30 April 2013

the piano

The #concretewords link up currently lives at Nacole's place at sixinthehickorysticks join in with us over there. To find out more about #concretewords, click here
This week's prompt was utterly irresistible and you get me just about as authentic as you will get. 

It is - the piano


88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Frail, tiny, elderly lady leaning with her arm for support, on the curve of the wing-shaped case of the grand piano. Gently waving her arthritic hands in time to my tentative playing of elementary pieces from the old primer. Her long necklaces gently swaying as she moved within confined space, teaching, imparting and carefully cultivating.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Stumbling self-consciously through ‘Solo per cembalo’ for the pivotal grade examination. Teenage hormones crushing confidence, fingers falter and hit right notes at the wrong time. The corner of the eye sees the examiner is disengaged, concurrently absorbed in picking his nose and writing, scratching deeply the scathing remarks into the paper.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Realising in mid-teens that I could use the piano to reproduce songs heard just a few times and without needing music. Guided by intuition and a sizeable aural memory bank, I was able to adopt a style allowing flexibility away from written music and enabling freedom to worship in song. It was a crucial juncture, this acknowledgement of a God-given gift and was the spur to re-engage with it fully and go back to piano study after a break of a couple of years.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Challenging Nanna to a chromatic scale race from the extremities to the middle of the piano playing all 88 keys in sequence, her ascending, me descending. She herself weakened and recuperating after a bout of pernicious anaemia having spent much time with her terminally sick younger sister. Her hands where the olive, Olay drenched skin had long given up its elasticity, still deceptively agile and we reached the 44th note in the contest at roughly the same time. Motor skills unused in decades still resident in her dancing digits.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

University teacher whose often sherry-seasoned breath filled the small, sound-proofed box rooms, where we took lessons. His imagination that paced corridors and opened doors to previously unknown pieces. Favourites were aural impressionist paintings by Debussy and peculiarly, beautiful pieces published after composers’ deaths, where I learned to master the art of complex musical fractions, four against three. ‘Pedal with your ears my dear!’  he often cried, one of the most lucid lessons he left with me.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Now as the teacher watching over pupils who wanted to do-it-all. Listening to the Dying Swan, dead already within a few bars. Admiration for the boy whose fingers assuredly flitted with a feisty lightness through the De’il Among the Tailors, but who otherwise never uttered more than a few words. Adult airline pilot who wanted to play Concertos but vanished from the radar within a few lessons. Tentative pensioner, confidence scarred, Jesus her best friend later in life, duetting  together I know Him so well, art never more appropriately mirroring life. In all the learning, pedagogue always being educated by the apprentices.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Music is an essence that leaks out of my pores and has passed to the next generation. We encouraged each one of our children to pursue the study of at least one instrument and to learn to love music. As a mother at the piano I was able to help them over the years, sitting with them while they practised, to foster the discipline and for them coming through to nurture their own genetically inherited gifts. (This process was definitely not without tears, tantrums and much wallowing of the artistic temperament on all sides). The blessings have multiplied and each child is today involved with music at their own church. I was in floods of tears the first time I heard our eldest son lead worship (not least because he and I probably had the most arguments about practise but also knowing that his musical gifts have been clearly blessed by the Holy Spirit.)

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

To play the black and white keys for Your glory Father whether alone or with a team of fellow musicians. To play, to sing your praises so Your Holy Spirit enables every fibre of my being, heart and soul to give to others a small portion of what you have lavished upon me. Sometimes creating roadblocks by desiring affirmation from others to boost fragile esteem, for them to say that You have blessed them, so in turn I can feel warm, fuzzy goodness within. Other times feeling overlooked because others' personal preferences are different and another musician is exalted with plaudits. 

But exactly who am I to say how your love, grace and mercy are made known to others? Discordant and hollow piano with broken strings and rotting case is left when Your love is absent.

88 keys 52 white and 36 black

Recently I was playing Abide With Me on the piano to practise for a funeral, where I needed to lead the congregation in singing as well. The hymn has the effect of invoking tears easily, there’s just something about it that does that to me. Perhaps it is having heard it played by Yorkshire Brass Bands (the world's best) or Emilie Sande’s soulful performance at the Olympic opening ceremony. I figured the best thing was to keep playing and singing it out to execute the combination of notes, giving the right weight to rich harmonies and to make the words more habitual so as not to be taken over by emotion.

