Monday, 23 July 2012

My spacious place

Hello, God.

This is how it was.

I was trapped in a deep, deep hole. A mine-shaft. It went down and down and down and I was flat against the wall on a ledge only wide enough for my feet. Unstable and terrified of falling off. It was so deep that I couldn't see the bottom and I was so far down that I couldn't see the top. There was only darkness. Afraid to move, trembling and unable to get my breath, I was so scared and I was crying out to you.

You heard me. Suddenly you were there next to me. You had your arm around me and I cried harder and harder. You asked me if I wanted you to help me climb out but I was paralysed with fear and there was no way that I could step off the ledge to try to climb. You offered to carry me out on your back and  I nodded tearfully. You helped me climb on, and although I was scared I didn't feel as if I'd fall. In no time we were out into the sunlight and we collapsed onto the grass at the top of the mineshaft. 

We were on a cliff top. The grass was soft and green. Behind us were cornfields behind a wooden fence, and fifty yards in front of us the cliff edge and below us a wide sandy beach and the sea. The sky was vast and blue, the sun shining, a few white clouds dotted about and the odd seagull swooping.  A huge wonderful landscape, wide and sweeping.  

We sat by the mouth of the mineshaft. I took deep breaths. I felt safer but I didn't want to move in case I fell in. You saw my unease and so you filled in the hole. Just like that. Immediately grass began to grow over the new earth. You asked me if I wanted to stand on top but I said no. I didn't trust the new ground. It might give way and swallow me. I might find myself back on that ledge in the darkness. 

You got to your feet and you walked onto the new grass. You turned to me and stood with your arms wide as if to say, 'Look!' A gentle breeze was blowing and it blew your hair and your clothes. You looked strong and sure. You stamped a couple of times to demonstrate how firm the ground was, and then you began to dance. Faster; you danced a comical little jig with a big grin on your face. You made me laugh. You invited me to dance with you but I shook my head. I was happy to sit on the soft grass leaning back on my elbow and watch you, dancing in the sun. You asked me why not and I looked away, 'I'm too clumsy to dance.'

You stepped over to me and held out your hands. I hesitated. You took my hands in yours and pulled me to my feet. You drew me gently towards you and we danced. With my cheek on your shoulder, we danced. Slowly swaying on the miraculous new ground with the sea beyond and the sun above, we danced. 

After a while we sat down again and you told me I was precious. You had a present for me. From nowhere you produced a big bunch of beautiful flowers. Red and orange and yellow blooms, vivid and jewel-like, with lush green foliage, you handed them to me with a smile. 

Incredulous, I looked at you questioningly, 'What is this?
You said, 'The Holy Spirit. A gift. For you.'

Later you were looking for someone. She was hiding in the cornfield, crouched deep behind the long stalks waving in the wind on the other side of the fence from the grass where we were sitting. You knew where she was straight away and you went over and leaned your arms on the fence, looking down at her. She was crying. She had tried to hide from you because she was Unworthy. Your face was kind; gentle and patient. You asked her if she wanted a cuddle and she nodded yes through her tears.

Effortlessly you leaned over the fence and picked her up under her arms and lifted her out of the cornfield into your arms. She was just a child. She clung to you and cried and cried. You wrapped your arms around her, laid your cheek against her head and rocked her gently from side to side. After a while you pulled away so that you could see her face and you asked if there was anyone else with her. She pointed behind her and there, still in the field was a toddler, scarcely old enough to stand alone, wailing piteously with both arms outstretched to be carried. She was Lonely. 

You cuddled them both. You were kneeling on one knee and they were clinging to you and crying. You smoothed their hair and whispered kindness to them.

When they were calmer you began to look for someone else. You didn't have to look for long, even though she'd tried to get away from you. Standing in the far corner of the cornfield under a huge oak tree was another child, older, maybe seven or eight. She stood with her arms folded and scowled with a sulky expression as you approached. You held out a hand but she didn't want to come with you. She was Control, and she wanted to stay that way. You talked softly with her and eventually, reluctantly, she followed you. As you turned to leave you looked up into the wide limbs of the tree and saw another little girl sitting on a branch. Her name was Grief. She stared at you silently with big, tear-filled eyes. You opened your arms and she slipped easily off the branch into them.  She put her arms around your neck. 

You walked down the path at the side of the cornfield away from the oak tree and towards the cliff path and the grass again. You were carrying the youngest child and leading the other three. You were gentle and loving and so kind. I watched from the edge of the grass, leaning on the fence, my back to the cornfield and the sun warm on my face. 

You walked to the edge of the cliff and you knelt down and spoke to them. Three of the little girls responded to you immediately and lifted their arms to be picked up but the older girl turned round and looked at me. She didn't want to go. The others did. One by one you picked them up in your arms and threw them high into the air; Grief, Lonely, Unworthy. Each one became a beautiful white bird that fluttered high above before catching a thermal and rising higher and higher into the blue sky. Last of all you turned to the older child, Control. She looked up at you, then pleadingly at me, and when I didn't respond, she turned and met your gaze and slowly lifted her arms. You threw her upwards and she too, soared away. 

You turned back to me. We stood, you and I, looking at each other. Me, leaning against the cornfield fence, the wood warm on the small of my back, you at the edge of the cliff, silhouetted by the sun, the sea stretching behind you to the horizon. You were smiling, with your head on one side. You lifted your arms until they were stretched wide.

This is our place. A place where I can breathe deeply, where the air is pure and sweet. A place where I can find you and you seem always to be waiting for me when I go there. I feel light and happy and free. 

It is my spacious place. 

'When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
He brought me into a spacious place.'

Psalm 118:5

'He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because he delighted in me.'

Psalm 18:19

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