Julia writes –
I can still remember the day my great friend at school, Beedle, showed me how to draw a three-dimensional figure, a cube to be exact. It was in a maths lesson and I was struggling to understand three dimensional figures. Taking pity on me, she showed me line by line how to draw a cube and there suddenly, under her expert guidance, I drew my very first cube. The magic of making a flat figure suddenly appear to be three dimensional thrilled me then and still does. …any doodling I do still contains a cube! This is, of course, all about that word perspective. In art it specifically relates to the technique used to create the illusion of a three-dimensional figure on a two dimensional surface but we also use it in the much more general sense of how we see things, perceive things. You often hear people say that they ‘suddenly saw things in a new perspective.’ It means getting things in their right place, of understanding how things relate to each other, of looking at the bigger picture.
During these past months as I have marvelled at the wonderful vista of hills and mountains that greets my sight wherever I go in these beautiful Highlands, so that theme of perspective has been on my mind. Walking in the hills, looking down on the valleys, coastline or simply stopping to get out of the car to look across to the hills beyond, I have sensed a little more of the majesty and glory of God, the sheer greatness of God who made the earth and all its beauty. As the Psalmist cries out;
“By your strength you established the mountains, you are girded with might…you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy!”
And, even as I marvel at beauty of the world, so I am also enabled to have a better perspective on my own life. All the things that I worry about, all the things that are bothering me or annoying me, from the trivial and mundane to the bigger and more important, can then take their rightful place against the backdrop of a majestic, powerful and all loving God. My petty grumbles, complaints and gripes are shown up for what they really are. The bigger and more important things are put in their rightful place and held there in the hands of a God who has stretched out the heavens and the earth and for whom nothing is impossible. All my plans and hopes and fears and very life are held by one who has promised that his steadfast love will never leave me, who has promised to walk with me every day come what may. I am also reminded that God can see my past, present and future. That from his perspective he can see my whole life and that he will, if I allow him to, work all things together for good. That even out of grief or sadness he can and will bring healing and peace.
Sometimes as I stand there I am reminded of the Fat Controller in Thomas the Tank Engine. He has a long ladder that enables him to climb up above all the engines and see those that are coming, those that are in motion, those that are refuelling or standing still. From that vantage point he can then direct them all in ways that enable the work to be done; for each to engine to be used to maximum capacity. So it is with God. He has a divine perspective on our lives and when we allow ourselves to be lifted up to him in praise and worship so we can begin to get a glimpse of how he is directing our lives. We are also reminded of just how great a God we have and how small in comparison we are! Like the psalmist again we then ask…
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars that you have made, what is man that you are mindful of him, the Son of Man that you care for him.!”
However small we may feel, however much out of perspective we have allowed things to be God comes to us to reassure each and every one of us of his love, his presence and his peace. As the Psalmist reminds us;
I will lift up my eyes to the hills, form where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121)
From the Aug 2018 newsletter:
Julia writes –
It is perhaps ironic that as I sat down to write this article the silence was interrupted at intervals by a very loud car alarm going off right outside my house. Ironic, because I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about silence! We live in a very noisy world and in a world where it is now possible to listen to your personal choice of music or TV or radio wherever you are…in the car, on the beach, walking down the street, in the bath! In addition, we can always use our phone to talk to someone, catch up with social media or the latest news. It is entirely possible to fill our days and nights with noise and events and other people and never allow ourselves a moment of silence.
Of course, silence is threatening. If you are ever in a room with others and the conversation suddenly lulls there is a real sense of unease until someone takes the plunge and quickly fills the awkward silence. In silence we are suddenly confronted with ourselves, the reality of who we are, what is going on in our heads and bodies and lives and we feel exposed and vulnerable. And so, we quickly move to shut out any self-awareness with noise of any kind.
The Bible has a lot to say about silence. One of my favourite Psalms is 62 which has the repeated phrase running through it…for God alone my soul waits in silence. The prophets knew the value of silence and for Jesus, escaping into the hills to be alone and pray in silence was crucial. Moments of silence are about an awareness of self but also more importantly can be a vehicle to awareness of God and our need for him. There are any number of books written by people of all faiths in which the value of silence as a means of being with God in stillness is discussed and explained. In silence, faced with ourselves in all our vulnerability and need, we can find God as the still and silent centre of the world. And in finding him we find ourselves. As the collect for last week reminded us in those wonderful words from St Augustine; “our hearts are restless until they find themselves in you.”
So try it! Switch off the TV, the phone, the radio. Sit in the silence and… “be still and know that I am God”
The silence of eternity fills me
The quietness of soul love enfolds me
Wrapped in the stillness of solitude
I am at last in peace
And my emptiness is filled
With the riches of your loveliness.