“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance,
and there is only the dance.”
T.S. Eliot, from Burnt Norton (‘Four Quartets’)
I love TS Eliot. I have done since studying his poetry at school for Higher English. I love the density of it, the imagery he uses and the sheer beauty of the language.
Eliot has a thing about living in the moment – neither “time before” nor “time after” . If we live in the past, or if we fantasise about what lies ahead, then we can miss the possibilities that exist in the present moment . We can miss the ‘still point’ at the heart of movement and we can stifle our creativity.
At the still point we get caught up in a timeless moment, one we hope will never end.
Perhaps we don’t look for these moments enough amid our busy lives?
Picture is by Daniel Owen from his website – Imprints of Light
I have posted bits of this prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin before. I like it because I am impatient by nature – I want to rush on to the end of the task and skip all the bits in the middle that I think are pointless. I am a ‘big picture’ person and I find all the details and the minutiae quite frustrating, especially if the ending seems obvious to me.
So it was good to be reminded of the slow work of God, especially when so much in life and in ministry is in suspense and incomplete …in this life at least 🙂
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
-that is to say, grace –
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.
Picture is of cliffs on the Dorset Coast by Dave from his old districtblog
Liminal space is disorienting and disturbing because you are not fully in control. This is true faith and it can be frightening. Yet whenever you risk following Christ’s call, astonishing things occur. We know the One who calls is the one who saves. The life of faith means at least this: living in liminal space-cultivating the capacity of heart to hear Christ’s invitation and stepping out of comfortable, yet unsatisfying structures toward a future that only God knows. Once we grasp that Peter did not drown and neither will we, then a wild freedom begins.
Roy Howard (from inward/outward)
I read this the day after our last Kirk Session meeting. It really captures the mood of that meeting as we are a congregation in a liminal space.
It really is disturbing when the future is not in your hands, when things are out of control with no resolution in sight.
But the call is the same for us – to trust the one who saves, to listen for his call to leave the old things behind and to step forward in faith towards the new, towards a future that is in God’s hands now.
Picture is ‘still’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr