Progressing towards uncertainty and doubt.

I’m taking a risk here, a risk of being misunderstood and labelled either a backslider or a heretic, so let me start by defining what I mean by certain key terms.

Belief is a mental assent to a proposition or set of propositions.
Faith is an act of total trust – it goes beyond mental assent to staking your all on something.
Unbelief is the absence of both belief and faith, and is an act of the will according to Hebrews 3.12 (“See to it, my brothers, that no evil, unbelieving heart is found in any of you.”)
Doubt is a process of questioning your set of beliefs, and of being prepared to relinquish any not found to ring true.

I grew up with certainties.  My parents had, quite literally, staked their all on what they knew to be true, and had given up a secure and well paid job to devote their lives to spreading the Gospel.  And before I go any further I want to make it clear I don’t have an ounce of criticism for them; they were faithfully following God on their journey, as I am following Him on mine.  And so the faith I inherited was hedged around with certainties, and I believed them.  I knew what you had to do to be guaranteed heaven.  I knew who was in and who was out.  I knew what God was like and what you had to do to please Him.  I knew whom He was displeased with (very often me, actually).  I knew exactly which box God fitted into, and if I heard something about God that I couldn’t find in the Bible, I could safely dismiss it as error.  I knew where God was to be found, and that to look for Him anywhere else was a dangerous occupation that could lead to demonic deception.

I also knew it was my duty to “witness”, and so I went round proclaiming these certainties to everyone I knew and praying for those who rejected them.  This made me a pain in the butt, a smug, superior, holier-than-thou know-it-all.

Since then, a lot has happened to change me.  I discovered that you can pray all the right prayers but your child still winds up with multiple disabilities.  You can do all the right things, pray, fast and agonise and still end up divorced.  You can meet with callous accusations of inadequate faith from fellow-Christians but a Bah’ai friend totally demonstrates the accepting, welcoming heart of God to you.  You can do a Religious Studies degree and find whole chunks in the Qur’an and the Guru Granth Sahib that you can say a hearty Amen to.  You can try to keep God in that box He was in when you were growing up but He keeps breaking out all over the place.

I discovered that doubt, far from being a sin, was an authentic way to evaluate your beliefs and end up with truths you can really put your faith in.  I discovered that certainty about God simply means you have made Him in your own image and stopped being open to some startling revelation from Him.  I discovered that many people who were seeking God in places I had once thought dangerous were actually on a journey, catching glimpses of Him without always recognising Whom they were seeing.  Some might never come to recognise Him but for many, loving a God whom they encountered outside Christendom might be the first step on a path that would lead them to Jesus.

I discovered that some of those certainties were absolutely valid and survived the scrutiny process intact.  I absolutely affirm that Jesus is the Incarnation of God, that His name is above every other name in the universe and that one day He will return in glory and every human knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  I’m no longer sure that if you don’t understand this you are automatically “out”.

In many ways it has become more uncomfortable to try to hold on to old certainties than to live with uncertainty.  Some scriptures which can seem very legalistic become so much more expansive when the filter through which you’re looking at them is love rather than duty or expectations.  Three years ago I lost my home, my husband, my ability to do my job –  and the one unchanging, solid, dependable thing in all of this was Jesus.  Now I feel as if even the Jesus I thought I knew doesn’t exist and I must begin all over again getting to know Him as He really is.  It’s totally disorientating. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve lost my bearings in life – and yet it’s also good because it’s where He wants me.  Above all, I’m finding out that His love and mercy and forgiveness have heights, breadths and depths that I have never dreamed of.  How can I not accept myself, just the way I am, when He is apparently never unaccepting of me, no matter what I do?  How can I hold on to old resentments and unforgiveness when He loves the other person no matter how much they have hurt me?

