Amongst the eaves and angels

I didn’t want to go to church this morning, and I was probably a little bit late-on-purpose, testing whether I’d allow my usual pattern of self-sabotage and regret to kick in. I went anyway, because I’ve found in the past that it’s when I least feel like going that there’s a really pertinent, useful thought for me to ponder.

Today was no exception.

Walking through the heavy, wooden doors, I was greeted by the sound of singing, the scent of fresh coffee, and the sight of tables piled with the leftovers of what had evidently been an epic breakfast – pastries, croissants and crumbs were all over the place, and several smiling, low-chattering members of the church were helping to clear away.

I snuck past them with an apologetic ‘please-don’t-talk-to-me’ smile, without making eye contact.

Through the glass doors and into the main room of the church and…panic! It was all different and the chairs were set out in groups around tables so people could gather together and talk – like the family we’re meant to be – but today this wayward daughter was in no mood to extrovert, so I set my mask to ‘all okay’, whisked past them all and through another heavy wooden door – behind which were the stairs to the balcony, and my sanctuary.

There was no-one up there, which was perfect.

I walked as quickly and silently as I could along the gangway behind the rows of upright, boxy pews – designed to allow Victorian servants to attend church with their masters and mistresses, and to hear the word of God without having to disgrace the congregation of important people, with their lowly status (thank goodness things have improved towards a far more Biblical, inclusive environment) – and found a seat on the floor at the back, under the shadow of the organ, which stood majestic in its carved frame and towering, shining pipes reaching heavenwards.

Once I’d ascertained no-one could see me, I relaxed and began to listen; the hubbub and murmur of voices welling up and surrounding me, reminding me that I’m part of a wonderful community of a mixture of every kind of people, all of whom have gathered for one reason – they believe they’re loved by God.

As I sat, secluded and allowing the generosity of today’s message to seep in, I let my eyes and mind wander. In the roof, a grid of dark, wooden eaves were highlighted with carved shamrock shapes, their edges gilded brightly and their centres filled with a rich jade. The organ sat quiet and unused, though I know the power of the 32′ pipe, when you can feel the entire building shake with music and glory, and the sound of the song vibrates through your very skeleton and out into the aether, and your spirit soars on the turmoil and wonder of a praise so intense it can be felt cell-deep.

My memory stirred to a time when a story was recounted to me, of someone who had been attending a service in that very building, and who had been utterly convinced that there were angels sitting in the pews in the balcony, watching over proceedings and joining in, gleefully. I smiled to myself and snuggled further into my narrow piece of floor, leaning against the edge of one of the wooden pews and peeking over to see the presentation as the point of it all was discussed.

And yes, there are the things you’d expect (wonderful things, and things which we have a corporate and individual responsibility to promote, perhaps whatever our faith) – justice; inclusiveness; forgiveness; wisdom; care for the environment; active intervention on behalf of the poor, the lonely, the incapable, the grieving, the refugees, the orphaned, the sick and the desperate – but over-arching all of that; the things which transform lives and build communities and relationships:

Thankfulness.

Praise.

Love.

Without gratitude and an understanding that we are not entitled but privileged, and in being privileged, are charged with seeking to help make reparation where there is imbalance, we can find ourselves falling under the spell of contentment; we remain within our comfort zone, snuggled and secure and (dare I say it) ineffective. We have an abundance and that’s wonderful – material and emotional wealth allow us SO many options and opportunities, but as people who recognise the humanity and the divinity in each other person in the world, surely an abundance also comes with a responsibility? I feel like it does – and not a comfortable one, because thankfulness can highlight disparity as well as joy, and lack as well as bounty. But there is no need for guilt, as I think that in the wonderful way we often find, our riches are increased by sharing them – maybe not in terms of monetary wealth, but in terms of the bright, shining treasures we can store in our hearts.

Without praise, we would be a glum lot indeed! It is a delight to see something wonderful and appreciate it. It is a joy to experience the awesomeness of nature, of nurture, of human invention and creation. It is overwhelming how wonderful this world can be, and if we don’t stop to acknowledge it and revel in it, we do ourselves a great disservice. There are so many old adages about ‘stopping to smell the flowers along the way’, and why NOT? We are aesthetic beings, built to appreciate art and beauty and music and kindness and accomplishment – ENJOY them! Appreciate them. And if you can’t praise or encourage the person who produced whatever it is that’s delighted your heart, then point it out to a friend, and encourage them to enjoy the good thing, too.

