I’m waiting here boss…

When I pray the words of U2’s ‘Wake Up Dead Man’ I know that I’m not doing great…

‘Jesus, Jesus help me
I’m alone in this world
and a fucked up world it is too
tell me, tell me the story
the one about eternity
and the way it’s all gonna be

Jesus, I’m waiting here boss
I know you’re looking out for us
but maybe your hands aren’t free
your Father, He made the world in seven
He’s in charge of heaven
will you put a word in for me?

listen to your words they’ll tell you what to do
listen over the rhythm that’s confusing you
listen to the reed in the saxophone
listen over the hum of the radio
listen over sounds of blades in rotation
listen through the traffic and circulation
listen as hope and peace try to rhyme
listen over marching bands playing out their time

Jesus, were you just around the corner?
did You think to try and warn her?
or are you working on something new?
if there’s an order in all of this disorder
is it like a tape recorder?
can we rewind it just once more



praying with eyes open and three men in a boat

Continuing my journey along the  River Thames with “Three men in a Boat” I came to this passage

The Cistercian monks, whose abbey stood there in the thirteenth century, wore no clothes but rough tunics and cowls, and ate no flesh, nor fish, nor eggs. They lay upon straw, and they rose at midnight to mass. They spent the day in labour, reading, and prayer; and over all their lives there fell a silence as of death, for no one spoke.

A grim fraternity, passing grim lives in that sweet spot, that God had made so bright! Strange that Nature’s voices all around them – the soft singing of the waters, the whisperings of the river grass, the music of the rushing wind – should not have taught them a truer meaning of life than this. They listened there, through the long days, in silence, waiting for a voice from heaven; and all day long and through the solemn night it spoke to them in myriad tones, and they heard it not.
Jerome K. Jerome

This called to mind a chapter in a Eugene Peterson book that talks about Annie Dillard, John Calvin and the wonder of creation

There are two great mystical traditions in the life of prayer, sometimes labeled kataphatic and apophatic. Kataphatic prayer uses icons, symbols, ritual, incense; the creation is the way to the Creator. Apophatic prayer attempts emptiness; the creature distracts from the Creator, and so the mind is systematically emptied of idea, image, sensation until there is only the simplicity of being. Kataphatic prayer is ‘praying with your eyes open’; apophatic prayer is ‘praying with your eyes shut. At our balanced best, the two traditions intermingle, mix, and cross-fertilize. But we are not always at our best. The Western church is heavily skewed on the side of the apophatic. The rubric for prayer when I was a child was ‘Fold your hands, bow your head, shut your eyes, and we’ll pray.’ My early training carries over into my adult practice. Most of my praying still is with my eyes shut. I need balancing.
Eugene Peterson, The Gift

That certainly rings true with my experience of Protestant Christianity, the closing of eyes and bowing of the head each time we pray in church to block out the distractions of the world.

When we do that we are less distracted by worldly things and can concentrate on the spiritual. Yet it all seems very gnostic or something and in a way is saying that the things that we see with our eyes are corrupted and on a lesser plane than the things we think or have in our heart.

There is something wrong there.

On the other hand, praying with your eyes open might be easy in the wilds of Donegal or looking down the valleys of Switzerland in spring but how do you pray in Lambeg or Lisburn on a wet, windy dark January night when you’re feeling low and frustrated with life? For me that has been a puzzle that I haven’t cracked in my time here. How to pray with eyes open beside the Lagan Tow path when the hawthorns are closing in on you and you have only a moorhen for company.

failing to put down roots.

I had one of those days that you reflect on and think yourself to be a loser or just not very capable at life.

It reached it’s zenith this afternoon in a failed attempt to make butterscotch for the church fair (or fayre as current spelling seems to dictate) with my new electronic thermometer which of course had run out of battery. Then the failed cakes for said fayre and the icing on the cake, a call from Talk Talk when I had briefly hoped it to be someone ringing to say I had a job interview for a job I would really have liked to do and had spent Sunday night filling in a job application for.

Then there are the many personal failures that would be unwise to put up on public display. Added together and more they seem to be pointing out that I’m a failure.

Anyway, it does seem a bit unhealthy an indicative of our modern age that I’m saying this stuff on an internet page instead of talking/praying it over with friends or family,(or church) but this is all I have at the moment.
I feel so discouraged, isolated and lonely at the moment and for a number of years. There you go, I’ve said it.
I’ve never really put down roots in this new soil up here in Lisburn, and like a seedling that doesn’t like being transplanted from where it was sown I have too have struggled with being transplanted from the south. I miss the soil of the south, the culture and even the light.  Walking along the canal at 1.00pm it just felt so dark and gloomy, a Mordor sort of dark and gloomy. I never remember the darkness being so dark in Dublin  and Dun Laoghaire.

The darkness has literally been eating away at my soul, I hate it and want the light. I want a place to put down permanent roots, somewhere with water and light. Few plants grow well in the shade, I don’t grow well in the shade either. And it must have healthy soil. Lord, is that too much to ask? I have the fear that you’re always going to ask me to do things beyond my capabilities and strength. This place you’ve planted me has been beyond my capabilities.  I’ve tried my best to flourish and grow, but I’m sickly and want to go home. I’m sick of the exile and sick of reflecting that exile on to other people.

There you go. I just want to put down roots.