The water in East Sussex is beautiful and soft ~ unlike North East Essex hard water where lime-scale leaves not only calcified deposits on the china but also changes the texture of the skin ~ the hair ~ and no doubt the invisible . . . .
The water in East Sussex brought a tenderness to self in an intimate way that cleansed as if by silk the skin, leaving it pure and unblemished and soft to the touch, fingertips with no trace.
Life giving water ~ bringing life ~ arousing thirst ~ quenching the drought ~ and leaving us replenished ~ so as to be perfectly hydrated before our Lord could saturate us to overflowing ~ whether by tears or by Love, with His Life.
The weather in East Sussex was a blessing ~ it was radiant ~ it was perfect.
One very hot day I was praying in the chapel, with my elbows resting upon the pew in front of me, and my hands knotted together in prayer before my forehead ~ and I was brought to sudden consciousness as my fingertips traced over my forehead.
Something grainy or granular, like sand, or dried soil, or sugar, was curiously deposited in my hairline. This perplexed me as daily each morning and each evening I take a shower, both upon leaving and before getting into my beautiful fresh bed. If I don’t shower at both times everything (including crisp bed sheets, fresh clothes and skin) just dosen’t feel quite so beautiful.
Anyhow ~ upon investigation by brushing my fingertips over my hairline and over my lip, I noticed the deposits were tiniest salt crystals ~ they had obviously formed upon my skin in the heat during the day ~ wow ~ I was taken aback as to how crystalized they had set ~ Invisible becoming visible.
I walk and sometimes run regularly in deepest Essex and I have never ever known this to happen before. I am not a particularly sweaty person ~ neither am I a particularly hairy person (ignoring my head!). The usual girls weekly sanitary routines appear to be unrequired by my body (much to my teenage daughters annoyance, and much to my own annoyance when I was a teenager growing up, forever behind everyone else).
Anyhow the salt crystalized, instantly made me think of Jesus and the biblical salt of the earth ~ and of way back to an earlier blog, of how I came to the conclusion that loosing our saltiness could be akin to loosing tears of compassion for others, rendering us worthless through lack of feeling empathy and Love.
Then suddenly I was transported back to earlier in the day, when we had walked The Stations of The Cross, each taking it in turn to hold The Crucifix above our head for two Stations. The Stations were preplanned around the meadow, where each day I had walked to the top of the meadow which was raised at one end, up a hill. This is where I retreated to in exclusion each evening to phone my smallest child before nightfall, to tell her I Love her and to keep my promise to her throughout the week, and to reassure my other children should they need reassuring.
One grace that I have come to the conclusion of during this retreat is that there is a natural time for letting go of things. I did not miss the teenagers at all (not because they are teenagers) but because they live a certain independence even when I am at home. There is a different level of relationship that does not require constant contact or reassurance or even Love in the same touching, nurturing, holding, absolute way as that of my youngest ~ rather a different expression of Love ~ even the 10 year olds who have achieved a certain amount of interdependence, reasoning and understanding need less contact. But the invisible threads that bind me to my youngest are not yet naturally melted away.
Severing things before we are naturally ready (whatever the relationship or the tie) is a brokenness Forced ~ thrashing us into deepest grief ~ forged ~ before God’s Divine law of gentle tender natural melting away of ties, that should happen in His own sublime timing in the natural rhythm of things ~ at the cost of no grief, but rather consolation at a new stage approaching.
Divine law is Divine indeed. God knows. I knew this already by the wretchedness of vasectomy against my wishes ~ not because I wanted another child but because I knew the preciousness of the Union-with-God moments when making Love. Severed without my consent. ~ Ruined ~ I knew this forged severing also in deepest grief from the death of my dear father before I was ready to let him go to death. And I knew this most depleting intense of all Griefs from Love ~ a friendship so cruelly severed against God’s Will ~ whilst we are both still alive with His very breath ~ and whilst our lives upon earth are growing ever shorter and shorter ~ until one day they will finally slip away.
The pain is Godless.
If there’s one grace I have learnt on this retreat, it is that there is a time for dying and a time for living. And I Am not ready to die. I want to Love and to be Loved ~ physically and spiritually and soulfully by my beloved ~ just like in the song of songs ~ fully embodied and fully Divine.
Anyway ~ for some reason I was barefoot when we began to walk The Stations of The Cross. The Foyer member who was leading it, led us up this hilly meadow through the thistles, and the thorns, and the brambles, and the spiky wild tufts of little shrubby tough grasses, right to the very top.
I decided that as Jesus suffered on The Cross it was the least I could do to bear any little pain that might be inflicted upon the soles of my feet, including being bitten in the long grass. However even the terrain that I had only dared to pass before now in my Dm’s and later on braved in my sandals, appeared somewhat softer and more relenting (with careful manoeuvre) than it looked.
I have rather fallen in Love with the number 7 as well as the number 13, and as we walked the Stations in the noonday overbearing heat, I prayed that at Station number 7 someone might gesture towards me to carry The Cross ~ and just as I prayed, my prayers were answered and The Cross was passed to me. Number 7 has my name bequeathed to it, as so innately does the number 13 ~ however by this stage the saline was already welling up inside.
Bloody Stations of The Cross ~ every single time they so visibly and unexpectedly get me. I held The Cross tightly to my chest rather than up over my head, and I kept my head low and my eyes down, everybody looking at Christ before me. By the time we had got to the 11th Station hiding any tears was not an option. So humiliating.
Every time we walk the Stations of the Cross I Am begot-unawares, whilst everyone else appears to hold it together. Fresh grief thrashing me all over again ~ so vivid is the ritual of Christ’s Passion ~ I have no idea why I so willingly allow myself to endure it again and again and again ~ or even if it just happens to be that the times I walk The Cross are times also of physically and spiritually heightened emotion, because of the re-lived pain of enforced separation ~ from Love.
God who is Love.
Either way I Am fully aware that salt stocks are up!
And this is the absolute paradox ~ that in such evil acts of crucifixion ~ which are so not of God ~ and which are so far, and so absolutely removed from a God who is Love ~ in our absolute forsakenness Suffering and abandonment ~ we still cry out in pain, and yearn for Him to release us from All forsakenness ~ Because something in the very depth of our being Knows beyond deepest pain ~ beyond deepest desperation ~ beyond deepest faith ~ and beyond deepest life ~ that He is Still there at the end of Everything ~ and that His very God’ness and Love Will save us against All odds ~ is Pure Grace.
And then I imagine how beautiful it feels for someone to hold my head in their hands ~
to lower their head towards mine ~ to tenderly, and slowly, and purposefully kiss the
tears from my eyes . . . my cheeks . . . my philtrum . . . the corners of my mouth . . . my . . .
. . .
. . . because dreams can never be severed.
Thanks be to God