Thriving?

We’re going through a difficult time at the moment – I won’t go into it but suffice is to say one outcome could be pretty crap.

A deep fault of mine is that I allow worry to wrap itself round my heart and squeeze ever so painfully. So much so I find it hard to pray. If you know me you probably wouldn’t realise – as I just ‘carry on’. I think it’s something I inherited from my mum – just ‘get on with it’. Crying about it isn’t going to make it any better…

I had to leave for work super early this morning. There’s something about silly’o’clock – like no one’s touched the day yet. It’s clean.

I’d grabbed some AVON brochures on my way out the door to post along a nearby road. I crossed paths with a man doing a paper round from his Ford Escort…remember when it used to be a young teenager on a bike?

I found myself dwelling on what’s hurting me most – and asked God where he was in all of it. Over the last few days I’ve felt a numbness that I’ve wondered is the vacuous absence of God.

So much so this morning that I asked:

“Do you love me Lord? Do you really Love me?”

After posting the last AVON brochure, unusually, I’d put on my headphones as I walked to the train station. I wanted to listen to a Christian music playlist – if I can’t pray, this is the next best way to talk to God, right?

A band came on and then as I turned into I side street my playlist jumped to the next song.

“How he Loves us..” – Cory Asbury.

‘Odd’, I thought.

I got to the station platform and phrase from the bible came to mind; Paul in Corinthians saying:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh..” – 2 Corinthians 12:7

I realise that there are so many others a lot worse off than me: financially, health wise…but I wonder why it feels like I’m herding kittens? Am I thriving? Am I doing what God’s really planned for me?

Paul talks about overcoming the ‘thorn in his side’ – and uses the analogy to stay grounded in Christ. If I struggle to pray in the worst times, how will I ever feel ‘connected’?

I actually feel like i’ve only just got my head above the water, and I can see the next wave coming. It will engulf me…

Poem: Dorset

20131107-070719.jpg

White horses met us on the shore.
We; wind whipped and wide eyed,
Braced to meet their thundering gait.
Not the romantic amble I’d hoped;
The jutting Jurassic coastline stole my gaze,
The violent air took your words away.
And although your hand clutched mine,
Your wonder was at the force of nature,
Which pushed us together
Like a majestic match-maker.

A First…

Blue butterflyDry umbrella, sniff of summer,
An invasion of butterflies.
The strangest feeling
Planning a meeting
By internet with emoticon smiles.

You were late, our first date.
So, i settle with a glass of wine.
Suppress exclamation,
Quell expectation,
But I text ‘I’m fine’.

I like the buzzing, gentle muzzy
Feel of the trendy gastro bar.
Clinging to my mobile,
I felt a little less solo
Then, looking up, there you are.

Lovely sparkle, like a tickle,
You’re a wait that’s worthwhile.
It’s the nicest feeling,
Knowing we’re meeting
By sunset, with genuine smiles.

The Only One

I’ve been following the news story on the shootings in Annecy, in the French Alps.

I picture the four year old who was found 8 hours later, cowering under the bodies of her parents and think, what sort of human being would do that?

Zeena has inspired me to start a short story…

My ears pricked to the sound of distant sirens. Yes, they were coming my way.

I closed my eyes, but could still feel the steady drip of liquid splattering against my left cheek. It ran uncomfortably down the back of my neck, and pooled under my shoulder. I tried to ignore the fact that it was still warm.

The sirens had cut through a thick and disorientating silence. Their oscillating wail stepping in to replace the heartbreaking cacophony that had stopped just a few moments before. It was a moment I wanted to claw back; the lull slipping away like the unchecked tears from my squeezed eyelids.

I couldn’t, block out the grating monotony of sound. Instead of trying to make myself small, encouraging the world to skip past me, my whole being betrayed me by exploding.  It was a while before I realised the new, inhuman scream was coming from my own mouth.

I hope to finish in the next few days or so.

Poem: I’m Crap at Resolutions

I’m a bit crap at resolutions, me
I try to find the fusion you see
Between easy, with something impressive
That will raise an eyebrow, or two

I try to allude to tenacity
But in the end my resolve to be
– good melts, like the ice in a baileys dream.
Or, disappears – like my running shoes…(ahem)

It’s something about Willpower..and me.
The two of us – we have no intimacy.
So I steer clear, avoid the exertion
Of beating myself up..or putting me, down.

