Listening to My Life

The most enjoyable things about preparing these blogs is to find an appropriate photo and a relevant prayer.

A recent blog was accompanied by a donkey and an old rhinocerous, with the question, which one was I? Once upon a time, in a former I was very definitely a rhino, a charging rhino. I’d been given responsibility of a dozen or so London branches. They were going through a challenging time; morale was low; pay was low. I went out and found a fine looking rhino, made of leather, over a foot long. We adopted it as our mascot. Because of their huge bodies, strong horns and thick, armour-like skin, rhinos have no natural predators. When they feel threatened their instinct is to charge. I found a book called Rhinocerous Success. by Scott Alexander. Not the best written book, half of it untrue, (the illustration of a rhino hiding in a coat cupboard reading a Bible is a sight to behold. We took the rhino as our example. It did the trick and ten branch offices enjoyed a new lease of life. I even gave out little rhino badges, (Write to me if you’d like one; I still have a boxful.) I was reminded of all this when I came across a well worn copy of the book in the National Trust bookshop at Mottisfont recently where they are celebrating C S Lewis’s Narnia tales.

Now forty years on my leather rhino is rather battered. He’s lost his ears, the tip of his horn is fraying; he still has a gleam of mischief in his eyes though so all’s not lost. I’m a bit similar; my ears are intact but other bits are fraying or dropping off. Possibly the other creature in my photos, the donkey, might be more appropriate. A wonkey donkey.

Jesus wasn’t carried into Jerusalem on the back of a majestic pure bred horse, or a noble camel, let alone a rhino. A donkey carried the maker of the sun, moon and stars and you and I. I guess I’m happy enough being a donkey, staying out of sight and out of trouble. Take care though. Donkeys are generally placid enough, and can carry a heavy load even in old age, but when roused they can be tricky, and have been known to attack when they have a mind to.

This is my first message of the year. Last year was a tough one for all of us. Anita and I got away fairly lightly but so many of my friends and relatives are carrying bigger loads than they started the year with. Next year I hope to pray more, worry less, be kinder, take better care of those around me.

I wish everyone a good new year. As Billy Graham said, ‘We may not know what the future holds for us, but we know who holds the future’.

This is a prayer from Ted Loder’s pen. Read it slowly and with care and attention:

We Dare to Ask

We ask only a few things more, O God,

A few small, mustard-seed size, faithful, saving things:

to walk with you in each moment, without plotting for tomorrow,

and to really consider the birds of the air, the lilies of the field,

and find the treasures hidden in the daily round.

To learn by leaning into your spirit, to be present to others without preoccupation.

To engage without having to win, to disagree without being judgemental,

To accept outcomes without despair, to succeed or fail, without misplacing hope,

To tune to the bracing hum of the stars.

To fathom enough, without dismissing fathomless mystery of your creation,

Our brothers and sisters,

and the grace and mercy and power

of your embrace that holds us close,

each small one of us,

and everything all together

In Jesus’s name

Amen

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