I remember one of the lasts visits of Roy Hicks Jr to our church, shortly before his untimely death.  He talked about James and John demanding to sit either side of Jesus in His kingdom.  Jesus asked if they could drink the cup He was about to drink, and be baptised with the baptism He was about to undergo, and with great bravado they assured Him they could.  He didn’t slap them down and say, “Oh no you can’t!”  He actually agreed that they would do those very things, but even so, it wasn’t for Him to grant their request.  And Roy Hicks pointed out that they didn’t take umbrage or go off in a huff, because they had been around Jesus long enough to know that even when you’ve fulfilled all the conditions to get what you want and you don’t get it, Jesus is still worth following.

I have a Jesus who didn’t intervene to stop me being abducted as a child, who didn’t send guardian angels to prevent my daughter suffering massive brain damage, who didn’t save my marriage, even when I fasted, prayed, forgave over and over, and, despite my mistakes and imperfections, obeyed every single instruction I was aware of Him giving me.  I don’t have a Jesus I can believe in the way I used to do.  But I have a Jesus I can put my faith in, a Jesus whose plans for redeeming and making use of my life experiences go way beyond my wildest imaginings.  I have a Jesus who doesn’t say, “Come unto Me in the right way with the correct formula and a sufficiently sincere degree of repentance and I will start work on cleaning you up and making you acceptable.”  I have a Jesus who says, “Stay right where you are, I’m on my way to rescue you, and the amount of love I’m about to shower on you will blow all your circuits.”  I have a Jesus who sometimes patiently watches me fulfil all the conditions to get what I’m asking for and then does nothing to ensure that I get it.  And in the process I learn that it’s not all about me, it’s all about Him, and that in overturning a lot of my beliefs, I’m left with a Jesus I can put my faith in; a Jesus who won’t stay in my neat boxes, who does things I could never have predicted, who includes people my pride would once have kept outside the door, and whose very unpredictability fills my life with a lot of joy and fun that was absent from all my former certainties and beliefs.

Trust the compass!

When I was a school teacher, I used to take part in an event every year.  Some of our students would complete the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which included an orienteering task.   Students were given a starting point, a finishing point and an Ordnance Survey map.  It was up to them how they got from the start to the finish – there were a number of possible routes.  Over a few weeks they would study the map, plan their route and list everything they needed to take for a fairly gruelling hike followed by an overnight bivouac.

The staff who organised it put out an annual appeal for teachers to accompany the students on their walk and I usually volunteered and was assigned a group of about 6 students.  It was not for me to tell them which route to take, nor to correct their errors.  They had to use the map to work these things out for themselves.  This was just as well, as I am seriously challenged when it comes to things pictorial.  I have a complete mental block about interpreting graphs, diagrams, charts, etc.  Map reading is something I find beyond difficult – nearly impossible.

The first time I volunteered for this I learned a very valuable lesson.  My little band of students (aged fourteen and fifteen) set out with high hopes and even higher confidence, down the hill on the path they had planned, and deep into the woods.  Then things began to get complicated.  There were so many more paths between the trees than were marked on the map.  Clearly these were “unofficial” tracks, some of them perhaps made by the deer and badgers that inhabited the area, and it was very hard to distinguish them from the “official” path that we were meant to be taking.

I had been told to allow the students to make their own mistakes, and only step in if it got hopeless.  Sometimes we would stop at a fork and an argument would break out within the group as to whether or not it was the path they had planned.  There were a lot of fruitless wanderings which resulted in us retracing our steps, and added many minutes, in fact probably a couple of hours, to our journey.  The students began to get disheartened, and I noticed that as they lost confidence in their route and became discouraged, they appeared to feel the weight of their backpacks much more than they had when they were striding ahead with assurance.  They were more inclined to complain and they lost patience with each other.  Frankly I was of no help at all to them, other than to keep their spirits up (at one point I had them marching along to rousing choruses of “Lloyd George knew my father” and “Always look on the bright side of life”).  But maps are a mystery to me, you might as well have handed me the periodic table, it was equally obscure.

