Things in Perspective- Look, See, Pray

Putting things into perspective often requires a “reset” of our thought-process.  This week has been such a time.

My photo was captured in the Austrian Tyrol as paragliders took wing over jagged peaks and deep V-shaped valleys. Atmospheric haze makes the mountains recede into a blue and grey distance. It is dramatic and challenging- the courage of the flyers is remarkable.

Back home, politics have been as strident and graceless as ever. Elusive and controversial, the Brexit saga rumbles on unresolved. The British weather has been wild and wet.

Then we were jolted by the tragic news of nearly 40 deaths in a lorry bringing immigrants across the Channel.

Suddenly the trivial aggravations and public discontent became less important. Human lives lost through greed and callous exploitation- the nation was shocked. Perspective changed.

Personally, other factors have combined to make a review of perspective necessary and involuntary. More of that another time. It has left me posing a question: where do we find perspective when the unexpected happens?

The “Chosen People” of the Old Testament have given us a wonderful book of resources- the Psalms. They had to make sense of life in all circumstances, and asked questions as well as expressing trust in God.

Psalm 74:12-17 (NLT)   You, O God, are my king from ages past, bringing salvation to the earth. You split the sea by your strength and smashed the heads of the sea monsters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan and let the desert animals eat him. You caused the springs and streams to gush forth, and you dried up rivers that never run dry. Both day and night belong to you; you made the starlight and the sun. You set the boundaries of the earth, and you made both summer and winter.

This psalm draws on their faith-history (what God has done in the past) in order to find perspective on current life issues.

Without such faith, where do we find perspective ourselves? This is my choice based on past experience and on the revealed nature of God:  Psalm 77:1-2 (ANIV)  “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.”

Clouds or Sun? Look, See, Pray

It has been a day of drama and turmoil with emotions and divisions hitting the headlines. Opposing viewpoints divide families, communities, and a nation. Issues of trust and accusations of underhand tactics are sprayed about with little thought of long-term consequences.

Whatever your personal opinion on the current events, I hope you can join me in a prayer that God may bring wisdom, mercy and compassion to us all.

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Lord, in stormy skies and stormy words we are overwhelmed. Please help us to seek justice, mercy, and reconciliation. May Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

In the slow lane – Look, See, Pray

Given a choice between travelling on the M25 or a quiet English canal- which you would take?

Motorway driving sums up modern imperatives. Get there faster. Do more. Hurry up. Manners disappear in the exhaust fumes, every delay becomes a crisis. Contrast this with life in the slow lane-  traditional narrow-boats chugging steadily at walking pace; gliding through open countryside, taking turns to navigate the locks.

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These canals transformed industry in Britain. Heavy cargoes could be shifted easily and links between factories and raw materials were clear and direct.  Ingenious engineering solutions built canal lifts, flights of locks, tunnels and bridges. It may have been slow, but it WORKED.

As I observed the “traffic” going through the Stoke Bruerne waterways centre, I was impressed by the friendliness of these commuters. They stopped to talk, waited patiently for their turn in the lock, did what was necessary but didn’t rush. It was a throwback to a simpler age. Expectations were lower, and luxury likewise! It wasn’t a perfect life back in those pioneering canal days: but the pace was definitely slower.

Changing colours in the shrubs and hedgerows spoke of Autumn’s onset. Bright red leaves shone in the dull light of a damp October day- and for a few hours, my rhythm settled into a slow and refreshing glide. I became an observer and ruminant. What my eyes saw, my mind enjoyed- and my spirit calmed and became open to noticing the small signs of life’s design. Swans and fish acted out a bit part in a slow-burn drama. Dogs took owners for walks in peaceful places. People lived in the slow lane- and loved it.

There is a short and simple psalm worth meditating on if the desire for life in the slow lane strikes an echo in your soul. Be still, be quiet, and meet with the God who has no need to rush.

Psalm 131:1-3 (NLT)
LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORDnow and always.