Irritating Actions and Meaningful Words
Maybe it was yesterday’s activities and Santa’ visit or maybe I always have the things on this wish list (world peace, respect for all, and right being just that) at the back of my mind?
Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I’m all grown-up now
Can you still help somehow?
I’m not a child, but my heart still can dream
So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself, but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list
What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in that blind belief can we ever find the truth
Maybe it is just that it so closely echoes some verses from the bible which I have as a personal Credo/raison d’etre?
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
I try but like everyone else I am flawed and sometimes I am challenged and sometimes I am not as good at it as perhaps I could be.
Just maybe these thoughts are in the forefront of my mind because today is an anniversary for me? Today is the first Sunday in Advent; I grew up attending Church of England Services and so Advent has always been representative of renewal and of preparation. One of the traditions I have always loved is the Christingle representing light, nurture and sacrifice.
In 2008 I did several things that some might consider brave – I went on holiday to a remote island with just the dog as company and with no mobile phone signal, I told someone I loved them, I stood up to a negative situation and I decided it was time to go to church again after many years of not doing so. I stopped going when I was a student and could not find a church that felt right to me; my faith didn’t change I just did not take part in organised religion. In 2008, possibly because I had dealt with negativity, I decided I wanted to go to church at the start of Advent.
That Sunday a baby was christened and I was made welcome by the church family. It felt good and right. The following year I had agreed to be more involved in the church and for our family Advent 2008 was also a preparation for the death of my Great Aunt, who at almost 104 and totally blind since birth was my inspiration in many things. She died on Christmas Eve morning in her sleep and we felt relieved that she had not had to be admitted to hospital which would have disorientated her. I asked for her to be included in the church families prayers at Midnight Mass; the request was met with unkindness from the Minister which saddened me and which it turned out was the first warning sign of a rough journey ahead.
The Minister became bullying in his attitude towards me; I understood this was caused by his fear and his jealousy that people listened to me. In a meeting where he screamed and shouted at me until he went red, someone else stood up for me until he went purple and I wondered which would need CPR first. It was a situation where there were no winners; the bullying was directed at anyone else who supported me and it got to the point where I could not accept the sacrament from him. I did not make a big issue about this but I didn’t lie when asked why. Gradually other people felt unable to accept the sacrament too. Eventually I decided that if I left the church the bullying would stop and everyone else would recover and go forward. Sadly that wasn’t the case and a further three people left as a direct result. I have never discussed this with anyone who wasn’t at that meeting where he raged but I do know that others have and the congregation is now seriously depleted.
Not only was this the most inhumane treatment but it was unchristian too. It is frequently said that “what goes around comes around” and in this case that is also true – the church was facing reducing income but had a legacy; the legacy could have made the church more accessible to more people (disabled access and better facilities, etc) so increasing attendance and income and more efficient to run as a building. Yet one man was more concerned with his income which came from weekly giving rather than the legacy and by driving people away he has made it more difficult for the church to survive financially.
There are very few people who make me so angry that I cannot speak to them … he is one of them. It isn’t the lies he has circulated that upset me – that is a matter for his conscious; mine is clear. It is the fact that he allowed his fear to hurt others and yet he has never acknowledged nor expressed remorse for his actions. His actions hurt some people of deep faith and caused them to have a personal crisis of faith; which I believe is the opposite of his job?
His superior was not prepared to take any action when approached by 4 different people and that angers me too because that is covering up a person’s failings and that means the church is failing. However, it has deepened my faith because others were prepared to stand beside me instead of taking the easy option … in fact this is something that happens to me often, without me asking people want to follow my lead; I don’t set out with this in mind but it is where the path goes.
The Christingle includes a candle to represent “the light of the world” and that brings to mind my all time favourite quote:
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it”
– Edith Wharton
I am a mirror happy to reflect all those beautiful candles in life. There is another quote from Edith that I had not come across until earlier today but it seems also fitting to what I described:
“Life is always either a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.”
― Edith Wharton
You’re on a highwire and I’m climbing out…
And I will try to hold steady
Wanna make you believe
That the height of this tightrope is just second nature to me…And I don’t ask you to promiseThat I will not come to harm
But when the wind tugs my courage will you be my brother in arms…Oh the view from this heightHigh above the ferriswheel lights
Might cause me to sway
But I am teaching myself to be braveAnd I may break all my bones
Cause I lied about the vertigo
And I have
Never been up this high
There’ll be no safety net
When I fall right our of the sky
There will be no ambulance waiting
And I have no wings to flySongwriters: ANTJE DUVEKOT, MARK ERELLI
Antje also sings a lyric about stubborn love and devotion – in the shape of a lighthouse continuing to light the world with his lamp …
I am a lighthouse
in a desert and I stand alone
I dream of an ocean that was here a long time ago
and I remember his cool waters and I still glow
these days, the sunlight has bleached my paint
and the moonlight has made it plain
that nobody needs me to call them home
now my lantern bears a crack
and I know he will not be back
but I will leave the light on forever
(Antje Duvekot/ Kate Klim)
I miss ‘my’ lighthouses … the one at Scurdie Ness which has been such a big part of my current journey and Toxic Friend who was a big part of my journey when I left the church but who now cannot manage to even talk let alone listen. I know Scurdie Ness is always likely to be there (well in my lifetime at least) and I will return to visit … and I am confident (and happy) that other people will stand in Toxic Friend’s place … well for a time at least.
So as I said “what goes around comes around” so I need to join the circle … I said earlier I try my best but always fall short of perfection, as we all do, and this poignant lyric by Cheryl Wheeler sums it up perfectly, well almost, for me:
I’m almost everything you have ever wanted
I’m almost your best dream come true
We fit so perfectly
Oh I almost can’t believe
How I’m almost all I need to be
There’s something now in your smile
Just this side of distant
And something else just that side of true
This road’s so old and worn from
The countless nights I’ve sworn
Oh I could be all you’d need me to
I don’t know where to go
To find our missing pieces
I sit and stare and wonder where to start
But then I look at you
And I know it can’t be true
That something’s here pulling us apart
Some days I wonder how we’ll walk this line
Some days I think I feel your heart in mine
Well underneath the surface
Love isn’t ever perfect – heaven knows
So we’ll just close that door
Music And Lyrics By Cheryl Wheeler (P) May 27, 2003
So how do we try to stretch ourselves to find the missing pieces and be better at loving our fellow men? Edith Wharton comes up with this recipe which I rather like …
“In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”
So as I start another Advent I have a new motivation to add to my journey’s inspiration … onward!