SEE US IN A NEW LIGHT
Siftings: A Very Unfinished Project
These occasional short reflections do not pretend to be profound. For most who read them they we will be pretty mundane even simplistic. But these kinds of reflections are personal at least in the obvious sense that they are mine. Recently encouraged by circumstance (perhaps especially illness and impending thoughts of retirement) I have realised again that I am a slow learner, that is stating the obvious but it has helped me to decide to put these learnings down on paper. Maybe some fellow travellers might find in them a nudge to something different or even helpful. Perhaps the saddest reflection is that it has taken me a lifetime and a long ministry to get even this far but as always, I’m relying on grace to push me on.
I’m sure I’ve seen it on some posy poster – the type students like me bought from a shop called Athena back in the day – I wonder what happened to that outlet! Picture some pretty scene perhaps of a budding flower or a playing child with a cheeky grin and underneath something like: ‘Don’t judge me I’m an unfinished project.’
Now as I enter the later part of life, with more to look back on than to look forward to, I understand that the cheesy poster is irritatingly profound. I remember when I was 10 I thought kissing was yucky, girls were boring and it was risky to say ‘bloody hell’ but how things changed as I approach life nearly sixty years later. And things have constantly changed and changed again and again or to be more precise, I have changed and changed again. I’d like to think it was maturing gracefully but some of it feels more divinely decadent than that. The second half of life has (at least for me) seemed to be constant talk about doctor’s appointments and seeking opportunities of comparing medicines. There has been a worrying fixation on bowel movements or lack of them and frustrations when the body will not quite do what you want it to do … and I haven’t retired yet.
Two things strike me:
Firstly, when I want to be wise, sensible, helpful and especially when I think that is what I am, it is rarely the case. However, when I act intuitively – not without thought but without too much thought – sometimes unbeknown to me I can be all three. To be honest I’m amazed when people listen to my musings and even more amazed if they are of any use. But just occasionally in spite of the odds, perhaps they can be. Wisdom it seems to me comes from those moments of authentic integrity, almost impulsive responses that allow the learning that you have caught over the years to seep through the protective layers that you have carefully painted over them.
Secondly, knowing that you still have some way to go to be a finished product of any worth is also strangely liberating. Thankfully, now I know that I am not too old to get it wrong. Even more liberating is that there is still the possibility of experiment as well as growth, even though everything else seems to be slowly (hopefully slowly) disintegrating.
So here I am totally, proudly unfinished. And the more you know me the more you will be thankful that this is the case.