Things I learn at Church!

I learnt some things yesterday at Church.  I learnt that a simple service, taken by someone in their 80’s can be a very profound experience.  Not for them power point, new words to old hymns, or even a progressive view of God. But they spoke powerfully, from the heart, in such a way that the truth of it supersedes all the words used.

Abandonment, the preacher spoke about abandonment. Are there times when we feel abandoned by God? What about when life seems lonely and there is no support from others.  Or when we lose people we love. Deep, deep questions about what it is to be human.

The God question is the easiest for me to ponder as a progressive Christian. I do not hold to the idea that we have to do things to please God, believe things or somehow pray hard enough for God to be present .  I believe God is present everywhere, at all times and in all places, part of the creative order, which includes us.  It’s not like the spirit comes and goes on a whim depending on how good we have been or how bad.

But I know it may feel otherwise.

When things get rough, the light of God seems to dim amongst the darkness of sorrow or grief or pain. And the darkness takes over.  A bit like Job on the ash heap when he had lost everything.  Yet my overwhelming response to this is that the divine presence is always present, regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not.   Working in us and the world, never abandoning creation, even if it may seem otherwise.  My hope is that we will always find our way back even if it takes a life time.

People, on the other hand, are another matter.

We abandon people all the time, particularly in our society, those that don’t fit, those that are different, those that are difficult, and those going through great pain and sorrow, so much that we freeze and don’t know what to say or do.  So we leave them, alone and isolated.  A terrible indictment about our world and about us as individuals, and I am guilty as much as anyone.  God does not abandon us, so why should we abandon others?

And then there are our own experiences of abandonment.  We are sometimes the one no one comes to support at a time of crisis, or to comfort at a time of sorrow or grief.

What about when someone dies,  does this feel like an abandonment?  Maybe.

Particularly if that loved ones dies suddenly. Yet as God does not abandon us, and we should not abandon others, neither does the person we loved, who has now gone, really  leave us.

I have watched how someone I care about has coped with the loss of his beloved wife.  And it is a lesson in grief and love and in the power of the spirit to comfort and renew.

Nev writes frequently about life after the death of his loving Marg, a fellow traveller and confidant. About the reality of what it means to him. He ponders it deeply.

He has discovered that Marg has not gone, because the Marg, who loved unconditionally is present in those who now support and love him, the Marg who loved her family is found in the love of the family to each other, and the Marg who loved life and who worked for those who suffered hardship and heart ache is found in those who continue this work.  Marg is found in all those she touched, including Nev himself, whom she shared an ongoing loving relationship with for many, many years.  A gift that once given is never taken away, even after death.

Grief is hard and can be a long, lonely road, and it may seem that even God cannot be found.  Yet the spirit is everywhere, in love given and received. Marg is alive in each one of these moments, a reality I think Nev has discovered and found great comfort in.

The final type of abandonment referred to yesterday was about things, what things can we let go in order to find who we really are.  What we own and what we earn becomes linked to our worth, such that we feel we cannot abandon them or the quest for them without losing ourselves in the process.

Rubbish!!!

Freedom comes when we realise we are gifts to life itself, just as we are, without money or houses or cars or bank accounts.  Life does not require a mortgage for us to be worthy of it. Life is life, and God is God and neither presence is determined by the amount of stuff we have.

When Jesus asks the rich young man to give up his riches and come follow him (one of the readings), he is saying something very profound.  We are a gift to others as we are, and we can make a difference by being just that. We cannot gain anything from God more than we already have, but we have much to give others. Money and power can blind us to this.

It can blind us to what we can be to others.

What does a grieving person or a person suffering and alone require, but presence, and love.  Nothing more and nothing less. We can make a difference by being ourselves, guided by the ongoing universal presence of the spirit. Sharing time and acknowledging everyone is of value can be the greatest gift we can give.  Rather than abandoning people, seeking to protect ourselves, perhaps we can love them instead.

I think this is a truth which is easily forgotten in our high pressure, high possession, consumer driven world.

Thanks Geoff, a great sermon.

Karen

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What it is to listen!

I sit here after another week in the Mowanjum Aboriginal community has come and gone.  I think this was my 8th or 9th  trip and I am consistently reminded that while on the surface, things look grim, there is more going on underneath than you imagine.  There are many people and organisations quietly working to improve the lives of those living there, their children, grandchildren and extended families, including in the community itself. Attempting to keep the culture, the traditions and the art alive, and to give the next generation pride in who they are and where they come from.

