27 Apr 2017

T'was the night before Easter...

For the last 3 years I've signed up to the #40acts - a series of daily emails on the 40 days leading up to Easter aimed at encouraging generosity (rather than giving stuff up) for Lent. Each email contains a short blog, a Bible reference and 3 suggested activities depending on how much time / money / skills / courage you have to give. It's fun and it's easier than giving up chocolate. Or alcohol. But it comes around at such a mental time of year for us that I end up doing slightly less than 40 Acts. This year I did three. (Three and a half - if you count the chocolate giveaway which involved some of the chocolate coming right back to me).

Anyway, we live under grace and not the law so I'll focus on the 3 and a half Acts that happened:

#Act3: Roots
We can live somewhere for decades and never really put our roots down there. What does it look like to get more deeply rooted in our home community? Today's act will help you to explore ways of generously investing in your home town.

Action: Joined a gym
This was a complete surprise to me too. I have never joined a gym in my life. I do not consider myself to be a gym type of person. Do you ever wake up from a dream having behaved in a particular way and feel confused because it was SO out of character for you to have done something? That's what this whole thing was like. I mean why pay good money to sweat indoors when you can sweat outdoors for free by walking or jogging anywhere you have the energy to go? Or sweating almost for free in the comfort of your own home to a 2nd hand Davina McCall DVD?

Answer: Because I don't. I need people to sweat alongside me. I am a rubbish solo exerciser. I've literally just realised this. And not wasting money is a great motivator to get me to do anything, so the prospect of paying for a gym membership I never use is worse than joining one in the first place. So there we go - I'm attending 2-3 classes a week, putting down roots and becoming bendier with pilates. 

#Act12: Chocolate Tuesday
Slip a bar of chocolate into someone’s bag with a note saying ‘#40acts’. Or leave a bar or two in your local library, on a park bench or on the train.

Action: Bought chocolate bars to give away
Recipient (husband) shared chocolate with me without prompting. I think that's allowed. He's permitted to be generous too. ✓1/2

#Act24: Stand
It's easy to get weighed down by the injustice and need we see all around us, and to imagine that there's nothing (or very little) we can do about it. Choose not to shy away from a cause today. Lend your voice to the voiceless, stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and don't wait for someone else to be the solution.

Action: Standing as a Lib Dem councillor on May 4th
This is in a local safe labour word I am PROMISED I have no chance of winning. It's purely a paper exercise so the party can gauge their support base and perhaps attract protest votes. Although the party has experienced a surge in membership since the snap general election announcement so now I'm a little anxious that a bunch of people may actually vote for me even though we've never leafleted and I'm not really sure what councillors do aside from attend meetings and listen to complaints about hedges. I just got fed up of complaining about the way things are and God clearly said not to wait for someone else to be the token opposition solution. 

#Act33: Hats Off
Matthew 22:34–40: Jesus answered 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Action: Went to a Jehovah's Witness meeting
#act33 arrived in my inbox on the same day as an invitation from the Jehovah Witnesses to attend one of their services. I concluded these 2 events were related and God wanted me to go: These people are my neighbours and I don't know who they are. And that's more my fault than theirs - they knock on my door maybe twice a year and I never knock on theirs. So I went. I explained why I was there to the woman on the door (I'm doing #40acts and you're my neighbour) who excitedly ushered me in and found the woman, Kirstin who had given me the invite. I sat next to her and listened and heard some familiar stuff and some unfamiliar stuff too. We talked for a while and I commented on feeling underdressed in ripped jeans and a hoody (Their church is very suity and dressy. My church is neither of these things). She said that didn't matter and it was nice to see me. She said it was brave of me to come on my own and not know anyone. I said it wasn't really brave because it didn't faze me and I shaved my head 5 months ago for my best mate who was having chemo and raised a grand for charity and lots of people said THAT was brave too, but really it wasn't because that didn't scare me either. We chatted some more and she said, 'I don't get the impression you're here searching for anything.' And I said 'No - I'm not!' Then I left. 

#Act33: Scene 2
Except the Lentish lesson continued.

Kirstin turned up on my doorstep 3 days later on good Friday with another woman from their church and they came in and we had coffee and we chatted for about an hour about the Bible and religion and #Act24 and why they don't ever vote.

And then I didn't sleep properly that night because I'd played Breath of the Wild for about 7 hours that day and watched the kids play for another couple of hours on top of that (they are further ahead than me). THEN I read a load of theology about JW beliefs on my phone in bed which triggered a weird tangle of  BoTW/JW half dreams which involved climbing and gliding and searching all over Hyrule for fragments of truth which made my Sheikah sensor beep like crazy as I approached them, but when I was JUST about to reach them, the beeping would stop. And Kirstin was there, talking to me like she was holding something, but her hand was empty.

At 4am I was still awake and exhausted and lonely and unbelievably SAD because I desperately wanted to talk to Jesus about everything on the one night of the whole year between Good Friday and Easter Sunday when we remember when he wasn't around.

And then I realised what was different. There was a huge undercurrent of expectation and rules in how Kirstin had explained her beliefs to me. The closeness of a father/child relationship was absent. Doctrine had dominated our conversation - and I had gone along with it. 

And now, in the middle of the night on Easter Saturday I was still looking to doctrine to reconcile her theology with my own, but Jesus wasn't there and I realised I was grieving for Him. Like really, proper missing him. Aching because the love had nowhere to go and I was lost in Hyrule with a broken Sheikah slate.

Come back- please.
I never left. I'm right here. 
Oh thank God!! Where did you go?
Nowhere - You were wandering all over the place. I was following you.
I couldn't see you.
I saw you the whole time.
Don't ever leave - please.
I won't - I can't. I love you.
I love you too.
It's 5am. Go to sleep.

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