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Monday, 31 October 2011

Wedding Blues

Last Saturday I went to Glasgow for a wedding. It’s a three-hour drive so a group of us stayed overnight. 

Don was away on business, so I went alone. That is, friends took me in their car and brought me home again. I joined together with many others from Banchory for taxi rides and dinner and sitting together during the wedding itself. 

And yet, somehow, I felt so alone. I just so missed Don, even more than I’d anticipated.

I was surprised to find I felt just as insecure as I did during my university days, when, staying in the halls of residence, I used to dread going down to meals. I hated entering a large cafeteria alone, scanning the tables for a familiar face. 

I had the same feeling when going to breakfast on Sunday. God knew I was anxious; I’d asked for his help. Why was I surprised, then, to find dear friends right in front of me when I arrived at the restaurant, who I could join for breakfast? 

I find it amazing that God works things out so silently sometimes. It wasn’t as if he’d told me when to head out of my room for the lift. I heard no voice saying, ‘Go now and you just might catch a friend on her way in.’ 

And yet, I know that God arranged it so that I did indeed meet friends on their way in. I just love God for his tender understanding of my silly fears.

After this weekend, I feel much more aware of what it’s like for those who have been widowed, and for those who are single, and for those whose partners work away from home, to go into joyful celebrations, alone.

 I hope I will make a bigger effort in future to include them in whatever I am doing.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Reflected Glory

It was just after 7.30 am and I was walking east, facing a red line on the horizon. No sun yet. Boy are we slipping fast towards winter’s darkness.

It was crisp and cold, a still silent world. We were in a hurry – well, I was – as I’d fed one B&B guest, had another to feed still, and 4 batches of scones to bake for Friday coffees today. But hey, I’m a woman, and I might even paint my toenails while I fry the eggs.

I turned back towards home, wondering where my nail polish was (only kidding...), and began the walk west. No imminent sunrise being announced on that horizon. And yet – there was a glow on the land, a reflected glory of what was going on behind me.

We who are facing the Light – all we can pray for is that those whose faces are turned away from it will see in us the reflected glory of the King of Kings.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Window on the World

I have a prayer window. My sons and husband designed it for me when they rebuilt the living room. Their thoughtfulness and love overwhelms me as I sit on the window seat and gaze out at the beauty of the countryside in autumn.

I am so blessed. This morning, as light returns to the dark earth, the leaves on one of the most beautiful trees in the garden are aflame, golden yellow blending with the browner tinges of straw bales tossed round the field, and some of the more orange, russet and brown trees down the road.

I am full of joy this morning, aware of my blessings, loving the God who pours them out. Aware of the responsibilities lying on those who have much, but freed from their weight by the assurance that as I take the yoke of Jesus on me, he will bear the weight.

It’s a new day! What will this day bring? Tasks aplenty but joys anew. A dog who makes me laugh. Texts and emails that convey information but also love. Plans to be made; prayers to be prayed; smiles to be shared.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bony Fingers

A dirty grey mist clamps down onto the earth, closing us in and reducing the horizon to a uniform blended line, erasing the bulge of the Hill of Fare, the tower on Scolty, and beyond, dark Lochnagar. A ferocious autumn wind tears at the near-naked branches, ripping off their last leaves and exposing bony fingers thrusting in all directions.

Raindrops sweep through the air, splatting onto windows and faces with equal glee. It’s a day for the fireside; even Dusty recognizes that as she stops in her stride, gazing at me with reproach. Am I guilty of causing this tempest or does she just blame me for taking her out into it? I’ll never know, but I do know that if I don’t take her out, I’ll be mopping up later.

Somewhere today the sun is shining and the ground is parched. Crops are shrivelled and people dream of refreshing rain. 

Or not.

Monday, 24 October 2011

What lies beneath?

Haven’t walked Dusty along the River Dee for ages – I have to avoid it when it’s fishing season as she is desperate to swim for sticks, and the fishermen do not appreciate a boisterous dog flinging herself with abandon into the current!

Today is overcast and grey; the wind is whipping up the leaves already strewn on the ground and blowing more off the trees. Fishing season ended a fortnight ago so we combined a river walk with a trip to the store.

We know a couple of places where the current bypasses inlets, and that’s where I throw the sticks. Dusty is a strong swimmer but she could be swept away in the Dee. As I stood flinging sticks into one of these safe havens, suddenly a salmon broke the steely coloured water just feet away, and just as suddenly sank back out of sight. 

I’d not been expecting it. They jump up a boulder ladder further upstream in order to reach their spawning grounds, but I’d forgotten they sometimes pop out before that, perhaps to get their bearings?

Made me wonder how many others were trying to make it home to spawn. Amazing the homing instinct and the great strength and determination of animals to get back to their ‘roots’.  

We all belong to God – we all started out with him, and he is our Father, waiting for us to go home.  I’ve been thinking a lot about outreach recently, and thinking of the hurting, hungry souls trying to get back to their ‘roots’. 

How can we help them find the way?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Whispers through the Trees

There’s a promise in the Bible that when we seek God with all our hearts, we will find him. 

I’ve always thought of it as a kind of reward. Like God is looking at me and thinking – ‘nope, not quite enough Michele. Keep seeking me.’ Or, ‘almost – a little more effort there and then I’ll let you have a peek at me. I’ll let you hear my voice.’

But today I was walking Dusty round Scolty – the hill next to Banchory. The day was a crisp, cold autumn one, and I paused to take a picture of some of the fall foliage. It looked like some of the trees were in flames, highlighted against the drab browns and greens of others. 

And it was like he was speaking through it. Not in words. But I understood that I was looking at a picture of the church, where some individuals are on fire for God, full of the Spirit and in love with Jesus, where others are just quietly fading away, unfed faith withering and dying, or just hanging on with a resignation to accept the status quo, to keep going as we’ve always done.

It dawned on me that I’ve been misunderstanding what I’ve read. That it isn’t that God will one day say, ‘Right, Michele, you’ve managed to seek me enough so I’ll open your ears to hear my voice.’ No. It’s that the more time I spend in His presence, the more fluent I’ll become in the language of love he uses to speak through anything and everything. He's always speaking but I'm not always attuned to hear.

I think I’ve got the concept. And maybe, like learning any language, it’ll take me some time to learn it. Even to be brave enough to believe I’ve understood and can speak back and be understood. And even longer to become fluent in it. 

But it’s a challenge I want to rise to.