Worldlings

worldling  n. – One who is absorbed by worldly pursuits and pleasures.
A person who is primarily concerned with worldly matters or material things
A person devoted to the interests and pleasures of this world; worldly person.

According to Rev Samuel Lavington “On Conformity to the World”, a Christian and a worldling are two different characters.
You cannot be both for they are opposites.
If you will live for the world then you must farewell Christianity; and if you will live for Christ then you must let go of the world.

I remember visiting the church named in Lavington’s honour in Bideford, Devon, with my father when I was about seven.  We were on the trail of all things Arthurian, and while I don’t think we found Arthur there, I do remember the oddly separated pews and that this was the first time I heard the word “worldling”.

It seems my father thought being a worldling was some sort of character flaw, although I’m not sure he would have been described as a Christian at that time in his life.  However, he was certainly always more spiritual than practical and he managed to achieve his ambition of dying almost penniless.

There are many things my father said that profoundly influenced my life and personality (I am sure that’s true of everyone who was close to their father), but one thing in particular was a favourite saying of his:

“You can travel the world and dine with kings, but never find anything of greater interest than is inside your own mind”

(Gordon John Willoughby, circa 1965)

worldling

 

Left Over Right and Under

Once again I have foolishly cut the twine

Binding my heart to God and God to mine

Yet once again he proffers forth his end

Inviting me to to tie it up again.

left over right and under

One end in God’s hand, one in mine

Together we work hard to recombine

I know my sins will cut it every time

But always he will seek to re-entwine

left over right and under – right over left and through

And every time the thread is knotted tight

It gets a little shorter, as it might

Bringing me closer to God, until I see

It is also bringing God closer to me.

left over right and under – right over left and through

makes the knot stronger, tidy, tighter and true

 

 

The Panic of Lost Things

I had it a moment ago and now it’s gone!

Am I mad? Am I blind?  What’s going on?

Surely “What is hidden will be seen”

Or so it says in Luke eight seventeen,

So why then do  I panic and call it  “lost”?

And invest turgid emotion – to my cost.

When I know that everything will come out right,

And every missing thing, be brought to light.

For everyone who asks (we know) receives

And the one who seeks finds always what she needs.

So even though you knock upon the door

Until knuckles seem intolerably sore

It will be opened to you, if you stay calm.

No need to panic or to feel alarm.

The sage advice is to retrace your steps,

Whether missing concepts, people or objects.

Go back to where you were when last you saw

And gain a new perspective of that door.

Blankets on a Rocky Shore

A  number of things have happened to me today

A number of things that caused me to lose my way

Until  I was surrounded by blankets on a rocky shore

Convinced that God, like me, just loves a metaphor 🙂

 

I burnt my fingers holding up a mirror

And possibly it made some see things clearer

But some, not keen on seeing imperfection

Blamed the mirror holder, rather than the reflection.

 

I was distressed, regretting impulsive action

Thinking the mirror cracked to cause refraction

Until prayers showed me what I’d framed

And then I understood why I was blamed.

 

Friends warmed and cuddled me with their support

And allowed me space for clarity of thought.

And God was there, (obscure but clearly there)

Listening with patience to my prayer.

 

The gilded mirror emerged inside a dream

I was confused, not knowing what I’d seen

A crystal mirror on a rocky shore

A mirror that must be a metaphor.

 

When trying to describe how God is love

I’ve thought of snugly blankets from above.

So imagine my surprise at what I saw

When I opened to the knocking at my door!

 

Sharon and Bella standing there with fancy

Blankets made with love by lovely Nancy.

Nancy, I woman I’ve never met

But who taught me something I’ll never forget.

 

She makes blankets that she gives away for free

To warm a cooling heart or arthritic knee.

She doesn’t even know me, and much less

She will never know who’s getting her kindness.

 

God is moving in his mysterious ways today

God is certainly hearing me when I sink to pray

And answering me forever in metaphor

As he brings a pile of blankets to my door!

For Nancy, Sharon, Bella, Libby, Vee, Jackie and Sandie,
with my love and thanks

A Man of Passion and Peace – Cat Stevens – Yusuf Islam

Today my husband gave me a Cat Stevens “Best Of” CD…

Spinning me back down the years

Brining me laughter and tears

A man of great passion and peace

Setting me back on my feet.

 

I remember that ride in the spring

Trying my best not to sing

About mornings that broke and my dog

Who I loved, and of Peace Trains and fog.

 

We rode for well over an hour

With people he had on his tour

And he spoke not a word, but above all the roar

His peace could be heard, at the core.

 

We tranquilly rode through the scrub

And we heard all the birdsong above

As the silence became what it should

A feel of peace – that was good.

