It’s cheesy but true – one of the deepest joys of being at Regent College is the people I have the privilege to learn alongside. Isabel was a classmate in one of my first classes called The Christian Imagination. She is disarmingly unpretentious, wonderfully curious, has an irreverent sense of humour and brings feminist posters along with wine and homemade banana bread when she comes for dinner just because she thought I’d like it (= dream dinner guest). Oh, and she wrote and performed a rap for our Christian Imagination retreat — just like that. She left her job working for the Singaporean government and various editorial publications to start afresh here in Vancouver – at least for a season – while her husband studies at Regent. She recently had me writing over at her space and now it’s my privilege to host her words. Stepping into the unknown is rarely easy and I’m grateful for Isabel sharing some of what she has learned in her sometimes uncomfortable season of ‘waiting’.
I am not the sort of girl who cries easily. But I was suddenly and briefly overcome with emotion when listening to a song, Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco, one afternoon. The lines that moved me went: “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul / He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting”.
For the past year, I’ve been on sabbatical after eight years of slogging away in the workplace. It’s been a precious time of rest and renewal, and I have zero regrets about making this decision to step away from the frenetic pace of my former life.
On March 1, 2018, my sabbatical officially ended. And in the weeks before this day arrived, I was plagued with anxiety and fear. I had no clear directive from God as to where I should be headed and what I should be doing next. And I wanted answers. Now. Continue reading
My liberal sensibilities have taken a bit of a knock these past few weeks. Three times in as many weeks, I have found myself in uncomfortable conversations, disagreeing with people whom I love. On issues such as interfaith dialogue. On what it is we ascribe to the term ‘biblical’. On what it means to be ‘pro-life’.
These kind of discussions – in which I invariably inhabit the liberal corner – are not a new thing. But I have felt jarred by the frequency with which they have cropped up in the past three weeks – three knocks on my heart.
The first and second knock, I responded in my usual way. Stung, angry, righteous – carrying the sheer burden of ‘always being right’ amdist a sea of conservatives as a self-made cross upon my shoulders. I feel ashamed to admit my arrogance – and yet there it is.
But they say good things come in threes – and perhaps this was no exception. Continue reading
I had an idea that I would write some reflections every month during the first year of marriage. Somehow it has been a month already and while I don’t know how that has happened and feel no more like a grown up, I know that deep in my core I am thankful – deeply, utterly and overwhelmingly.
As a perpetual over-thinker and one guilty of taking life far too seriously, I *knew* marriage would be hard work. I solemnly prepared myself for the hard conversations, the compromises, the awkward friction and endless sanding down of splinters that would come from the mystery of two becoming one.
And while I know that all that still holds true, the biggest revelation in this first month of marriage has been just how much Light there has been. How good, how true, how settled it has felt for our two little lives to fall into step with one another. Something changed when we made those promises before God, each other, and those we love. As my mum reminded us in the sermon she gave at our wedding, there is something profound and important about hearing your voice make those promises out loud to the other, to hear the other make them back. Continue reading
I listened to this song by Nina Simone yesterday: I wish knew how it would feel to be free.
My profoundly beautiful friend told me that this was getting her through a hard day or two in the office. I had heard it before, but as I listened to it alone a little later on I heard it as if for the first time, tears filling my eyes as the weight of the words washed over me through the melody’s indomitable rise and fall.
I imagined it must have been a spiritual, written during times of slavery. Some quick googling showed that it was actually written in the 60s, but that it indeed served as an anthem for the civil-rights movement. As I listened over and over (as I am prone to do when I latch onto a good thing..) I found it surprising just how much it moved me, how profoundly, well, spiritual, it was, how close it made me feel to the God I know and love in my core. Or not surprising at all, I guess. Songs, ‘dangerous songs’ as Walter Brueggemann calls them, borne from the furnace of the deepest suffering; songs that speak of a wild hope despite all that works to suppress it – no surprise at all, I guess, that flowers that blossom by the grace of God and the strength of the human-meets –Divine Spirit in the land marked by suffering are the most astoundingly beautiful.
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free.
I wish you could know what it means to be me; then you’d see and agree that every man should be free.
I could give you two versions of my 2014 so far.
Small-Talk: I’ve got the training contract with a law firm that I had tried hard – working night jobs alongisde internships while scouring the half-off aisles and eating near-compostable vegetables – to get. The boy I have loved since meeting him years ago in Uganda has moved from Canada to London and we are making a go of things. We can do normal things like meet for lunch and call each other at human hours of the day. Hello late twenties – I’ve got my stuff together!
Beneath the bedcovers: The start of a corporate career which surprised me as much as anyone and left me wondering what on earth God could want to do with me here. A persistent cough which burrowed its way into my lungs and decided to camp out for two months. The boy is here on my doorstep – he’s going to have to see it all. Oh dear.
I’ve written enough, I think, on slowing down, on making space for rest, on simplifying and giving room for roots to spread. I can recite this stuff in my sleep. I long for this season to be more about living and breathing this stuff, seeing what the shoes feel like once they’re worn in and how to deal with the blisters on my toes. But that comes with the hard cost of seeing how far short I will inevitably fall.
Because there will be days – so many days – where I fall spectacularly, and find that I really am quite rubbish, on my own, at this simplifying thing. Utterly exhausted after a busy week and another coming up, I ended up 2.30pm, crumpled up by the bus stop in tears and needing the voice of a kind boyfriend coupled with the whisper I had stifled in my heart saying ‘Go home. It’s ok’.
The tears were from
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. John 1:1-3
This year has gotten off to a shaky start. 2013 was full and challenging and nourishing and I am g-r-a-t-e-f-u-l. I didn’t want to let go of it, as evidenced by the spilling over of 2014 happenings in the 2013 journal, this year which I haven’t been ready to embrace.
This year, I know, holds much of which I am afraid. Changes in the tide; changes in circumstance, career, life-patterns, friendships, church, family. Much of which I wish I could just halt for a while, hold at arms’ length. Continue reading
I am always astounded by how God teaches us so much through our flawed human relationships. I’m sure much of it even goes unnoticed – but today my eyes were kept wide open to learn a beautiful lesson.
I met with an old, old friend – a friend with whom I have journeyed the high peaks and rocky places. A friend who once threw up one of the most honest and painful mirrors to myself whilst calling out new and brave things from that young heart of mine. At the time, my fists were deliberately kept clenched, allowing what would have been such precious lessons to slip like sand through my fingers. I hurt and bruised in selfishness and ran away when the time came to reconcile. Those simple words ‘I’m sorry’ were too far from my heart to form themselves into words.
As a result, I never released them and he never heard them. Continue reading
I know his prisoner ID number by heart. The address of the prison, even the postcode. I know the sound of his voice when he calls. The guessing game – will it be a happy call, an anxious call, a disastrous call.
I met him in thick snow in Manchester, wore hiking boots with a suit and felt silly next to Fancy Lawyer in killer heels. I walked through the grounds which has seen one of the biggest prisoner uprisings in recent memory and was surprised to see primary-coloured flowers planted in neat rows beneath the barbed wire.
Then we were face to face. Him looking broody in the red bib and he shook my hand, not meeting my eyes. I had to ask him to stop shouting when he got angry. Ever since, he would always stop himself when he realised and laugh at himself. Continue reading
I’m mulling over my first sermon at the moment.
Despite some flailing on my part which saw me scrabbling around the Old Testament – misinterpreting Jewish history and generally making a hash of things, I have somehow decided to speak on forgiveness. It was the original idea, suggested by my wise mother, and, post-flail, things have sort of come around full circle. Continue reading