The home of the prophet

Here’s another pattern I’ve noticed: sometimes what’s happening in the physical world is an awfully good illustration of what’s happening internally.

It’s not just me, this time. I know this. The Bible has a few such noteworthy examples, and I’m so sorry I can’t provide the exact scriptural references for the dude in the Old Testament that God told to sleep with a prostitute and then cut her up (yes, I said Cut Her Up) into twelve pieces and send a piece of her to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Ouch. This is what they did before Facebook.

Or get this, from Ezekiel Chapter 4 in the Old Testament. Yes, this is the bible. No, it doesn’t get much weirder than this:

The Lord said: Ezekiel, son of man, find a brick and sketch a picture of Jerusalem on it. Then prepare to attack the brick as if it were a real city. Build a dirt mound and a ramp up to the top and surround the brick with enemy camps. On every side put large wooden poles as though you were going to break down the gate to the city. Set up an iron pan like a wall between you and the brick. All this will be a warning for the people of Israel. After that, lie down on your left side and stay there for three hundred ninety days as a sign of Israel’s punishment[a]—one day for each year of its suffering. Then turn over and lie on your right side forty more days. That will be a sign of Judah’s punishment—one day for each year of its suffering. The brick stands for Jerusalem, so attack it! Stare at it and shout angry warnings. I will tie you up, so you can’t leave until your attack has ended. Get a large bowl. Then mix together wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and millet, and make some bread. This is what you will eat for the three hundred ninety days you are lying down. 10 Eat only a small loaf of bread each day 11 and drink only two large cups of water. 12 Use dried human waste to start a fire, then bake the bread on the coals where everyone can watch you. 13 When I scatter the people of Israel among the nations, they will also have to eat food that is unclean, just as you must do.I said, “Lord God, please don’t make me do that! Never in my life have I eaten food that would make me unacceptable to you. I’ve never eaten anything that died a natural death or was killed by a wild animal or that you said was unclean.” The Lord replied, “Instead of human waste, I will let you bake your bread on a fire made from cow manure. 16 Ezekiel, the people of Jerusalem will starve. They will have so little food and water that they will be afraid and hopeless. 17 Everyone will be shocked at what is happening, and, because of their sins, they will die a slow death.” Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Sometimes we do stuff because we just feel it in our gut that it’s the right thing to do, and we don’t know why, but it is. Sometimes we step out, with little more to go on than “I just felt it was the right thing to do”, and sometimes it takes weeks, months, or even years, to fully understand the ramifications of our actions, or the good that came of them. And sometimes our guts are wrong. Sometimes we just put too much pizza in them, and the things they tell us are nothing more than “I don’t like anchovies”.

And sometimes – sometimes – the things that happen when we’re trusting our gut feel so wrong, feel like nothing-more-than-anchovies, but in reality they’re deep works that we can’t quite see the ends of just yet. And sometimes, when we’re leaning towards the pizza answer rather than the faith, sometimes then we see something, like God shows us something from the real world that shouts its confirmation at us, and suddenly we get it, like those people in the Bible got it when they saw old Ezekiel lying on his side in the dirt cooking muffins on poo.

Over the last few months my soul has been dug up and dug over and the deepest wiring exposed, and some rewiring going on. I can’t say it’s been pleasant, and sometimes it’s easy to think that it’s so hard because I’ve done something wrong. Then you see this:

My fence and my garden have done no wrong. My neighbour has done no evil thing, or hidden a body underneath her driveway. None of this, strictly speaking, needed to happen, but it is a Good Thing. It means our space is enlarging, and her bank account is being filled, and all it means is we’ve all got to keep our eyes on the goal, and the end result, not worry too much about the mess, and know that it’s worth it in the end.

Trust your gut. Step out in faith. Do something crazy. And know, when you’re in the middle of it all and it hurts like hell and there’s mud from one end of you to the other, that that funny little coincidence you’re shaking your head over just might be the confirmation of faith you need to see the journey through.


The nature of patterns

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I’d kind of like to be though, because it does sound kind of fun, being able to believe in all those connections, those wild connections between politicians and weather and dates and history and cat food brands…or something like that. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. Much as I’d like it to be otherwise, I kind of just believe that JFK was shot by a mad bloke, not that I was there.

But – and here’s the thing – I do believe in patterns. It’s a left-handed thing, apparently, although I’m sure there are a lot of right-handed people out there who notice the same things I do, and a lot of right-handed conspiracy theorists. But there you go, left-handed people tend to notice patterns a lot – and that in itself is a pattern. Oh. I read about that one long before I noticed it though.

I LOVED reading the comments on Friday’s post about birth stories and personalities. I’m so pleased and excited that it’s not just me, that other parents can notice similar connections. Not that any of it means anything really, but it’s fun, and funny, and makes the universe a more interesting place to be. Have any of you who are married or in long-term relationships noticed another pattern too – that morning people marry night people? That people who fold their toilet paper marry people who scrunch? That people who bite into their Easter Eggs marry people who prefer to break them? There’s a pattern here too, folks – we’ve tested this theory a few times and it’s seems pretty…oh, I was going to say “universal” until I realized that you could hardly call toilet paper or Easter Eggs that. But you know what I mean.

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but I do believe in a God in Heaven who’s really not limited by our understanding, and sometimes I wonder if God is left-handed too, or if some of these patterns I see around me are actually God’s doing. I’ve learned, as I’ve got older, that if I’m feeling lonely and isolated and depressed there’s a high chance that my friends are feeling it too, like some kind of seasonal flu (and have you ever noticed the times that you’re feeling lonely and isolated that you just presume everyone else is happy and you don’t want to bother them? Oh, is that just me). If I’m feeling stretched to the end of my capabilities then yes, quite often I find that my closest buddies are feeling the same thing in their own lives or their own little corners of the world, as if a stretching rain has come, or a lonely sunshine, and we all feel it, together.