 

I was just a plain, awkward teen

(at the time I was only fourteen)

And here was my hero in flesh

Showing me a bright world, made afresh

 

Tiny flowers I’d not notice had bloomed

In the scrubby roadsides and festooned

The world with their charm, in that magical calm

And the air with their essence perfumed

 

I felt I had never prior seen

The world but hazily, through a dream

If silence if golden, I know

That truth, through gold silence, can grow.

I was only fourteen, but the things I had seen

More than all of his songs, could not show.

 

After his limo had left

I felt both absurd and bereft

I had wanted to say, on that beautiful day

That he taught me so much

I was blessed.

 

Cat Stevens toured Australia in September 1972 , playing  at Apollo Stadium in Adelaide, SA.
I was 14 at he time and my parents owned a riding school in the Adelaide Hills, so when he decided he wanted a peaceful break to go horse riding, I took him and his entourage on a ride.
He was my greatest hero at the time, but  I never spoke a word to him, and he said nothing audible during the entire visit.  It was obvious that his was a time-out for him and he radiated peace and calm in his silence.

And on and on it goes.
Ride on the peace train.

 

If You Believe He Walked on Water

The greatest paradox of all
Is that truth is what you believe.
I believe that,
Therefore it is true.

You may believe in your own capacity
to judge truth objectively.
In which case you will say
That what I say is false.

But is it impossible
we both be right?

Our minds are not designed
to see things just one way,
or for all of us
to see the same things.

Jesus really did
walk upon the water,
– if you believe he did.

But if you don’t believe
he walked upon the water,
– then he didn’t.

And there is a parable
to explain exactly that point.
For Peter sees Jesus
Walking on the water
and he believes
then he disbelieves
then he nearly drowns
then he believes again.

What Peter believes becomes real
but what he cannot believe
causes him to splutter and gasp
as he sinks.

Peter puts his faith in Jesus
and believes
and the world conforms
to Peter’s belief.

Just as Jesus always
promises it will.

Flammarion waits for Enoch

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago
was caught up to the third heaven. “

2 Corinthians 12:2

Enoch will be along soon.

I’ll wait outside, and look at the sky, and remember what we spoke of last time.

I still have the broken blue egg shell.
I lie on my back and hold it to the sun.

Yes, it is the same flat blue of the  sky on a cloudless day.

Today there are clouds, bringing the sky closer.
Will they come so close that the sky falls, watering the ground?

“Is the sky water?” I asked Enoch.
For it is the colour of the sea and lakes I have seen
and as changeable in its blues and greys.
And water falls from it.

Enoch says this is the first heaven that we see.
Ruled by the sun of light and heat.

Then what of night?
When the sky is drawn back,
revealing sparking treasures,
far above.
And glorious silken folds of crimson
herald their arrival each evening
and announce their departure each morn.

The sun has gone and with it its heat,
so the water in heaven turns to crystals of
ice and twinkles in the light of the solemn moon;
waiting for the sun king to return.

That, says Enoch, is the second heaven.

But there is the third heaven that Enoch knows.
Perhaps only Enoch knows.

He tells me it lies between corruptibility and incorruptibility
That it holds the Tree of Life,
the source of knowledge.

And two springs,
one milk, one honey.
But then two others,
one oil, one wine.
Which is four, not two.
But Enoch says two.

But how does Enoch know?

He says he has been there.
To argue with Azazel
about the way women
paint their eyebrows.

Which seems such a trivial matter to discuss with an archangel, but I know there was more;  I just can’t remember it all.

The first heaven hides the second heaven.
Its blue veil is drawn back with a flourish,
momentarily revealing its scarlet lining  each evening.
Then the second heaven appears.

Enoch says we see the first and second heavens because God wants us to think, and to realise there must be more.

The second heaven hides the third.
But we can  see it only by invitation.
If I understand Enoch rightly.
Which probably, I don’t.

But oh, what joy!
To lie here on my back,
gazing at the blue above
and the egg shell in my hand
and wait for Enoch
so we can talk
and wonder some more
at our God’s creation.


“What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely pleasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on earth and transported toward that first stop on the celestial journeys? What thoughtful soul could look at brilliant Jupiter with its four attendant satellites, or splendid Saturn encircled by its mysterious ring, or a double star glowing scarlet and sapphire in the infinity of night, and not be filled with a sense of wonder? Yes, indeed, if humankind — from humble farmers in the fields and toiling workers in the cities to teachers, people of independent means, those who have reached the pinnacle of fame or fortune, even the most frivolous of society women — if they knew what profound inner pleasure await those who gaze at the heavens, then France, nay, the whole of Europe, would be covered with telescopes instead of bayonets, thereby promoting universal happiness and peace.”

Camille Flammarion, 1880