But while there are positives if we look, there are also deep, deep issues that they face, some that are so hard to imagine, living in Perth as a white Australian.

For one thing the grief of this small community is palpable. In the last few weeks they have lost four of their elders, the most recent one being a long-time supporter of the Boab Network.  This wonderful man died quickly from cancer, which is unusual, as many die from kidney disease, but all die much younger than you or I will.

This is on top of the many deaths of young men in particular over the years, There are mothers  in the community who have lost sons, brothers and fathers to early death. The grief sits underneath everything, like a black shroud, darkening the sky. It is not an excuse for the things that occur but it is a pain that is hard to overcome or for us to understand

There are also the wider issues, which most of us already sadly know. The moving of the community over and over again, so that they are not on their traditional land, the many agencies that come and go but do little , the lack of jobs, the lack of social services, roads and even a decent playground. and the hopelessness many feel.  And of course the scourge of alcohol and drugs which make things so much worse.

While these are huge issues, and I am no expert in answering these challenges, the more I go to the community, the more I know a way forward. And it is to listen, listen, and listen.

Every trip we meet more people, hear more stories, go that little bit deeper. This trip we took another step.

We went out to the Derby (Bungarum) Leprosarium, which is about 60 kms further along the Gibb river road from the community.  It is like a sacred site, being very significant for the indigenous people of the northwest of Western Australia. And for the community at Mowanjum. It was specifically established for aboriginal patients with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy in 1936.  Approximately 1200 people were inmates of this institution over the fifty years it was in operation. Inmates because most were unable to leave.

When we saw it, it was like a whole small town that once existed but is now empty and forgotten.  Except for the names of the 350 people who died there, which are inscribed on a metal wall as you enter the cemetery.    Names and people who have links to those living today. They are in unmarked graves, only designated with white crosses.

Bungarum was overseen by the nuns of the Sisters of St John of God, the community of Catholic Sisters whose members nursed and educated the patients and who also lived and died there, sacrificing much to care for them. Their graves are marked.

The leprosarium was closed in 1986 when better treatment and a cure was found for leprosy. It’s like they just left in mid-sentence, with files and papers still there. Yet for so long so many called it home.

It was an eerie, moving place.

We also went again to Old Mowanjum, where the community once lived before they were forcibly moved in 1975  to the current site.  Overgrown and desolate, it speaks of another time, another home.  A time when the community seemed to be settled. And it speaks of the lack of self-determination that has characterised the lives of aboriginal people, over and over again.

Another eerie, moving place.

It is not hard to see how the past  can and does affect the present, and the future. It all blurs into one.

But I believe there is hope.  There is always hope.

Hope in the resilience and spirituality of a people who have roots in this country going back 50,000 years, in the new generation who see the value of culture and language and tradition, but who also see the need for education and skills, and in the many non-aboriginal people willing to share, understand and stand beside communities like Mowanjum.

People like Gail who teaches in the kindy/pre-primary school but who also has a heart for the people,  Greg, the “wood man”, who helped young children and older teenagers learn new skills building wooden drums, windmills and cars, with gentle guidance and care, and Liz, a community nurse who checks skin and sores, helps parents to prevent and clear up infections and has a real love for the families. And of course in the members of the Boab network who come up every school holidays to run activities for the kids, some educational and some just great fun!

This is a hope that things can change, can be transformed, and then being called to become part of the transformation. Sometimes it seems too hard, too challenging, and then I remember the stories, the dreams, the people, the gifts they have given to me.  And I am inspired.

One day we will see justice and equity and peace for our first peoples and  wholeness for ourselves in this country. Because while they suffer, we are diminished as well.

In the end we will realise they have so much to teach us, if we listen!.

 

Karen

 

 

A Letter to my Congregation!

I have pondered this sermon for a while, thinking of how I could incorporate last weekends Synod experience,  the discussion we had on Monday over David Galston’s book, Embracing the human Jesus, and even what I have been feeling lately into it.  In the end I decided to write you a letter.  I am inspired by Nadia Bolz-Weber who did a similar thing for her congregation. Because I want to share some things.

A letter seems more personal, and I want to be personal today.

So, dear members

I want to speak to you about trust, and about belief and about life.  Rather than the footy! Which is of course very personal to me.

I have been on the Christian journey for a long time, actually it seems a life time really.  For me it’s had its ups and downs and sometimes I have screamed to get off it, to run away and maybe join the circus, not that I can juggle like Matt.  The demands are too great, I don’t feel religious or spiritual enough or compassionate or generous enough.  Sometimes , I just want to go on holidays, and leave everything behind!  Sometimes, I don’t want to worry about whether I am good enough for the ride! Sometimes I just want to enjoy the ride.

