On forgiveness…

There has been a lot of good stuff written about forgiveness this Easter time.  Forgiveness is something we can do for another person and forgiveness is something we do for ourselves – something which helps us to move on with our lives.

I am convinced that moving on is an important part of forgiveness. If someone has wronged you and you forgive them it doesn’t automatically mean that things will go back to the way they were before the perceived wrong occurred. When we forgive a new thing happens – perhaps a healing or a liberation or a means of moving on, even changing a pattern of behaviour which has become damaging.

It my case the situation involved a friend who behaved badly towards me.  Although I forgave the specific incident, I did not want to pick up the friendship where we had been before the incident happened.  It was time to draw a line under it and move on with our lives. However, to my former friend I am a terrible person. In her mind, forgiveness means returning to something which is now long gone – restoration. For me forgiveness meant acknowledging what had happened – drawing a line under the past and moving on to the new.

As a further example, I experienced a rupture in another friendship many years ago. The bust up was huge and significant and the fall out was painful and damaging for us both. Yet something new happened.  In the years of silence, we both learned the meaning of forgiveness and we picked up the friendship again at a different time in our lives. We still remember the past, but it is the past.

I don’t believe we forgive and forget. Forgiveness means living with what has happened, learning from it and moving on, believing that a new thing can and will happen.

I would be interested to hear other people’s views or experiences of forgiveness. Here is a interesting one on peopleforothers.

Photo is ‘going our separate ways’ by RebekahSfD on Flickr

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Easter blessings

If you were not risen,
Lord Christ, to whom would we go
to discover a radiance
of the face of God?

If you were not risen,
we would not be together
seeking your communion.
We would not find in your presence
forgiveness,
wellspring of a new beginning.

If you were not risen,
where would we draw the energy
for following you
right to the end of our existence,
for choosing you again and anew?

Brother Roger of Taize

A prayer for Tuesday after Holy Week and Easter, for all those who now draw breath and seek rest and renewal.

Those of you following the blog will know that Lent, Holy Week and Easter have happened without me this year. It has been strange observing rather than participating in worship.

It has been a virtual journey through the season for me, following Lenten blogs and observing how others have prepared and participated through their postings on social networking sites.

I have especially enjoyed the posts and comments on Revgalblogpals blogspot and on their Facebook page. And I have stored away some ideas for next Easter. Thanks ladies (and gents too) for creating sacred space in the blogsphere.

After nearly three months of coughing – day and night –  it seems to have eased off at last over the past week or so and I am beginning to feel human again! My residual worry is the effect all this coughing has had on my voice which is still rather hoarse, so your prayers for this are appreciated – for obvious reasons!

A belated happy Easter to all, especially the bloggers and posters who have shared the journey with me – without even knowing it 🙂

(Photo taken in the Lake District by the Husband)

letting go…

Some prayerful thoughts for Wednesday about letting go of our most human failings:

Lord – let our memory
provide no shelter
for grievance
against another.
Lord – let our heart
provide no harbour
for hatred of another.
Lord – let our tongue
be no accomplice
in the judgement of a brother.

Amen

(Northumbrian Office)

Photo is ‘desert waterfall’ by Joshua Cripps found here. If you subscribe to this wonderful site they send you a photo every day with its story.

Not knowing…

i was happy before

in the ignorance of not knowing
i was living without you

but now
you are more present
in your absence
than any of the things around me
that i can touch with certainty
at any time

the emptiness left by the imprint of your soul
has become the shape in which
i live my life.

Another wonderful poem from Cheryl at hold this space.

I love her stuff because it works on so many different levels.

This poem could be about the precious relationship/friendship that shattered… the death of a loved one… separation from family or friends. Their presence lingers… their influence still shaping the present and the future.

It also has echoes of R.S. Thomas and Via Negativa (Negative Theology). (If you read my old blog you will know how much I love Thomas’s poetry). Thomas speaks of a God who is wholly present in his absence, knowable in his hiddenness and who speaks in silence.