Then I remembered something.  As a teenager I had done a lot of sailing on the North Sea.  Often, the landmarks ashore and the lights of the buoys and beacons were enough to steer a course by.  But when the fog descended, all these visual markers disappeared, and the only hope of arriving safely at the desired harbour was to plot the course on the chart and set the compass to the right reading to take us there.  Then no matter how disorientated we felt, even if we seemed to be going round in circles or back the way we had come, I learned that the compass was a far more reliable guide than my feelings.  I learned to respect the compass and put my faith in it.  It never lied and we always ended up at our planned destination.

Once I remembered this, the D of E walk became a whole lot easier.  Every time we came to a fork and the students were not sure which path they should take, I got them to check the map and see which direction the path should be taking them.  Then I made them take out the compass and see if the path they were contemplating did in fact go in that direction.  They soon got the hang of this and progress became more rapid.  The one thing they learned was what I had discovered on those sailing trips many years before – the compass never lies.  You can trust it.

I am currently facing a fork in the path of my life, and I’ve been wondering which way to go.  Three years ago I found myself facing the hardest decision of my life, one over which I had agonised long and hard.  What I began to discover then was that the peace of God was like the compass for my life.  The right decision is always the one that has God’s signature peace on it.  In Colossians 3 verse 15, it says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.”  Or, as the Amplified Version renders it more fully, “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live].”

Two options lie before me.  One is logical and sensible.  It’s what any level-headed friend would advise me to do.  The other is risky, insecure and counter-intuitive.  And strange to say, it’s this latter one which fills my heart with the peace of Christ when I contemplate it.  I am left in no doubt that God is calling me to an uncertain path, one which involves a leap of faith.  The other one ought to offer more security and more peace of mind; and yet God’s peace is absent the moment I begin to step foot on it.  But I have learned to trust the compass.

I have had a very disorientating few months – another lifequake.  It has left me hardly knowing which way is up.  Neither of the available paths looks quite like the map I thought I had, and it’s hard to be sure if I’m going on or back, or simply round in circles.  I am going to trust the compass.  As soon as I say to God, I am going to trust You, to trust Your provision for me, Your guiding, Your removal of all the obstacles that seem to bestrew this path, and I am going to walk this way, I sense God’s approval , the joy and comfort of the Holy Spirit and the signature peace of God.  The compass is pointing to true north, and although the way looks completely obscure and I certainly can’t see where the path leads, or even where it emerges from under the dark trees into open land and broad daylight, I know that the compass never lies, and I’m going to trust it.

Another Tale of Another Well

“So, Jesus, if I had been the woman you saw approaching you along that path as you sat, so hot and tired and thirsty on the wall of the well, how would the conversation have gone?”

“I would have asked you for a drink.  How would you have responded?”

“I would so much have wanted to give You a drink, enough cool water to fully quench Your thirst.  But I would have looked at my vessel and seen, not a large two-handled water-pot, not even a cup, barely a thimble, in fact.  And I would have lowered it and scooped up some water and handed it to You, embarrassed at how little I had to offer You.”

“And I would have looked at that little offering and seen that though it looked small in your eyes, it was made of pure gold, or to put it another way, true love.  And I would have shown you that if you had held it up, you would have seen that, having no base, it was not a thimble but a pipe and that the water flowing through it was infinite.”

“And then what?”

“I would have asked you where your husband was.  How would you have answered Me?”

“I would have thought it over first.  I would have reflected that not only do I have no husband, but  I never really had one, that I lost him before the marriage ever really got off the ground, and I lost him again when we divorced, and and I lost him again oh so finally in July.  And I would have wondered how to sum that up, and as I thought it over  I would have looked at You and suddenly realised that the answer to Your question, where is your husband, is – He is here, You are my true husband, the One whose bride I am, the One whose love is unfailingly faithful.   What would You have said to that?”

“I would have said, as Solomon said to his bride that I have set you as a seal on my heart.  And I would have said, as I said to Zerubbabel, that I make you like a signet ring, something that I wear at all times, and there will be no separation, no divorce, no death to part us, and my living water springing eternally up within you will make you fruitful in ways you have never been before.”

“And then?”

