Two things have happened in the last couple of weeks that have spoken to me about what it means to be a Christian, and how God works in my life to change things.
The first event happened in the context of building a bookcase. It needed to be 700mm high, to fit underneath a window in the place where it would 3ventually live. But I made a mistake. Instead of butting the long side of the bookcase against the short edges, I joined them on top! Instead of being 700 mm high, the bookcase was now two thicknesses of timber too high (740mm!!!)
I thought “Maybe it will fit under the window anyway’”, but on checking I found out that no, the bookcase had to be 700mm high.
I was not a happy camper. The piece had already been glued and nailed together, and was stuck!
I did not know what to do.
But then, about life in general I was ‘stuck’ too. There had been some issues that had been plaguing me (which need to be kept private here). But about these issues, I decided I needed help. So I made contact with a spiritual director whom I trusted, and we had a conversation.
This conversation began the process of ‘unsticking’ me, and giving me a way forward about the issues I needed to deal with.
Now here is the notable thing! As I was going to sleep that day, in that half conscious time between waking and sleeping, a solution to the bookcase problem came to me. I could easily unstick the ply on the back of the book case, and even if it were a bit damaged in the process, that did not matter so much because it was going to be 40mm shorter anyway! I could easily un-glue the joints, cut 40mm off the short side, and re-join the sides with the top and bottom. Bingo. The next day I tried this, and it worked!
What was important to me was to notice that a learning how to ‘flow’ in one area of life ‘flowed through’ to another area of life, where I was also ‘stuck’.
The process by which this happened was in response to a conversation with a trusted person.
It may seem trite to say it, but conversation is a very good way to getting unstuck.
It’s like learning to ride. Every now and then I’d stop having lessons and try to teach myself. But I would inevitably get stuck. Another pair of eyes on the ground was always useful in both keeping me hopeful about riding, and giving me somewhere to ‘go’ when I was stuck.
The ‘Beyond Blue’ people have the ‘Are you OK’ programme, which invites those who may be stuck, or locked in because of depression to open out: to enter into conversation with another about what is going on.
I think that these kinds of conversations really are God’s ways of helping me to take another step in my Christian walk, and to keep hopeful about the fact that mistakes can be undone, and the bookcase of my life can be repaired.
The other event happened during the Eucharist. You know that I have written and often spoken about the fact that the Eucharist is an engine of transformation. Also, that the Eucharist as a structure, is capable of bearing the weight of my soul.
So last week I was in church, presiding over the Eucharist as usual. During this Eucharist, I was bringing to God the burdens that I was carrying, particularly to do with being forgiven, and being a forgiving person.
At the offertory, we sang ‘Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain’. This first line spoke to my own need and pain and I was very moved. Later I said the words “This is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you so that sins can be forgiven’
That was it! What are we doing in Church if my and other people’s sins couldn’t be forgiven! That is what the new covenant is for! That is what Jesus came to make possible.
So I thought, “There it is. I can begin again in being forgiving and in forgiving others”
This process of being freed up would not have happened had I not ‘put myself in God’s way’ by coming to Eucharist. This is so important to me. The words that I hear, and say to myself become God’s Word to me, and I would often not find a way through some issues, were it not for the fact that I am regularly putting myself in God’s way, listening to God’s view of me in he words of the Eucharist.
The second thing is that because I trust the process of the liturgy, I am not afraid to bring to that place the issues that are part of my life, whatever they be.
So there are two instances of how god helps me most often. In che course of an ‘unblocking’ conversation, and in the course of the always ‘flowing’ liturgy.