Monday, 25 June 2007


Occasionally we meet people with whom, within minutes, we feel comfortable, at ease and at peace in a way that seems to have no bearing on similar interests, ages, temperament, education, or any other possible sharing among life’s variables. There is at once a form of attraction that brings a wish to spend time with them and to hear more of what they may have to say, as well as to dwell within the sense of a common awareness and a shared calling towards unity and the reality of community. There is also the encouragement and affirmation derived from the discovery that such persons may be equally interested in us and in what we may have to say. All this is born of that presence which has been more clearly realized in us and among us by our coming together.

We may meet with such people in many ways, and this may well be by prior arrangement with people we have met before: perhaps with people who have become close friends. We spend time together in the knowledge that we have a shared faith, and, whether consciously or not, we know what Jesus said: - ‘…where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.’

I wish I could say that I was frequently aware of this, or that I consciously share in His presence on a regular basis, but the reality is that it is a far too infrequent occurrence for me.
I am aware of His presence in my own life, but, apart from being a member of a church congregation during Sunday services, I rarely meet with anyone else to share in that presence and to build upon its influence in my life. If I did, and the other person or persons were fully aware, then He would undoubtedly be there with us, but my shallow understanding and my frequent distraction and loss of focus would probably leave me stranded as though upon an empty shore; believing there to be something somewhere, but, despite my belief in His presence when I am alone and my awareness of His words, deaf and blind to His presence with us in the here and now.

I suspect there are many aspects to this, several of which come to mind almost at once. I believe three reasons in particular combine to create within me a barrier to any meaningful entering into community; this in spite of my constant longing for the breath of His presence among a group of trusted spiritual friends.
Firstly, an awareness of my own failings and faults.

Secondly, a choosiness about who - in my eyes - may be eligible to be the other one or two, (or more), and a far too eager readiness to focus on the differences between us. (One of those failings and faults.)
And thirdly, never being in a position to meet with those whose presence and whose judgement I value most highly, and with whom I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I would most benefit. (Through fear that they may judge me as unworthy, just as I judge others with whom I could possibly meet.)
The end result is that one reason feeds the other in a continual swirl of what amounts to discontent. My own dissatisfaction with myself holds me back from making contact with people, and this, having become almost habitual, ensures the continued unlikelihood that I shall do so in the near future.

This is something of which I am always aware, but as the years have passed the constant tension and frustration resulting from the unfulfilled need to share my faith in a meaningful way have slipped away. I still wish for some things that I feel are lacking, and that I believe to be of importance, but the discontent has ebbed to the point where it no longer actively troubles me, and my far greater wish is that at all times I may discern God’s will for me, and act according to that will.
For many years I have held that if He wished me to meet or become involved with particular people, He would undoubtedly make this known to me, or to them, or to all of us.

I continue to act on that belief rather than trying to counter my withdrawal as outlined above. (Other people’s desire to maintain the status quo can also have a profound bearing on such matters, but that draws me away from these thoughts and will therefore be returned to at another time.)

I began with the words, ‘Occasionally we meet people with whom, within minutes, we feel comfortable, at ease and at peace …’
All this has been brought to the forefront of my mind through such an encounter which left me smiling in the afterglow of God’s presence.
On 1st June, three strangers, of whom I was one, met by chance at Hallow Church, just north of Worcester, where they – as many churches - have a regular weekly ‘coffee morning’: a drop-in for parishioners, locals and passers by.
There were in fact four of us, but the fourth, a lady named Angela, does not speak, and she spent the time drinking her cups of tea, watching us and listening to us. She was known to me, and was the reason for my being there for the first time, having needed someone to provide transport for her. She was also already known to the lady providing the coffee as she is a regular visitor.
On arrival there were only two other people there, the lady providing the service, and another lady from Carlisle who was a writer researching for a book; the church at Hallow was relevant to her research and I gather the local knowledge of the parishioner with whom she was speaking was very helpful to her. From their ease with each other, and their obvious interest in what they were discussing, I assumed them to be old friends. Learning that the writer had only moved north to Carlisle in recent years seemed to confirm this, though just after she left, and as Angela and I were preparing to leave, I learned that I was not the only stranger: the two ladies had never met before.

A quiet talk, for what seemed a few minutes but in reality was the best part of an hour; the three of us, each new to the others, enjoying a conversation that ranged through the English countryside and churches, and hymns, and orphanages in Peru and Thailand, and a life changing meeting of strangers in Ireland, and which - at every point – was filled with a shared awareness of God’s presence and influence in the world and in the lives of individuals.
There were things said that meshed with aspects of my past, and blended with half-forgotten dreams, and being drawn into the combined presence found me saying things I do not normally speak of very freely. The interest shown, and the voiced opinion that some of what I said was inspiring and should be written down and made available to a wider audience, left me wondering if perhaps the three of us (or even the four of us; it was Angela’s need that brought me there) had been meant to meet in that way. Whatever the truth, we met and we gained from the meeting. We each left to go our separate ways, but carrying the seeds sown by the others in our hearts and minds.
As one of the ladies said before leaving,’ There is a God! – and He is at work among us.’

We had not knowingly come together in Jesus’ name, but each of us had brought Him with us.
With His presence in each of us as individuals it was inevitable that He should also become present among us as a group.

- ‘For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matthew 18:20)


About Me

Who I am should be, and should remain, of little consequence to you. Who you are is what matters; who you are meant to be is what should matter most to you. In coming closer to my own true self, I have gradually been filled with the near inexpressible: I have simply become "brim full", and my words to you are drawn from those uttered within myself, as part of an undeniable overflowing that brings a smile to my every dusk, and to my every new dawn.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

hit counters
Cox Cable High Speed

St Blogs Parish Directory
Religion Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites - The internets fastest growing blog directory Religion and Spirituality Blog Directory See blogs and businesses for United Kingdom