Posts Tagged ‘Pausing-In-Lent’

A Pause In Lent 2

Saturday, March 19th, 2011


So this is post number 2. Thank you for your kind and encouraging responses to my first pause.

I’m actually writing this on Saturday, as I may not have much time tomorrow or Monday. So I hope nobody minds that I’m a little in advance: if you do, you could not read it until tomorrow, if that would help!

All this week I’ve been, on odd occasions, wondering what I should blog about in this pause. I wondered whether to continue my rambling from last week, or to go off on a tangent. I had lots of ideas, but there is a poem that kept coming back to me, so I’ll share that with you. I was going to write something about what the poem meant to me, blah-de-blah. But then something happened last night that I really want to tell you about.  I want to tell you about a doctor that I met.

You may have “met” this doctor at the same time as I did. He is a man, who, time after heart breaking time, has to make the worst decision a person could ever have to make: which child should be given the chance of life, and which will have to die. And every time he has to make this choice, he also dies a little inside.

I watched the Comic Relief programme last night, and while so many of the short films they showed were shocking, I think it was watching this man that affected me most. He no doubt entered medicine because he wanted to make a difference, to save people’s lives, but, because of the poverty of the hospitals where he works, he doesn’t have enough equipment to do what he so desperately wants to do.

The film showed him, in his terribly under resourced hospital, with 4 children, each with malaria, each held tightly in the arms of their weeping mother, each needing life-giving oxygen…and only three portals to the oxygen machine. He had to choose which child would not be treated. He had to choose which three would live, and which would, in all probability, die. And as he explained this to camera, his voice broke and he turned away, overwhelmed by the enormity of what he had to do…and what he has to do every day.

Apparently, there are a good percentage of people who watch the Comic Relief programme, and don’t donate. Let’s be honest, I’ve been in that percentage, but today, after watching that young man weep as he contemplated the choice he had to make, I can’t not donate. I have to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a link to the Red Nose Day site. If you’ve not donated yet, please think of that young doctor having to choose which child has to die, and get out your credit card.

£120 could enable four volunteers, living in remote villages in Uganda, to get the training they need to give life-saving medical treatment to children with malaria.

£8 could pay for ten Ugandan children to be tested for malaria so they can get a quick diagnosis and receive life-saving treatment. Yes – 10 children…the tests cost 80p each. I spend 80p on a chocolate bar and think nothing of it. I lose 80p down the back of the sofa. And it could save a life!

And now, here’s that poem. I first read it at secondary school, as we studied the Metaphysical Poets. I can’t tell you much about them now, but certain poems, this one by George Herbert, and others by John Donne, have really spoken to me through the years. When I re-read this as I post it, I don’t think I need to write about what it means to me. Because it’s what it means to you that is important.  I have posted this on this blog before, but I think it bears repeating.

LOVE (III) – by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.


A Pause In Lent 1

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Joining with Floss over at Troc,Broc et Recup and several other bloggers too, I’m pausing in Lent. I think the idea is that once a week we blog about Lent: what it means to us, how we are keeping Lent, our thoughts and our prayers. I have joined in because I thought it would do me good: my spiritual side is a weak and wan little thing at the moment.  I’m not taking part in any Lenten discipline, nor reading any Lenten books, nor doing anything – I guess this is my Lenten discipline, but I’m fairly sure it’s going to be rather incoherent, and rambling.However, for other, more inspiring posts, try going to Floss and her list of other Lent “Pausers”.

Where am I spiritually at the moment, I ask myself. Well, basically, I seem to be avoiding Church. I make excuses: it’s a long journey, my friend isn’t there at the moment, I can’t understand what the sermon’s about, I don’t want to go, it’s too wet, I’ve got up too late. However I dress it up to myself though, I know the truth: I am avoiding going to church. Or maybe it’s God I’m avoiding – I don’t know. Nor do I truly know why. But church is not calling me at the moment. I’ve not been for 5 weeks and I’m not missing it.