In the repetitions God suddenly whispered at a junction with only me in the audience, the significance of just these four words ‘ills have no weight’. It is something that I can't explain adequately in words yet, partly because it's one of those situations you need to have lived to understand. So for now I will say it was extremely deep and significant. God is right there in the detail and because he knows me thoroughly the whisper was only for me, in that moment.

And this is why He wanted me to keep playing on so I could hear Him speak.

At the Piano, oftentimes a place of Holy Ground


After Nanna’s death it seemed appropriate to invest some of the money she bequeathed to us into a new piano. This is the instrument that has so far moved with us three times.

It is one of my most cherished possessions, the Piano.

29 April 2013

#3goodthings [28 April 2013]

22 April
hair permanent colour home kits
things learned in transition
unplugged music & singing


23 April
my lovely brother
moving on in an area of forgiveness
mother in law's boss raspberry jam


24 April
an evening in the pub with the music group
many reminders that God looks after the sparrows
good work that the local Foodbank is doing in the face of Social Welfare changes


25 April
confirmation of employment
posting a blog on the end of transition
Haagen Dazs ice-cream


26 April 
an early hours blogpost on blessings and how powerfully it spoke
importance of being my God-made self on the blog
hand creams (from another lady keyboard player/worship leader - she knows!)


27 April
being fifty and feeling way more blessed than old
daughter's macaroons
time with our children and their partners over exceptionally lovely food

120 gifts

25 April 2013

looking for the wrong line (on completing transition and leaving wilderness)

for remembrance

A pile of rocks made for remembrance. Remembrance after leaving the wilderness, as the Israelites did as told in Joshua Chapter 4. Made for when a definite sign came along that this time was finished, y’know all loose ends neatly tied up, put it in a box and move on.

But I sense that the season of transition is complete for now, and it is as though I stepped over a dotted line on an inconsequential day rather than any thing more solid. It is where I acknowledge that some things will carry on and be a work in progress, but other things have changed for good.

to celebrate

Re-connecting with God
In regular prayer, bible reading, spending time in His presence. Most importantly re-establishing a rhythm which had been squeezed out in the busyness of child-rearing, work and life. To know that life really is just so much better with these things, simply because of desire and not guilt.
Trying to share these things with others has felt as though I have been explaining self-indulgent rest. I am thankful that He knows what it really is and just need to let the Holy Spirit do His work.

Re-finding my cooking mojo
I got out of the habit of cooking regularly years ago and it became the Scotsman’s job. During this time I have learned to love cooking again. Working out recipes for cooking on a budget is no longer a chore and the look of disappointment on #2 son’s face when he realises he will be missing his favourite dish if he is doing something else is priceless.

Re-engaging with all the arts
I am primarily a musician and in church work with a group of musicians who share the load of leading and are a generally good all round bunch of people to hang out with. Sure there are the usual tussles between people in the congregation who know how they want things done and tell you how it could be done better. But all in all music and singing has been restorative. 
I also studied Art to a high level at school and lately I have begun writing. My favourite pieces are where all the facets of the arts are combined in one blogpost (and I still wear a failed English A Level with pride!) I really don't care if I have a readership of one or a million and if other people don't get it (OK some days I might care a little bit.) A new camera has been acquired for my birthday this coming weekend and I have particularly learned to love photograph the ordinary to make something a little less ordinary, whilst listening out for God-whispers.

I am continually astounded that I was ever entrusted, along with the Scotsman with the lives of three children. And there but for the grace of God we are all still here. Theoretically we are empty nesters, though I suspect the younger two offpsring may be semi-detached for a while yet. It is one of the generally recognised periods  of transition when the regular job of parenting has come to an and children no longer need you in the same way. And though I am terribly biased they are all fantastic young people who love Jesus, in spite of our parenting and some of the cr*p they have witnessed growing up as Preacher's Kids. I'm so looking forward to seeing them on my 50th birthday this weekend!

Learning to live with less
Financial challenges have meant living with less in general and being aware of where money was being frittered away. I used to comfort-shop, to buy something to cheer myself up after a difficult day, not things that were necessarily needed. That's stopped now and I don't think I will ever go back to it. We have also sold a number of books online to downsize.

