Friday, 30 October 2009

God, CCTV and the Look of Love

cctv camera sureveillanceand the look of love

To be living in Britain today is to know that you are being watched. CCTV cameras have sprouted like fungi all over our urban fabric and, like mushrooms, they are the very visible sign of activity hidden below the surface of daily life which goes much deeper. Our surveillance society seems to be all-encompassing. If I drive down the A15 towards Lincoln, automatic numberplate recognition cameras record my journey. If I walk through Brigg, the camera pictured above and others like it will be able to track my movements. You never know who is watching you, or when and why they are. This week  The Guardian has run an expose on some of the more questionable aspects of the way in which the Police monitor the activities of protesters and demonstrators.  CCTV cameras can help cut crime on our streets, make possible a more rapid response to crime as it happens and subsequently assist the prosecution of those responsible, which keeps us all that bit safer.  When surveillance technology is used in a way which infringes our civil liberties, such as to inhibit peaceful protest and legitimate demonstration, it is altogether more worrisome in its Orwellian overtones of ‘1984’ and Big Brother keeping watch in a decidedly sinister fashion.

So the question is whether we can trust the watchers. The same technology can be used  for very different motives. What is their intention in watching us? How do they look at us? Are we seen as innocent citizens or as suspects?

This led me to reflect on what it is like being continually ‘watched over’ by God – not a comfortable thought.  As a youngster from a non-churchgoing background I suppose I thought that God was mightily displeased with what God saw of me; all the ways in which my life was not perfect or up to scratch. God was a judgemental presence ‘up there’ who watched me ‘down here’. Yet over and against this was a conflicting sense too that God wanted the best for me, wanted me to have the ‘light of life’ and not to walk in darkness. It took me a long time to understand and own the truth of 1 John 4:18, that for God the ‘Look of Love’ is exactly how it is. The more I looked into the life of Jesus the clearer this became. Violence, retaliation, threat and coercion – the tools of state and empire – were never his way. In Jesus the meaning of the phrase ‘God is Love’ was embodied, incarnated and fleshed out in public for all to see. There was no need to project onto God the worst aspects of human behaviour. God’s seeing and watching over entail a paradigm wholly about Love. The language of empathy, tears, sadness and regret unpacks its meaning, not that of clenched fists, cruel words and ill-intent. As we see in the crucifixion of Jesus, such love cannot be derided as ‘soft’ or ‘sissy’, as some testosterone-fuelled Christians might have us think, rather it is costly, demanding and radically self-giving. Just imagine the vulnerable agony as God watches what humanity does to Jesus, and Jesus knowingly accepts the consequences of such a way of Love in a world of hatred, violence and cruel self-interest.

Others may look at us with dubious motives, God never does. God’s watching over us in Love is the vision of Grace. It costs God everything. This Divine Look of Love can be trusted with our lives.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Discovering God is like entering a world of colour

discovering God is like entering a world of colour copyview from little langdale tarn to the langdale pikes in monochrome  view from little langdale tarn to the langdale pikes

How might this be true for you too? And for those used to monochrome, who long to leave their greyscale lives behind and enter this godly world of colour, what makes that small bridge in the large photo ‘crossable’ and faith feasible? And for Christians, how can we speak of the colours of faith in such a way that good bridges are put in place?

Abstract thinking: decision wave

decision wave  copy

An abstract image of a metal bridge offers a metaphor for the way in which God shapes our collective decisions – at least that’s the train of thought which it triggered in my imagination after I took the original shot. So if you are willing to go on such an imaginative flight of fancy, let me suggest that the movement in the image is from right to left, like a wave coming ashore towards you as you stand on a beach. With that in mind let’s get to the metal.

The starting point is a set of bars arranged side by side in regular linear order. Left alone they will remain as they are, unchanging, strong and utterly rigid. Changing the shape of  cold metal requires energy. A lot of energy. Here the temperature of the steel bars has to rise from ambient to red hot in order for the ‘decision wave’ to form. Once excited and energised each rigid bar becomes malleable and responsive to being shaped very differently; viewed along the edge they rise at different moments creating the trailing wave effect of a decision being made. Then the heating ceases and the metal cools into this very different pattern, and the wave becomes permanent, strong and load-bearing.

