Friday, 18 April 2014

But why is it Good....?

Out of few inevitable things in life - y'know, death and taxes - a lesser known inevitable is the fact that this one-carriage, thrice-daily train across the Welsh border will always smell of wet dog and Monster Munch. But the sky is blue, the sun shines, it's the beginning of the 4-day Easter weekend.

I'm excited about going home, seeing my family, and I am definitely excited for 4 days of rest and my mother's roast lamb.

I'm trusting that this visit, and the beautiful countryside, will be a healing time. All is not well in my heart. Two weeks of goodbyes, packing, cleaning, moving, living out of bin bags and attempting to make sense of a new job have left me bruised and drained. I have nothing to give. And in the hubbub of my self-centred chaos, I barely hear the whisper of Easter approaching. I feel completely disconnected to what it means for me; yet aware that it's for people feeling just like me today.

In a brilliant book I've been reading by Shauna Niequest, she comments that one of the central messages of the gospel is the cycle of death and rebirth; beautiful sunshine and then rain; losses and new beginnings. She also commented that change is hard, and that if we fight it, it can break us. I read that, some weeks ago, sitting in the sun, thinking 'Well... Yeah, course'. What else is new?

And yet, as I stood dejected in my bare, bin-bag-filled room, I realised that fighting against the change, rallying against it in my heart rather than being open to the new things God might birth, was exactly what I had been doing.

So what does this have to do with Good Friday, with God himself taking on all our sin and pain and loss and destroying it? Well, (as ever), it means there's hope. The hope of rebirth. Things can and will get better. Hurdles can be overcome; joy can be clung to. Death is never the end of the story, and though we might wait 3 days or 30 years for the rebirth, the new hope - it always comes.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

On Birthdays

Tomorrow heralds yet another change in life, the transition from one age to another. My 24th Birthday.

Now I realise it's probably very uncool to get excited about my birthday by 24. I think by now I'm meant to be at the 'I'm over that', 'Oh, I don't really celebrate my birthday anymore' stage.

But, screw that.
I am turning TWENTY-FOUR tomorrow. And given that I spend most of my life still feeling like a ten-year old, 24 is a pretty big deal.

Now maybe this is just the childish narcissist inside me (it may well be), but I find it sad when people don't celebrate their birthdays, or shrugg it off as 'any other day'.

Your life is no less of a miracle than it was when you were a child. Sometimes, your life is even more of a miracle than it was then. Sure, it's old news perhaps, but it's BRILLIANT news. You've lived another year!

Maybe the idea of celebrating it with a certain person missing just feels impossible, and I respect that.

Or maybe it's just been a really tough year.  But if so, even more reason to mark the day in some way: you made it through, or, at least, you're still standing. As the years go on I imagine that the birthday may become a time of mixed feelings - am I 'where I should be'? Every year, reaching an age where it's more normal to 'settle down', get married and, in several years, start popping out children.

BUT for me, and I hope for you, the Birthday will be a day of celebration, joy and thanksgiving. I am alive; nothing has destroyed me or my hope. I know Jesus (and this is surely enough reason to celebrate on its own). I am happy, and I am free. I don't know what lies ahead (except for the next month of changes), and I'm peaceful about that. I have health and I have people whom I love and who love me back.

Sure, it's only twenty-four; no big milestone for the card-makers. But it's another year of life, and for that I will rejoice.