Monday, 9 April 2012

Opening my hands

I don't have any words to celebrate Easter.

I like words and I usually enjoy playing with them. Searching for the right one. Quite often I can't make my mind up and I use more than I need to use. 

Today I'm feeling subdued. Yesterday was Easter and I didn't manage to find any quiet to come here and talk to you and by bedtime I had already been asleep on the sofa and any offering I might have made at that point would have been pathetically inadequate. 

It's a bit of a challenge right now. 

We've had visitors over Easter and they've gone. It was good to have them here and the children are missing their cousin badly. They've had company and stimulation and games to play but now the visitors have gone and taken their computer game with them (should we get one? Or would that be a bad idea for small girls who already have so much? More screens to stare at? But on the other hand... Divine guidance much appreciated on this one). Anyway, the children need extra attention and I would rather crawl into a little hole and have some time just me. 

On my own. With you. Though I can't guarantee that I'll be very good company.

Lord, yesterday morning at church it was just lovely. The building was full, the music was good, the atmosphere was festive and the message was the most incredible, breathtaking, amazing thing that there is. You rose from the dead. And if you did that two thousand years ago, that means that you're still alive. 

Alive. Not dead. Alive. Living. 

Nothing that they did to you could defeat you. It was lonely and awful and painful and you did it for me. You did it for me so that the way to God was open and clear and not blocked by piles of dirt and debris and rubbish. You did it. I thought my heart would explode, it was so full. 

Yesterday I raised my hands and praised you and the angels were singing too. He is risen! Alleluia! 

Today the first day of this year's post Easter life begins and I'm wondering what will change now. What can I do that's different because of Easter this year? What is my response?

We have chocolate to eat. We have a holiday this coming week; Bryan is at home and the children are off school. We will do nice things in the name of the Easter holiday. But my life should alter as a result of what I have seen this Easter.  I have spent Lent looking inward, and it's time to change gear. 

The Lord is here. He's not dead. Stop looking for him in his grave.

I am tired. I have things on my mind. Yesterday I felt lighter than I do today, and I know that a Good Night's Sleep will help.  Some space. But I feel troubled.

One thing keeps coming to mind. A friend and I often say this to each other when we find ourselves having trouble in life. We both have a tendency to control-freakery. We both frequently feel responsible for things that we can't do anything about. We both worry; probably me the most. But we've found something that helps - a bit. When we let it help. 

We need to open our hands. I need to stop holding on with fists clenched tight and I need to prise my fingernails out of my palms because only then can I take what you're holding out to me. If my hands are full, I can't accept anything. And that's such a shame because my hands are usually full of concerns and anxieties and worries and regrets and the things that you want to give me instead are peace and rest and hope and joy. Who would cling to the darkness when offered such light? 

Me, it seems. 

Yesterday at church I said some things and I've been acutely uncomfortable about them ever since. Three people have contacted me to say that what I said struck a chord with them. At the time it felt important that I say it; my heart was thumping in my chest, my palms were cold and sweaty and I felt that I should say it, then afterwards my mind was flooded with doubts. Big, hot, tearful doubts. I'd made a fool of myself. I shouldn't have said it. It didn't make sense. I didn't express myself very well. People would think badly of me. How embarrassing. And so on and so on. 

I have no idea what was going on, there. I trust you, Lord. I trust that you had a plan and that you can use even my obscure stumblings. But as I talk to you now I know that my feeling ill at ease today has something to do with yesterday. 

I need to do something.  Forgive?  Perhaps. It's a rolling programme. Give it all to you? Certainly.

Max Lucado says in his book 'He Chose the Nails: What God did to win your heart' which was my unofficial Lent reading this year, that the cross demands a response. A new examination of the cross demands a new response. He says: 
'May I urge you to leave something at the cross? You can observe the cross and analyse the cross. You can read about it, even pray to it. But until you leave something there, you haven't embraced the cross.'
What am I going to leave?


I'm going to carry my normal load of baggage and worries and anxieties and fears and regrets up the hill until I'm right in the shadow of the empty cross.
I'm going to make a pile of the boxes and rucksacks and carrier bags right in front of it. The little things and bits and bobs that I never let go of, I'm going to find an empty box left over from moving house and I'm going to fill them up and then get parcel tape and tear it off with my teeth in that way that makes my Mum wince and I'm going to seal the box and pat the tape down tight so I can't easily reach inside for something that I'm having second thoughts about.

Actually, there might be more than one boxful of sundries. Several, even. I'm going to stack them up on top of each other. I'm going to make a pile.

It's neatly stacked but it's still a great ugly heap.

I'm going to label them with the same efficiency with which I started to pack when we moved house.

Worries: the future, what people think, health, the health of those that I love, finances, jobs, that crack in the ceiling in the hall, the damp behind the living room radiator...

Fears: that something bad will happen. That people will die. That if I take my eye off the ball something will go horribly and irrevocably wrong. That I'll make some disastrous mistake in bringing up the children that their lives are ruined...

Bad things: my tendency to think I'm right, laziness, irritability, being critical, withholding forgiveness, superstition, temper, selfishness...

Regrets: things that I've said, things that I haven't said, perfectionism, the times I've messed things up, mistakes, things that I find hard to forget...

...and so on. And what am I going to do next?

I'm going to walk away. I know I'll be back because my hands fill up very quickly. No doubt before I get to the bottom of the hill I'll have things that I should come back and throw on the pile. But I'm not going to do what I usually do, which is to grab everything I can carry as if I'm on a trolley dash and run away with them again rather than leave them with you.

I'm walking. I'm not looking over my shoulder. I know that the cross is there, dark and silhouetted against the brightness of the sun.

I'm climbing down.

I want my hands to be empty so that I can grasp what you offer to me. Give me eyes to see what you are holding out and the sense to understand that what I have in my hands now has no value in comparison with a gift from you.

Thankyou for dying for me, Lord Jesus.

Please don't let me gaze at the cross and lift my hands in praise, but do nothing.

I want it to change things. Change me.

I'm sitting still. I'm relaxing my shoulders, which have a tendency to creep up towards my ears when I'm tense and anxious. I'm leaning on you. I'm remembering my pile of debris.

My eyes are closed but my hands are open.


  1. Oh. Oh. May Easter change me.


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