He is “the darkness between stars”.

We follow “the echoes…the footprints he has just left…”

……………………………………

Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm. We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection
.

Via Negativa (R.S. Thomas)

Picture is ‘tiptoe through the shallows’ by Mike Lockie on Flickr

Halleluiah

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself,
I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!
And have you too been trudging like that,
sometimes
almost forgetting how wondrous the world is
and how miraculously
kind some people can be?
And have you too decided
that probably nothing important
is ever easy?
Not, say, for the first sixty years.
Halleluiah,
I’m sixty now, and even a little more,
and some days I feel I have wings.

I love this Mary Oliver Poem.

I have posted it before but it was a while ago.

It is just bursting with joy. So here it is again… for all those who are weary and who feel as if they are trudging through their days.

And it is for me too… to remind myself how far I have travelled and how wonderful this world can be – bursting with life and energy and some truly amazing people.

I hope this week you feel you have wings 🙂

Darkness revisited…

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)

I have come across this quote in a few places recently so I thought I would post it. I have experienced the truth of this myself. In my case the person I loved didn’t fully realise how much darkness was being passed on to me… and at the time I just wanted the hurt and confusion to go away… I willed the ‘fall out’ to stop.

But now looking back I realise that the experience was a gift. Not one I would have chosen for myself or embraced willingly… yet still a gift. I learned so much from that gift of darkness… it changed everything about me. And I still carry a little ‘piece’ of it with me to remind me how much I have grown.

……………………………………………………………………………………….

This is a post from my old blog from February 2009.  I reposted it to remind myself that darkness can sometimes be a gift – perhaps not at the time we are experiencing the pain or hardship or loss. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and it can be good to look back and see how a particular experience changed us. It can be even more amazing when we see something come full circle in our lives… when something we thought was lost forever is restored or renewed.

Photo: ‘into the dark’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Assembly ripples…

Have rather neglected the blog of late, partly because I have been at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh and am only now getting back into some sort of routine. I didn’t take my laptop with me so I didn’t blog during the Assembly.

It was, however, the turn of my congregation to send an elder to the General Assembly and he has put a summary of proceedings on the church website thus saving me a bit of work (and there are pictures).

There is also a full report (That was the week that was) here if you want to read a more personal perspective from a Minister in Hamilton Presbytery. The four posts preceding this one on Peter’s Blog also refer to events during the General Assembly week.

There are also official statements on the Church of Scotland website from the Moderator regarding the outcomes from Monday’s debate on the Report of the Special Commission on Same Sex relationships and the Ministry – these can be found  here as can statements on the other key issues/debates from Assembly Week. So if you read the newspapers or followed the media reports and thought there was only one issue discussed at this Year’s General Assembly –this is the place to go to find all the other equally …or arguably MORE… important stuff!!)

It was quite a week… and the repercussions of some of the decisions are only just beginning to be felt.

I am pulling together a service for this coming Sunday on the theme of being ‘living stones’ to give my congregation a flavour of what went on during Assembly week.

“…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ

you are a chosen people… a royal priesthood… a holy nation… a people belonging to God… that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”

One of the acts of worship at Roll away the Stone (on the Sunday of Assembly week) was the building of a cairn composed of stones that people had brought from their part of the world.

There were big stones and small stones…pebbles and boulders… all different shapes and  sizes and colours. And as you can see from the picture … the stones also carried the name of the congregation from which they originated.

At the end of the service in Princes Street Gardens, people were invited to come forward and take away another stone with them and to remember that church in their thoughts and prayers. The elder from my congregation picked up a stone from Ayr’s St Quivox Church and we will be praying for them this Sunday.

Our stone was picked up by an Elder from Lhanbryde Church in Moray… a nice coincidence as the minister there is Rev Andrew Robertson, formerly of Kilwinning Mansefield Trinity and a friend from my training days. Our stone is now sitting on the steps to their pulpit as they continue to pray for us.