Posts Tagged 'hope'

The Cave.

We’ve come so far.  S0 far from the caves we once inhabited…

We make plans.  We build futures.  We long to be living in a not too distant point in time when these things come to fruition or have been realised.  We spend our time pouring over brochures, making selections, refining our grand designs and then working longer and sacrificing more in order to achieve the desires of our hearts.  We build these palatial homes where we can feel secure, find sanctuary, enjoy the fruit of our labour.  They can be temples to our success or status, little Babels of one sort or another. 

We sit and unwind savouring our perfect sea view, enjoying the warmth whilst listening to the sound of the rain beating on the windows – content in our own seclusion from the world outside.

When the rains fall hard and the floods rise and the whole thing collapses around us in the midst of the storms of life, we realise with shock that we have built hollow kingdoms of dust – epitaphs to nothing much of substance.  We recall tales of a wise man who built his house on a rock whilst a foolish man built on the sand.  We always assumed we were the former and laughed at the latter.  But, when we discover there is little depth or foundation, we lament with the writer of Ecclesiastes that everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

We discover we are destitute, a flood victim stripped of all our possessions.  Naked.  Blind.  Poor.  We recall stories of Jesus calming the storm and stilling the seas.  We get angry at the inconsistency of a God who is seemingly able and who doesn’t seem to intervene at times.  Our perception gets skewed and distorted.

I believe in a God who humbles the proud and calls us to see ourselves as we really are.  I believe in a God who wants to make the, seemingly, pitiful beautiful – a God of rescue and restoration.  A God who will give back to us the years that the locusts destroyed.  A God of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  A God of hope.  A God of fresh beginnings.

“So come out of your cave walking on your hands.
And see the world hanging upside down.
You can understand dependence
When you know the Maker’s hand.

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want.
I will not hear what you have to say.

Cause I need freedom now.
And I need to know how.
To live my life as it’s meant to be.

And I will hold on hope.
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck.

And I’ll find strength in pain.
And I will change my ways.
I’ll know my name as it’s called again”.

From “The Cave” by Mumford And Sons.
 

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Poison

“My old man always swore that hell would have no flames.
Just a front row seat to watch you true love pack her things and drive away.”

From “Poison” by Pedro The Lion.

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How much great art, film and music has been inspired by the notion of love? 

Ask someone to describe what love feels like and either a stream of metaphors and pictures ensue or there is a pregnant pause whilst we try to grasp the language to capture something so huge.  At our core we were all made for relationship and we long to be loved.  When we listen to songs about love breaking down,  it pains us at times because most of us have been there at one point or another.  None of us want to lose something so special, to acknowledge that feelings change, to recognise a thrill has gone or to feel rejected.

The lyrics above come from a desperately sad song about the breakdown of a relationship and the failure to cope in the aftermath.  This week I have watched it unfold in the lives of two people I hold dear.  It seems to be beyond being able to fix and I see them cancelling their wedding arrangements and dealing with who owns what and who keeps the house they have spent the last few years rennovating. 

How do I offer more than trite concern?  How do I offer support, understanding, love and hope?  I feel helpless and insufficient and a deep sadness for my friends.

“It’s finished” sounds so final.  So bleak.  So empty.  So devoid of purpose.

Someone else cried “It is finished” and they accomplished something that gives me a hope and a purpose no matter how tired of life I feel at times. 

How do I convey that to my friends whilst one smiles and jokes with me safe in the knowledge I know what is going on and whilst the other forces a smile through pursed lips and wet eyes?  How do I reach out as their relationship disintegrates in front of us all and they and I feel so broken inside?

Hope Is Important

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“Hope Is Important” was the title of an album Idlewild released early in their career. I love that phrase.  I love the word hope and all that it means, so much so that we gave our daughter the middle name Hope.  Whilst I call her by her first name most of the time, if I ever write her name down I tend to include the middle name too because I love the way it sounds and what it reminds me of. 

Four years after she was born, my best man’s wife gave birth to their first child.  They also gave her the middle name Hope.  There’s something beautiful in that as the next generation grow up we are trying as parents to instill truth and a sense of value – to speak faith, hope and love into their lives.

Yesterday, we got a bombshell dropped into our lives.  My mother in law has discovered she has skin cancer.  She still awaits a formal MRI scan, so we have no real idea of the seriousness or otherwise of the situation.  The waiting is horrible and the uncertainty can make our minds wander. Cancer is such an awful word and one you just never want to hear mentioned about someone close to you.  That said I have two friends who have both been diagnosed with it in the past.  In both cases the doctors caught it early and they live perfectly normal lives now. 

In the storms of life, hope is important.

A Beautiful Collision

“Here it comes,

a beautiful collision

is happening now”

From “A Beautiful Collision” by David Crowder* Band.