Twitter Community
Finding real community, wisdom and gentle support from lovely people on Twitter. One of the hardest things to get used to in the last two years has been no longer being a minister's wife (the Scotsman is no longer a church-based minister, but continues in a similar vocation in a chaplaincy role). Unravelling from this for me, has been a major journey companion during transition. Meeting people who know this through twitter has at times been a life-saver, places and blogs where I have safely been able to say ME TOO all in capitals. It is undeniably precious and I am so grateful for it.

Works in progress

We have yet to complete the sale of our house in our previous place (complicated) and consequently live with continued financial pressure. A close family member faces cancer treatment imminently. I wish I could leave these and other things behind in the river that has been crossed, but that is the nature of walking with God, always journeying and learning on the way.
I have been unemployed for 18 months but am due to start some temporary work in just over a week. I still live with mild depression but now as opposed to say 10 years ago I have so much more awareness of God's presence within in it. 
I want to know that 'every blessing' is not always something happy or good. It might be a downright painful experience to be taken through, but if it is something that God has given to use and meet us in a deeper way, then I really can sing 'Blessed be the name of the Lord' in all its glorious fullness. Not in a banal, happy, let's be clappy, shallow and inconsequential way


So I look back, sing and feel the lyrics of another song ‘I will never be the same again’ which seems to have cropped up at significant moments during the last two years. (And I even forgive the cheesy 1980’s Amy Grant style chord shifts in the mid-section because the words are so good). I’m not totally certain exactly where I came from, nor how I got to this point, but I know I’ve shifted somehow across a dotted line and the door has closed on this chapter.

I will never be the same again
I can never return, I’ve closed the door
I will walk the path, I’ll run the race
And I will never be the same again

There are higher heights, there are deeper seas
Whatever you need to do, Lord do in me
The Glory of God, fills my life
And I will never be the same again

23 April 2013

to forgiveness and beyond

I was reading a blogpost on forgiveness late last night so went off to sleep mulling it over. How we often need to forgive someone over and over because the pain of something keeps coming back and our minds default back to the original position. We seem to get stuck in a cycle and unable to break out of the need to forgive again and again.

Instances where the Scotsman and I have been in hurtful situations involving the same people meandered in and out. He seems to be good at processing these sorts of things and for him often the forgiveness is done quickly and underlined with a solid line. But I find things pop out of the woodwork unexpectedly like unwelcome house guests every now and again, stirring up old feelings. Sometimes from a decade or two ago.

photo credit: david nikonvscanon

When I tell the Scotsman he patiently reminds me of the need to let go again and forgive again. Even if he doesn’t roll his eyes in front of me, I swear I can hear them rolling! It is right to keep on forgiving, but often it just feels hard, messy and never ending.

So why when it is the same initial situation on the surface do the two of us react so differently?

Does it mean that I am more of a sinner and need to forgive more?

Does it mean that because the Scotsman has let go more easily, he is right and I am wrong?


The very last time I was ‘dealing’ with some of these feelings, again, immediately afterwards I spoke to my son on the phone. During the conversation he told me he was proud of me (you know a bam, significant, treasure-in-your-heart moment) and right in that space God was saying ‘This is what matters, not that.’ (And it's not the first time God has stepped in to whisper that very thing over the cacophony of anger and email shouting).

And actually no it doesn't happen like this every time. That would be way too neat, formulaic. Most of the time there is something of an undignified long distance see-saw going on. Let the weight go, take some of it back, forth and back. 

But for the times when my ears are unblocked long enough to hear, it is beyond clear 

this is what matters

He knows my struggles, my feeble attempts to forgive and the polite insistence of taking back weight and pain, to try and nurse it my own way. And yet He loves me. 

He knows the things I don’t know, the riddled hollows in a wooden, unforgiving heart and the gaps that need filling.

And those whispers will come from the unexpected people and places. They come and find me right there in the holes.

Oh yes, they will come

Those echoes of mercy and whispers of love, actually

22 April 2013


Dornoch Cathedral, Scotland

Place of ancestors whose steps on these streets are part of their story

Place of awareness where You are before and behind me

Place of celebrity when madonna and guy married to the sound of a thousand fake flashbulbs

Place of faith where generations have worshipped You

Place of hope which leans into a cornerstone

Place of light where Your Son aligns with our eyes to reflect glorious colours of the spectrum

Place of refuge when my own child speaks from Your wisdom, words of love straight into my heart, smoothing healing balm on bruises

Place of transition where the master craftsman painfully places every element and hue in its place, forging a unique masterpiece


place of gazing into the window of Your soul

knowing that if all falls away

You still are

these stones

Yesterday morning we were still at my dad’s house having travelled there to spend some time with him and also the Scotsman’s parents. I found myself telling dad something I’ve never told him before and it meant as we drove home I felt a mixture of relief and a bit of a heavy heart (I wrote about it yesterday here.)