And without love, we would be nothing.

Whatever is good, whatever is wonderful, whatever needs fixing, whatever needs activism, whatever needs intervention, whatever needs relationship and hope and the reaching out of hands to connect with others and together all pull each other to our feet – whatever builds community, whatever heals, whatever inspires compassion and empathy, whatever overlooks the trappings and finds the core of a person and connects, and nurtures each one…

it is love

it is love

it is love.

It is the only reason I’m here.

Open the eyes of your heart and LOVE

 

The verses we were looking at were Ephesians 1: 15-23, but without the accompanying breakdown, update and ootz into now-life, you may find them of only limited use. Or they might be perfect. Up to you if you want to look, I feel I made my point up there ^^^

And yes, in spite of all my sneaking, I got caught, and arrived home to a text from a friend telling me she’d seen me sneak past, and would I like to meet for coffee, so that’s awesome. Compassion; connection; community – it all counts.

Advertisements

47 thoughts on “Amongst the eaves and angels

  1. Pingback: * My Ten Things of Thankful | Teachezwell Blog

  2. I found this post amongst all the unread posts in my Bloglovin’ reader, and was quickly drawn in. I just wanted to tell you how beautiful and meaningful it is, and that I could relate to much of it so well. You have a gift as a writer Lizzie, weather it be using your voice to speak on the issues that need to be proclaimed loudly to initiate change, or the more personal ones that come softly with great difficulty and reflect so much depth of caring and heart. Never stop being you, and never let anyone else tell you different. You are important and what you do makes a difference. You may be the queen of glitterbombs, but I see plenty of light sparkling around you too! XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Josie – that’s such a beautiful compliment and comment, and in light of recent events, something which pours oil on some troubled waters for me. Thank you. I really appreciate it πŸ™‚

      Like

    • Well….wow….thank you! πŸ™‚ I did like the morning I had there, in spite of the feelings of inadequacy and being utterly NOT up to human interaction…perhaps that morning I didn’t need it, and THIS instead was where my connection lay.

      I’m glad you keep coming back – that’s gorgeous feedback for both the message and my writing. Such a compliment – thank you πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. I have this great mental image of you hiding upstairs and peeking through the railings like a kid trying to look at her Christmas presents. Fab piece of atmospheric writing, my dear. πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. And I didn’t peek through the railings, I peered over the top of the pew-ends, but not enough to be seen πŸ™‚ I was quite comfy cosy, really. There were parts of the sermon where everyone had to stop to talk to each other about pertinent bits, and I just laid back on the floor, nestled in, and let the sound of chatter float up to me, and pondered stuff in my mind.

      Like

  4. I’m not a religious person, but I do love to visit old churches and cathedrals. There is always a sense of peacefulness there and I just love the architecture. America doesn’t have many historically old churches, but I get that same sense of peacefulness when I’m enjoying nature – feeling the sun on my face and marveling at the beauty and variety of the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whether it’s real or a trick of perception…there *is* something stilling about old cathedrals. If you were over here, I’d take you to a local one to see the Magna Carta – it’s VERY cool.

      But nature, ay, nature is a church beyond compare πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Having a strong sense of faith in the love of (fill in your own blank), I find, is what nurtures me personally the most. Because I have a tendency to not take care of myself during the rest of the week, I make sure I get my hour on Sunday… and when I miss it, I really miss it and my week is just not the same. I am so glad you can find the same solace and sense of renewal in your own faith. Namaste.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I *so* nearly ended this with “namaste” πŸ˜‰ Glad it seemed to come across anyway πŸ™‚

      I don’t often feel that renewal from going to church but I guess it’s still important and as evidenced this week, good messages can come through, which is awesome. I tend to recharge more from being near the sea or in nature somehow.

      Like

  6. ‘And without love, we would be nothing.’

    Perfect. You do a marvelous job of spreading love and compassion, community and gratitude. I really can’t think of anyone who does it better. There’s glitter all over the world to prove it.

    I would love to share your hiding spot amongst the angels. That is the kind of thing I would do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d share, then we could walk out and I wouldn’t look like a pathetic Billy-no-mates πŸ˜‰

      I love that there’s glitter all over the world…I’d never thought of it that way before. How lovely πŸ™‚

      And thanks – as you know, making connections and building community are things I love to do πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I needed to stumble upon your heart this morning Lizzi, thank you for this share, i needed to hear it, I relate on so many levels (including the ‘balcony crawl, dusty bum hidey’) …different balcony, same reasons.