There is no doubt in my mind that God is pouring vast amounts of divine energy into the steady-state unchanging shape of the church, heating it up from cold to red hot. We are being reformed and refashioned. More and more people are becoming energised and excited, and when they are they become flexible and willing to be shaped and configured into fresh ways of being church together. Before our eyes and in our time a new reformation decision wave is rising up.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Keeping Christ safe and secure behind bars

christ kept safe and secure behind bars

The uncomfortable truth is that even today we continue to keep Christ locked up and confined behind steel bars of our own making. Sure enough, we like to peer in to the gospels and look into his face, to gaze and see all the divine  love and anguish etched there. We willingly listen to his words of freedom and challenge, and depend on his loving us into life.

But we are too scared to let him out. Better and safer to keep him confined to the pages of a text than actually let him loose in our world, for then we  risk meeting him face to face where he chooses. Just imagine: Christ taps us on the shoulder where and when we least expect it, in that place in our life where we are really unwilling to hear those words we dread: ‘follow me’.

So we keep him confined behind our good intentions and platitudes, our doctrines and disputes, our limited discipleship. He must stay where he is, follow our bidding, be there when we need him, as though he were an exhibit in a faith-zoo.

What a delusion this is. Who is keeping whom safe and secure? It is we who are imprisoned, not Christ. We deny ourselves freedom and life in its fullness. We keep ourselves and our fears locked up; we sentence ourselves to confined lives. We look out at Christ from behind bars of our own making.

And all the time he is looking at us with such love and intention, yearning for us to be truly free.

Friday, 23 October 2009

an instinctive journey back to the beginning

salmon leaping up the froth pot - river duddonthe froth pot - river duddon in the lake district

Salmon leaping at ‘The Froth Pot’, River Duddon, Lake District

On a damp, grey day under threatening skies the first of this years returning salmon were nearing their journey’s end in the higher reaches of the River Duddon. After a night of torrential rain the narrow gorge-like waterfalls of The Froth Pot were a formidable barrier to their progress back to the spawning grounds. In dismal light I was rewarded with one tolerably sharp frame of a salmon attempting to leap up the steepest of the falls, caught just as it was about to fall back into the powerful cascade. This fish was driven to try again and again. The instinct to return to the place of its birth was overwhelming.

Perhaps our human journey is little different. We migrate away from our birthing and travel downstream through our lives, free swimming through seemingly limitless ocean’s of possibility and promise. But satisfaction turns out to be illusory and fulfilment always just out of reach, until we change spiritual direction and begin travelling homeward towards that far-distant birthing place of our collective being and meaning in God. Faith turns out to be instinctive and purposeful. In the troublesome, upper reaches of the journey it takes all that we are, and more, to overcome the barriers. Such ‘leaps of faith’ are often against the cultural flow, upward through the torrents of secular certitude and religious scepticism. Such a difficult and demanding journey is the height of bad fashion in a society which is unaccustomed to anything other than ‘going with the flow’.

And there, at journey’s end, in the delightedly fast flowing and crystal clear waters of God’s presence – in that eternal place of beginning – we have come home. Here, with countercultural grace in a world of death and decay, we are called and freed to give of ourselves in bringing new life and hope to birth.  From this ‘in the beginning’ of divine love all else flows, and to it we are instinctively drawn to return.

Monday, 19 October 2009

transparently enlightened

late afternoon autumn light backlit leaves at tarn howsautumn tree
















backlit leaves misty autumn morning coniston

One of the transient delights of this season of the year are leaves backlit by low-angled sunlight. Thin enough to let the light shine through their being, many are glowing and gloriously vibrant with fiery autumnal colour, whilst others still shine greenly.  All are transparently enlightened. They don’t block out the light.

What will it take for our world to be like this: to let the light of love shine through and beyond our being; to be transparently generous and enlightened in our relationships with each other and the planet? Before it’s too late. One way or another Nature will teach us a lesson. If we are enlightened enough it may yet be this autumnal one, but time is running out if we continue to block out the wisdom of Gaia and the cries of the poor.