We attended the evening service back at home, which was done in the Taize style. As part of the service each person attending was handed a stone as they arrived. Early on during the service we were invited to place our stone around a painting of the cross, to represent putting everything of the day at the feet of Jesus. It was just a small part of the service but because of what happened earlier I know I was laying a lot down at that point, so this is the bit that spoke the most significantly.

God has been bringing stones to my attention a lot lately.

A couple of years ago following a move we embarked on a period of personal, professional and geographical transition. I also entered a period of time where I felt an absence of God, doubting his plans and purposes and doubting Him too. There were times during this period when God said very little indeed and to be honest it felt more like moving from the frying pan and into the fire. But slowly it became apparent that this was a time to re-connect with God on a much deeper level.

Recently the writer Adam S McHugh quoted this on twitter:

Looking back over everything that has happened in the last two years I think I have been waiting for something ‘concrete’ to tell me that this wilderness time has passed. I have even taken a photo of a pile of stones in readiness. But while I have been waiting and looking, it has gently snuck past.

The laying down of the stones last night in church also reminded me very strongly of the closing scenes in the film Schindler’s List. 

A procession of the now-elderly Jews who worked in Schindler’s factory walk to and set stones on his grave – a traditional Jewish custom denoting gratitude to the deceased. The actors portraying the major characters walk alongside them. Oskar Schindler was a flawed man but he loved the Jewish people enough to put his own life at risk and save most of them from certain death (this particular scene plays from approx 2:28 into the clip)

Wherever we are on our journey with God He loves us too much to leave us where we are. 

And He uses whatever means He needs to, to remind us of that.

This post is linked up at Tania Vaughan's place for #mondayministry - check it out and join in

21 April 2013

these three stick around

Today I told my dad for the first time that I have had episodes of depression on and off for about 25 years. 

I don’t yet know whether the admission to him will be significant or not. It's a fairly big deal, there is a lot of history and entanglement, plus the absence of healthy adult communication.

But it's done now.

Spending time with dad is depression trigger itself. And from my own experiences, the sort where it takes one to know one, I do think he is mildly depressed himself - a combination of good old foibles and not having been able to grieve healthily after mum died 4½ years ago. But he is yet to see that himself.

If you pray, I would value your prayers.

That Love will keep reaching down, where it needs to.

I feel a little fragile, but my God is not.

He is faithful and His strength of hope resides within.

#3goodthings [20 April 2013]

16 April
walking outside without a coat
enthusiastic birdsong
final bits of stuff removed from our previous house today


17 April
wi-fi (you are grateful especially when it doesn't work for several hours)
finding another tweeter I know in real life
creating with pinwords and phonto


18 April
singing at music practice
mother in law home from hospital
extra assurance of God's love prior to not good news


19 April
talking key changes & worship songs with #2 son
identifying mystery music with shazam
our fabulous foodbank on tv


20 April
my dad organised a gluten-free cake for me
lovely restaurant meal with parents

102 gifts

19 April 2013


Joining with the community that is Five Minute Friday with the lovely Lisa Jo Baker. We like to write, not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

Five minutes on:



Jump (for my love) those Pointer Sisters shriek at us in their flared, spangly white, against insistent thumping soundtrack. That fop-haired English actor who wiggles his hips and Dad-dances down the Downing Street stairs, seal-performing for all the portraits of past important-leaders-of-the-land.

Jumping long. Lengthily held world records, rarely broken. Beamon’s record of a two feet increment in 1968 demonstrated in our small one-time village chapel. Take-off where the preacher stood and landing in the middle of the road outside the door.

Armstrong jumping from earth to moon in a rocket. He had the measure of what he was seeing and the significance of history, coloured by Your eyes.

‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’

Yet performances and big records are relatively insignificant to You, Lord

This leaping like a disco machine to impress people whom people elevate to importance. That distance of any jump, is but a baby-step.

