Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Fat Soul

For a while, a long time ago, the pastor of my then church encouraged us all to learn verses off by heart. It seems to be something we do well with our children, but not something we do well with our grown-up members. I remembered the verses because I made up little tunes and sang them. One such verse was Psalm 27:8 in the New Living Translation:

“My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with Me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Any verse learned by heart is useless if you don’t make use of it. When I woke this morning after an unpleasant dream my heart heard the invitation to “come and talk with Me”.

Yesterday I had read a newspaper article in the “I” about Teresa May. Someone had apparently interviewed her and asked not the usual political questions of Brexit and balancing the books but about how being childless affected her. The implication seemed to be that being childless hindered her ability to govern. I’m not a fan of Teresa May, not on the basis of whether she has children or not. I’m not a fan of austerity and the way it’s seen as the only solution to dealing with the deficit. I don’t like the injuries inflicted on the-already-struggling and the labels stuck on people.

The article went on to talk about the long history of the childless woman being an object of suspicion – there must be something wrong with a woman who does not have, or want to have, offspring, Too many old wounds were ripped open. I have to admit that sometimes it is the Christian faith that does the ripping open – as if the only relevant role for a woman in any sphere is child bearing, and anything else a woman chooses to do, or has thrust upon her by nature, is something much less that what she was created to do. The article went on to talk about it not so much the childless woman we are suspicious of, but the woman who wields power.

Words read sometimes have a habit of burying deep. For some that simply proves that not reading newspapers is a good thing. There’s so much bad news out there - why open the door and invite it in? I’m not in favour of silencing the voice I don’t agree with, but addressing it and speaking my truth to it.

The whole atmosphere of my dream was one of “being something less”. The house I lived in, particularly the kitchen, wasn’t tidy – I should have done something about it. I had a cow in a barn and a sheep in a sheep pen – they had no reason for being there. I had no children running about the place – it was just wrong not to have children. I had a husband who loved his life, his house the way it was, his cow and his sheep, who was entirely happy – but he didn’t fit the mould because he wasn’t a father, or a successful business man, and he didn't mow the lawn on a sunny afternoon. It was a dream that picked holes in us and the life we had chosen to live. I woke up unhappy.

I sat down with a cup of tea, an open Bible, a notebook and a pen – and a heavy heart. I wasn’t even sure if God could say anything to make it better. Then I read Psalm 36.

“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:5-9)

The phrase God’s “river of delight” struck a chord. We all need the taste of something other than drudgery, and something other than battle-tainted water – we need to be truly refreshed. The commentary I was reading talked about feasting on the abundance of God’s house, and drinking from His river of delights as nurturing a “fat Soul”. We seem to live in a world characterised by leanness. Efficiency has replaced abundance. Fatness of soul stands out – big soul, big heart, plenty. I may live in a land of famine at times, but in God’s house there’s no ration book! I get a fat soul not by just one morning sitting with God and reading His word – but with a lifetime of coming into His presence, reading His word and making best use of what I learn.

I thought about how often we take little sips from God’s river of delight – enough to take the edge of our spiritual thirst, but never enough to make spiritual dehydration a thing of the past. I had a picture of God offering us the cup of His delights and gulping down the water, having it run not just down the throat, but down the chin too – dripping. What a lovely image. God is not just the sunshine on my face but He is the taste of refreshing water on my tongue.

 I wrote my own little poetic response to the dream, the talking to God, the listening to His word and the letting it soak into my soul.

I woke up this morning under a cloud.
Bad dreams and troubles my spirit had ploughed
Head down and hurting I called to the Lord
All that was in me before Him I poured
He spoke to me gently truth to my soul
Tending to bruises and making me whole
I place in His hands the wounds and the blows
He’s been there before me, my injury knows

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