Mountain Spirituality 4: Serenity

mountain spirituality - serenity copy

View from Blea Tarn across to the Langdale Pikes, Lake District

Mountain Spirituality 3: Identity

 mountain spirituality - identity copy

  Close to the summit of Wetherlam, Lake District

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Mountain Spirituality 2: Trust

isaiah 54v10 walkers at levers hawse looking towards dow crag

Levers Hawse looking towards Dow Crag, Lake District

Mountain Spirituality 1: Longing

looking towards the langdale pikes psalm 121v1   Looking towards the Langdale Pikes, Lake District

Monday, 12 October 2009

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest

come to me all who are heavy laden copy

Statue of the ‘Welcoming Christ’, Launde Abbey

the welcoming christ

This statue of the ‘Welcoming Christ’ says so much without words. The language of its meaning and message is universal.

The sculptor has deliberately exaggerated the arms of Christ so that there seems to be no limit to that which they can embrace and welcome.

Grace transcends our boundary-ridden thinking and stretches way beyond the limits of our measured generosity.

All are invited. All are welcomed. Every burden is held.

In Jesus we will find rest for our weary souls.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

which viewpoint is correct?

coving viewpoint face viewAt the end of a meeting I attended recently my attention was caught by this ornate coving which stretched right around the elegant room. The craftsmanship and detail on display date to a time well before present, perhaps in the Georgian period, when such lavish decoration would have been expected and normative in a grand property such as this.

Looking for a while longer I noticed how much my angle of view altered what I saw. The top image is taken straight on and is what I saw as I looked ahead. A regular succession of white blocks stands proud of the background. This is truth at right angles to ‘reality’. coving viewpoint oblique left

What then of the next two images of different sections of the same coving? Now the rectangular pattern becomes a series of arrow-like repetitions. The first photo is taken looking oblique left, on the side of the room away from the light. The white paint renders as grey tones in the shadow. The second is shot looking oblique right on the side lit by natural light from the windows, and the tones are appreciably different. 

Our brains have no problem with these differing viewpoints. We ‘know’ that it is the same uniform reality we are looking at from differing viewpoints and compensate accordingly.

But imagine for a moment that this is not the case and that coving viewpoint oblique rightyour reality is the abstract two dimensional pattern alone. Imagine that you were looking at only one of these photographs without knowledge of the others.  There is now no sense of oblique or straight ahead angle of view. No appreciation that this is three dimensional ‘coving’. If this is your truth, what happens when you are confronted by the other two abstract patterns and told that they are ‘true’ too? The arrangements of line, light and form now seem radically irreconcilable with your perception of truth and reality.

The realities of politics, diplomacy and armed conflict often seem to be framed in such a two dimensional manner. Viewpoints clash and truths collide.

Real peacemaking occurs when the third  dimension is introduced. Space with depth allows different viewpoints to be appreciated sensibly within a unifying whole. It is now possible to reconcile what is seen from the perspective of an integrating truth. This is what happens naturally in our visual cortex.

And the ultimate such integrating truth is God. How desperately tragic it is that the great religions have caused so much violence and hatred to blight the world. Such 2-D views still condemn the innocent to suffering. Only the spacious, gracious third dimension of God’s love offers the hope of a way forward.

Friday, 9 October 2009

evergreen autumn

In the space of a very few days many of the leaves you see here turned from deep green to vibrant scarlet, or to a milky cream. Most of them have fallen to the ground now, leaving behind a bare tracery of stems covering the wooden fence on which they intertwine persistently .

evergreen leaves and leaves turning redAnd visibly different -  bright, waxy and so unchanging in their appearance - are the leaves of the evergreen plant. In this company, at this time of year, they really stand out.

One plant goes out in a blaze of Autumn glory as it seeks to protect itself from the harshness of Winter to come. Leaves are shed, physiology slows down and the plant settles into its dormant state. The other has an evergreen strategy. It will keep its leaves and still endure Winter.