So! It’s fruitless, and I think you’ll agree
That me, and a resolution will not see
Eye to eye; with an exception of one.
To laugh hard, and often…and mostly at me…

Poem: The Resolution

I’ll allow the tv to collect dust;
Fame, drama, lust and celebrity;
White noise, no poise just
Do not bring you nearer to me.

I’m putting a curb on my tongue;
Lies, gossip, fake intimacy
Dark fun – all leave hearts stung
and, does not bring you nearer to me.

I’ll stick to these resolutions.
New Year, trite promises see
Habits stricken, love proven;
A chance to bring you nearer to me.

I’m erecting a fence around my heart;
Gated, protected. A place to be
Me; with more of you. To start
Afresh, and bring you nearer to me.

Don’t Text When You’re Drunk

I blame laughter and Sauvignon Blanc;
Friday night, an inept DJ.
I wonder how you read my misspelled words.
Did they whisper or shout at 2am?
Mute in the light; grey and painful,
Each idiom deciphered, pored over.
Now expectancy fills the space in my chest,
Heavy and humid like my damp flat.
Present residue, just as unwelcome.
Your silence is unfamiliar; jarring as a 10cc engine.
Immersed in the pounding silence,
I realise…it matters. It saps the energy to shrug.
Another minute goes by, void of you.

Blasé about dirty windows

I hit a learning curve today.

What happens when you roll out of church at 1.30ish on an extremely sunny Sunday and realise you’ve not made plans to see anyone that day? Panic?

Another thing to add to the list of things i miss now that i’m not in a relationship. To be honest, i’d not really thought about it until now. My weekends are mostly filled with friends or family. But..today was different. On the one hand i really wanted to sit in the park and just chill, by myself and enjoy the last bout of sunshine. And on the other, i didn’t want to do it alone. (I know, how sad?!)

I’m a lazy friend. Actually, no, I’m being harsh on myself. I may have mentioned before, I’m just not used to having lengthily phone conversations. This stems from years with parents who were very conscious of phone bills and basically banned me from long inane phone calls with friends. ‘You’re going to see them tomorrow aren’t you?’

Therefore, as an unconscious rule, I use the phone solely to confirm arrangements, make arrangements – anything that’s basically specific. If I haven’t got something to say to say. I won’t call you. (i hope i’m getting better at this now. I especially make an effort to text).

So, having left a couple of messages with my closest friends, and realising they were astute enough to make plans..i took the bus home from Church.

On the bus from Oxford Circus to Vauxhall, I was thinking about how much I miss my sister; and the true reason I couldn’t be joyful about her pregnancy. (I’ve not mentioned this before, but yes..she’s pregnant with her new bf) We’d only just started hanging out again.. I mean. Really hanging out. I could have called her …after her Charity Run…and gone round to make Sunday lunch at hers. Or, better still..she could have come to mine, but…

As I flicked from Facebook to Twitter, from my emails and text messages through the long journey home, I suddenly felt extremely lonely as I imagined everyone else out and about, or having barbeques. But mostly lazing in the sunshine. I suddenly felt rather empty.

If i’m brutally honest i’m just not as blasé about my meeting with CM as i’d thought i would be. But then..do i ever learn my lesson? We’ve talked it over. And because he’s thoughtful and kind i realise that the sanity check wasn’t just for him. He was actually concerned that i was ok about it all. I said, yes. I was. I don’t think it’s computing at the moment though.

Unfortunately I suddenly feel rather empty.

Belligerently i put my FB status as ‘dumping chores for sunshine’. But because I couldn’t bear sitting in a park by myself i decided to stop at Tesco and buy a whole chicken on discount, salad and rose wine… (see my drift?)

I put the chicken in the oven to roast and cleaned the windows of my flat (although I could only reach halfway so the top of the panes are still shoddy!) and vacuumed. I then ate the chicken with a lovely potato and green salad..and drank far too much Rose, on my own.

In hindsight, I’m slightly worried about the wine, as i can ‘see’ I’m obviously on a ‘downward’ mood. I have the ‘restructure meeting’ to consider on Tuesday. It’s been the weirdest two weeks, having the consultation period. No one at work really talks about it. It’s like this massive elephant in the room at every meeting?

On a plus, i’ve FINALLY ordered prints of my digital photos, and framed some of them to put around the flat. It looks like someone ‘lives’ here now. I’d noticed that the first thing that people do when they come round is look around. Especially at my bookcase, and the sparse and impersonal ‘fashion’ photos I have up. Now I have friends and family to spark conversation. It feels nice.

