Friday, December 31, 2010


A contrived conversation with God on what the future holds

Me: Lord I need to ask you something.
God: Fire away.
Me: Well, I have been praying for a few things lately - some for others, some for myself - and it crossed my mind that I may be praying for things that will never happen. I have faith in you and that you can accomplish anything but I've given up on the idea of demanding answers as if that proved my faith.
God: Your reasoning is sound and it's true that believing harder doesn't justify your faith. You need faith only as small as a tiny seed and so long as your faith is in me you can accomplish great things.
Please explain why you think you might be praying in vain.
Me: Well, if you know everything that's going to happen it would make sense for me to be privy to that information so I can pray just for those things that will come about rather than running through a wish list.
God: But that would give you knowledge without wisdom. Could I trust you with that sort of information?
Me: No, probably not. I see your point. But what do I do with the niggling doubts? It doesn't feel right praying "Your will be done" all the time because that kind of negates the point of praying and if I keep praying for stuff that doesn't materialize how can I justify my faith.
God: You will have to deal with your doubts because no matter what I do they will surface. Doubts and fear must be met with courage and the only way to prove courage is to be reckless in confronting them. You will also need to be reckless in your faith and pray with conviction, not fearing the consequences if you're wrong. I'm not telling you what you don't already know but I understand how you can get confused.
You require wisdom and courage: wisdom so that you don't make a mockery of your faith and courage because your apparent lack of faith is actually fear of doing the wrong thing.
Me: But it's not just fear of being wrong, its also fear of loss - of not having my needs met or of others being dissappointed. Am I wrong in being afraid of disappointment?
God: No, you are not wrong. Your most basic need is to be loved and that doesn't simply mean being cared for. It means being valued and affirmed. Your sense of who you are is vital to your wellbeing and if, in any way, your faith in me is undermined your spirit will be crushed. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Go on.
Me: Given that I have to accept I can't be certain of the future the gnawing doubt about the usefulness of my prayers still troubles me. You have told us of things that will happen and we have stories in the Bible where what you have predicted has come true. I think the real issue is a feeling of fatalism - not so much whether we can know something will happen but the inevitability of it.
God: This is no mere curiosity is it? Its about the future.
Me: I suppose it is. If you know everything that will happen then surely it will happen.
God: What you say has a logic about it but assumes many things. Firstly you assume there is a single space time continuum on which we all travel; that your future is my future.
Me: I don't understand.
God: Let me explain.
Your present and future don't actually exist any more than the horizon or the equator. As soon as you name the present it has passed; your future is mere conjecture and your past is no longer under your control. I have no past or future; I am forever present. Your past, present and future are all current to me.
Furthermore my ways are beyond your understanding. To say I can foretell what will come is to place me in time. For you that is true but for me it is altogether different. I have never claimed to be a seer - I don't see, I know. But what I know you cannot comprehand. It's therefore futile for you to attempt to understand what it means for me to know the future.
I have given you all you need to pray effectively; all you need to be significant and whatever you don't have, ask and I will give it to you. Simply know that I AM your Father, the one who IS.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ghost of Christmas Cancelled

I decided to work late into the night and complete something I promised I'd do over the last couple of days. At 11.30 I was really tired and a little cold. I wasn't sure whether to push on through the tiredness or lay down for a while and nap but gave in and lay beneath the duvet, fully clothed so that I didn't get too comfortable. At midnight my computer alerted me to the time but by now the drug of sleep had made getting up an unpleasant experience and I gave in and went back to bed. That too was unpleasant as I couldn't get comfortable and as I turned over a part of the bed was cold. I got up, went to the toilet, then made myself a cup of tea and a bowl of cereal and sat in front of my computer. I then, as is my habit these days, pictured what it was that I was feeling and the picture was of heading into a black tunnel - that tunnel being Christmas.

There should be nothing frightening about Christmas - nothing traumatic has happened for me to associate it with blackness and I won't be alone on Christmas day. That day is actually a picture of light but it's a fluorescent, cold, shadowless light; of smiles, good food and general enjoyment yet devoid of meaning. I can see myself travelling towards darkness that will apparently vanish when I arrive at it, only to reappear when I exit the other side. It's not the blackness of shadows but the blackness of nothing. It's absolute zero; a vacuum; deep space. It's like a black hole that isn't black because there is no light but because it sucks all light into it.

