It’s one of my favourite questions to ask, ever since I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s amazing book An Altar in the World, which is one that I reach for at least once a month. She writes how, when invited as a guest preacher once, she asked what she should speak on and was told, Come tell us what is saving your life right now. It’s that implicit understanding that salvation is so much more than a ticket to heaven, that God speaks to us in the ordinary and the mundane; that God’s gifts to us might be a hot cup of coffee, a serendipitous meeting, an unexpected change of plans.
I discovered a poem by Mary Karr recently. It’s called ‘The Voice of God’, and she writes,
The voice of God does not pander,
offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
And maybe that’s the first thing that’s saving me right now: poetry. It speaks to things that logic and prose struggle to form words around, and so poems are becoming good friends. Last month I discovered Jackie Kay and her beautiful collection Fiere, with its Scottish-Nigerian songs and stories. And just last week I stumbled over a poem called ‘We have come to be danced‘ by Jewel Mathieson, which took my breath away.
The knowledge that it is Imbolc tomorrow, which means we’re one step closer to spring coming, is saving me. It’s been a few years now that I have been quietly marking the dates on the Celtic wheel of the year (the solstices, equinoxes, and some of the cross quarter holidays like Imbolc) and I really love the rhythm it gives my year, the awareness of the seasons moving, and all the ways that I can live in step and inspired by those changes. Imbolc means “a stirring in the belly” and is a reminder that the earth is warming up again, that seeds are busy doing their thing under the ground, animals are starting the next cycle of life. And so there’s a question for me too – what seeds do I want to be sowing in this season? What might God want to bring to life in me right now?
Tuesday evenings are saving me. On Tuesdays, Rasmus arrives home early from work to put the kids to bed, and I hurry out the door while they’re tucking into their tea. I walk out with just a small bag – no nappies and snacks and bottles and changes of clothes just in case – and I get on a train that is headed for the City. I fight the commuters headed home for pavement space until I reach a small side street surrounded by tall glass buildings, and I push open the door to a church vestry. There, once a week, I gather with seventeen other people to learn what it means to be formed as a Spiritual Director. It feels like a gift and an honour every time I walk through that door.
London is saving me. Does that sound strange? I love raising my children here. I love flicking back through photos from the last month and seeing them full of museums and parks and canals and libraries and urban farms and overgrown cemeteries. Especially in the dregs of winter, it is incredible to have so much right on our doorstep to keep us interested.
I’m linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy. She hosts this link up once a year and I was grateful today for the chance to sit and think on it. What is saving your life right now?