The latest in up-market D-I-Y is the Knot Sofa. This 7m-long foam tube is designed to be tied into the position that best accommodates your particular shape. If itís not comfy enough you simply untie and alter it. How good it would be if life was always similarly guaranteed to come in a shape fitted to our particular needs and personality.
Most of us spend quite a bit of energy trying to tie it into exactly the right shape. Sometimes, though, there are moments when it just seems to happen. Without any effort on our part, things come together in just the right way at just the right time. We feel very fortunate when this happens but it may not just be good luck. One of Godís characteristics is to delight in creating such serendipitous circumstances for those who have invited God to be involved in their life, and indeed for those who havenít. We might wish God would do it more often (though perhaps God does it more often than we think). But if today we find we are tying ourselves in knots trying to sort out our own lives, we might do better to remember with gratitude those times when things just fell into shape and trust it will happen again.
Sometimes even women are amazed at what other women keep in their handbags. Whatever the need, the appropriate useful item will emerge. Eventually. It sometimes takes a while to find but the scissors, the plaster, th Sometimes even women are amazed at what other women keep in their handbags. Whatever the need, the appropriate useful item will emerge. Eventually. It sometimes takes a while to find but the scissors, the plaster, the tablet, the sweety, is there somewhere. Philipp and Axel Breeís new invention is designed to hasten the process by which such objects are found. The internal handbag light goes on when the handbag is opened and illuminates the contents. Now the bagís owner can be sure that she'll find what she put there because she was sure one day she would need it.
Many of us feel more secure if we can prepare in advance, if we can get ourselves organised so that weíre ready for whatever happens. Such forethought can be wise. But Jesus suggests
taking no thought about tomorrow. He says it leads to fruitless anxiety. Better to have faith in the same power as is shown in the way flowers and birds are provided for by the natural world.
There is a fine line between sensible planning and over anxious preparation. Most of us veer more towards the latter. A light shone into the recesses of the hearts of most of us would show many plans made "just in case". Our lives might be less cluttered if we looked for our security, not in making sure we're never caught without what we need, but in learning to trust the one who finds meeting our needs a delight and a joy.
An interesting reversal of the Fathers Day theme is the story this week of the seven year old boy who guided his father to safety from the top of a 3,000 foot Scottish peak. A sudden attack of glaucoma left Geoff Slaven virtually blind so Sem told his father where to put his feet and kept up his spirits on the descent.
The child showed he had unusual sense and skill, a maturity which the experience helped to increase. But it was only because of the crisis that his Dad learnt how trustworthy he was.
Itís not just children who reveal surprising competence and reliability when they feel trusted and it shouldnít always be a crisis that leads to that discovery. Our stereotyped ideas of who we can trust, and who we canít, are not always accurate and perhaps today we should challenge them.
Trusting people is one of Godís characteristics as revealed by God putting the world into our hands. As God is constantly discovering, it can lead to being let down. But the risk is worth it because it is also a most powerful way of helping people develop and grow. When we are generous in our judgement about whom to trust, we may get let down but we may also sometimes get delightful surprises and contribute to the growing maturity of those we have chosen to trust.
For those whose New Year started with a sense of panic because of the number of things which really must get done soon, Buy Time is a possibility, especially if they got their gift vouchers for Christmas. ďSimply hand us your to-do list and weíll take over, whatever the size or nature of the jobĒ says the advert. Gift vouchers are available too for anyone we feel needs encouraging. To do that of course you need a list. For some, thatís the real challenge, though often once youíve got one, the task doesnít seem nearly so burdensome.
Next however comes the task of deciding which of the items on the list it feels comfortable handing over to a stranger. Perhaps some may be too revealing of a rather chaotic lifestyle. It might not feel easy leaving some, involving purchases for example, to another personís judgement or taste. If tidying up is on the list, the risk of things being put somewhere different from usual may be too great. In the end, it may just feel itís an undeserved indulgence to spend the £25-35 an hour which Buy Time charge.
Most of us have people around willing to offer support without us having to pay them for it. But almost any occasion when we might think of asking for help raises the same issues. To do so, we have to make ourselves vulnerable and relinquish some control of our lives. And there may also be the feeling that weíre not worth it.
implied that loving ourselves was equal in importance to loving others. Perhaps next time we feel caught between the need for help and reluctance to ask for it, we might try trusting others enough to let them care for us.
Valerie Lord has developed a new version of the Japanese Haiku. Instead of that traditionís seventeen syllabled poems, she has produced one of fifteen words:
Clouds graze the sky
below sheep drift gentle over fields
soft mirrors warm white snow
The additional novelty is that the poem is written one word on the back of each of fifteen sheep. You could call it a Haik-ewe.
The point of this interesting way of presenting poetry, which, the poet was at pains to make clear, caused the sheep no pain, is that the words then become fluid. As the sheep move around the field, they form different patterns creating different meanings. She has, in a sense, relinquished control of the poetry Ė it is the sheep who now create its form. They are presumably unaware that they are part of an artistic project so the beauty and meaning that still occasionally emerge do so in an entirely random way.
Our lives consist of continually changing patterns made up of their various components. Often we feel more comfortable if we are in control of the pattern, of how the different parts of our lives fit together and what order things happen in. Sometimes however things happen which feel entirely random but which create new meaning and beauty. They may have been something God intended to happen but they were not part of any plan of ours.
Letís be less determined to control todayís events. It may be that, if we relinquish control, interesting and apparently random occurrences may add a new depth to our lives.