This has been coming for days and though I have had moments of lucidity the fog hasn't really lifted. I'm thinking that maybe I should give into it and explore the twists and turns my mind has made in coming to its conclusions. We can underestimate the power of our minds to reliably assess the truth yet weave an alternative reality that, as convincing as it is, leaves a paper trail of clues that if followed can unravel the mystery of our subconscious. However, as fascinating and therapeutic as this may be it leaves me with the knowledge that, though I can change my outlook, my circumstance will be unaltered by my consideration of it. And herein lies the conflict. If I were to deduce that I was suffering from some sort of depression I could possibly obtain a remedy that would make me happy. But happiness is just a feeling and is not the solution I'm seeking.

I'm stuck with being utterly disappointed with myself and with prospects that horrify me more than my current situation. I want what many would declare a hopeless wish and nothing else. Christmas appears to mock me and for that I hate it. Yet the opposite of love isn't hate, its indifference. I've recently read A Christmas Carol for the first time and was a little disappointed that it ended so happily because up till then I was strangely comforted by Scrooge's misery. But it occurs to me now that perhaps my subconscious attitude towards Christmas is, in itself, a paper trail that may ultimately lead me to keep Christmas well, if any man possessed the knowledge.

Humbug anyone?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Teacher

All is nonsense - to paraphrase Solomon's opening words in the amazing book of Ecclesiastes. It's all chasing after the wind. Flatulence will get you nowhere - you might say. Here I am at the back end of 5 in the morning writing stuff and, well, nonsense.

I had planned on getting some work done last night but wandering into the slough of despond I opted to finish my online 'A Christmas Carol'. Do you ever feel like you've immersed yourself in a book - identifying with situation and the characters, gripped by the tension, anticipating the climax - only to feel deflated when it all resolves? It's like when your best mate gets married. Yes you're pleased for him but to be honest you feel betrayed. Not that you wouldn't have done the same but that's not the point. I like tunes that end on a second, like there's something else to come, films that leave you in suspense and books that ask more questions than they answer.

Life has more commas than full stops. When the party's over your life carries on and for most of us its no party. Ecclesiastes isn't a happy ever after book; it ends warning that God will judge you according to what you do. But interspersed throughout are little nuggets like 'enjoy life with your wife, whom you love' and 'follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see." The author knows that when the party is over there'll just be tidying up to do, hangovers to look forward to and meaninglessness. Don't refuse that dance because the chance will be gone once the last waltz has been played.

My life seems to be surrounded by meaningless nonsense. I'm getting very skilled at building castles in the sand and used to listening to other people's plans for their next silica'n empire. Life's a beach. So why am I up writing at the crack of dawn? Well, after bidding Scrooge goodbye there seemed only one good thing to do and that was go to bed even if it wasn't yet nine of the clock. Earlier in the day I had been pondering the endless possibilities that lay ahead of me but beginnings take more energy than endings - it's all to do with inertia (or unertia in my case). I was spent.

God save me from meaningless claptrap, that masquerades as wisdom; coincidences, that claim to be miracles; fiction, that claims to be fact; spirituality, that deals in fairy tales. When the high tide laps at your feet, seemingly answering your prayer, don't dive in or you will be swept out to sea. Instead walk out to the low tide. Wait, and it will cover your ankles; tarry, and it will reach your waist. Your patience will be rewarded and your wisdom will profit you. There are no signs or wonders in Ecclesiastes, no mention of the Messiah. You could say it is a low book but all the better to dip your toe in.

Ecclesiastes means teacher [of the assembly]

Sunday, December 05, 2010

That Great & Terrible Day

with a twist

Strange patterns on the surface of the waters
Like cellophane over liquid clay
Almost imperceptibly twisting, shifting, turning
And all becomes clear - it is a whirl pool

The moment is no longer an event
But the tail of a string whose head is hidden
Yet we see it as though it were proud of the surface
So near yet distant, unseen yet filling our vision
The inevitable, the irresistable, the conclusion

No need for oars or compass, sail or sextant
Abandon hope of any other outcome
We all, on that day, will share a common bond
The proud and lowly, the same inevitable fate
When multitudes will rise from troubled sleep and cry
Happy Christmas