Friday, 22 April 2011


Good Friday

Impossible to know what to write on this day. The Gospel of so many words cannot hope to describe  the reality of this day. Better perhaps to keep silent.

It is the keeping silent that I am going to share.

At the death of a loved one, an almost immediate response is to revisit memory; the last time you met; the first time; remember; remember.

Today just before three o'clock I was part of a service held at our sister church. The service understood the need for silence and there was the opportunity for meditation and reflection after the readings and prayers. The day was beautiful, the stones warmed by the days of sunshine warmed the air itself. There was a light and a peace that reminded me more of Assisi than our own housing estate - it was a moment in time - a sacred silence.

Except for a young family with toddlers who had joined the service. I have a granddaughter myself- two year olds are not best suited to meditation. These children were regular church-comers - absolutely welcome to be with us on this day when 'family' should be together. Easy to explain an inability to meditate on the distractions of toddling feet and insistent chatter.

Whenever I get this excuse in my head- one of the desert fathers brings his comment 'it is no skill to meditate when it's quiet - the skill is is to meditate in an iron foundry'. So I set my heart to it and suddenly time shifted and it was the sound of the child that took me.

I remember very little of my childhood - maybe because there is little to remember. I was a sickly child,  a stranger to school - from when I was six or seven, more often to be found lying in bed in my tiny boxroom of a bedroom with a blanket over the window; suffering from migraines and a variety of viral infections leaving me lying in bed unable to do anything other than lie in bed.

The only real sense I had was hearing; and this became honed with time and experience and this strange sense of presence - gauging the atmosphere of the house, of a person, of the street.

The moment that I was reminded of was a summer afternoon; air warmed, draught-less, a heaviness in the air - perhaps a storm on the way. Lying, listening - I could hear my brothers in the house fidgeting to go back outside, the washing machine on its second spin; the TV talking to itself in the corner; my mum's voice as she negotiated with the boys as to why they should stay out '5 more minutes'. The shrill calling of other children in the street and in the back yards; barking dogs; other mums - and dads, other TVs; the hum of airplanes, traffic and car radios,  the yowl of the police siren. The song of blackbirds, hysterical chatter of starlings; relentless coo of pigeons and the lonely calls of seagulls. If I really tried I could catch the rumble of the Liverpool to Ormskirk train as it rattled through Seaforth station; the klaxons on the docks as they heralded the change of shifts and the horns of the ships as they crossed the Mersey 'Bar'  on their way upriver to unload or out to sea.

A whole world relentlessly going on without me; people who carried on as if I wasn't there; a feeling of premature burial - that I had  been dismissed.
 Except, that after I had accounted for all sounds; all the sensations and intuitions,  there was still something else, someone else. Someone who was there; present - nowhere to go, no-one else to be with.
Someone happy to just sit and be; to pass the day; to say to a sickly, awkward, overlooked child  'Here I am'.

I would, I do, tell people that there has been no time when I didn't believe in God. There isn't. But today, today took me back to the day that I met not just God, but Jesus.

To think, that on the day he died, he thought of me.


1 comment:

Jade said...

I also enjoy and feel a need for silence. That quote about meditating amid the noise is really good (something I should remember and can apply at times). Remembering what you heard and felt as a child is fascinating...
Have a blessed Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.