It is desperately hard to explain the personal pain one feels to someone else, and in some ways it is quite pointless yet of course entirely necessary. You can tell that one part of my reaction to the pain I myself feel comes from that British stiff upper lip school that doesn't let much hang out. The other part of me though speaks freely, perhaps too freely about how I feel. I can see how my pain shocks people, makes them step back and really - whatever their origins - hope that you will be well-mannered enough not to mention such distress again over the post lunch coffee. Hmmm ...
Today someone really saw my distress and didn't avoid it, he put his hands on my shoulders and showed compassion, he wasn't frightened by my pain. As that happened, I thought, thank God. It was quite a relief.
And then, as is the way of life, my stiff upper lip kicked in again and I decided I wouldn't write too much more about that side of things. Let's just say it's been a day when tears have threatened to dominate - even while I've been preparing budgets. It's a very strange state of affairs but oddly I've begun to realise too that just like when I have a cold I blow my nose, now too so long as I have enough hankies available, I can continue even if the computer screen looks a little blurry now and then.
Meanwhile, I also today heard a good and for me moving and invigorating sermon from my colleague Deenabandhu Manchala. Given that yesterday morning in church we had experienced one of the worst ever sermons, this morning really was a blessing. Bandhu spoke about how joy and the capacity to rejoice are signs both of resilience and of resistance. He preached on the text from Philipians 4.4 "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice"
To be able to rejoice, to smile and be hopeful amidst fear, loss and adversity is a gift, a sign of resilience and of profound inner spiritual strength. It asserts that the spirit of life has the final word over the forces of death.Listening to Bandhu preaching about the power and resources of joy I felt myself smiling and I also felt something of the Easter promise burning through into our Lenten reflections. I have often preached on "Easter laughter" but I had never take Philippians as my text. Lost in the pointless pain of depression it is easy, far too easy to forget joy and laughter, and their restorative resurrection values. I have been fortunate that throughout my own pain I have continued to be able to laugh and be joyful at least to some extent.
We can only rejoice and be happy when we have no fear. When violence is caused by the fear of the powerful, let us not preach non-violence to the victims, but in obedience to God, let us preach non-violence to the structures and cultures and to the agents of death and destruction. Let us call them to repentance, telling them to ‘rejoice in the Lord’, and not to fear and act violently, to submit themselves to God's sovereignty and peace. Let us therefore attempt to bring hope in the lives of the threatened through a discipleship of resistance, and transformation. Let us strive for justice and wait for peace to sprout and flourish.Meanwhile we had some surprise visitors on Saturday afternoon who brought us flowers from the mountain top. It was an act of spontaneous pleasure and joy at having found such a perfect meadow on their part and we were the first people they knew on their way home. It was a lovely moment to see them standing there at the door, holding out the pretty posy pictured here, and to know with a smile on my face and a slightly sinking heart, that I had 10 minutes earlier decided to put off tidying the house for a little while longer ... aie! However, many who have experienced the untidy houses I have lived in may think that my levels of embarassment have perhaps not quite reached the required level for ensuring a tidy place!
The flowers from the mountain top will have faded and wilted by the end of the week but their meaning for me, the memory of their fragility and the smiles with which they were offered will remain. "Say it with flowers" the adverts used to say ... yet there was much that was unspoken in this small bunch of colour we received and which I placed in our favourite jug. So the yellow daffodils and the purple vetch speak for all that cannot be, for those things which cannot be said, for the deisre for joy even when this seems far off, for the promise that fear will truly be overcome.
For such small fragile yet powerful signs I give profound thanks.