“And then I stop using the word would, because this is not conditional or hypothetical; this is the way it is from now on.”

“I like the picture of the signet ring.  When someone is wearing a signet ring, every part of the ring is filled with that person.  I like the thought that there’s no corner of me that You don’t fill.  Once that thought would have made me uneasy, but now it seems like the greatest possible security.”

“I like it too.  Because you think of My love as eternal and so it is, but the unbroken circle of the ring reminds me that your love for Me will never come to an end, either.”

This is the conversation I had with the Lord this afternoon.  If it has spoken to you in any way, why don’t you read through John chapter 4, and then sit down in silence for 20 minutes with no distractions, and ask Jesus the same question I asked Him – “If I had been that woman, how would the conversation have gone?”  Write down whatever He whispers to your heart.  It might surprise you, reassure you or challenge you.  If you are open to whatever He says, you might find it changes your life.

A Tale of a Well

 Approaching the low wall, I could barely put one foot before the other any longer. We had set out at dawn after a very short night, and the sun was now high and hot in the merciless sky. Every bone ached as I manoeuvred myself down onto the stones and gave a grateful sigh. I was vaguely aware of the others leaving – I supposed in search of food – but I didn’t really notice them, or see in which direction they went. My entire attention was occupied by one thing. From my place on the wall I could see right down into the depths of the well, and there at the bottom the cool, shimmering water reflected the sky above me, and mocked my thirst.

 The terrible thirst. We had emptied our water flasks long ago, and the sweat had streamed down my face and clothes as I pulled my tired body up the steep mountain paths. I thought back to the dawn of this day, on another mountain many miles away, when I had found a secret spot in the crisp morning to worship and listen. I knew I had to come here, that impression had been unmistakeably clear, but I had no idea why, and looking around me now I saw nothing to give me any clue.

 This feeling of searing thirst dominated my whole body and soul and made it hard for me to get my thoughts into any kind of order. I tried to straighten my leaden shoulders and in so doing caught another glimpse of the scornful water far below, winking at my distress. I, always so at one with all things natural, found it more than strange to be at odds with the water that gives life to the earth, but there it was, twenty feet below me, as far out of my reach as if it had been beyond the stars, taunting my parched senses.

 A slight scuffling noise caught my attention and I looked to where the path rounded the cliff edge and turned towards the well. A figure shuffled into sight – a woman. Not one of the graceful beauties who come to these wells at dawn and dusk, proud and erect with their water-pots elegantly poised on their stately heads, an easy grace in their gait. This woman was scrambling with effort along the stony path, her head so bowed with care or perhaps shame that she had to clutch at her urn with both hands to keep it on her head.

 Consequently, she had almost reached the wall before she looked up and noticed me sitting there. She gave a great start and stepped back a pace, looking at me with a mixture of suspicion and contempt. I took all this in at a glance, but the thing that gripped my attention was the water-pot in her hands.

 I struggled to listen to the Spirit of my Father within me – surely now He would show me why I had to come here – it must in some way be connected with this woman. But the screaming thirst made it impossible to think or to hear His still voice in my spirit, and so, without a moment’s thought I heard myself blurting out, “Please, will you give me a drink?”

She lowered the pot to the ground, placed her hands on her hips and looked me up and down with one eyebrow raised. I think she could see that I really was gasping and exhausted and something in her womanly soul felt a faint flicker of pity for me. She moved hesitantly towards the well, not taking her eyes off me for a moment.

“You’re a Jew,” she said, as she tied the rope to the handle of her pot, “and I’m a Samaritan woman. How is it that you ask me for a drink?”

I shrugged. Why did she think I was asking? “Because I’m so thirsty,” I responded, nodding towards the urn. “May I have one?”

I watched, moved by the kindness of a stranger as this daughter of Sychar lowered her waterpot with a delicious splash into the cool depths below and began to pull on the rope. She was more beautiful than I had first thought, but her liquid brown eyes and full lips were masked by the expression they wore, a mixture of shame, defiance and fear.

