I can not believe that it’s the third Sunday in advent already. Every year I get to this stage and my mind is full of cake baking and cards to write.
This week I have spent time in hospital with a bad asthma attack, bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s also only a few weeks since I mourned the loss of my Mother in law symbolised by a bunch of pink roses at our White Christmas service.
For a while the madness of Christmas stood still. But I am home now ( and it looks like santas grotto with all the lights and decorations) . I’ve had time to think and my mind was drawn to the pink candle of the advent crown. You see it represents joy and praise as we wait for this baby . It’s called “Gaudete Sunday” meaning rejoice. In years gone by the pope would even honour a citizen on this day with a pink rose and priests would wear pink all day!
This rose is also a symbol of the fourth Sunday in Lent. There we have a similar expectation of the coming joy of Christ’s coming in Easter.
You can not have one season without the other. They both speak of joy of new life offered to us. Christ’s birth led to His death and then resurrection. And sadness and loss only emphasis joy when they met face to face.
So today as I catch my breathe and reflect on the coming season of Hope and joy I will also be remembering pink roses and the advent crown and all they represent this year
Healing by first or primary intention.
Many of you know I am a nurse. Through the years I have learnt so much about how the human body works and feel God is relating it to my faith.
Recently I was thinking of wound care- a strange topic but bear with me….
There are a variety of different types of wounds. The deeper or larger the wound the longer it takes to heal or get better. Normal cuts and abrasions heal in stages over 2 to five days. They may be painful and dramatic to start with but usually heal quickly.
Deeper wounds on the other hand take longer. Occasionally clean wounds need a little help like some steri-strips (paper stitches) or sutures to help it knit together. We call this healing by primary intention. It means the wound is 70% stronger with a little bit of immediate help. When the stitches come out they are back down to 10% of the strength they were. They are still vulnerable in the first few weeks and may break down if not cared for. When we are initially hurt we need to allow the healing process take place and be careful not to inflict more injury.
Deeper wounds have a cavity. They need to be cleaned out as there is more inflammation and debris in the wound. This is the same when we are have deeper psychological wounds. If you don’t clean them out then within a week then infection or more long term problems may develop.
If we don’t deal with the debris the wound can get deeper or infected.
Deeper wounds also need to heal from the basement layer or first layer upwards. This can take weeks as the basement membrane cells grow. We call it secondary intention. In nursing we clean the wound out and allow healing from the basement layer up or the top layer of wound will close and leave a cavity underneath. Problems such as abscesses or sinuses can occur.
We have to allow God’s spirit to do a deep work sometimes cleaning out the debris to allow the wound to heal in the appropriate way. We need to give God time to heal those deep wounds in the right way
Last night when I was opening the back door the handle came off. In fact I pulled it , the door opened and the handle fell off in my hand .
What a pain! It caused grief that I did not need. I was in a hurry. The door was shut. The dogs at my feet could not go outside , I could not access my freezer in my garage. Shall I go on?? A simple thing but it caused me a lot of grief. ( I know you will be glad to know this : I can now open the door it with a key).
But it it got me thinking! The closer we get to Jesus the more we see things that need to change in our lives. And He wants to help. His spirit is in us facilitating change. Sometimes I am like the door. The handle is in my hand so I can’t open it and allow the Lord to change things. I have the key to open it.
Are there things you hold on to and won’t allow the Lord to change? Use the key, open the door ….. It’s worth it
The outward journey
I recently had to travel by train to visit my parents.
The onward journey. I had had reserved my seat and dutifully sat in my allocated seat. The train stopped at a variety of stations on route and no one came and sat beside me. I was surprised as there were three other seats around the table I was sitting on with reserved seats.
I have to confess my mind started wondering about who was meant to sit in these seats. Had they slept in, missed a connection it just did not want to be on the train making that specific journey? Eventually a lady came and sat beside me and we started a conversation asking the same question as there were several empty reserved seats in the carriage.
This last year has been one of the worse of our lives. We are travelling a journey we definitely did not plan. I am just glad that I know God is with me on this journey. He is certainly a God who understands suffering.
Are you on a journey you didn’t plan? What has changed things for you? Redundancy, chronic illness or loss?
I know know this is not the trip I planned but I am glad of the companionship and that I have reserved my seat on this journey of a lifetime
A tourist returned to a place he once visited . A place that instilled in him with such a sense of peace and joy. He argue that he was not a tourist as he had been there before.
He stood however looking at the view wondering why he had never been back in the past 20 years. During that time he had experienced many difficult things including the terminal illness of his wife.
“You need to return to the pastures”, his wife told him . “You were most happy there. Promise me you will go when I pass on”, she asked .
The tourist remembered her words. Today he had made good on his promise to his wife. He stood and wondered why he has never moved to the area of outstanding natural beauty. He wept for the times he missed in the place and made the decision to stay.
I wrote this when I was thinking about why I don’t always spend as much time as I should reading the bible . The passages in Gods word are beautiful , refreshing, life changing, challenging, thought provoking, words of love, hope , peace . Standing looking at the world thought Gods eyeres is as exciting as standing looking at a breathe changing view .
When did did you last spend time reading the Bible and you felt you were refreshed and restored ? When did your view change as you stood and absorbed these life changing words?
Thursday slid into Good Friday this year as we sat beside my Brother in laws bed in ITU. I was quietly reflecting what was good about this Friday knowing he would not be on life support for much long. Robert was a funny kind man who could not cope any longer with the pain of losing his only son. So Friday slipped into being as the clock face said 00.01 and I tried to stare into the face of one who’s own face bears the shadows of a cross.
As we headed to bed and said good night I could feel the heat of that word again. What is good Lord when a good man dies ? This was the third death of three good people in nine months? What is good about death and the darkness it brings? The shadow of a cross spread across my mind as I tossed awake in bed. Good Friday ended and Saturday began.
Happy – another word that appears weak but implodes with meaning. This humble word. Happy birthday the messages said. They reminded me that I had been given the gift of another year where Valerie, Jonathan and Robert will always stay the same age.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and the rock blocking all views is rolled away. The one grave that would have been so hard to bare was opened.
No death does not end here on Easter Sunday but new life is possible. Hope is tangible. Words such as good and happy can remain in our dictionary because such better words describe this day. Hope , joy, peace, life, love, heaven. Jesus.
What word sums up Easter to you this year?
Old to Tom.
Crazy Tom had a million faces
Echoes of a hundred places
Most of them wrapped in old newspaper
Carrying bags of yesterday’s waste.
His words were few
And we didn’t know hear his voice
His eyes were blinded not seeing his real life
This was the crazy Tom we thought we knew.
Yet he had a face of an unwanted baby
A toddler unloved and left alone .
Or a teenager living an adult life
Caught between fear and strife .
Crazy Tom never spoke a word
Of how we had abused him
Waife thin and mottled with dirt
We didn’t look at him and see the hurt .
Crazy Tom did all he could to get by
And when he died
No one could speak about his life.
They remembered a raggity old man
Lost between worlds
A million faces
From a hundred places
Without having his story told
All this wrapped up in a raggity body of a man.
…….I wrote this poem one day after visiting the homeless hostel I help at. I work 8 hours a month as an outreach nurse at the hostel.
I have had the priveledge of learning some of the stories of the people I meet there . How often though have we passed people by and not even taken a moment to wonder what their story is it how did life’s journey taken them to the place they are in ?