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.
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.