`strangers` on lifes journey ?

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I don`t know if it’s a sign of age but it does seem that the older I get the more I realise that my life, its shape and its happiness is determined by the relationships I hold, seek and let go of.

Let me explain: in this last week I have spent time with my daughters partner a young man, Mark, who has come into our lives bringing with him joy, freshness of life, a wonderful sense of priorities and above all else love. I look forward to his posts on Facebook and spending time with him is an absolute delight. Along with the day out we spent we met his Mum Yvonne; again a delight to meet and hopefully over the years spend time with. It was so easy to chat to Yvonne and we loved her company.

This morning I spent time discussing evangelism and mission with another long-established friend, Roger, whose support I have come to value and at the same time I was aware of a new friend, Caroline, working on finalising the Circuit preaching plan.

In the midst of all of this I have lost a very dear friend who passed away last week, who has been a part of my life since 1997, in a variety of ways. His enthusiasm, wisdom and faith right to the end were not only infectious but inspirational. I had the privilege of taking his Mother-in-Laws funeral at the beginning of the week in which he died and now I`m preparing for his. I hope I will have honoured his Mother-in-Law and now I hope I`m honouring him.

 

Comings and goings on life’s journey, it reminds me that we all begin as strangers with each other: some we will simply pass and let go whilst others we will spend more time with. At what point we move from being strangers to acquaintances to friends I`m not sure but I do know that if we wish to make friends from strangers then we need to be prepared to put the work in ! We need to spend time with them, listening, sharing, not being judgemental, being sacrificial. Too often we are dismissive and assume `they aren’t our type` or `I don’t have time` but I have found that the more I`m prepared to put in then the more I`ll get out.

Yes, there are times when we need to let go of folk and realise that they aren`t good for our life journey or we aren’t good for theirs; time to assess good relationships against bad ones; BUT against this is the knowledge that its only in spending time with folk that good will come out of it.

This is why I despair sometimes of the world for I see people being categorised by their religion, sexuality, culture, sub-culture, etc. instead of a glorious coming together of folk with an acceptance of each other as God-created human beings. That doesn`t mean that anything goes and nor does it throw values, standards, ethics etc. out of the window but it does speak of a desire to know and love other people. The world would be far better if there was more tolerance and understanding of each other, if the Israeli nation could find a way of reaching out to the Palestinian (and vice versa), if Russia and Ukraine could settle differences, if the political group isis would accept a non-Islamic state in Iraq. If this were possible then surely there wouldn`t be the horrific images on our televisions or in our papers.

Wesley referred to this as `the catholic spirit`, but it is an Old Testament concept of offering hospitality to `the stranger in a foreign land`, and its surely the gift of the Holy Spirit to the world to love as Jesus would love.

 

New Monasticism; re-imagining the Church

 

The photo is of the previous Mother house to the Northumbria Community where I was privileged to spend three days in 2010.

I post it here in honour of my friend who taught me an appreciation of Celtic Christianity and showed me its worth.

 

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