The institutional churches, communities of faith, individuals, you and me, are in one crucial respect no different to these plants. We all move through seasons of life and cycles of being and becoming. There are Autumn times of letting go and falling away which are especially vivid in our experience. That which is inevitable, unavoidable or imposed as loss or change can seem to threaten existence itself. When the leaves have gone, what hope is left? Spring can become a dormant dream in a cold Winter nightmare. And yet the willing shedding of the leaves, this chosen loss within which Spring is assured, also points to the possibility of new growth and flourishing. Holding on to the leaves through Winter would deny Spring and lead eventually to death and decay. Only by this dramatic process of letting go can Spring remake the plant in all its life, fruitfulness and colour.

And of course the evergreen leaves point to that which persists, remains true and is retained, come what may. Here we see another essential truth of our being and becoming. Evergreen is defiant and resilient. Evergreen is visibly confident of the return of Spring. Evergreen endures. Evergreen challenges the power of Winter.

In life as in faith, Evergreen and Autumn are our companions.  Not one or the other, but both together shape our soul-making and church-shaping.  Life teaches me that Autumn without Evergreen, or Evergreen without Autumn, is not the way of things. In the seasons of our walk with God both will be constantly present, a truth which Rilke expresses so beautifully in his poem Autumn:

Autumn (R.M.Rilke)

The leaves are falling, falling as from far,

As though above were withering farthest gardens;

They fall with a denying attitude.

And night by night, down into solitude,

The heavy earth falls far from every star.

We are all falling. This hand’s falling too-

All have this falling-sickness none withstands.

And yet there’s One whose gently-holding hands

This universal falling can’t fall through.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

walking the way of gratitude

walking the way of gratitude copy

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is a wonderful place to visit and a sheer artistic delight if you are looking for inspiration. Leading up to the main doors of the architecturally stunning visitor centre is a metal ‘walk of art’. As far as I can tell this innovative walkway records the names of individuals and organisations who have supported the project, and also acts as a memorial to loved ones who have died, their relatives having paid to have their names cut into the thick gauge steel plate. In every sense then one is walking the way of gratitude.

To me this installation is a permanent reminder of the power of remembering and is a very tangible expression of the power of gratitude. To have such a thing actually under your feet as you walk along brings to the forefront of your perception so much which disappears all too easily from mind and awareness. For some visitors these names convey personal meaning and precious memory; for others like me they signify this broader existential point about gratitude.

Being remembered matters. Ultimately of course, like billions who have preceded us, we will all fade into the obscurity of being  unrecollected or unknown by the living. A very few are recorded personally in history, but after a few generations most go unremarked. The link to gratitude in the present moment dissipates, becomes ever more tenuous and far removed, until it is lost.  The Bible reflects the poignancy and reality of this brute fact:

The womb forgets them; the worm finds them sweet; they are no longer remembered  (Job chapter 20)

He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and does not come again (Psalm 78)

The popularity of genealogy reflects a need to explore our rootedness and identity and is something which resembles the ‘walk of art’ in the Sculpture park. It opens up both pathways of gratitude and regret into the past. The sacred scriptures of the Judaeo-Christian tradition resemble the ‘walk of art’ too in that they are both a pathway to follow and a means of remembering,  recollecting and remaking identity. Through story names come alive and are invested with meaning. The ancient stories become our story too. As people of faith we walk along a way which so many have trod before us. Eventually our names will be added to theirs within the ever-living memory of God.

Perhaps the most prized gratitude we can cultivate and become mindful of is for that Divine love which holds us all within God’s presence, where each name is precious and full of meaning and none are forgotten.

appreciate or eliminate: the Hittite perspective

wasps nest in old bird box at base of hedge

What you see here is a nest of the European Hornet (Vespa Crabro). It is a quite extraordinary sight. The colony had taken over a bird nesting box which appeared to have fallen from an adjacent tree and lodged at the base of the hedgerow.  The hornets were active in the warm afternoon sunshine of a late September day. Getting any closer would have been unwise. I took the photograph from a respectful distance and the high iso performance of the camera has penetrated the stygian shadow that enveloped the nest to reveal colour and form, if not a lot of close-up detail. With the onset of Autumn and frosty nights the majority of hornets in the nest will soon be dead.

