‘We need to hear words to remember we are not alone’
The Thought Fox – Ted Hughes
I was reading ‘The Moon and Sixpence‘ last night, saw this bit and something connected.
‘The only thing that seemed clear to me – and perhaps even this was fanciful – was that he was passionately striving for liberation from some power that held him. But what that power was and what line the liberation would take remained obscure. Each one of us is alone in the world. He is shut in a tower of brass, and can communicate with his fellows only by signs, and the signs have no common values, so that their sense is vague and uncertain. We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and unknown by them. We are like people living in a country whose language they know so little that, with all manner of beautiful and profound things to say, they are condemned to the banalities of the conversation manual. Their brain is seething with ideas, and they can only tell you that the umbrella of the gardener’s aunt is in the house.’
I wasn’t expecting to sea bass
laid out on the pavement along the Belsize Road
as if it was Saturday morning at St George’s Market
but there it was lying there
marooned, looking fresh
‘What can that mean?Surely it’s a sign..’
So I pondered the sign on the way home and the only sign
I could come up with walking down the Moss Road
is that we’re both fish out of water here in Lambeg
How much should you tell your computer? Tonight I don’t care.
Today was not a good day. I don’t want life to be like this, but it is. It just is.
My girl is upstairs waiting for sleep to come, I know she is hurting, hurting so bad and what can I do? I can do nothing except what I usually do, be me stubborn and angry or angry and stubborn in the wrong way about things I can’t control, probably tilting at windmills, big wind generating windmills that don’t actually generate electricity or spoil the countryside or use more energy to make than they produce in their entire lifetime and there is always something isn’t there?
There was an old man who lived a few houses down.
He walked slowly along the footpath, I assumed on his way to the pub each day. In my head he was called Jim, hop along Jim. He was lonely, or looked lonely. I knew he was lonely.
So what did I do?
I did nothing. As usual I did nothing.
‘and at once I knew I was not magnificent’
The police stood outside his house today, then the white overcoats and face mask and on the way back from the shops a stretcher. I didn’t look. H___ wanted me to ask, but I didn’t.
As usual I did nothing. So I don’t know. But I suspect and that fills me with sadness. He was so lonely. Did he have any family?
Worse, you knew this or guessed this and what did you do?
Then there is THE ISSUE.
It can’t be ignored. And Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit it’s killing us so can you cut me a bit of slack? Won’t us give us a break?
That’s unless of course you don’t really exist because it’s at times like this that it just seems so lonely and silent that I just can’t see it myself. I tried to imagine you standing in the corner of the bedroom last week, what you actually might have looked like. I couldn’t do it. It was an Obi Wan Kenobi type hologram, a wisp of mist in the corner when what you want is a real and physical, for real flesh and blood, suffering yet risen reality. What I got was a shady corner of my imagination.
Or a book, or books and letters and versions and exegesis and preachers and church on a Sunday morning with a pipe organ and red hymn book, blue ‘Glory to God’ and ‘The Source’ and cups of instant coffee in a soul less church hall with uncomfortable looking middle class people and mention (probably) of The Queen’s Jubilee.
This is what we get. Jesus, it’s hard to believe.
How much can you tell the computer?
This much. And there’s more. But nobody will care. It’s just lonely old men and the money you didn’t earn because you are you and there is no job that is good enough for you or suitable for you and you won’t go and work the production line of Moy Park chicken or something (because you’re busy tilting at big wind generating windmills or something) and the work you do do is not valued as work because it’s not paid and competition and better train harder or ask the right questions and answer to prove that you are the most suitable person for the opening.
There is the money you forgot to put in the bank to pay for the rent that you remember about on a Saturday night on a special Bank Holiday weekend meaning that you will probably be charged by greedy banker, or something like that. So you can work hard and still not get paid.
Thing is, stretchers and old men, banks, THE ISSUE, church of clay feet,me being me, entropy is not what I want defining and embittering me, or scaring me, I don’t want that.
Miracle please…stretcher me through a hole in roof, I can’t do it myself.
Today has been a strange day.
It’s the day when Christians gather to celebrate the rising and victory of Jesus over the grave, a day for celebration if ever there is a day to celebrate for a Christian.
Yet to put it simply, life still feels shit, the same as it did a few days before, in fact much blacker and horrible than I’ve had in a while. It’s a day of lead feet and an awareness of how ‘off target’ I’ve been with so much of my life, of confusing strength with being proud, of feeling let down by God while being very aware that I’m a let down as well.
In other words, I’m feeling crap and anything like celebrating despite it being Easter Sunday.
It’s hard. But you probably don’t me to tell you that as you’ll know that yourself, life is hard. This was going to turn into another post about struggles and wrestling but I briefly looked up from the computer and could see the tail of the rainbow out the study window. Some may put that down as a coincidence, but not me.
It happens on occasions that God whispers to me through creation, rainbows from windows and buzzards at the exact time I would need to see a buzzard, creepy crows and blackbird nests in the garden.
So yes, life is hard and I don’t feel like celebrating much, I often can’t see how the resurrection is going to help me find a job this week, or be a better husband, or why church is like grinding teeth sometimes or why the good news doesn’t seem very much like good news but today I’ll cling to the rainbow out the window, because it’s a whisper in the dark of something bigger, or perhaps it’s creation celebrating it’s future redemption and restoration and telling me it’s all going to be alright.
The Plough is above the house tonight,
the most persistant ? hanging high in the night sky.
The question mark just hangs there prodding and poking me with doubts.
Is there nothing but a cold, dark expanse that we live into and try to make the best of and struggle through
or is there more to it,
is there really a maker and creator,
a redeemer and some big story that creation lives into and for?
Then I come back in because I feel scared.
I feel small and alone in the cosmos and if there is no God and no redemption, if we’re just randomly assembled chemical reactions then despair descends into my body and hangs me low.
Some claim that thought spurs them to make the most of every minute and find comfort in the dark matter, but it scares the shit out of me. When I became a Christian as a teenager it felt like I came because I was scared of going to hell. Now at the age of 34 it sometimes feels like I’m a Christian because I’m scared shitless of what it means if there is no God.
And even though those stars in The Plough are light years away in a cold cosmos they seem closer and more real than God, Jesus or The Holy Spirit are presently. They stars of The Plough might be distance but they seem real and weighty whereas God seems like ether and mist that floats around the head.
Except I know that when tragedy strikes I’ll be crying out to God for help because I need to believe in miracles and hope, that there is more to life than death and chaos, that pain has meaning and that I won’t always feel so broken and hopeless.
So this night is a lonely night, but if ever there is a night to be lonely and doubt, to feel scared and alone it is tonight.
Tearing pictures out of an old Vincent van Gogh diary I noticed The Plough in one night scene and it made me feel not alone, there an understanding that we looked into the same night sky and saw the same thing.
And now that I think about it,with the full moon beaming through the living room window did Jesus look up at The Plough in Gethsemane, lonely in a way that is beyond understanding but at the same time in way we can understand?
For although I often have my frustrations and doubts, although I can’t make sense of great Biblical truths that theologians can make sense of I can make sense of a man lonely and doubting, alone and afraid and feeling let down by his friends. And the truth(which I believe) that this man is also God just about keeps me hanging in there despite the doubts and lack of faith.
I’m in Mayo, on the beach at Keel, Achill Island with the curlew. The sky is blue but soon the rain clouds will roll in.
I’m blue – but it’s nice to have a break from here. I want this to be a nice break for us, to feel a tiny bit restored when we return. We’re both weary and tired, a bit fed up sometimes but I want this to be a nice break in Mayo for a couple of days. We’re both a tiny bit blue.