Please take a few moments to read this poem by Brian Bilston. (Keep reading to the end). It has served to provoke and inspire my preparatory reflections for our worship on Christmas Eve, particularly at the 10 PM service.
“Flight to Egypt.” Nicholas Mynheer. (Mynheer-art.co.uk)
They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way
(now read from bottom to top)
I’ve given this some thought in the last weeks of the Sabbatical, and into this first week back. Do I put down the journal? After all, the Sabbatical is over, and won’t I be too busy being with the people of Cedar Park to be writing to/with/for them?
What I realize is that 97 days is long enough to form a habit, and this habit has been good for my soul. As an introvert who needs to write to figure out sometimes what I’m really thinking or feeling, this journal has helped me to see myself in the world in more attentive ways. It has helped me to create a reflective/communicative space where I can connect with you, the people with whom I serve God in the world. Those are gifts and graces from this sabbatical time that would be too good to give up now.
So the answer, is yes… the journal will continue (not daily, most likely bi-weekly), and for the coming weeks, be something like a “Beyond the Sabbatical: Journal/Musings on the Return.” I’ll be taking some time in the coming two weeks to reconfigure this blog space so that the periodic musings will be the first thing you see when you come to this site. I hope in this way to continue a community conversation around this life of faith, pondering, wonder and wholehearted connection to one another, God and this world.
Well, it’s over! 97 days, each one filled with its own unique gifts, challenges, surprises, and expectations. Three months, each with a different purpose and feel. A season of thinking deeply, and the discipline of writing.
And now for the return. What a brilliant idea to come back just in time to participate in worship with all who came to the the Participatory Pageant! The winter sun wouldn’t quit shining on us, making tinsel halos sparkle, and eyes glisten. (see right).
Mark your calendars for a grand catch up together on January 14th after worship. A “Lunch and Learn” event where not only I, but all of us, share our experiences of this Sabbatical season. I shall be reviewing my journal, sharing more photos, the highlights, the hilarious and the holy, as well as some of the tougher aspects of being intentionally separated for a season from the community. I am sure that you, dear readers, also have stories to tell too, and I want to hear them.
And to all of you who read the journal, and who shared it with some of our folk who are not into finding such things on computers, please accept my heartfelt thanks. To know that you were following the journey proved to be one of those bonds of caring community which make Cedar Park such a grace-filled, holy place. And yes, I am glad to be back.
It was good to come up for air last night to hear the Philomela Choir perform their Christmas concert (the bass section is awesome, Norman and Peter!), but here I am, back at the desk again this afternoon! This is my world for the next week, completing the last chapter of writing the thesis. Most chapters have already been submitted to the first reader, so the edits are also in process. If you want to join Paul Clarke in a caption contest for this photo, you can find it on Facebook too!
More seriously, I have a request for you readers of this blog; prayers, thoughts…maybe a comment on here, a word of encouragement. The comparison of long-length writing and long-distance running is apt; both are at times, lonely. As the end of the tunnel (light) is in sight, it’s even harder to keep focus on the track itself….. Thanks!