I am still praying – in a fairly low-level way, generally. I am still “chatting” to God.  I had a couple of days ranting at God about the total unfairness of a friend’s son’s cancer, and praying, whenever I could the arrow prayer “Please God, not malignant.” For a hold-your-breath few days it was looking like God couldn’t give a shit, but he came through with a diagnosis (described by the specialist as “incredible”) of Hodgkins lymphoma. I was grateful and thankful and back-on-God’s-side (for a couple of days) then it all just dribbled out of me again. Then there is the world shaking news of earthquakes in New Zealand and now in Japan. While I don’t exactly blame God for these – they are, after all, natural disasters caused as the techtonic plates go about their business and the earth continues to evolve as it has done over millions of years – I still am horrified by the enormity of what has happened and the helplessness I feel.

Maybe this is my problem: I’m feeling insignificant, useless, helpless in the face of such horrors – both personal like cancer, and global like the earthquakes. I was talking to my mum about the first of Dr Brian Cox’s new BBC series “Wonders of the Universe” She said that the effect of watching this for her was to realise how, in the grand scale of things, we are nothing but mere specks of dust. In fact a million billion times smaller than mere specks of dust. We are insignificant. And I argued that while we may be insignificant in terms of the universe, to those around us we are significant. We do have an effect. We can change things….because if we think that we are insignificant, we then are in danger of believing that everyone is insignificant and unimportant. And that surely will effect how we interact with them and how we see the world. If nobody matters then we don’t need to worry about them.

A quotation from Dr Who which kind of sums this up…As Kazran describes Abigail as “No-one important” (when in fact she was the most important person in the world to him) the Doctor responds with: “Nobody important? Blimey, that’s amazing. Do you know, in 900 years of time and space, and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.”

But while I’m with the Doctor here, while I believe what I said to mum: that  in the place where we are, in the here-and-now, we are important, and we are not insignificant, I do start to wonder about how significant we are to God. As creator of not only this Universe but every universe to the end of infinity, it seems nigh on impossible to me that he can care for every creature within those infinite universes (human, or whatever other life form they may be). And presumably, if Christ died for the creatures in this world, then did he die multiple times for creatures in other worlds/universes – or maybe they didn’t need it, because they hadn’t “fallen” quite so spectacularly as humankind.

Does he care if I don’t go to church? When thousands of people have just been washed away by a tsunami, worrying about my lack of attendance at a small Eglise Reformée in central France seems like a non starter. I can’t help thinking God’s got bigger fish to worry about frying…

But then I guess that I am always, inevitably, going to be thinking from a finite, human point of view. I’m trying to make sense of a world I don’t understand because it’s too big for me. And if the world’s too big I haven’t a hope understanding the Universe and beyond… I am trying to squeeze God into a box that is too small to contain him. I’m trying to make him comfortable, and easy-to-understand, and I am forgetting that he is GOD. Huger than the very hugest thing. Creator of infinity. That isn’t comfortable. That isn’t easy-to-understand. So maybe I should stop trying…

The soul in its littlenness looks on God in his greatness and loves Him.

God in his greatness, looks on the soul in its littleness and loves it.

Trite? Profound? Easy to say? Difficult to grasp? I don’t know.

Oh, dear, I don’t know if this is what Floss was hoping for…It’s not exactly encouraging. It’s not exactly inspiring.But it’s where I am. I suspect that my Lenten discipline may be to try to spend time mulling over what I’m saying here. I’ll maybe try to hold onto that quotation (from Augustine?) above, and meditate on it a little.

I really wanted to share a poem with you, by Joyce Rupp, entitled “May I have this Dance?” which really spoke to me, some 12 years ago, when I went to Iona with a group of people from the churches in Milton Keynes. I had a great time, spending time with my Godson, but also meditating on my relationship with God. This poem summed up my feelings at the time so magnificently well and I think it sums up what I am yearning for now. But I cannot find it available on the internet, and I’m sure it will be in copyright, so I can’t quote it all here. But maybe I can be allowed to quote a small part, which still speaks to me:

the Voice stretches into me

a stirring leaps in my heart

lifting up the bones of death.

then I offer my waiting self

to the One who’s never stopped

believing in me,

and the dance begins.