2012 Calendar

I’ve found that 2012 has been a stretching, dramatic, pivotal year for a lot of people. It’s been a good year for me, in the way that, say, an amputation of a gangrenous leg is good – even without an anaesthetic. I’m smiling, although my gritted teeth are aching a little by now. Some years are like that – I haven’t had one this memorable for a while. 1993 was one too, a memorable, gangrenous-leg kind of year.

And…here’s the weirdest of the patterns I’ve ever noticed, the remarkable thing that makes me stop and wonder about the nature of God and the universe: the people I know that have had big, earth-shattering leg-amputating years this year, in 2012, also seem to have had enormous, gangrenous-leg experiences in 1993.

I don’t read anything into that. I can’t, because I will be wrong. My brain just isn’t big enough to think that much outside of the box to come up with anything that’s not just silly. I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

But I believe.

How about you? Have you had an enormous and memorable 2012? Have you ever noticed patterns like this in the lives of people around you? Do you like conspiracy theories too?

Happy birthday baby!

The birthday girl

This precious bunny turns nine today. My firstborn. Can’t believe how grown up she is now, and how sweet. I went into labour early. Two weeks early, to be exact, which isn’t mean to happen with first babies – everybody knows that. My other half knew that, which is why he booked so many appointments leading up to her due date, “so I could get them out of the way before the baby came”. I called him early on a Friday afternoon to tell him my waters had broken, and by the time I got into his work two hours later he was still on the phone trying to reschedule people. Turns out that bubby had stage fright though, and didn’t show up until last thing that Sunday, and that was with an awful lot of help.

That’s typical of her, that is. Always ahead of where she needs to be, but does the last-minute panic and doubts herself, and needs loads of coaxing.

My second-born’s birth experience was completely different. He was a (ooooouuuuch) posterior delivery. That’s typical of him, too: right on time, but has a knack for making things much more complicated than they need to be.

And the third was straightforward. Just like him.

Have you ever noticed a pattern between birth and personality? Hmmmm. Have you ever noticed that I can read something deep and meaningful into just about anything?

The pattern of journeys.

When we were younger and only very new Christians, my other half and I used to go to Youth With A Mission meetings with a whole bunch of our friends. We liked them. The music was great, and there were always different people telling interesting stories about interesting things. After a while though a lot of the stories started sounding the same. Patterns started forming.

Youth With A Mission are a…you guessed it…Missions organization. They take…you guessed it…youth…out on…oh yes…Missions trips to various places around the world. The first pattern I noticed was this: that the trip was going to cost the speaker so-and-so thousand dollars, and all the speaker had was $13.70, two McDonald’s vouchers and a sleeping bag, and he needed the money by last Tuesday midnight. The speaker and his family had all prayed and believed and trusted in God, and lo and behold, at 11.58pm there was a knock on the door and a complete stranger with so-and-so thousand, or a sudden car sale, or a spontaneous idea for a cupcake competition, or something. There was always the Something.

The next pattern I noticed was this: the speaker had always had a lifelong aversion to one particular place. Hated Canadians with a passion (allergic to ice hockey?), or had a crazy distrust of Russians, or Japanese fisherman, or something. And that, Canada, Russia, Japan…wherever…was always the place that God had called the speaker to go to.

There was a third pattern too. Now that the speaker had the money (miraculously) and had amazingly dealt with all his previous misgivings about said destination and was now in love with the place and its people, Something Happened when he was over there.

Something big and life-changing. Something that, because he was away from all the trappings of familiarity and routine and all the things he took for granted, God was suddenly able to deal with. So not only is there the financial miracle and the complete change-of-heart, but there’s this lovely heart-warming ending where he’s suddenly reconciled to his father, or understands for the first time some deep place inside him, or has made peace with a deep and awful trauma from years before.

Well there’s the patterns.

Well. And here I am. We’ve had our financial “miracle” already. And I really shouldn’t mention the fact that for many years I was very negative about America…particularly California (ouch. I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t mention it!). So here we are, right on track for #3.

I know it’s going to happen. I knew two years ago, when I first felt…whatever you’d like to refer to it as…the call of God, perhaps…the nudge to go to the US. I knew it was going to come down to this. I’ve been trying to avoid it…or at least make sure I deal with it ahead of time. But here we are.

Does that suck, I hear you ask? Why, yes it does. Sucks like a Dyson with a dog-vacuuming attachment. My other friend who vacuums her dog (This is my friend Bernie and her husband Steve. She’s the one who vacuumed her dog until the dog ate the attachment. It has no particular relevance to this story, but…she knows why this pic is there. Cheers Bern! Love you babe xxx)

Yes, I’m laughing at myself. And I’m serious, all at the same time. I’m laughing at myself for being so serious. I’m sure it will happen. Although, knowing me, I’m stressing about nothing, and it’ll be more like a splinter removal than giving birth. I’ll still stress about it though. I’m weird like that. And I know that if I was ten years’ younger I’d be even-more-convinced of my rightness, and stressing enormously. I get the feeling from my extremely-wisest friend, too, that if I was ten years older I wouldn’t be worried about it at all. But I’m me. And…I wrote this last night, and when I got up this morning there was an email from the wonderful Wanderer’s blog (I love this woman’s writing), and SHE had a link to this, which kind of confirms both a) I’m right and b) it’s going to be okay. It really is.

So tell me what you think. Have you gone to the other side of the world and come back changed? Or have you gone to the other side of the world and come back UNchanged? What was it like for you?