Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Finding beauty

Do you know what you love? What brings you joy? What is it that you find beautiful?
   I believe that we should live in a world in which we have the freedom to explore a great range of options until we realise what it is that we love. We should experience the wonderful things that life has to offer and say, "That's what I like," or, "I want to do that," but too often we are raised in either an absence of love or the presence of fear, so we do things in order to find love or avoid punishment.
   I am thankful that I have the opportunity to discover what it is that I love, because when I am with the people I love, or do the things am passionate about or simply appreciate the things I find beautiful, then I give all of myself and bring joy not only to my own soul but to others.
   As humans we naturally seek beauty. We appreciate it, enjoy it, are amazed by it, and (when we put our minds to it) create it, because I believe we are designed to be creative (in many different ways) to make beautiful things. Of course to me, this beauty, whether created by me or someone else, should always direct me to give honour, not to the thing I find beautiful, or to myself or to anyone else, but to the one who made all things, including beauty, and did it without having anything to copy or draw inspiration from, but purely by expressing himself created what he found beautiful. This is God, who loved us so much that he sent a part of himself, his son, to perform the most beautiful act in history in the ugliest way, dying for all humanity on a cross and allowing us to live in freedom from death.
   It is impossible to fully understand God or his actions, but I believe that he made me and that he loves what I love and that he loves what you love, and maybe if we piece together everything that everyone loves we will have a better understanding of this mysterious and beautiful God.

(My thanks to Paul Manwaring who put some of these thoughts, which I guess I have had for years but not been able to express, into words a few weeks back)

Saturday, 17 May 2014

No longer alone

This follows on from a post earlier this month: When Peter woke up

The little boat drifted across the smooth waters making barely a ripple as Peter gently steered in the direction he had chosen. The view did not change, but Peter grew neither tired nor bored of his activity. The sky remained black, or perhaps very dark blue, as it had been when he awoke; the dawn held back by some mysterious force. Peter could not mark the passing hours because time seemed to have stopped, or disappeared altogether, so instead he numbered the strokes of his oar until he lost count and then he began again.
            Again and again Peter dipped and pulled gently to help the boat continue on, until at last there came a change on the distant horizon. A speck, a spike, a shadow against the shadowy sky. Peter rested his oar and let the boat drift slowly. Having been alone for so long he wasn’t sure how he felt about any change that might be ahead. He had become comfortable with his surroundings and was protective of his solitude. The dark object, however, grew larger and clearly it too was floating on this endless sea. It was also headed directly towards Peter.
            The object grew and took shape, and whether because it made sense or because somehow he had expected it, Peter knew that it was a ship. A vessel of impressive proportions with sails unfurled catching a wind that Peter could not feel.
            Then came the shout, followed by other voices, distant but clear. They called to each other, and to him. ‘Peter! Peter.’
            How do they know my name, Peter wondered. For he did not know that his boat, bore his name on either side of the prow.
            ‘Peter!’ came the call again, ‘come and join us.’
            The ship was now very close, and even in the semi-darkness, Peter could make out figures on the deck peering over the edge. There was a clatter as a ladder was lowered over the side and it was then that Peter began to feel that the time had come to leave his boat. Protection of his solitude slipped away and a sudden desire to be with other people arose and he dipped his oar to move towards the ship. This time though, nothing happened. The boat did not move, it was as though it had run aground.
            Another voice called from above him, ‘The boat won’t come any nearer, you have to walk the rest of the way.’
            This at once sounded absurd and perfectly natural to Peter and he stowed the oars back in the bottom of the boat before swinging his legs over the edge. Apprehensively he pushed himself up as his feet felt the water beneath them. Standing now beside his boat he looked down, marvelling at this new wonder. Then he took a step and finding himself still above the water he began walking silently across to the ship.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Nearly lost a finger

Today I found out why schools supply such poor quality scissors to their pupils. It is not for the children's safety, but for the teachers', who must bear the brunt of ill timed cutting manoeuvres. A small child nearly removed one of my fingers this afternoon in a moment of inattention, which seem to be becoming quite common, worryingly. Admittedly, at first I didn't think she'd done any more than trap my innocent digit between the edges of the blunted implement, but I discovered later that she had actually drawn blood. It's fine, though. I have lived to tell the tale. Maintaining their focus for the few hours between lunch and home time, however, seems to be getting harder by the day.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

When Peter Woke Up

Peter awoke. He was lying, slightly squashed, on his back, with his knees together and his feet marginally higher than the rest of his body. The hard surface beneath him was uncomfortable, but he didn’t feel like moving just yet. Maybe because he was too tired, or because he was enjoying looking at the stars. The sky, however, was not black and Peter thought to himself, ‘dawn’s coming’.
            He continued to lie where he was, in peaceful surrender. There was barely a sound and it seemed to him that the place where he lay rocked slowly from side to side. His ears picked up the gentle lapping of waves, and, despite his position, Peter soon fell asleep once more.
            When he opened his eyes for a second time, the grey, half-light, that comes in the moment before the dawn, was still there. The fading stars hung above him as before and Peter wondered if he had been asleep for a whole day. This didn’t worry him, indeed he had no cares at all. His only thought was, ‘I’m here,’ but his brain didn’t register what that meant.
            After a while, when he decided he wasn’t going to fall asleep again Peter thought he would sit up, so he did. That was his first surprise and led to his first serious question. “Where am I?” he asked aloud. A sensible question given what he saw; and what he saw was water. Lots of it. On every side the ripples stretched out into the darkness. Unfortunately his star-gazing skills had never been taken beyond finding the ‘Plough’ and ‘Orion’s belt’, so while the answer to his question might have been found in the skies Peter wasn’t going to get it.
            He looked a little distrustfully at the water, but he wasn’t afraid, more intrigued. He reached out a finger and dipped it in the water, but drew it back quickly because of the cold. Watching the drops fall from his finger onto the bottom of the boat, for if you are at sea then you must have a boat, a second thought struck him. Why wasn’t he cold all over? All he had on was a light top and loose, three-quarter length trousers. He didn’t even have anything on his feet.
            Finding no obvious explanation for this either Peter looked about some more and then at the little boat. A plain, wooden vessel that you might find on a small lake, but not at sea. Peter was glad that the water was so calm.
            Feeling about, he found the only other thing, besides himself, in the boat – a pair of oars. While the situation still made no sense, Peter did the only logical thing. Fitting the oars into the rowlocks, he dipped and pulled and the little boat glided smoothly across the water.