Beauty in the Ashes

Beauty in the Ashes

I have spent this weekend with an amazing group of women on a writing retreat. We all arrived at the tiny monastery town with our journals and our laptops, our fears and our expectations. We spent the weekend writing, chatting, and walking around the beautiful peace-filled grounds of New Norcia. And then on the last night we sat around in a circle and shared our writing. A beautiful gathering of women with stories in their hands, offering their fragile hearts and words to one another.

It was beautiful and it was profound.

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In the midst

In the midst

The trees are dark
and closing in

You don’t know how
you found yourself
here
but you did

You are tired
you stumble
and overcome
by exhaustion
slump to the ground

The reality of life
is overwhelming
there is no clear
path ahead
just this place
in these woods
in the gloom

May you know
that it is okay
to find yourself
here
on the forest floor

May you not reject
your emotions
the pain
the anger
the sorrow
but pull them over you
like a soft blanket

May you know how
very strong
you are
just by getting up
each day

And when you
look up
may you see
a soft light
penetrating
the shadow

Easter Monday: Grace for the Doubter

Easter Monday: Grace for the Doubter

“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Matthew 28: 17 (NIV)

There is a habit of behaving that comes from a time of pain and sorrow. There is a pattern of fear, a constant belief that things will collapse.

When we have been through a trial and something has gone wrong, there is often a lingering sense of distrust. We are always on the look out for the next bad thing.

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Easter Sunday: Grace for the Fearful

Easter Sunday: Grace for the Fearful

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.

Matt 28: 8-10 (NIV)

The women in this passage were both, “afraid yet filled with joy”. This passage demonstrates how it is possible to have a turn around in your circumstances and still be fearful that it isn’t real.

This phrase perfectly describes the sense of unbelief that you receive when things turn out unexpectedly for good. Even though the women have been greeted by Jesus. Even though they recognised him and touched him, clasping his feet. Yet, they are still fearful. So much so that he felt the need to reassure them and says to them, “Don’t be afraid”.

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Easter Saturday: Grace for the Entombed

Easter Saturday: Grace for the Entombed

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered, “Go make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Matt 27:65-66 (NIV)

This is the day after the death. Jesus has been placed in the tomb, and Pilate and the Pharisees were afraid that there would be a deception carried out by Jesus’ disciples. So they made sure that the tomb was as secure as possible. There is a stone, and a seal, and a guard. Pilate ensured that this tomb was not penetrable.

Maybe you have experienced a death. It may have been a physical death, or it may have been death of a dream, or a hope, or a desire.

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Good Friday: Grace for the Forsaken

Good Friday: Grace for the Forsaken

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice “Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.

Matthew 27:46 (NIV)

These words pierce me every time I read them. They are words wrung from the deep places of the soul. Words that come from the depths of pain and anguish.

He had been betrayed by one of his close friends. One of the men who was in his inner circle had denied him. Those who had shouted his name in triumph just days before, now called for him to be crucified.  

He was in the dark, he was crying out, he was betrayed, he was abandoned and he was in pain.

He knows what it is to be forsaken.

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