Saturday, April 27, 2019

Still Breathing

It has always been on God’s to-do list for me to lead a creative writing group. I have managed to avoid the job and let other people do it instead. One gets to a point however when God simply insists. He didn’t listen to Moses at the burning bush as he listed all the things that would disqualify him from leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. Enough of the excuses – just do the job. I restarted our Breathe Writers group which had ceased to exist after our venue closed down and our leader moved to Edinburgh.

Well, I am into three months of leading Breathe Writers. It sounds busier than it is. We have met just the three times.

The venue is the Bike Shed café on the other side of the river run by a groups of churches. The time is two hours on a Saturday morning, the third Saturday of the month. The place is open to customers. Some days the place has been very quiet. Other times it’s a little more lively.

I’d been listening to a podcast earlier in the week. The interviewed poet was talking about gleaning ideas for writing from all around for her. Not everything will make it on to the page, Not everything will be out own personal experiences. Writers need to be observers as much as anything. They need to be always taking note of things they see or hear.

With this in mind we took a few minutes to read through newspapers.

I know people that don’t read newspapers. There’s so much negative press that reading about it just makes them miserable. The world, according to the press, is a hostile place. There are very few articles that lift the spirit.

The task was to find an article that resonated.  Mine was a report about recent wild fires. I’m not entirely sure about how wild some of these fires are. There’s a tradition of burning of the bracken.  Sometimes it is just about dry days and hot ground and a discarded cigarette stub tossed from a car window.

Here’s my take on fires:-

A fire covered five square miles of forest. Fire engines from surrounding areas were called into deal with it. Prevention as much as the cure was part of their strategy – pouring water on warm ground that had not yet ignited.

It reminds me of what the book of James says about the tongue and the fire it can start:-

“…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” James 3:5

One hot spark of criticism, an insult or just something taken the wrong way can start a fire. I know myself to be a woman of words and. At times, a woman of passion. What must I do to dampen down the warm ground in me before it ignites? Saturating myself in the Spirit-directed word is a starting point. I will be judged for the nonsense that spills from my lips. Best not to say too much and think first before I speak.

A further exercise involved mind maps or cluster diagrams. A single word evolved into a spider that just kept growing outwards. Words and phrases, thoughts and connections crawled over the page. I’d chosen the word “fruitfulness”.  My favourite word on the page was “pie”.

Here’s mine take it:-

The world, society, demands that we be fruitful, that we contribute. We don’t to be in a job that fulfils us, something that satisfies our inner man or settles in the spirit as something a person was born to do. The world insists that we should be useful.

The world frowns on those who they see are not playing their part – the barren ones, the ones who contribute nothing, not income tax or making improvements to society.

Sadly we have allowed that kind of thinking to seep into the church. Too many programs and ministries are crested to provide opportunities for members to contribute. “Doing” has replaced “being” and “action” has replaced “waiting”. As a business the church works. As a body of Christ  it fall short of what God intends.

Drawing close to God, seeing the Christian life as an adventure, finding joy far outweighs ticking any boxes.

Over coffee the other day a friend and I reminisced long ago days of form filling in our local church. It was all about working out what gifting you had and how best to make use of it.  It was a good business strategy that should never have been applied to a church setting. It left little room for God to position people where He wanted them to be.

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