Now we can look at this nest as a threat which we will be quite glad to see eliminated. Anyone allergic to wasp stings might well look at it in this way and be very uncomfortable in close proximity to the colony. Why take the risk and leave it be? Of course, from an ecological and natural history viewpoint, this could well be a gem of a discovery, something to appreciate and delight in finding. Where does the greater good lie and can both perspectives be reconciled? Given that the nest is by the side of a country lane, how real is the supposed threat? Might it simply be a case of not provoking the hornets in the first place? Is coexistence possible?

‘The Hittite perspective’ sounds like it could be the next release in the Bourne films franchise, where the motives and behaviour of government agencies are called into question and the dark side of their operations are exposed. And all of this is framed from the viewpoint of someone who was once part of the system but who now finds themselves to be a threat which must be eliminated. The warped and distorted nature of self-justifying power without accountability is put on display. Which brings me to the Hittites. In the Bible these people, and many others, are labelled as threats to be eliminated. In a spirit of ‘name it as it is’ what we have here is ethnic cleansing. It makes for appalling reading. The cost of entry into the land of promise is stark and uncompromising:

Deuteronomy 7.1:  When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites…

Deuteronomy 20.17: You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded….

These ethnic groups are not to be appreciated for their diversity, they are to be annihilated because they are different and in the way. No doubt this genocide was sold to the people of God on the basis of threat and danger, with the Hittites and others being depersonalised and dehumanised in the process. It all sounds chillingly familiar. Seen from the Hittite perspective, from the underside of history where the agony of the voiceless is unrecorded, such religious and political imperialist aggression is a monstrous stain on history itself. It has no justification.

How radical then is the teaching of Jesus who eschews violence and aggression and asks that we love our enemies and others as he loves us? His way of appreciation subverts endemic cycles of violence and stereotyping, whether by states or individuals, in favour of open encounter. He is the voice of the voiceless and disempowered. He is to be met on the underside of history. He challenges us to reframe our attitudes and values from this uncomfortable perspective.

Our feelings about the hornets nest are but a step away from the politics which uses threat as its fulcrum. But there is an alternative. And Jesus sets the precedent.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Be fruitful

be fruitful ripe red berries on shrub

God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful…” (Genesis 1:28)

The first sign of blessing then is fruitfulness. Surely this stands by itself rather than being a mere adjunct to what follows: “and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over…” Is fruitfulness something more than human reproductive fecundity coupled with a quasi imperialist self-understanding of dominance and right? Is this key text a dualist charter for the despoilation of the planet, and has it fatally separated our species from the very ecosystems which nurture and sustain us? 

The growth of both eco-theology and feminist theology from the 1980’s onwards has encouraged a creatively revisionist re-engagement with texts such as this. We have seen how easily mis-readings of Genesis 1:28 lead to unsustainable and damaging outlooks and behaviours. Reading ‘be fruitful and multiply…’ as an imperative begs a prior question, one which the previous verse addresses: So God created humankind in his image (Genesis 1:27). Our concept of fruitfulness and of our place within the natural world is shaped and informed by our understanding of God. Get this wrong and what follows will be, and has been, disastrously wrong too. The ‘rape of the earth’ is a phrase used with good reason. Male, dominant, exclusive, power-centred and controlling paradigms produce a very different relationship to the earth which is our home than do feminist, collective, inclusive, empowering and invitational ones. We are to be to each other and the planet as God is to us. If our image of God is an abusive one, what follows will be cast in the same mould. If our image of God is a loving one, we will arrive at a completely different appreciation of what being fruitful means.

Jesus puts it like this “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) This is all about being fruitful as those made in the image of God. So it is about giving freely of and from oneself for the benefit of others. It is about sharing and not keeping. This mutuality and inter-dependency of God’s kingdom is at the heart of discipleship. Fruit is offered beyond ourselves, from deep within ourselves. We nourish and sustain each other. We are called to bring forth fruit – to be creative and bring fresh hope to birth– just as God does. We are to be a blessing.  Being made in the image of God is a call to a life of radical, sacrificial love.  Wherever we see the fruitfulness of love, we glimpse God at work.

