A Miscellany of Encouragement

I’ve been meaning to blog for some time, but this is the first time in a while that I’ve given myself the time to do it. I’m glad I have, because, having some difficulties with returning to work after illness, additional encouragement is most welcomed; in the process of looking at a couple of pages for this scrapbook, I’ve followed the classic internet trend of one page leading to another, and another… all encouraging me in my journey.

I’ll start with one that inspired me to clear thinking on some reasons why I am not a strict materialist (believing only matter exists/ is important), particularly commendable in that it was an apparently popular BBC magazine article that celebrates a long forgotten author and a philosophical approach to life.

The next is a piece of music, I want Jesus to walk with me, sung by Eric Bibb, here on youtube.

I want Jesus to walk with me
All along my pilgrim journey
I want Jesus to walk with me
When I’m in trouble walk with me
When my heart is almost breaking
I want Jesus to come walking with me
In my trials, walk with me
When my head is bowed in sorrow
I want Jesus to come walking with me.

I came across this song as one accompanying this version of common prayer. As I often find it easier to find accompanying music to listen to via youtube, I searched and came across a version where Eric Bibb explains his love of this song, and then via that to the song itself. There are many things I appreciate about this song, including its long history as a negro spiritual from people in much more concrete hardship than I have ever faced. I love the simplicity, the rhythm, the cadences, but mostly I love that straightforward call for Jesus to be Emmanuel, God with us.

It echoes back for me to the May Bank Holiday weekend. I really wanted to have the opportunity to celebrate Calan Mai, especially with the beautiful weather, so I (ironically?) ended up spending the weekend in England with family. We spent plenty of time outside, and went for some lovely walks. Me and my Mum managed to come across a church doing ‘Al Fresco Church’ in a beautiful place. Entirely random in some ways, and yet it felt made to measure in others. The theme was the tapestry God weaves (for Good) through all events in our lives, good and ill. We sang the (beautiful, but impossibly high for most female voices) song composed by Matt Redman, Blessed be your Name. And I weaved a piece of dried up prickly blackberry thorn into a group ‘tapestry’, chuckled at the beautiful ‘singing’ of the many accompanying dogs, and marveled at the divine providence that brought me to that very beautiful sunny place for that time. Emmanuel, in the times good and bad.

On the Monday evening, I managed to share with my Mum and sis a delightful fire and food (with more accompanying dogs in hope of sausages or sticks) that felt like my own May Day celebration. (Fortunately our BBQ didn’t lead to the same chaos as this Beaker Folk One). I had really appreciated this thought and prayer from the community of Aiden and Hilda for the first of May, and that day with my family felt like a way to celebrate it fully in action:

Happy Beltane! The Celtic celebration of the start of summer and the time the light is the strongest. May the Sun of Righteousness rise upon you this Beltane with healing in his wings!
A Beltane prayer:
May the Light rise to guide you,
May the sacred fire cleanse you,
May the wealth of heaven be poured out upon you
And may you know peace

Which also leads neatly on to this poem, by Sally at Eternal Echoes, that I think catches the spirit of Calan Mai for me this year (and also Pentecost!)…

” Set your fire within my soul…”

I came across it after looking at another post or two from the Beaker Folk. Firstly this one on thoughts on days of clear blue skies (for people not from the UK, I’ve no idea how you came across this blog, but hiya, thought I’d just clarify that in the UK, days of blue skies and sun are such a rarity that they are considered a very precious commodity). There’s one part that particularly clarifies my kind of optimistic pessimism:

“I’m going to believe there’s a deeper Magic below the prosaic surface. I’m going to assume that, random and scary though this life is, the point is buried in there somewhere… I’m going to assume that our hope and futility meet at a cross made of wood on a hillside under a darkling sky. And I will be amazed, and awed, and apprehensive. But I will not be afraid. At least, not all the time.”

I found that this poem/ prayer from Sally at Eternal Echoes, like many of the psalms, just the right one for me in the days following on from the Blue Skies, and a good way to pray through tougher days,

“so I am knocking,

no I am railing against heaven’s door,

will you answer…”

And I will end this rather lengthy extended scrapbook session, with this answer from the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley, about Ascension Day.

But there’s one thing we now know. Pierced by thorns, slashed by a whip, holed by nails, cut open by a spear, dirtied by three decades of wear and tear on this abrasive planet – there’s a human being on a throne in heaven. As we fight and fall ill, abuse each other and die, those wounds we suffer and inflict are already made glorious in heaven. It makes our present sufferings not an ounce lighter – and it doesn’t reduce the damage we do one little bit – but it gives it meaning, an end, a resolution, a redemption. Your hurts, my hurts – they’re all wrapped up into the world-ending, eternal, freely-carried hurts in the place where hurt shouldn’t be able to go – tied into the sufferings of the God who can’t suffer, raised from the death of the God who can’t die. It may not stop the pain, but somehow it makes it feel like it’s shared.