Four candles…

If you’re familiar with The Two Ronnies (a UK comedy) you’ll know the humour contained in the words ‘four candles’.
In the sketch, a hardware shop keeper and customer become increasingly frustrated by misunderstandings. Word play and homophones result a series of wrong items being proffered, including ‘four candles’ rather than the required ‘fork handles’.

Something similar has happened to me. Last year we had exterior work undertaken to improve access to our home. Late one morning, one of the team tapped on the door and asked if he could borrow a fork.

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Handing him a garden fork, he broke into laughter and said “I meant a fork to eat my pasta lunch with!”
The incident caused a lot of hilarity that day, and I still laugh when I think about it.

We all misunderstand things at some point. Sometimes it can inject humour into a situation, but other times it can send us round in circles.
I believe that our inner compass directs us to look for God, know God, love God and be at peace. But how often do our misunderstandings of the nature of God lead us to avoid God, reject God, fear God and be discontent?

The Jesuit priest, Gerry Hughes, defined sin along the lines of

‘not letting God be the God of tenderness, love and compassion that God is’

My life was profoundly changed by these words. As a vulnerable 7-year-old in an austere convent boarding school, I had been led to believe that God was an angry wrathful character who tolerated no mistakes. It was a massive misunderstanding, and thank goodness, I later encountered a completely different image of God. A God who delights in each one of us, and who longs for us to become our personal best through God’s fresh starts, encouragement, nudges, and affirmation.

So I’m reminded to keep checking that I’m on the right track, and when I’m not, to realign myself.
Maybe I’ll light four candles, remembering that we are each loved by God – Father, Son and Spirit…

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Truth is… Neither death nor life, neither the present nor the future – there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.
(Romans 8: 38-39)

 

Thumbs up!

There’s a saying ‘Bad things come in threes’.
Maybe, but could it be that after one or two glitches, we tend to notice negatives?
What would happen if we deliberately looked for positives to salvage? I had this opportunity a few days ago:
Within three hours, my partner went ‘missing’ in a garden centre, a bus didn’t turn up, and when I eventually got home I couldn’t get in! Truth is, I felt annoyed and angry.
However, I realised that I could stick with the negatives, or focus on the positives which were there if I chose to notice them.

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There are always two ways of seeing a situation – from our perspective, and from the other person’s.
It turned out that my partner had misunderstood our rendez-vous point and was blissfully unaware he was a ‘missing person’ as he sat sipping his coffee!
So I had a choice. To cling on to my reactive exasperation, or recognise that he hadn’t intended to send me searching!
Later, as I started to let go, a better memory of the situation surfaced. A stranger who learnt of my predicament had thoughtfully suggested looking in the lesser-used café – which was where he was.

The bus not turning up for our return journey, was one of those things that sometimes happen. Nothing is predictable in life, and maybe this actually gives room for good things to nudge in.
Again I had a choice. To feel fed up, or see it as an opportunity!
I actually have an excellent track record of both giving and receiving lifts (my longest hitch being to Sicily and back!)

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So with positivity and a sense of adventure, I stuck out my thumb and within seven minutes a stranger had stopped! He was a lovely young man who dropped us back in our home town – I was left with an immense feeling of gratitude.

Being locked out was another ‘it happens’ situation.
Again I had a choice. To be annoyed, or to see the bigger picture!
Being accidentally locked out was a simple mistake, nothing more.
And that’s been this week’s ‘takeaway’ for me – forgiveness, of both others and myself, and letting go of resentments that ultimately tie me in greater knots.

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Truth is… “Whichever one of you has committed no sin, may throw the first stone” John 8:7