Maybe this is some of you.

Yet there has always been something underneath my occasional despair, that lifts me out of it.

Something that draws me back to the path, a still small voice that speaks to my heart,  about what it is to really live, with passion and love and forgiveness and hope. When I act more expansively, and am less worried about myself and what I want or need, and more about what is good for other people, this voice becomes real. So real.

Although this is slightly presumptuous, I sense this is a truth found deep within all of us, those that are here, and those who would not be seen within a mile of a church. A truth that says, when we give up things, when we deny things for the sake of others, we somehow become happier, more settled and more content. We seem to find life, a fullness of life.  Sometimes, surprisingly,  we may even find God, I know I have.

Yet It is almost impossible to convince someone else of the veracity of this great and abiding truth. Why, because we live in such an individual, ego driven world and God is usually dismissed as an ancient, unbelievable idea, which has outlasted its use by date.

Yet I am not talking about a God in the sky or an old man who whimsically acts occasionally for some, while leaving others alone and lost, but something sacred in life that gives life.  A presence that cannot be described, only experienced, a presence found in all things at all times in all the universe since the beginning of time.  That urges us to be better than we are, more loving, more compassionate, more forgiving. You can call it what you like, but many people seek it and find it, and their lives and the lives of those around them are better for it.  This is what keeps me going, in a world that thinks we are slightly crazy.

But what about Jesus. I started my journey looking for God, when dissecting dead people and have ended up here. In a different culture and country I may have ended up a Hindu or a Muslim or even a Jew but instead I am a Jesus follower.  I sometimes have thought about my faith with and without Jesus, and realise I can’t quite leave him behind.  He seems to be with me wherever I go, not literally but spiritually.

So as each of us seek to find who Jesus is, let me share my vision. I see a man of his time, a courageous, feisty, loving and inclusive man, who more than I realised was way, way ahead of us all.  Women, the poor, the outcast, they were his friends, and he spoke to his followers and to us in ways that left indelible marks, that have lasted 2000 years.

But while David Galston, a modern New Testament scholar and part of the Jesus seminar, identifies mostly with his wisdom teachings, or how we are to live together,  many others including me want to broaden Jesus, give him a more varied job description. He was more than a teacher,  he was a prophet, calling us to change and turn from our destructive ways, he was a healer, bringing people together, breaking down barriers, and he was a mystic, a spirit person,  revealing the deep presence of God in all of us.

Dominic Crossan describes him as a non-violent revolutionary who practised non-violent resistance to the powers of in justice until death.  And in so doing revealed most fully the creative and life giving presence of God in this world.

What he isn’t, is the singular savour of individuals so that they can escape the world and go somewhere else.  A divine rescuer, or as Nadia Bolz-Weber calls him, your magical puppy in a pound.  That if you choose him he will be yours. And with your personal magical puppy will come all the warm feelings and love and blessings you can imagine.  And you will not be required to do anything in return.

But this is not what we hear today in the reading from Mark, (8:28-37 for those interested), whose community knew so much persecution.

What we have today is not a magical puppy, but a flesh and blood human being, who calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. And if you try to save your life you will lose it and if you lose it for the sake of the gospel you will gain it.

It’s such a powerful reading, lose your life and you will save it.  It seems to summarise everything that I have been pondering. Take up the sometimes incredibly difficult task of loving and forgiving and sharing and we will find life.  Give up our egos, and our power for the sake of others and we will find life. Give up violence as a way of solving our problems, give up the idea that we are more worthy of God than our enemies, deny the idea that we are individuals that can do it alone, and we will find life in community.

Yet as I said before , it’s almost impossible to convince others of this truth, even as I stand before you, supposedly trying to.

Even Jesus himself had problems convincing those who were closest to him. He asks Peter, who do you say I am, because Peter was so blinded by the culture and religious norms of his day. Peter takes Jesus aside to try to talk sense into him, because he doesn’t really get the message. So if Jesus can’t do it, neither can I.

All I can do is share my own experiences, along this path.

Whenever I feel I want to give up the ride, and go my own individual way, I come back to the beginning.  I actually believe very little, but I seem to know a lot. Heart knowing.  Because faith is about knowing and trusting.

Trusting that the way of Jesus gives life.  Fullness of life. Trusting that the mystery of God gives hope, for all. For we are all God’s children.

Even if it may appear otherwise.