You who left Your father’s throne to walk alongside us.

Dancing with those that everyone else overlooks.

One small, but heavily weighted step that unleashes all this:

Grace and love like mighty rivers
Flowed incessant from above
And heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

No jumping to taste kisses.

Undeservedly leaving Your touch with us.

17 April 2013

hockey sticks and that comparison habit

A number of people have written recently about the realities of struggles, mess and doubts of daily walking with Jesus. I'm adding mine here because I am weary from carrying it around for so long and it is a major element of the clutter part of the blog title. It often happens without warning and in unexpected places...


We went to a church meeting last week. It was a good meeting. I had led worship and the songs seemed to fit well with what was being said and with what was prayed. Good things were shared. Yet I still came home feeling rattled.


Actually that thing when people share prayer answers or pray earnestly for someone else was happening, so good yes? Except when there is a tiny spark of comparison in there and I start to shrink and shrivel because:

  • I have similar needs that are not being answered in the same way
  • don’t pray quite so earnestly for something, so maybe that’s why I'm not getting answers for that thing
  • I have reluctance to share a particular struggle with the rest of the church and feel guilty for it 

So by the time we got home my inner critic had already made a précis of these thoughts and was furiously scribbling a checklist on a clipboard:

  • Rubbish at prayer - check
  • Not praying enough – check
  • Don't get the answers that others get – check
  • Don't share enough with others – check

I also had to phone someone when I got home (the sort of person it is not necessarily good to talk to when I’m already feeling a tad vulnerable.)  So now these thoughts had been through several cycles and negativism had been reduced to the lowest common denominator:




Eventually I did sit down and scrawl my heart out to my heavenly Father. All the negative thoughts accumulated in that short space of time pencilled onto paper. Warts and all. As I wrote gradually the weight of invalidation lifted and a healthier perspective came back into focus.

Some time ago I either heard a speaker or read a writer who referred to a hockey stick to illustrate how the Psalmist pours out His heart to God, plunging low with his feelings and doubts. Having spent time in God’s presence the Psalmists feelings are turned around by God at the point of meeting in the crook of the J shape of the hockey stick. Not the world's greatest illustration but it has stuck with me (maybe because a major part of my school sporting legacy was to be dumped from the school hockey team..)
photo credit: chelmsfordblue


It would be great to avoid the palaver of even getting into this position of inner-self-beating in the first place over small-things-that-become-big-things because it is difficult and more than a little depressing

A lifetime of thought patterns learned in childhood, slowly germinated along the way and deep-rooted

For the times when prayer is not the first port of call in the refuge of the storm and thoughts are given permission to fester because that is easier, especially if a raw nerve has been trodden upon

Consoling the hurt I feel, feeding it and giving it sympathy rather than acknowledging it and handing over the burden to my heavenly Father

For the times in the past where this cycle has been overwhelming  and has multiplied into the beating of a thousand tiny hockey sticks in the mind, developing into full-blown periods of depression

Grief for these times where happiness has been completely crushed and overwhelmed

All consuming seasons where the comparison habit has unwittingly leaked sharp fragments into the tender hearts of my own children

That is great sadness

But never ever venturing down this unhealthy route of absorbing negative comparisons again is highly unlikely. Many lessons have taught me that I know that these warped perspectives are truly and fully met head on in the very act of praying, wrestling or handing over before God, however we do this part. Something then cracks open, allowing the divine exchange of His love to take place in our hearts. I do not know how, but I know that it does, figuratively speaking between the heel and the toe of the hockey stick.  

In willing hearts I believe God is in the business of breaking the cycle of the comparison habit wherever and however it manifests itself. And He in His grace still chooses to use me to do His work while the work is in progress. The very antithesis of what comparison tries to tell us.

Processing thoughts when others lay their weakness cards on the table gives us two reactional choices: 

  • to listen and hear them out, walk away from comparison and enter into the mess, with grace
  • invoke the comparison, inwardly roll our eyes, tut and say to ourselves 'thank goodness I'm not like that', ignoring the fact that THAT with maybe a different face is looking right back at us eyeball to eyeball

The stupid comparison habit is out on the table, or in this case out on the field. I am more than happy to keep knocking seven bells out of it with a hockey stick when it's needed. And on days when I'm not so successful at stopping those comparisons carousing I suspect there will be a team of you who have my back and will be waiting on the benches ready to help me out with your hockey sticks.