Despite the bout of loneliness, the TV has been off all day and I’ve been listening to my old iPod. (repeat – My OLD iPod…we’re talking The Feeling, Usher, Counting Crows, Jamie Foxx, Peter Gabriel and Elvis..not to mention concertos saved for wedding march ideas..!) I feel productive, so I can’t deny how good the day has been.

I wonder how, if i unexpectedly find myself at a loose end again, that i stop worrying about it and just enjoy it?

I asked for little things at Greenbelt

So, God is talking to me. From the moment a work colleague, Luke told a story in the Morning meeting about not forgetting to ask for the little things…I’ve been hearing Him.

Luke, who staggers his work hours to avoid crowded tube’s after 7/7, makes a point of noting who is sitting near him in a carriage. So when the tube he was on pulled into a station, and people left and refilled the carriage, he’d actually taken the time to ‘look’ at the comings and goings around him. The next person to sit next to him found an iPhone on the seat, and asked if it was Luke’s. It wasn’t his, but Luke had immediate an empathy for the guy who’d lost it…who, incidentally…Luke remembered.

Luke is a social media freak. (maybe freak’s too strong a word) but he’s always on his iPhone. He lost his once, and I think a little piece of his world crumbled.

He prayed that the guy and his phone would be reunited. And felt silly about this, because God obviously has a lot going on at the moment what with Isreal and the Arab Spring, the England Riots and the end of Col Gaddaffi’s regime.

But God answered. Luke and the stranger got off the tube together. The stranger went one way, saying he would hand the phone in. And Luke went the other..making his way to the exit. Suddenly he noticed a man running desperately towards him with the aim of getting on the tube. It was the man who’d left his phone on the seat.

Luke grabbed him as he was about to shoot past him and said simply, ‘you’re phone just being handed in.’

I’m telling this story as a sign post to my own experiences while at Greenbelt this year. A number of my prayers have been answered. Firstly being the actually ticket to the festival. I’ve always wanted to go, but financial situation I’m in at the moment meant that I wouldn’t have been able to afford it…plus the cost of buying camping gear.

My ticket was provided by CODEC, which meant I worked a couple of hours on their stand, and then had the rest of the time free to explore the festival! My sister knows someone who works in a camping shop…and got 10% off my tent…which ended up being £10. I borrowed a sleeping bag from my mum; and a kettle and camping stove from work. [Thank you Father for providing through friends and family]

The only thing I didn’t have, which would have been nice and saved me buying coffee, was a thermos flask. But then, one morning I was talking to the Communications guy from the London School of Theology when he stopped and said he had a ‘random act of kindness’. He gave me a box, which contained (did you guess?) a thermos flask! [Thank you Lord for hot coffee while i was working on the stand]

I had a really interesting conversation with a guy called Daniel. He’s doing a phd in something like theology and blogging. CODEC is the Centre for Christian Communication in the Digital Age (I know, the acronym doesn’t quite work does it?) but we talked about the impact of social media on Christendom etc. And then I asked where he was from. His Church is in Colliers Wood. I was stunned. I live up the road from there. He then asked if I went to St Nic’s. Which I don’t, but I’ve been wondering about going to a local Church…

I only had around £30 spending money fir the long weekend. And it was enough. Just.
Collecting my car from my parent’s house, I had half a tank. Although, on my way out, my dad had told me to put an extra £10 petrol in, to be safe. And, foregoing a round of beers, I took his advice.

I really wanted to keep £10 aside, just in case. But after rounds had been bought for me at the Jesus Arms by the lovely people i was with and had met, I felt obliged to buy one.

I said goodbye to Greenbelt on Tuesday morning. Looking at my petrol gage, I suddenly felt very silly for spending that last £10 on beer.

I started to pray. Very hard. Hitting Oxfordshire i saw a man at the side of the road hitchhiking. He was holding those temporary number plates they have when they ferry cars from one part if the country to the other. I passed him, thinking about safety before petrol. I got to the M25.. And my gage was on empty. I just prayed.

What with my bank being in a shambles, I’m still unsure if my AA cover is still live. I called the 2nd emergency service…(my parents) to warn them of my predicament. I felt so bad for worrying them. But, to cut it short, I got home. With an empty tank I managed to park on my dad’s driveway. My parents were so surprised to see me.