 Standing the overflowing pot on the wall beside me, she motioned to me with her hand to help myself and stood watching me, alert with wordless curiosity, as I drank deeply until my thirst was quenched.

“Thank you,” I smiled. The well was so deep that even on the hottest of days the water remained cool and refreshing, and I felt myself reviving, both from its hydration, and from the sense that I was here to do my Father’s bidding, and that somehow the interaction I was about to have with this woman, however, it developed, was going to be meat and drink to me.

 There was a moment of awkward silence, but now it was my turn to be curious, and I voiced my thoughts into the still, stifling air. “It’s a strange time of day to be drawing water.”

Without blinking she retorted, “It’s a strange time of day to be sitting on the wall of that well.”

I liked her boldness. “I’ve come a long journey, and I stopped to rest,” I explained. “And you’re alone. Have you no friends to come and draw with?”

She shook her head and snorted. “No one wants to associate with me. Nor would you if you knew who I am.”

I felt a great surge of love for her from deep within me. It was as if I could see, all at once, who she was made to be and what she had become, and I longed to bridge the gulf between the two. “And if you knew the gift of God,” I responded, “and who it is who asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

I wasn’t teasing her, certainly not mocking her, and yet she looked at me with so much suspicion, as if she could not see what good motive a man could have for engaging in light-hearted conversation with a woman he’d never met before. At the same time, she was transfixed, unable to turn her gaze away, her curiosity increasing with every word I spoke.

 She raised a cynical eyebrow. “Living water, eh?”

I nodded and watched her. There was a hardness and defiance in her voice, but in her eyes the shadow of self-reproach. I longed to hold up a mirror for her to see herself the way my Father saw her.

“Sir,” she said, and then abruptly stopped herself. “Well I don’t know why I’m calling you Sir,” she muttered, more to herself than to me. “It’s a long time since I called any man Sir.” Then, gathering her thoughts again, “Sir,” (she pronounced the word with exaggerated deliberateness) “you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this living water?”

I made no hurry to reply, but looked thoughtfully at her as I listened to my Father’s promptings deep in my spirit.

 She threw her shoulders back, tossed her chin up a little and sneered, “Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself, along with his sons and his livestock?”

I looked at her planted there on the path, so hard and yet so fragile, sweltering under the midday sun, framed by the trees either side, paling the wayside flowers into drabness by her beauty if she did but realise it, so young and so cynical, and felt as if my heart would break.

 I picked up her water pot and held it over the path. “If I were to let go of this,” I mused, “it would shatter into a thousand pieces. How could you ever gather them up and stick them back together? It would never hold water again.”

She reached out and snatched it from me. “Sometimes the soul can feel like that,” I continued. “Life has shattered it into pieces. You try to stick them back together, but you can never make it whole again. It will never hold water, and so you have to keep trying to find something to quench the inner thirst.”

She was listening now, open-mouthed, her task forgotten. I turned from her and leaned over the well to see the water far below. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,” I observed. Then I looked back at her, turning so that the well was behind me, spreading out my hands for support on either side of me. “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.”

She gasped audibly. I pretended I hadn’t heard and carried on. “In fact the water I give them will become a spring of water inside them, welling up to eternal life.” I was willing her to ask more, longing to show her how her thirst for love could be forever quenched in the Father’s arms.

 I had spoken of pots and I had spoken of souls. What was passing through her mind? I wondered. She turned her eyes away and stared at her water pot.

“Sir,” she hesitated, and this time there was no irony in the word, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Still tuning in to the felt presence of my Father, I debated what subject would draw her out, would come closest to the source of her inner thirst and enable Him to address it. All of a sudden I knew what I had to ask her. “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Shock, and then fear registered on her face. I could see her thoughts were racing, trying to decide how to reply. At last she stared at the floor and mumbled, “I have no husband.”

And suddenly I could see, behind her, a line of men who had owned and abandoned her, discarded her as worthless, or died taking a chunk of her heart with them, and I knew that her thirst for love went on, so frantic, just as my physical thirst had been when I first sat down here, that she no longer cared how she quenched it.