Signed

Your pastor Karen

Crikey, something about politics!

We are having a clean-up at home, for those that know me this is a revolutionary thing, as I have trouble throwing anything away. Actually its more than just a clean-up, we are rearranging rooms, and finally I am going to have my own study, rather than sharing with Matt!

In this process, which is ongoing, I found a DVD of Joni Mitchell (thanks Marion), and was reminded of her incredible talent.  I do have quite a few of her songs on my phone, and listen to them now and then, but to see her perform is something else.

For those who don’t know her or haven’t watched “Love Actually” she is a fantastic folk singer, social justice activist,  and writer from the sixties.  She is still singing and performing but rarely puts out albums.  When asked about this some years ago she said something which is very relevant for today. She said “I spent the last couple of years pissed off, I was mad at America, mad at the government, mad at the people for not doing something about it. All that loss of freedom and everybody just kind of oblivious.” She was referring to the Bush years, but they could equally be applied to America today.

After the events of the past week, but really the events of the last decade, Joni Mitchell made me ponder our own governments, both liberal and labour.  Whether they have been visionary and uplifting or narrow and self-defeating? Whether they have made all lives better or just a few, at the expense of many?  Have they made us more fearful, or more open and compassionate.  Have they been global in outlook or nationalistic in focus, leading us to ignore what is happening around the world and to the world?

We will have an election next year, if not sooner, and the words of Joni Mitchell stress the need for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike to get involved, to be more than spectators in the process.

However, as people with faith in a divine presence at the core of life, that seeks love and justice for all people, and for those who are followers of Jesus who lived out this inclusive message in the world, it is essential for us to take it further.  Not that those with no faith or a different faith do not have this same responsibility, for I believe the spirit works everywhere, but it seems to me that faith is often used to justify certain measures as though it automatically makes them right.

As Jim Wallis, Editor of Sojourners, a magazine and organisation, with a by-line, “Faith in Action for Social Justice” has said previously, “we hear politicians who love to say how religious they are but utterly fail to apply the values of faith to their public leadership and political policies.”  Remember if politicians start talking about God and the Church and then want to lock up people who are seeking refuge, remove safety nets for the poorest in society, want to follow policies that entrench stereotypes of racism, or behave like vindictive, power seeking individuals, as has been the case here in Australia, we may have a problem.

We really need to test whether the policies put forward by our governments match what we know will bring about a compassionate, caring and just society and world.  Christians are called not just to participate in political debate but to apply what we believe is a faithful response to God and Jesus.

I believe the principal we are after is something called the “Common Good”.  A radical proposition these days.  We want policies that do not just focus on the rich, so that they can get richer, or big business so they can become more powerful, or the first world so they can use more of the worlds resources or jobs and growth, so that we decimate the environment further, but rather ones that take into account  what makes for a fulfilling life for all.  Where food, shelter and education are basic rights, community is promoted and encouraged and where we embrace the challenges and responsibilities of being global citizens. Where the common good is the focus.

While I do not in any way want to be a moral compass, because it is not about labour or liberal, perhaps some simple guidelines will help when we are engaging ourselves in this process.

What we need and want are policies that promote compassion, economic justice and equity, community, peace and environmental responsibility.  And maybe even policies that both parties agree on.

Here are some examples put forward by Sojourners for the US elections.

  1. Policies whereby working  people earn enough to support their families and those that don’t work are supported with dignity.
  2. Policies where public education, health and housing are sustained at a level needed to give all people long and fulfilling lives.
  3. Policies that address poverty not only in Australia but also in the wider world, with a commitment to overseas aid and projects.
  4. Policies that attempt to reduce global conflict, protect the victims of these conflicts but see war as the very last option.
  5. Policies which attempt to reduce our societies division along racial and financial lines, often seen in sentencing and incarceration rates, health and education accessibility, and particularly in relation to aboriginal people.
  6. Policies that support compassionate and just immigration laws, and conform to international treaties we are signatories to.
  7. Policies that promote religious tolerance, defend the rights of women and LGBTIQ people, fight torture worldwide and contribute to programs and measures that improve the health and wellbeing of people in developing countries.
  8. Policies that protect the weak and marginalised from violence, either within families or outside.
  9. Policies that attempt to restore integrity to our civic and business practises and transform our culture of violence, materialism and consumption.
  10. Policies that help to reverse global climate change, prioritise clean air and water and develop clean and renewable energy.

Now I know these will be regarded as almost “pie in the sky” ideals, wishful thinking to a cynical public, particularly after the events in Canberra, but also what has emerged from the banking Royal Commission and what is happening to refugees who seek our protection.

