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Saturday, 31 December 2011


Who am I?

Does it depend on where I was born? Which parents raised me? 

Does it change with my age? With my circumstances? With my health?

I’ve been hobbling a bit lately, as a result of the injury sustained by my foot in the final donut dash in Long Beach. It is annoying me because I do a lot of walking. Or hobbling, as the case may be.

I thought that if anyone drove past me at yesterday, they would be likely to think that there went a fairly old lady. Hobbling. Limping. Slowly.

My self-image includes walking strongly and at a brisk pace, playing tennis energetically and winning some of the time, and playing the cello to a moderate level of proficiency. I am doing none of those things now, for various health reasons. Has my identity thus changed, or since I still long to do all those things in my mind, has it remained the same? And what happens to those poor folks who are injured and end up in wheel chairs, or contract diseases which incapacitate them? What does that do to their self-image, to their identity?

It’s a good thing that at the heart of it all, I know that my identity is in Jesus Christ, and that whatever fluff and extras there are which I think define me, He knows the core of who I am and that will one day be revealed, when he gives me my new name. A name, Biblically-speaking, always signifies more than just a few letters strung together. It communicates a personality, an identity.

Like Immanuel. God with us. 

Still, I look forward to walking firmly and resolutely again. Whether or not it says anything about my identity.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Winter Winds

There’s an amber warning out in Scotland. Winds gusting to 90 mph in some areas. The lights flicker occasionally and we make sure we know where the torches are. 

Inside the fire crackles in the grate. The dog and cats snuggle in as close as they can get. Christmas detritus litters the room – the odd bit of a cracker that contained some chocolates a few days ago. Ripped envelopes from the last cards which arrived today. Christmas table mats and wine glasses, streaked with the remainders of the Rioja enjoyed with dinner. A wreath dying slowly on the sideboard. 

The affianced couple sitting across from me, agonizing over the wedding guest list. How do you judge who you are closest to? Which of your parents’ friends should be jettisoned? Which of your colleagues can stay home on the day?

Relationships. The essence of Christmas – Jesus coming to reconcile humanity to God. To reconcile humanity with humanity. Prince of Peace. And yet at Christmas, so many relationships under strain, breaking down. So many broken relationships, the pain highlighted at this time of year. Intensified. 

So many people with a cheerful veneer covering up broken hearts, broken lives. Desperately needing the healing touch of Christ, but not even recognizing that. Lost in darkness with no idea where the torch is.

Who the torch is.

Winter winds.  Longing for the gentle breeze of summer.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Down Day


A day without a need to drive. To go. To produce. 

A day to BE.

Well, that’s the plan. Friends may drop in for a coffee. Good friends. Family here for an easy dinner. Later.

Later out of bed. Breakfast at noon, nearly. 

Dog did get walked once already, dancing round the shooters who are out killing the fat pheasants they so lovingly fed all autumn. Madness.

Time today to read my Bible. To think. To pray. To be alone a little bit and think. Got an issue to resolve. Praying for wisdom and guidance. Trusting that it will come.

Even my sentences aren’t complete today. 

Ahh. A down day.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Back in the Box

One of the gifts is broken. Back into the box it goes, to be returned via amazon’s excellent-sounding returns policy. We’ll see how that works.

They say the replacement will arrive within the week. 

Some relationships are broken. Highlighted at this festive time of year, when loved ones draw near to eat, drink, laugh, and reminisce of Christmases past and people now departed and missed. 

But not everyone has somewhere to go. Not everybody has others with whom to reminisce. The meal we served yesterday for those on their own in our local town. Only eleven of ‘them’ amongst 14 of ‘us’ serving, chatting, laughing, enjoying. But not reminiscing. Our histories don’t intertwine. We hear some stories of children abroad who won’t drive to the airport to pick up the elderly mother whose only wish is to see her great grandchildren. We hear stories of children twenty miles away with grandchildren, none of whom seem to visit or invite. We hear stories of dreadful marriages long ago broken down; of grown children who have cut all ties with their mother, now ill and disabled.

We don’t know why. Who was at fault. Who should take the first step back.

We hear stories of people truly on their own – no family left, or at least not in this area. 

The chatter is loud. The laughter when Santa comes is genuine, maybe evoking memories in many of times long since past. A wee toddler asks Santa where he’s left his reindeer. ‘On the roof’, he replies.
Gifts are exchanged. Goody bags are distributed. Carols are sung, poems recited, prayers prayed.
And then the drivers return each to his own place. Alone. 

Back into the box. 

Hopefully, though, not feeling so alone. Hopefully, accepting that others do, after all, care. Hopefully, recognizing that Jesus Christ came out of His ‘box’ to live with us, Immanuel. To bring reconciliation between people and God, and between people and people. 

Hopefully, the box is no longer so empty and dark, as the light of Christ illuminates it.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Cry of the Owl

The dark woods loomed on my left as I circled round. It was the usual morning walk at about 8 am, but because the clouds hung low and damp and the rain fell soft and fast, there was no dawn to notice. My eyes were trained on the uneven ground anyway, as I’d already encountered a patch of treacherous black ice and I am very unwilling to sprain an ankle.

Suddenly, from the dead, dark woods, came the wonderfully clear call of an owl close by. Again and again. I wished I knew more about birds. Was that a distress call? A good morning – or a good night – call? A cry for a mama owl, or for a baby owl? 

I don’t know. But when I called out for Dusty to keep up with me, the woods became lifeless once more. The owl, sensing danger perhaps, closed its beak. 

Life where least expected. Of course I knew there were living creatures in the woods, but as I trudged round the muddy path, the forest was a homogeneous lump of dark matter. 

How often do I trudge through life past people whom I have given up for dead? Do I even listen for their cry? Or am I so busy chattering away through my own life, that their cries are silenced?

Today, I will listen.