I love the sunshine. Closing my eyes and feeling them kissed by the warm rays as a gentle breeze ruffles leaves close at hand. That sunny feeling, the smells and sounds and sights of a temperate summer. I love it all. I call this ‘nice weather’ and I associate it with things going well and God being present.
Grey skies, cold bleakness, rain falling, collar turned up against the biting wind, head down, ‘Quick, get home as soon as you can. God where are you?…’
I realised as I took the journey through this year’s British Pilgrimage of Hope, that I expect to meet God in the nice weather, but I associate bad weather with his absence. It didn’t take much to see that this was also true in life; I assume that he isn’t close when life turns bleak, I assume, when life’s weather turns bad its because he turned away and frowned on me.
I found a treasure this year on pilgrimage. It was the realisation that God is as much in the driving rain as he is in the blue skied sunshine. So rather than wishing the bleakness away in my frustration, I can encounter and welcome the saviour right in the midst of it. This is a truth that the early Celtic saints would have lived and breathed, I am thankful for the this gift they pointed me to.
Since returning from Pilgrimage I have encountered a string of events, some personal and others more remote but impacting me profoundly, most of which I have found bewildering. Many of them I simply have not understood God’s action in, most of which have been bleak, discouraging and some have been desperate. I just read a prayer I wrote after walking the Pilgrim’s Way to Holy Island, it gives me hope and I share it with you here.
High King of Heaven, source of all life, God of all creation, Father and Shepherd…
Take me by the hand and lead me in this day, on this journey.
Be in the bleakness, be in the breeze, be in the gentle Sun breaking through the clouds and kissing my face. Be in the cold rain and driving wind. Be in the soft, wet mud and sand. Be in the horizon. Be in the flush of my cheeks.
Bless me Father, for I am your child; sin bound, broken, weak and frail.
Bless me Father with the touch of your breath and your closeness.
Bless me Father to know your hope in every moment.
Bless me Father with prayers that bring me back to you, when I find myself walking on the edge, the knife edge between life and despair.