For A (with thanks), who inspired this post.
We moved to a country village last year. It is beautiful.
It is quiet.
Before then, we lived in the same busy, industrial town as my ex-husband. I’ve mentioned it before, but for clarity of this post I will say it again – he was released from prison and sent back to live in the same town as us, despite my having been told this would not happen. It meant we had to be wary wherever we were. We couldn’t walk anywhere. We did not go into town. I was always always looking over my shoulder. I’ve read enough stories of women attacked by their ex-spouses that it was not something I could just ‘get on with’. I’m a mother. Mothers have to protect their family, no matter what.
Eventually we moved here. This morning, the sun is shining. Fluffy, perfect clouds fill a blue on blue sky. I walked into the garden earlier and there was a bird whose song sounded so much like a jazz riff that I laughed. I sensed God, in that moment, saying, “Yes! Enjoy! The cares of the world are not on your shoulders. I already took all of them on my shoulders when I gave my life on the cross. Relax. Just enjoy being alive.”
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
And I was reminded of my conversation at Scargill with a very special lady who prayed that I might live up to my name. My name is Zoё (you might have guessed).
When the Hellenistic Jews (circa 400BC) translated Genesis from Hebrew to Ancient Greek, they used Zoё as the translation for Eve (Classical Hebrew: חַוָּה, Ḥawwāh – thank you wikipedia). I’ve known this for many years. What I did not know, and only learned at Scargill, is that it is also the word used when ‘life’ is rendered in the New Testament, e.g. ‘I have come that you might have life’, ‘life in all its fullness’, etc. I’m sure God knows my sense of humour, because the idea that Jesus said, ‘I have come that you might have Zoё’ made me giggle.
Life, light, love. We sing the words ‘He’s alive!’ but we forget to sing ‘I am alive!’ and give thanks.
As the sun shines through my window I am reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
‘The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.’
Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)
‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.’ John 1:5 (GNT)
Nothing can put out the light of life. Love bade me welcome. Life bids me welcome.
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?’
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
George Herbert 1593-1633
May you know the peace and the joy of life today, not some put-off inevitable ending and then eternal life which we have little idea of, but living, alive being. Today. Now.
Thank you, God.