Tag Archives: waiting

July 25: A Broken Heart, Broken Again.

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It has been like waiting at the station for the train.

But when the train finally came,

I watched it hiss away from my sight.

My mind like a pendulum ticked from side to side:

Wait! go. Wait! go.

In the end I decided to wait.

Maybe it was for the next train.

Maybe for the same train.

I walked away from the station; Sad.

Because all along I have been inside the train,

Just waiting for the next stop.

VE

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2 March: We take time and love to develop…

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Once upon a time if you used a camera you’d have to wait a good while to view the final image. The method was different from the one we’re used to in a digital age. The click of the camera button exposed the photographic film to light, forming a latent image, at this stage invisible to the eye. Further exposure to light at this stage would ruin the image, so the film had to be developed in a dark room. The process involved soaking the film in a tank of developing fluid. Slowly the hidden image would be revealed, and a ‘negative’ created. Once washed, fixed and dried the image on the film was projected onto photographic paper and the image, once seen through the eye of the camera lens, was made visible in the print.

Not being someone who could do all this, I remember the long wait between taking the photos and retrieving the finished product from the chemist. That was a long time past. It’s so much more convenient and instant now. But I wonder whether the old ways are truer to our experience of development than the instant ‘click and view’.

In looking with love God creates us, each one full of the beauty and life-giving capacity that belongs to those made in the image and the likeness of the Creator. The image is there but latent, unseen by any eye but God’s. It’s going to take time, darkness, and soaking for this image to develop.

Through the years of our life God labours patiently to develop the image. We take time. We develop in the dark room of trust in God. The darkness envelops and protects us, though it might not seem that way. When we cannot see our way and when we have no means within ourselves to manage our experience, trust moves us into God, and God moves us into who we are

And there we need to soak. Prayer is not only the saying of words, or the making of requests; it is also resting our life, our times and our experience in God. Not once for all, but hour by hour, and day by day.

Slowly the image, always there but latent, begins to form. To our own eyes the image may appear to be a negative. We become more, not less aware of our frailties and our capacity for destructiveness. But now light is needed, not of our own understanding but of the love of God: the eye that first looked through the camera lens and that joys in what it beholds.

We know that more development is needed.

And it will take time, and much love.

CC.

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27 February: Full Stop.

trees-reflection-chris

Full stop,

where my sentence ends.

I have run out of words again.

Again my sentence ends

at a full stop.

Will you not take my waiting pen

at this full stop?

Then you and I shall write again.

But all I can give you

is my full stop,

and my waiting pen.

Sometimes life seems to come to a full stop. Something ends and we don’t know what comes next. Or perhaps we just recognise the need for a pause before we set out again

In something written – as with this piece – a full stop marks the end of one line of thought. If we are reading aloud, a full stop allows a breath – a pause – before we begin again. Full stops might seem to oppose the natural flow, but we need that breath. When writing it gives space to consider what it is we want to communicate and the ways we might do so. When reading we gain the time to take in what we have read: what is being said and what is its significance?

Like a piece of writing our life with God will have plenty of full stops. They exist not to impede our activity but to empower it. Some are like the ending of a chapter. We retire or change jobs, or move home, or experience the difficult ending of a relationship. Or perhaps the full stop feels more as if it is inside us: we sense it’s time to stop something that has been significant in our life. It’s time to move on. But to what? The pause invites us to let God in. We might be tempted to rush on to the next sentence – any old sentence – to avoid this uncomfortable halt in progress. But that would be a mistake. We need a deep breath of God; it will help us see where we have been going and where the road might now lead us.

Some full stops are smaller: not the end of a chapter or even a paragraph but a break within the activity of reading or writing. ‘Sometimes’ Etty Hillesum wrote in her journal, ‘the most important thing in our whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths or the turning aside in prayer for five minutes.’ These full stops are the intentional way we abide in Christ and draw life from Christ’s abiding in us. We have space to listen to the events of our day and what has been happening within us. We remember that we move forward together. As on the written page the stops are small but frequent. They help rather than hinder the flow of our activity, giving meaning and shape to what we do.

So as you write, or read, or live this day, put in the necessary punctuation.

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24 December: Four Candles

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Say ‘four candles’ to ironmongers in Britain and you’ll get a weary reaction. If you don’t know why, watch the video from the link at the end of this post.

I know that reaction. Why? well, Abel’s mother inherited her grandfather’s garden fork, riddled with woodworm. Fork handles? I am serious!

Thanks to  one of an ironmonger’s fork handles, a lick of paint and a few coats of linseed oil, it looks and works as good as new.

A month ago it was the first Sunday in Advent. On the day before, Abel and his grandparents gathered greenery to make their Advent wreaths. When Grannie was not looking Abel used the secateurs; two of his hands and one of Grandad’s did the job very well. Back indoors, Abel and Grannie arranged green leaves on the wreaths, and four candles on each. Red candles on Abel’s, but purple on the old folk’s as Uncle Harry has very definite ideas about the colour of the candles.

At 18 months old Abel knows about doing things together and sharing. He knows a little bit about numbers; he enjoys candlelight and knows not to touch the flame. He knows something about waiting and the candles will help him understand this.

He’ll be learning a bit about baby Jesus, and even if things are a little bit confused in his mind this Christmas, he’ll understand that he’s in a loving human family. Not a bad start.

As for us, we have Good News to proclaim, even if people are confused about what Christmas means. A crib, candle or star in a window represents a silent but glowing witness.

WT.

And here is confusion that you can enjoy: just click on the link.

fork handles

 

 

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17 December: Welcoming Christ among us.

