Less jewels in the hand and more Doc Martens on the feet of God

I have spent much of this week at a conference for women in leadership in  Northamptonshire.

While I was there I have to admit I was my useless restless self, constantly checking my phone and fretting about all the other things I  could have been doing. But now I am home I  have found that the learning, the coaching and they praying is changing me in subtle ways. Bad habits have been challenged and new perspectives opened up.

However one of the ways in which I felt distanced from the conference was by the use of imagery of women that were largely passive and emphasised the physical appearance. Among those images were ‘stars in the dark sky’ and ‘jewels in the hand of God.’ Asking myself why I reacted so violently to the jewels imagery I realised that it was not only because jewels are passive, admired for their looks and largely useless but they are also things that are protected and guarded from the rough and tumble of daily life. And so I realised I longed to be more of  a Doc Marten and less of a jewel because a Doc Marten can go to all sorts of places, it’s strong and not easily broken and looks great when it is scruffed up. Docs come in all shapes and sizes and are worn by all sorts of people – yup I would definitely rather be a Doc Marten. (Between us my daughter and I have this rather impressive set of Docs.)Photo8

This time a couple of years ago I was on a placement in a wonderful church in North Birmingham where the priest and many of the people had roots in the Carribbean. There I was challenged, especially at Advent, by the Church’s overuse of metaphors which equate darkness with evil and light with goodness. “This dualism does us women no favours;” mused my friend, the priest there.

During this time I discovered this Advent Litany which I offer to you now. I love the way it honours both light and dark and reminds us of God’s presence in both.

A Litany of Darkness and Light
I: We wait in the darkness, expectantly, longingly, anxiously,
thoughtfully.
II: The darkness is our friend. In the darkness of the womb, we
have all been nurtured and protected. In the darkness of the womb,
the Christ-child was made ready for the journey into light.
All: You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.
I: It is only in the darkness that we can see the splendor of the
universe—blankets of stars, the solitary glowings of distant
planets.
II: It was the darkness that allowed the Magi to find the star that
guided them to where the Christ-child lay.
All: You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.
I: In the darkness of the night, desert peoples find relief from the
cruel, relentless heat of the sun.
II: In the blessed desert darkness, Mary and Joseph were able to
flee with the infant Jesus to safety in Egypt.
All: You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.
I: In the darkness of sleep, we are soothed and restored, healed and
renewed.
II: In the darkness of sleep, dreams rise up. God spoke to Jacob and
Joseph through dreams. God is speaking still.
All: You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.
I: In the solitude of darkness, we sometimes remember those who
need God’s presence in a special way— the sick, the unemployed,
the bereaved, the persecuted, the homeless, those who are
demoralised and discouraged, those whose fear has turned to
cynicism, those whose vulnerability has become bitterness.
II: Sometimes in the darkness, we remember those who are near to
our hearts—colleagues, partners, parents, children, neighbors,
friends. We thank God for their presence and ask God to bless and
protect them in all that they do—at home, at school, as they travel,
as they work, as they play.
All: You are with us, O God, in darkness and in light.
I: Sometimes, in the solitude of darkness, our fears and concerns,
our hopes and our visions rise to the surface. We come face to face
with ourselves and with the road that lies ahead of us. And in that
same darkness, we find companionship for the journey.
II: In that same darkness, we sometimes allow ourselves to wonder
and worry whether the human race is going to survive.
All: We know you are with us, O God, yet we still await your
coming. In the darkness that contains both our hopelessness and
our expectancy, we watch for a sign of God’s hope.
Department of Parish Development and Mission, New Zealand

Perhaps being shaped by prayers like this will enable me (us) to become more and more of a Doc Marten as it reminds me that where ever I go God’s presence is already there and the goodness and love of God is just waiting to be discovered.

 

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