But as followers of Jesus, a man who challenged the Roman Empire, lets us not be too afraid.  We live in a democracy, and our role is to image the future, and then call it into being by our actions.  We are to live with hope and faith, that change can and will occur.

So let’s start by expecting more from our politicians and our government and then holding them accountable by entering the debate.

Karen

 

 

My love of Mary Oliver

I want to do a short post for a change.  Nothing spectacular, nothing that might change the world.  But might get one person to stop and think, maybe.

I went to the movies the other day with a friend.  We wanted to see Edie, a beautifully photographed film about an elderly woman, who after years of caring for a sick husband, sets out to climb a mountain in Scotland.  One she wanted to climb a long time ago with her father, but through circumstance, and through her inability to really seize the day, well any day actually, she hadn’t done.  Until now.  The years in between were lived in a bit of a half life, for everyone else except herself, particularly for her domineering husband. She is helped to climb it by a young man, on the edge of life, and who has to make decisions of his own, about how he will live his life.

It’s a movie, about love and loss, about new beginnings, and about friendship. And about life, the only one we have.

It reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver, who has become like a friend to me.  Speaking things that may go unsaid if not for her quiet and perceptive observations.

The poem is called,

“When Death Comes”

 

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

 

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox;

 

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

 

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

 

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

 

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

 

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

 

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

 

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

 

Perhaps a lesson for us all! It is never to late, just ask Edie.

 

Karen

Belonging

Although there was a time when I wasn’t going to do any more scientific research, there was also one more thing I felt I had to do which I couldn’t shake.  I needed to write up the project I did for Royal Peth Hospital, which involved collecting outcome data for patients who had a joint replacement.  Otherwise the data would be wasted and the contribution of all those patients who willingly participated would not be recognised.  So even though I still work part time for a Uniting Church, which takes up a lot of time and energy, I decided to just go and do it.  And in the process get a PhD.  A final full stop on my scientific contribution.

But it’s not easy, especially when other things in life, both good and bad, happen along the way.  Weddings, and babies, and pregnancies which are a beautiful surprise (not mine I might add), and the pain of loss and the sorrow of saying goodbye.  In the first few months I had such doubt that I could “just go and do it”. I even looked at how others have managed to keep going when things get difficult and self-doubt grows, to get some ideas on how to cope. What I got instead was horror stories!

I found blogs on the disasters that can befall someone on the journey, the shattering mental and confidence crises that others and maybe I am going to go through. And a mysterious psychological term called the “sunk cost fallacy”. This is a scary condition, where when one wants desperately to quit their PhD they can’t, because of all the pain and hard work that has already gone into it, while doubting whether the sheer amount of work to go is too much.  Such torment.

But it gets worse. There will supposedly be a point when I am half way through and I won’t feel I have made enough progress, will be lost in the middle of an ocean of uncertainty and I will still have in front of me a couple of painful years to endure. This period is called by many, the “Valley of Shit” or the “Crisis of Meaning”. It appears almost every graduate student goes through this existential crisis. Yet it makes the whole thing seem incredibly daunting.

Help, what have I done!!

Then something happened to me the other day that made me feel warm and toasty inside. And not so daunted!

My friend who has been doing a PhD for about 10 years, yes I know, a long time,  made some sad faced badges at the beginning of his journey.  There are only a few of them given to people who embark on this crazy activity, and when the PhD is finished  they have to pass it on to some other unsuspecting student.  Well a few days ago it was my day.  Alex, a co-worker has just finished after 8 years (crikes), and ceremonially gave me his badge to wear with pride until the day comes when I too hand mine in.

Well, I was both chuffed and horrified, but I proudly added the badge to my ID badge, and will wear the sad little face until the end.

IMG_5082

It made me feel I belonged to some secret society, one in which only those doing it really understand the pain, the sheer horror of the ride and the fact that every now and then you will think, why the heck am I doing this!.  A community in which I now belong, for better or worse.

Belonging is one of the essential items on life’s checklist. We yearn to belong, whether it is to a family, to friends, to a faith community, to even a sporting or drama group or book club.  We are social beings and we do better when we are in relationship with people, when we share the ride, and can support and nurture each other along the way. I think we are meant to belong to others, and don’t function very well when we are isolated and alone in this world.

Someone asked the other day why on earth do I go to church. Well it is to belong to a community of people who seek to do this, support and nurture one another, but who are also open to seeing the sacred in life and who seek to better the life for those around us. I think Jesus  and his teachings have often been misunderstood by our wider society,  but this was one of his main messages, about love of neighbour, and about community, about sharing life together.

