossanah!

Save us now.

Amen

Tend your life in Lent

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We hope, when able, to share some reflections throughout Lent on following the path of the Holy Way; how to change your life through the power of the Trinity.

Day one

Take a moment to be still.
Calm your thoughts.
Look innerly toward God.
Ask the Holy Spirit to come and be with you, to transform your life, this day and always
Feel the Father holding you gently, encouraging you to open to His Loving presence.
See the face of Christ before you, looking at you with such compassion.
And share with them all, in whichever way you can, whatever burdens you are carrying, right now, however small or large or seemingly impossibly huge.

Stop and give yourself the space to do that.

If you feel that you need forgiveness, ask.
If you feel that you need comfort, it will be given.
If you feel you need help, name it.
If you feel you need love, open and receive it.
If you feel you need healing, claim it.

Know that the awesome Power of the Trinity is with you and will help you.
Each one brings a unique gift to you.
They will hold you in the Very Heart of Love where all mercy flows and love is complete.

They will see your need, even if you cannot articulate it fully and they will respond with power and grace.

They will hear and see you.

The Spirit will rest upon you and we ask that you feel that loving energy in a gentle tender way, today, right now.

Feel your burdens touched by love as you move through this day.
Remember the Heart of Love is real and ever present, waiting to come to your aid.
Only ask then wait.
Somehow love will touch you.
May your day be blessed.
Amen

Father hear me
Son see me
Spirit guide me
Thank you!
Amen

ASH WEDNESDAY

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Ashes are the focus of today, so burned and seemingly lifeless, yet from the ashes the Phoenix rises. We place ash, from the fire, on our plants because it is full of nutrients; amazingly life comes forth, strengthened and sustained.

The invisible goodness of the ashes brings strength to the plants and beauty to the world. Let it also be so in our own lives.

May God tend our lives this Ash Wednesday and bring forth new and unexpected growth, so that we can transcend whatever suffering we have to bear and feel fed, watered, blessed and encouraged to grow in new ways, to find the light and move towards it, just as the bulbs waiting in the ground do so.

As Spring comes in, may we blossom anew, bringing our own unique beauty, our special qualities to the world.

May you be blessed and grow , held in the Heart of Love, empowered by the Holy Trinity. Amen

HOLY TEARS

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The wonderful teacher Anthony de Mello once told a story about a grieving mother, who had just lost her son. The master told her gently that he could not do anything about her loss, but he could make her tears “holy”.

That beautiful, tender story reminds me of what we have learned about suffering and struggle, grief and loss, about being broken open in the bleakest places, way beyond imagination.

Here we have immersed ourselves in the Heart of love that flows from the Mighty Trinity. We call this path the Holy Way.

The Holy Way is a path of love, ours and God’s….

The Holy Way has renewed us as we have clung on to that love.

The Holy Way is a path with heart and soul.

It commits us us to keep remembering who we are and who God is, to see beyond the world, with all its torments, disillusions, displacements, hurts, losses.

It commits us to see with inner eyes the flow of Spirit, guiding, empowering, enabling, hoping, holding, uplifting, recreating, banishing all evil in its path, miraculously helping us tread another step forward, even when no steps are seemingly possible.

It is a path of faith.

It is a path of light.

It enables us to cling on to a belief in goodness, in love, in a tenderness and compassion that surely touches the deepest tragedy, the severest pain, the worst assault, the cruelest betrayals and brings healing.

It helps you hold on and move toward love, even when that love is unfelt, unreachable, separated, seemingly lost.

Even in the darkest place does not God tell us that darkness will be to Him as light as day( Psalm 139;12) ?

There is no place that the Light of the World cannot shine, it is in this knowledge that we place our faith as we journey on our Holy Way.

It is in this way that we find blessings in all we experience and endure.

It is in this way, immersing our tears in the love of the Trinity, where all sadness is known, understood and touched by Spirit, that we can keep moving on, refinding ourselves and carry on reaching out in love once more.

Tears ultimately are for healing. When God touches us with His light all is transfigured and transformation is possible and can be used for good.

How many tears must Jesus’ mother have wept for her Son on the Cross, yet what power and love were released that day.

MARY WEEPING AT THE CROSS

may your tears heal the earth
may your tears touch our hearts
may your tears cleanse our soul

may your grief heal our grief
may your grief touch our emptiness
may your grief speak for us

may your love heal our fear
may your love touch our pain
may your love bless our lives

may your hope heal our hearts
may your hope touch our souls
may your hope guide us on
to your Son

(Linda Crowhurst)

Hold on !

hold-onThis time last week I wrote in my journal about how overwhelmed I felt, we had loud, gnawing, thudding terrifying rats in the ceiling, broken heaters, issues with the car, all manner of things going wrong, masses of extra expense.

In our situation, one of grinding immense, ongoing, devastating suffering, every extra stress is an intolerable burden.

I feared I may not be able to cope.

Fear is a terrible thing.

It incapacitates you.

Fear can overwhelm and completely invade your life causing misery, it makes everything feel out of balance and exaggerated.

It is at these times, I find, that wrong decisions are made, quickly and not necessarily sensibly.

We are all vulnerable when fear has clutched hold of us , when it twists our view so that all we can feel and see is through fear’s perception.

It is so important to hold on to truth when fear comes knocking. It is important to remember who you are. It is important to remain confident in your self and seek for wisdom in any decisions or actions you need to take.

Cling on to God and hold fast. Banish all fear in Jesus name. For He is powerful, He will return things to right balance and flow. He can help you see clearly and truly and the Spirit can help guide you wisely.

Seek truth at such times. Hold on to what you know to be true. Keep close to love and let that love fill you. Remember God’s promise and find hope in it. For he says ‘ I am with you’. Avoid reacting from fear.

Instead respond in the Power and strength of the love which He brings. Be confident in the Lord, for fear is not of love.

Never be a victim has always been Linda’s motto, I am learning how essential that is. A week later it is amazing how much has been sorted out; the key is taking your power back.

We banish all fear in Jesus Christ’s name.

We live in hope and place our trust in Him.

Amen