Tuesday, 7 August 2007


It is our faith that invites us to walk alongside each other, to carry the internal message that strives for recognition within us and which would guide our lives, into the unobservant existence and everyday routine of our days, as well as into the perceived burdens and turmoil of the people around us. To lighten the darkest days and to point to the true glory that lies behind the brightness of those that already seem ablaze; to throw open the shutters and roll back the blinds, that the constant flow of grace, which will fall freely upon each one of us, may be made known, received, shared and acted upon.

So easy to say when the sorrows and hardships are not our own, and yet, somewhere in the middle of the whole confusion of birth, life and death, of otherness, time, vanity and futility, of infinity as concept, impossibility or reality, of permanence and the ephemeral nature of all things physical, there lies an empathetic glow which cannot be disregarded nor detuned into a superficial and therefore meaningless form of sympathy. If we are aware of this feeling within our hearts, we will most probably dwell upon it with our minds, and, whether this results in a form of shutting-down, or in our responding to it in some supportive way, the consequence will be the product of our thinking, our vanity, and a sincere belief that prayers can be answered that is irretrievably entwined with an ongoing sense of futility.

This raises nervously asked questions within us; Should I say anything? What should I say? When should I say it?
If we have been made aware of a situation in a way that makes it clear to anyone directly involved in that situation, that everyone knows about it, is it sufficient to walk away without saying anything? Is it right to maintain an anonymous distance with the presumption that those closest to the reality of the situation will themselves be presumptuous with regard to our level of awareness? Will they know, presume, assume, hope or doubt that we are thinking of them? That we are praying for them?

Remembering that their minds are filled with the moment-to-moment actuality of their circumstances, will they even give a passing thought to such things?

Good people frequently hold different views on almost any subject we can think of, and this is no exception.
This was highlighted for me recently, when, after leaving church, and having briefly stood beside someone who is at the very heart of a long running struggle and sorrow, I was asked, by someone I have known for many years, if I had spoken to them. Confirmation that I had done so brought a surprised (and for me, a surprising) response.

This kind of sincere amazement and apparent disbelief demonstrates how very differently we can think, believe and act in the presence of other people’s distress.

We are individuals: we are individual creations and we each have our own outlook and view of the world, however similar our surroundings, upbringing, faith and fortunes, and yet there is only one truth. There is only one right way to live, to react and to be.

In any particular situation, at any particular time, there can be only one best way to respond, and that is the way God would have us respond. We may discern what that response should be, but, no sooner do we move in that direction than we override and exceed the limits of God’s guidance and instruction; the approach may be as intended, and the touch may be in response to God’s leading, but then we speak …
Our spoken words are so closely connected to our thinking that we almost certainly go beyond the utterance of anything that carries the blessings inherent in words given through inspiration. Discerning those words – if there are any – is an ability acquired and refined only through experience, and that experience does not even begin until we are in a position to receive and understand such touches of God’s will. And then, only if He wills that we should hear Him in such a way; He alone decides who is required to receive, carry and give these words. There are many gifts and we are each gifted in different ways according to the work God requires of us.
Perhaps, in my own case, the touch was all that was required? Perhaps that was all that was asked of me? Perhaps not even that?
A not too obvious approach, with a glance and a quiet nod of awareness perhaps, and not a single word?

We are individuals. As well as having our own outlook and view of the world, we have our own needs and our own responses to the needs of others. Beyond these facts of heart and mind, lies their spiritually calm and fruitful equivalent: the needs and responses of the persons we were born to be. Certainty may be regarded as a dream by many of us, but degrees of clarity are available to those of us who trust and obey at the very edge of our belief. In the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with that same Spirit welcomed into our hearts, we are increasingly enabled to judge the right response as we journey towards our full potential.

To be aware of someone’s fear, distress or pain, to share in sorrow or grief through the publicising of a situation, or through a knowledge of their involvement or close proximity to an announced need for prayer, is, in itself, not enough. If we give no hint that we have heard the message, or that we recognize their need, how are they to know that we are there for them, that we are truly aware, and that we shall indeed pray for them? Such moments carry feelings of uncertainty and risk, and it is this that makes us keep our heads down; we lower our eyes or otherwise avoid any near-contact that may cause embarrassment, especially to ourselves.

We make a point of superficially focussing ourselves and our conversation on others around us as we consciously drift back towards our comfortable everyday lives, leaving the devastation of the other’s need to the silent and unseen dignity of an uninterrupted solitude somewhere in our wake.
Having failed to consider alternatives, we do not even tell ourselves that this is best. We are not prepared to risk taking the risk.

Without a word our voice remains unheard; without a touch our presence remains unfelt; without a glance we are seen ever as unseeing. Without risking an admission of our own sense of helplessness and vulnerability in the face of another’s pain, our standing beside them can be little more than a sterile intrusion.
Our faith carries us far beyond a mere invitation; in that one glance, in a fleeting touch, or in the single word, we can fulfil its demand that we bring Christ into the heart of the situation: that we make known that we shall stand and walk alongside each other.

“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)


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.
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