I not only work for a Uniting Church, but I also belong to it. Am I committed to those people, young and old who attend?  You bet you I am.  And I think they are committed to me.

But now I have another group!

Just as I belong to the Wembley Downs Uniting Church I also belong to the secret sad face PhD group. Hopefully they will be just as supportive!

For it’s going to be a long journey…

Karen

 

How to Say Goodbye!

I sit here today, snuggling under the doona, trying to process what has happened in the last week. I do have a cold so it’s my excuse for doing some reflecting today.

Sometimes we go on in the world as though things won’t change, that everything will stay the same.  Sometimes that’s because we are in the depths of despair or grief or loneliness or self-destruction and we cannot see a way out.  Sometimes it’s because life is so good, we never want the moment to end.

And sometimes it’s because the life we are leading seems right, and the people in it seem right and we think that these people will always be around. Always be there to consult, to share with and laugh with.

This is especially if you have a job like mine, helping to lead a church community in a world that probably doesn’t care that much about the call of Jesus. Yet the people in my church care very deeply, and have cared for a long time, working to support one another as well as those marginalised in our society.  But the congregation is aging, and the years are catching up.

One person who I just assumed would go on forever died the other day, suddenly.  What a shock, not because I didn’t think that 84 was an age that this might happen, just that I could not really see a world in which she wasn’t in it.

One day she was here, the next she was gone.  And everything you thought about how life was going, goes out the window.

Both Marg, who died and Nev have been important people in my life for about 35 years, sharing the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of being friends, mentors, travelling companions, and seekers of the divine in life.  And in between we had such fun.

No matter where we were, or what we were doing, the topic always seemed to come back to God. Where, when , how and even what?

We would have many, many discussions, frank discussions on our doubts, our difficulties and our trust in the faith that was part of their lives from very early on.

They were never dogmatic, never not open to a new idea, never afraid to explore the meaning of life and now death, as I slowly developed my own thoughts and feelings on God, and my role in the world, coming from a scientific and non churchy background.

And they were never ones for a traditional view.  They were always trying to fashion new words and images for the reality that sits under all reality. That drives us forward towards one another in love.  That maybe we can touch and sense in our most aware moments.

Yet suddenly it’s finished…..

We did talk about death, and what it might mean.  Actually we talked about it endlessly as Nev is 88 after all! Not a heavenly home for some and hell for others, as many believe, but a mystery at the heart of life.

Rob Bell, one of my favourite authors, writes..

We are both large and small

Strong and weak

Formidable and faint

Reflecting the image of the divine

And formed from dust.

We are a paradox. We are made of dust and stars and energy and atoms, and then maybe  something else . When I now speak of God, I believe it is a presence that has to be embodied in us because that is what we are, human beings. God’s creative effect has to be lived out in the world by us.   if you see Jesus as that embodiment then you will see Gods message not as a dogmatic calling to another life, but a calling to this life, to make it better.

This is what Marg did, and countess others do every single day.

We do what we can, when we can, within the confines of our humanity. But once we have gone, we have gone.  That is sometimes how I think.  How many think.  How I think Nev thinks. But then I feel a stirring.

If God’s spirit is eternal, from the very beginning of time, and found in all things, then maybe there is more.

A mystery at the heart of life.  A living on not just in those left behind, but a mystery at the heart of God.

For me, as for others, there seems to be something more, hidden under the surface of our reality.  Of who we are, and what the world is.  There seems to be something resonating, a call if you like, that draws us forward to look over the edge.

And when we do, it speaks of love that goes on, whatever and however that happens.

Maybe Marg’s spirit is adding to the collective consciousness that surrounds us all, who knows. All I know is that she was bonded to God when she was alive and somehow that bond will remain. Looking over the edge gives me a sense we are all one in God, forever, and that is enough for me.

 

I will so miss our sharing over cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, and Indian dinners, although I will still share with Nev, as he fashions a different life out of the one he knew with Marg. But Marg will go on in the hearts and minds of all who knew her and loved her, and in those lives she touched. The rest as Nev would say, is just poetry. Or mystery.

As I go forward myself, there is a realisation that life is always changing, and grief and sorrow is part of the journey.  But so is love and friendship and joy.  Nothing stays the same.

Maybe the only thing we can do is enjoy the ride, contribute where we can and tell those who travel with us how much they mean to us, every single day.

 

Karen

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