Changing landscapes was the title of the Easter workshop weekend that I have just attended. Easter has has always been my absolutely favorite time of the year buthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif this last one has to be up there with the best .
It was called that as we were to explore where we've been as a community , the changes we are involved in and the future we look forward to. Its about the story of the community since its beginning and our ongoing story as it unfolds and we write it, together and as individuals . It was actually not AT ALL the kind of workshop I would have chosen having recently tried to live very much in the present. Looking back causes too much anguish and looking forward causes too much fear.But perhaps I haven't been living in the present, actually simply existing would be a more honest assessment.
I think God has decided to change that
I have , as described by one good friend ,been dealt a near fatal wound and for the last two years have become a recluse, never going out, never really engaging with anyone , and feeling a complete lack of energy or oomph. I've let friendships slip and good intentions disappear out of the window. I've stopped feeling hurt in that raw, anguished way but have actually stopped feeling anything at all much.
So I arrived at a morning of creativity and found I would explore the changing landscapes of my own life! Let me try and explain how this was done as it was a very useful and I'm sure most people would benefit in some way from doing this too.
Firstly think of the points of your life that were turning points, eg leaving home, getting married or it could be something as seemingly insignificant as something someone said that made you reevaluate your outlook or reading a life changing book .
Think of 10 to 12 such points throughout your life and draw them as waymarks across your paper.
Next , the space between two waymarks is a chapter of your life . Think of a title for that chapter and draw a landscape that descibes it. Eg mine included chapters called age of innocence, a lonely road, yahoo and shatter red dreams and the landscapes varied from a garden and a beatiful lake to a rubbish dump and a steep rocky mountain side. I found that things that at the time seemed like the end of everything didn't feature at all, and that times in my life that seemed dark actually were good overall. Best of all it revealed Gods hand on my life throughout, even when I didn't know it .The God" in whom we live and move and have our being" has had his loving hand firmly on me, even when I was doing my best to ignore him!
Next you draw your whole life in the form of landscapes joined together so you can see the overview.
I have done this sort of thing before and was entirely unemotional until the end. I had drawn the last two years as a hole in the ground. God has been in the hole with me but I had not raised my head above ground all this time. I suddenly realised that I couldn't envision any landscape at all for the future without my children. Without them there was a shut gate and nothing else. At that point we were called to midday prayer and I sat through it with tears streaming hoping no one had noticed
Later I talked to a lovely gentle friend about the experience. I explained the hole and don't feel guilty about it as its where I have needed to be. However I am a people person and one with a gift of feeling others pain and being with them in it.This is the way God has made me, its my way of being and its how God uses me to help others. I'm a "mercy person" . If you are interested read Andy Raine's wonderful book "Given for life" which you can get from the Cloisters part of the community website. It will show you how God intended you to be too. I also explained how I have felt more irritation than compassion lately and was very aware of how selfish I had become. My friend felt that I had a "blocked artery" due to the wounds I've suffered . My mercy blood has been unable to flow as I've too frightened of being hurt again.
The weekend continued with a growing awareness of The Almighty God's control over all our stories and the wonderful way He works out our future. Also the Easter message of the intertwining of pain and joy, of despair and hope of defeat and ultimate victory. The worst event in history, the death of Jesus Christ became the pivotal point of all restoration and victory for all mankind. As the joy rose in my I lost it to a terrible feeling of guilt, pain and fear. What was going on! I realised it was not my own feelings but those of a close friend I was feeling, a friend the Lord wanted me to pray for and love and listen to . I ran over to my friend who counselled me and cried " Hes unblocked the artery!" .
So I don't know what God has in store but its time to get out of the hole and start living again. I don't know the next chapter of my story or the landscape it will be BUT God and I will write it together and hopefully it will be something beautiful .