Rainlight

“Rain.

Smells of childhood

and tastes of walking home

and sounds of squeaky shoes.

Anyway,

here’s a photograph of us

it’s funny but I see…

two old friends life will make of us someday.

How that stirs my heart absurdly

as I write these words

by rainlight”.

From “Rainlight” by Mortal.

P6270049There’s a story told in the ancient world of man who along with his wife and two sons left his native land because of severe famine.  The man died and his two sons married local girls.  Ten years later both sons died, leaving their already widowed mother with only her two daughters-in-law.  Devastated she decided to return to her homeland as the crops there had improved.  The three women set off – the two daughters-in-law journeying to an alien land not of their birth.  On the road, their mother-in-law pleaded for them to return to their natural mothers and to find new husbands and make new lives for themselves in their homeland.  After much pleading and tears, one of the girls returns.  The other, Ruth, says “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”.

The story is one of pain, of broken hearts, of family ties, of love, of commitment, of provision, of fresh beginnings, of restoration and of people being in the right place at the right time.  The widowed daughter-in-law remarries and both she and her mother-in-law make a new life for themselves together.

One of my best friends got married four years ago.  He had been living down in London for quite a few years and had met a girl who he was seeing.  When they got married, their wedding vows included the line mentioned above, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God”.  There was something beautiful and meaningful in that.  To be at a marriage ceremony where two thirty-somethings’ wider circle of friends were somehow being brought together into a wider family.

Four years on both they and us are parents – each family now having a daughter.  Rather than having Godparents both of us have asked a broader circle of close friends to support us as couples in parenting and to hold us accountable.  We affectionately talk not of each girl’s “God Parents”, but of their “God Squad”.  So not only are the circles of friends coming together to form rings within rings or links in a chain, but now the next generation are spending time together.  Both our and their daughter share the same middle name.  Our daughter is four years older than theirs and is besotted with theirs. 

Having just holidayed together it is nice to think that there will be many more such happy memories still to form in the years ahead.  This holiday has also been spent with my in-laws.  It was a beautiful thing to watch new friendships develop between our friends and my in-laws – to enjoy eachothers’ company, to chat and day-trip together, to find our own space, to have a laugh together and to share something of our hopes, dreams and fears.  It reminded me of that marriage vow of theirs again – continuing to be realised four years on.

Their daughter is being dedicated today.  We would dearly love to be standing beside them as they make promises in public and a fresh commitment to parenting and to family.  Whilst not physically with them today, we are very much with them in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

The story I started this post with is not insignificant.  The family tree which involves Ruth forms part of another important genealogy as shown in the gospel of Matthew.  It makes me see afresh, that relationships are not disposable – that blood is thicker than water, that commitment to love and marriage and friendship and family can conquer and overcome the storms of life.  It makes me ponder anew that parenthood is something to be taken seriously and that children are a gift from God.  There is order amongst the seeming chaos.

The photo at the top of this post is of a wonderful picture our friends bought us on our holiday the other week.  It is proudly displayed in our dining area – a reminder of happy times, of favourite places and cherished, hugely loved and dearly missed people.  If only the miles would shrink at times…

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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