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I have a friend whom I have not seen or heard from for quite a long time now.  Every day, I prayed and hoped that one day we should be re-united.  How I longed that this day would come!  I had imagined how happy and excited I would be if I eventually had contact with her.

Waiting for the coming of Christ is another big event for me.  Out of his love for me, Christ humbled himself to be born as a little baby among us.  He shed every glory he had with his father to come and identify with you and me.  This event, like welcoming a dear friend, should spur me to an eager preparation.  How am I preparing to welcome Christ the Son of God made man?

In the process of evaluating my preparation, I discover I have not measured up very well in my Christian calling. I have not loved unconditionally, not been kind enough and sometimes have judged others without mercy.  I realise I still have much work to do, to enable Christ to enter into my heart. In order to feel that joy and excitement I desire when Christ comes, I need to get rid of all kinds of anger, pride, jealousy or hatred that tend to occupy my heart.

Let us look deep into our hearts to see where God is calling us to change.  God is willing and always ready to come and dine with us if we invite him.

FMSL

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Reminder: Advent Retreat, Waiting, Watching, Awakening Saturday December 3.

Dear Friends,

We would like to invite you to the Advent Retreat on Saturday  December 3. Please reply to Christopher Chapman directly at the email address below.

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Waiting, Watching, Awakening

A retreat day for Advent

Saturday December 3rd, 10 am to 3 pm

At the Franciscan International Study Centre, Giles Lane, Canterbury, CT2 7NA

The Christian year begins not with the great feasts of Christmas, Easter or Pentecost but with waiting. Advent is in many ways a stark season – a time to be in touch with our deepest desires and needs. It is a season of longing directed towards Christ, revealed as God-with-us, Emmanuel. Advent is a season of waiting, but in hope and in expectation.

The day will be led by Christopher Chapman, an experienced retreat leader and spiritual guide. He is the author of Seeing in the Dark [Canterbury Press 2013].

Programme for the day

Coffee and tea will be available from 9.30am

10am               Introduction to the day

10.15am          Waiting with Creation

10.45am          Quiet space with prayer exercises provided

11.30am          Watching with the Prophets

12 noon          Quiet space with prayer exercises provided

12.30pm          Lunch [please bring your own]

1.15pm            The awakening of Christ within

2pm                Quiet space with prayer exercises provided

2.40pm            Gathering and prayer

3pm                 Tea and depart

Suggested donation for the day £10, or what you can afford.

To help with the organisation of the day please let us know that you intend to come.

Contact Christopher Chapman: chapmans314@btinternet.com      01227 479498

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Mary in the waiting wood

I’d guess that when she conceived baby Jesus, Mary was of an age with the young poet in the previous post.

 

waiting wood

 

Tree, tell me

how to be all still;

without stir, without breath,

naked, brown arms

strong outheld to the far sky;

hushed, hung, held

yet vibrant with pulsing Spring.

 

No sounds.

Silence rounds,

rings the tree. Tree,

can you hear me

straining the stillness;

my soul’s silence lifted to

the limits of creation’s response?

 

Tree, tell me

that we understand one another;

we share together

the warm life welling within us.

Shall I dwell with you in the waiting wood;

alone, a quiet maiden

becoming a mother?

SMS.

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Advent hitch hiking reflection 3

 blackroad

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Advent is not only about hoping…it is also about waiting for hope’s fulfilment. Our culture seems to have little patience with what cannot be immediately grasped. This is old news and the weary litany is far too familiar; charge cards, cheap ugly buildings, drive through churches, drug abuse, sex as sport and countless other flash fires of immature desires terrified by limits. The awful irony is that desire has no limits and was not originally intended to. I have fallen into the trap many times. I possess a terrible hunger in the depth of my being and the endurance of that hunger scandalizes my humanity. I am convinced, on some primal level, that it would not only make me feel better to be filled but that it is also somehow my right. This is only partly true and, in its fractured state, is very dangerous. It takes a question to establish some perspective; filled with what? In the starving delirium induced by unfulfilled desires I might hastily fill myself with many things.

A hitch hiker begins a journey. He is impatient to reach his destination and filled with the pleasant anticipation of journey’s end. The day seems to be lucky as he is picked up very quickly and taken many miles. While sitting in someone else’s car he watches the world fly by and rejoices in the fulfilment of his purpose. That particular ride comes to an end all too soon and he is dropped off in a desolate spot of unfriendly faces and little traffic. He begins to wait. At first the waiting is agreeable. It soon becomes an ordeal as he begins to endure an assault upon his fragile hope. The sun is too hot and his view is taken up by the uncompromising dreariness of shimmering asphalt. His social isolation under the hard sky awakens a gnawing loneliness and he becomes weak with a hunger he can’t name. He tries to understand the origin of his suffering and begins to silently curse the drivers who look away from him. His heart, far from being empty, is filled with violence and misery.

Waiting is an uncompromising companion and her company is difficult to accept. Is it possible to cherish such a tenacious embrace? Her conversation tends toward subtlety but her faithfulness is beyond reproach. She is not unsympathetic though she can be very demanding. Above all, she is honest. Waiting, when she is feeling sociable, travels with a companion named Discernment who is also rather serious in temperament, but not quite so taciturn. Together they patiently reveal a truth all the more startling in that it comes from such a prosaic pair. Desire, they insist, is Holy. Deeply felt desire is the perpetual reminder of what it really means to be human. It represents a memory so ancient it exists on the outer perimeter of articulation. Desire remembers a time when we were not hungry and weeps. Waiting stands ready, with clear eyes and a steady heart, to take the tear- blinded traveller firmly by the hand. She assures him that he is not alone. She understands, when he is consumed by doubt, where it is he wants to go, and she promises to remain with him until, at last, he arrives. TJH

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