At the moment, my mind feels like one of those coffee percolators we had when I was a teenager in the seventies. You know, the tall stainless-steel jug with the long pointy spout and the big black handle. My dad would fill it with water, reverently place the ground coffee in the little chamber at the top, plug it in, switch it on and sit back and watch as it whirred and churned away. After an hour or two, the dark brown liquid was poured into a cup, milk added and enjoyed as the height of sophistication (although you had to be careful with that first sip as you were at risk of third-degree burns.)
Boy, did we know how to live!
My mind is like those coffee grounds right now. Ideas passing slowly through small holes, mixing and merging to make something different. Something new. Alternative ways of seeing. And this constant drip drip drip of new thoughts is both exciting and just a little bit terrifying. As I said last week, I don’t want to chuck everything away.
And it’s reassuring to find that I’m not alone. Everywhere you look (online at least) others are wrestling with the same giants. A lot of people are battling the demons of a fundamentalist childhood with a whole range of reactions. Not surprisingly some have walked away altogether, and I totally get where they are coming from. If you understand that you’re a worthless sinner before you’ve even mastered ‘Janet and John’, it kind of makes sense that you might just want to go and have some fun when you’re able to make choices.
Reading their stories helps me feel as though I’m not the only freak who could never fit into church and is totally unredeemable because I’ve never managed to be a good Christian. (Which in itself is just a tiny bit grandiose).
One idea percolating right now is the notion that God was there all the time. That’s so revelatory, I’ll say it again, GOD WAS THERE ALL THE TIME. God didn’t just show up a few years ago when I began to look. She didn’t take a bus or taxi and pull up outside my house when I walked away from my non-faith faith and knock on my door. He didn’t say – "Well I’ve been busy saving a whole lot of other people, but I can fit you in now between Mrs Armitage in Norwich who’s worried about her daughter’s MS and young Jake Smith’s worry in Newcastle County High that he isn’t ripped enough to ask out that really pretty girl who sits next to him in Science."
She was there all the time and because she’s God she can do more than one thing at once.
That’s something which I’m not that brilliant at despite the gender bias which says women are better at multi-tasking. Not in this house. My husband always says that I panic if I have to do more thing one thing at a time, and he’s right. I’ll look in my diary and ponder – well I have a Zoom call at 2.15 so that wipes out the day whereas he can get back from a weekend away with the grandkids at five pm and then start painting the fence.
That’s the thought I’m going to sit with this week. God was there all the time. God is there all the time. He was there when I was born, he was there when I was three, five eight, fifteen, twenty-seven... you get the drift.
It reminds me of that poem ‘Footprints’ when the pilgrim sees one set of prints in the sand and realises he was being carried all along.
Woah! Apologies if that’s a tad schmaltzy but it fits. Or, as Richard Rohr says ‘We are all ‘in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness.’ Or as Henry Morgan writes ‘The God we already know.’
I’m treading a well-trodden path and that is really comforting as my spiritual percolator bubbles and churns.