Another postcard from the land of grief
I am finding in this foreign land of grief that occasionally I turn a corner and find a familiar thing, as if transplanted here. It is somehow out of place, like a bright red postbox on a Latin American street, but an equally welcome sight. I stumbled across just such a thing yesterday.
I spent some hours in tearful prayer in the peaceful oasis of Douai Abbey in Woolhampton. With me I took a Bible and a brand new bound notebook. However, when I opened the notebook, I found a familiar verse printed at the bottom of the first page. It stood there, like a bright red pillar box on a foreign street – a reminder of a more familiar home. This verse had been there when I set out years ago to work with the Belgian Evangelical Mission. When I arrived in the Ardennes to lead a team for the mission, the team accommodation had been stripped bare of every item of furnishing except for ….this verse framed above the fireplace. When Fiona and I got married, the minister handed us a Bible at the altar as a gift. On the flyleaf he had written…this verse. On the morning I moved to my new church here in Newbury, the last thing I read before my Bible was packed was …this verse:
”Be strong and courageous! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” Joshua 1 v.9
To read this was to remember that this foreign land is foreign only to me. I am no further out of reach here than I was in that other country.
Years ago, some friends of mine were stranded in the far North of Sweden and needing some help. I spoke to a friend in a global mission agency, who spoke to a friend in the Evangelical Alliance who spoke to a friend in the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, who spoke to the pastor of the local church, who was dispatched to visit. Far away was near at hand, it seemed.
This land of grief is disorientating and unfamiliar in so many ways – but it is not out of reach. It has post-boxes too, which means that I can always send a card.