Friday, 2 October 2009

an indecipherable icon

do not cover icon

Looking down at an electric non-oil filled ‘eco’ heater we use when we don’t want to put on the central heating, I was flummoxed and just plain mystified by this small red icon. Having stared at it from a distance and then got down on my hands and knees for a closer look, I was none the wiser. What on earth was the manufacturer thinking of here? Clearly there was something I should avoid doing, but what? So, I popped into another room where we have a larger version of said heater and hey presto, the conundrum was solved. “Do Not Cover” appears under the same indecipherable icon. It has only taken me a year to spot this, but hey ho, that’s one of the joys of being ENFP – or at least that’s my very comfortable excuse.

So why bother with the icon with lettering do not coverwretched icon in the first place if it’s meaning is so impenetrable and unfamiliar that a caption has to be added? (grumpy old man mode can be so delightfully freeing….)

Of course the object lesson is for those of us immersed in institutional religion: we can so easily lose sight of how the things we do and say are just as indecipherable to people not in the know as the red icon was to me. And we can leave people feeling just as grumpy and put out by our thoughtlessness as I did by that which I imputed to the manufacturer of the heater.

That words such as ‘sin’, ‘salvation’ and ‘redemption’, the language we use of God and indeed our Christian worldview itself, will be readily understood and appreciated cannot and must not be taken for granted. Once these bits of language probably were reasonably accessible and commonly held, but now quite the opposite is true. The faith icons we use and trust should be those which speak plainly and clearly right down deep into the human condition. This is what the Bible does in its use of icons such as ‘love’, ‘kindness’ and ‘justice’. My worry is that we cover up these life-giving realities of God’s creative presence with a whole lot of well-meaning religious mumbo-jumbo. First impressions really do count, and in this day and age we have to communicate our faith in ways which draw people in rather than put them off and shut them out. “Do not cover up the gospel” would make a good red warning icon, but what would it look like and where would you put it?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

the way is straight, the surface is damaged: God the highways engineer

country lane with damaged tarmac

A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.   Isaiah 40.3

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”   Mark 1:2-3

What happens if we lift these texts out of their customary context of the second Sunday in Advent and free them up to speak to us without preconception?  What do we hear when we put to one side the limiting and profoundly strong associations with John the Baptist and with Jesus? Underneath all of that  joyful hermeneutical ‘shouting’ is there a more personal message being whispered to each one of us?

Having listened to the texts in this way let me put it like this: can I really trust that even as I write these words, God is busily engineering a way ahead for me? Is it going into the realms of fantasy to believe that the immanent providential presence of the Holy Spirit is constantly seeking to construct a straight road between me and a life lived lovingly and utterly for God? (that destination which is always over the horizon and just around the next corner, but at which we never seem to arrive). And is God calling me to construct this way of love and encounter for others too?

So just whose way is being prepared here? Elsewhere in the Isaiah tradition there is a real sense that we are called to prepare the way for each other. This journey into God is a collective and collaborative one. So we read: “It shall be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way,  remove every obstruction from my people’s way.’” (Isaiah 57.14); and a little later on,  “Go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway,  clear it of stones”  (Isaiah 62.10). God’s highway is a road we are meant to travel, and the destination is God. So I think it is true to say that we are called to prepare this way of liberation and transformation for each other. This is the understanding of the Kingdom of God with which Jesus engineers the way of discipleship for his followers. To love God is to love our neighbour as ourselves; it is to be good news for the poor and freedom for the oppressed. A prayer attributed by many to St Teresa of Avila captures this beautifully:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.

With each decision we take and choice we make we are in effect making someone else’s way that bit straighter or that bit more tortuous. In the photo you can see how the surface of the road is damaged and breaking up. There are areas of weakness and failure which seem to have been repeatedly patched up, to little lasting effect. A deeper and more permanent repair is needed. Left as is this bit of road is a worsening hazard. One day someone could be badly hurt because of it. This is what our lives, our damage, our hurt places can do to the way of those around us.

In and through all of this I believe that God calls us to live our lives in such a way that we make straighter the way of others, just as they are called to do the same for our benefit too. And God longs to repair the damage in us which is a hazard to others. God engineers this through grace and truth, using the tools of mercy, justice and kindness. When God whispers to someone the promise that their way is being prepared, God uses us to deliver the reality. And in this very moment God is at work, in and through others, engineering the grace you and I need.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________ See Sally’s poemFaith’s journey (sometimes)” which is based on this image