    There’s so much more I would say (if I were up to it) but for now….’Thank you’ covers it I think πŸ™‚ x

    P.S In one of your comments, you say… {{” Prayer might be good and a noble endeavour but it fills no bellies without some ACTION.

    I’m bad at remembering to pray, but I try to act.” }} … YES! Lizzi, Amen to that! x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I see why you were giggling at me this morning! I should have gone to church, too. I could have used a little extra peace and love. Come to think of it, I just found the perfect dose right here. Thank you, Lizzi! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh… how absolutely beautiful this is… a testimony to a heart opened, revealing the true depth of gratitude and love and the answer to His call:

    ” I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better…

    I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

    I soak it all in, through you…

    Thank you for sharing such a profound and inspiring message. For illuminating your wisdom and revelation so that I may know Him better…

    Lighthouse, indeed my love. Lighthouse are YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t *feel* like a lighthouse – I feel like a ridiculous person who can talk about love but crawled around the balcony at the end of church so she wouldn’t be noticed and wouldn’t have to speak to anyone.

      So there. :p

      Anyway, it struck me and I wanted to write, so I guess if anyone takes inspiration or a thought from it, then so much the better πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. You have made me cry in a good way. I wish I had your gift for writing. I was there with you, watching from above, with my “I’m OK’ face. I won’t sully your piece by describing every moment that touched me, but it’s actually your heart that touched me. That’s what I love even more than excellent writing. I love your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m glad you made yourself go, and that it put you in a happy place in your heart. And I didn’t know the origin of church balconies. No WONDER that’s my choice spot in church!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HA! I was so shocked when I found that out, especially when the message being praught is *meant* to be about equality, inclusion, and no man being worth more than another. Except I guess there are so many atrocities perpetrated by people using their understanding of God as justification, I shouldn’t be surprised at all!

      It’s better to serve, right? πŸ˜‰

      Like

  12. Amen. And isn’t it wonderful also that the power of prayer is mentioned in those verses, too? Prayer is an active, not passive, activity, and greatly enhances the other things we do to help one another.

    It sounds like you had an uplifting day. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got very angry once when, near Christmas, we were instructed to pray for the hungry. Prayer might be good and a noble endeavour but it fills no bellies without some ACTION.

      I’m bad at remembering to pray, but I try to act.

      Like

      • I think that the most benefit comes when prayer is combined with action. Praying in faith, being willing to act, leaves us open to guidance from the Lord. I find that when I am praying for someone, I am more likely to be pondering, “How can I help?” True prayer is more than just hoping that He will take care of it, it is being willing to follow His direction. Sometimes, of course, there isn’t much one can do, other than lend a listening ear, etc., but prayer still carries real power.

        Your Christmas story reminds me of an incident from Mormon church history. I don’t know how familiar you are with the church, but in the 1800s, members of the church faced great persecution. The governor of Missouri actually issued an extermination order for Mormons, and church members began a great exodus to the west. Some of them went west with oxen and wagons; others crossed the plains pulling handcarts. They eventually settled in what is now Utah. A couple of handcart companies left rather late in the season, and got caught in horrible winter weather before reaching Utah. When the prophet Brigham Young heard of the plight of these stranded, starving pioneers, he (during a Sunday meeting) called for the meeting to adjourn so that people could go home, round up supplies, and send help to those pioneers. The congregation left immediately, and a rescue mission was begun to help those pioneers, who were still 700 miles away. Without that rescue mission, many more people would have lost their lives.

        James 2 talks about faith being dead without works, and I think that your idea of needing to help others goes perfectly with what James teaches.

        Like

        • Yeah I think that makes sense. People going the extra mile to improve each others lives – it’s kind of the idea behind The Village (which I love to talk about, as you know) in that if everyone looks after those around them, eventually everyone gets cared for and everyone’s needs are met.

          Liked by 1 person

  13. Apparently fantastic! Woohoo!
    I’m glad you forced yourself to attend church. Your thoughts are absolutely true. Everything we have received comes from God. The more we receive, the more we are to give. Out of love. Love for the Father who first gave to us, and for love of all the other people God has made.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m good with the love thing. It’s what I’m good at, it’s what delights my heart to do, and what I’d like to inspire in others.

      If ever a legacy could be one of love, that’s what I’d like. I’m getting there with thankfulness, but…love? That would be awesome, and I’m gonna live it as much as I can.

      Like

Comments are where the magic happens...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s