It's game.

Is this something you struggle with?

Are you able to nip comparison and negative thoughts in the bud before they start running riot on the field?

14 April 2013

sinkholes & sermon quotes

On Saturday during a walk in the Peak District around Ladybower Reservoir I felt compelled to take photos of the one of the sinkholes. I have no particular idea why but my eyes were drawn to the circular patterns and perhaps I thought they may come in useful for a photo project some day. (I am also the sort of person who really hesitates to say 'God prompted me').

Yesterday in church during worship we sang 'I will never be the same'. It is not a song we sing that often and always when we do it resonates very deeply. Being willing to allow God to do the work he needs to do in us in order for us to move on with Him.

                  There are higher heights, there are deeper seas,
                  Whatever you need to do, Lord do in me.

That song is mostly used in response after a sermon, but yesterday it was sung before the speaker. Maybe God has a lot to say..?

Our visiting preacher Rob White spoke on Joseph and here are a few of the key points that really stood out (some paraphrased):

Joseph's story is not a just tale from history

We are all part of God's story here and now, living story

Story = ADventure, ADversity, ADvance (I tweeted this during the sermon, too good not to share)

Dreams borne of God do not have to die in the pit

And the reason I was inspired to take the sinkhole photos was to merge the image with Rob's words:

After the sermon people were invited to the front for prayer if they felt their dreams had died, for whatever reason, health, finance, bereavement, bad luck. Not only was Rob generous with God's word, he was freely extending the hand of God to those who needed it. Friends who needed a helping hand out of the pit. A number of people made their way forward, while we sang 'In Christ alone'.

For us this has been a season of financial difficulty and for me unemployment, but through it all I have been conscious of God's presence in a new way. My dreams have not died, they have been re-ignited in the face of struggle.

I so love those words in the middle of the final verse of In Christ Alone. He holds EVERYTHING in his hand and NOTHING can separate me from Him. Sure I know those words well and they are real to my heart, so nothing new there. But it was as though He was underlining them in bold just to make sure I'd heard, again. And the tears flowed. 

Doubt will shout louder sometimes and try to rob us of God-given dreams, but He's always one step ahead in our story.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

The full sermon is available to listen here

This post is linked up at Tania Vaughan's place for #mondayministry - check it out and join in

#3goodthings [14 April 2013]

8 April
good quality digital hearing aids 
tubes and batteries
1& 2 all free on nhs - thankful, missed a lot as a child and young adult


9 April
young spring birds emerging
Phatfish songs
friend who started work today after serious illness


10 April
watching the Scotsman drive an Aston Martin Vantage
using new camera
creativity is intelligence having fun (Einstein)


12 April
chat with the Scotsman on how his work is going
transition end in sight
good Jeeves jokes by boys at dinner table


13 April
spending time with wider family
rain holding off while walking in Peak District
delicious Indian meal


14 April
lent my son Introverts in the Church by Adam S McHugh
he's reading it
he's enjoying it

87 gifts

12 April 2013

Here (5 minute friday)

Joining with the community that is Five Minute Friday with the lovely Lisa Jo Baker. We like to write, not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. For joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker.

Five minutes on HERE

In memory of
Florence Lucas
the beloved child of Josiah and Esther Lucas
born November 4th 1869
died October 31st 1871
The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord

You are a name in the list of thousands in our family tree. You died on All Hallows’ Eve just short of your second birthday. Those words from Job 1:21 inscribed on your stone. Rock sheltered under the branches of the ancient tree.

Before pressing the camera shutter, my prayer whispered to friends who had recently lost their own children before-the-natural-order-of-things.

God–shaped hole that was left in your parents heart. Your story is unknown save that your father was the village rat catcher.

God, He knows your story.

He knows your parents’ story and their hearts too.

We all stand here with God-shaped holes in our lives. We can choose to look at them, see them and ask for your love to come and fill the aching spaces. Or we can bury them deep and place a heavy headstone on top of them allowing the soil to nurse the hurts and fertilise the wounds.

Yes the loss of a child leaves a particularly painful and unique God-shaped hole.

Yet still we all have holes.

When we are before You, You can reveal them to us if we will see.

And if we allow it You will write those love messages in the spaces between the words of our story.