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Our little small group collective talk a lot about “relevance”.  We talk a lot about “embracing and shaping culture”.  We talk a lot about what’s going on in our lives – the good things, the trying things and the things that wear us down.  We talk for hours and it rarely feels like it.  We laugh so hard at times.  So, I think we concluded that in the midst of whatever life throws at us we find faith, we find hope and we find love, albeit sometimes at varying degrees.  In a world of bad news, we have good news.  In the storms of life, if we look hard enough, we can find peace.  Despite our mood we can find joy.

How do we express or share that?  How do help others do that?

From 25th March until 17th April we are commandeering the bistro area of The Lot at Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.  We are facilitating an art exhibition – celebrating the work of artists and, hopefully, creating a form of sanctuary for those who enjoy the pieces whilst on display.  Instead of charging the artists any commission, we will take 30% of any sales proceeds and give it away to the Grassmarket Mission who work with the marginalised in our city. Some of our group are running some art workshops.  Some of our group are starting a group where they can knit and natter over a drink and socialise.  We’re putting on a live music night with DLDowncalamateur and some stand up comedy.  We’ve entitled our little venture “The Art Of Joy” and you can find out more here.

It’s been daunting and now we’re almost there it’s really quite exciting.  Hopefully, this will not just be our human efforts, but will serve to bring hope and joy to the city we love so much.  So here we will be, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, next to all the pubs and curios shops of the Grassmarket hoping for a beautiful collision of real life and faith.

Ball Of Confusion

“Ball of Confusion

That’s what the world is today.

Hey, hey.”

From “Ball of Confusion” by The Temptations (and Love & Rockets)

The video clip above still encapsulates a seminal song for me from the eighties.  A time where words and sounds collided to resonate with the state of the world…weird, to think it was a cover version of a song by soul legends, The Temptations…

The lyrics still ring as true today as I look out of my window, read the paper, surf the net, watch the telly or speak with people I know.

One of my friends faces redundancy, another has financial issues to try and resolve, one suffers bipolar and is in a really dark place of self harm and repeated attempts at suicide…

I once heard a podcast of Rob Bell talking of the idea of “Sabbath”.  He described it as “the day when my work is complete, even if it’s not.”  I really like that phrase.  For me, these past few weeks have been demanding as I try to juggle work and other commitments.  I face some mega deadlines in the weeks ahead and, if I stop and think about it too long, I feel my stomach tie into knots.  The flip side is that I am thankful that we are winning so many instructions in these tough economic conditions.  So at the start of this day, I commit to sabbath.

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I’ve also felt a conviction to take more of my prompts from scripture rather than just my own worldview of conventional wisdom or song lyrics…

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians Ch3: 6 & 7).

Mercy

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On my previous post I asked what single song you would sing if you were lying out in the gutter dying and you had time to sing one song…One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on earth.  One song that would sum you up…

Whilst I often love clever lyrics, at the end of the day some things just need to be said as they are.  Whatever our life experience or standing in society, we all fall short and hide behind masks and ultimately there comes a time when we simply stop pretending…

Is there time when old hymnals come back to mind and we recite phrases like “amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”?  How seldom many of us see ourselves in that light.  And yet for untold numbers of others, they see themselves simply in that light with no hope of restoration.

I’ve been thinking it over for a couple of days and have concluded that I’d choose the same song as Scott.  So, when it all boils down to it the song I’d choose is as follows:

“Well I have wandered away from the narrow path

Have I gone so far that you won’t have me back?

You see my reaction to the world’s distractions.

If the apple is sweet, then I am bound to eat…

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me.

Well I came to you from that lonely place

At the end of the season from the sea and the sun

If you’re really there and you really care

Surely you will understand the depths of my despair 

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me.

Will you listen to me in my moment of weakness?

I’m your prodigal son and I’m looking for rest

Forever

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy on me”.

From “Mercy” by Gena Rowlands Band.

The above comes from the “Flesh and Spirits” album which I consider my best find of 2007.  I now regard it as one of the most important albums I own.  Whilst, the language may not always be the way in which I would articulate things, this record has helped me view life, love, attraction, temptation, sex, death, God and the human condition in a way like precious little other music has done for a long time.  If that has got you intrigued, then you can listen to some of the tracks at their myspace page here or order the album here.

One of my friends saw Gena Rowlands Band play a gig in Brooklyn last year.  They finished the set with this song.  Bob Massey sung the song whilst the rest of the band packed up their gear around him and those gathered in the venue began to sing along the refrain, “Lord, have mercy on us”.  I love that picture –  a small bar full of people, many of whom, I expect, would never consider entering a church and yet singing words together that they can understand and own.  It makes me think about how little time Jesus spent in religious places compared with how much time he spent with ordinary people in their everyday lives.

As Scott also recently commented in an email to me – church is more like a hospital for sinners than a museum for saints.  There’s a lot of truth in that and yet I wonder how many churches that actually rings true for?


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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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