“You are right when you say you have no husband,” I agreed. “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not YOUR husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

She winced at my emphasis on the word “your” and I wondered whose husband it was that she was now living with. The guilt all over her face told me that there was another, wronged, woman involved.

 There were tears in her eyes, and a desperation to shift the conversation away from an area so painful. “Sir, she whispered, “I can see that you are a prophet.” She waved a hand over in the direction of Gerizim. “Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where we must worship.”

I could tell that she hoped the ancient controversy would deflect my thoughts away from her life and all the things she was ashamed of. I looked at this woman, so damaged that she didn’t even feel like a woman any longer, and was overwhelmed with an immense tenderness for her, a longing to restore to her all she had been robbed of. “Woman.” I chose the word deliberately. “Believe me, a time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem.”

Again she gasped, this time at my use of the word “Father”. I sat motionless, watching expressions of surprise, curiosity, bitterness and puzzlement pass over her face. After a time she looked back at me again. Seeing I had her attention, I continued.

“You Samaritans worship what you do not know.” I was determined to erase the lies and replace them with truth.

“That’s true enough.”

 “We worship what we know. Salvation comes from the Jews.”

She tutted and turned contemptuously away. I wanted to bring a reconciliation that transcended any ancient fundamentalism. “But a time is coming – in fact it has now come – when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

I had seldom been more conscious of being enveloped in the presence of God. I didn’t want to argue theology with her, so I simply held that presence out to her. Her look softened, her defences crumbling.

“I know that Messiah is coming.” Her voice was pensive. “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

I slipped forward and got up from the wall. I walked over until I was standing right in front of her and looked down at her. I know the excitement was shining in my eyes, I couldn’t contain it. I looked intently at her. “The one who is speaking with you – I Am.”

I saw a moment of incredulity and then a wave of joy engulfed her, transforming that face into the full beauty of its original creation. I knew she had understood. In fact, no further words were needed. She gave a little dance of joy right there on the spot, put down her water pot and ran off into the village, shouting as she ran, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”

She ran right past the others as they returned with parcels of food and their refilled water flasks. Peter urged me to eat, but I really wasn’t at all hungry and I pushed it away. It was as if my encounter with the woman had filled me right up, I felt replenished. I must have looked it too, because they had left me exhausted on the wall, and here I was standing, energised, as if I had just enjoyed a long and refreshing sleep and a three course meal. The only explanation I could give them was that my nourishment comes from doing what God sent me to do.

 As we looked back towards the village, my new friend had gathered a crowd and they were all surging towards us, eager to find out what had happened to her. I turned to the guys who were with me.

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I’m telling you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They’re ripe for harvest.” I pointed at the approaching crowd. “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. So the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you haven’t worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you’ve reaped the benefits of their labour.”

And it was true. That one moment of revelation, that the Father who created her was seeking her, and that in worshipping Him she would find an eternal water-source for her soul, had caused that woman to find a whole harvest-field of other thirsty souls and here they were, ready to be gathered in to the Father who had been seeking them and longing to exchange a heartful of love with them.

National Poetry Day

 

Thursday October 3rd is National Poetry Day!  So, in honour of the occasion, here are a sonnet by John Keats which most writers can identify with, a sonnet by Gerard Manley Hopkins which expresses the wonder of the world in which God has placed us, and a sonnet of my own, written 15 or 16 years ago:

 When I have fears, by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

 God’s grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Ask, seek, knock by Ros Bayes

In all my asking, can it really be
That answers come, not at my own request;
That I am here because You asked for me,
And I petition You at Your behest?
In all my seeking, Lord, it’s You who seek.
I’m in my garden with just one intent:
To seek Your face, to wait and hear You speak;
But, being sought by You, I am content.
I knock, and know the opening of the door
Is promised; yet You also knock to see
If my heart, now ajar, will open more.
There’s nothing that originates with me.
Repentance is pre-empted by Your pardon,
And You, not I, designed this secret garden.