Finding time to rise
Isaiah 40: 27-31 (NRSVA)
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God’?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
I’m standing in a small crowd in a park outside the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We’re watching a nonchalant group of old men playing a skittles style game where one has three attempts to throw a skittle underarm at a bunch of other skittles. It was nice watching these old guys do their thing – their thing being throwing blocks of wood at other blocks of wood.
As I watched part of me itched to join in. But it would never happen. I leaned on the fence and watched as these dignified, effortless gents casually ambled up and down in the dust, soaking up the November sun (and, I’m sure, the attention).
Then it happened.
One of them — a small, square man — pointed at me.
I was being allowed in the inner sanctum.
I opened the little gate and prepared to leap across the language barrier (and the wider gulf between me and my hand-eye coordination). Now I was part of the spectacle. I needed to be respectful, take this seriously, it was a gracious gesture to invite a tourist to interrupt their game. There we stood, shoulder to shoulder, across borders, across generations, watching as time after time the pins
The first missed. The second missed. The third, sickeningly, bounced end to end straight over a skittle. I heard the intake of breath beside me.
It was grim, but there was a moment of solidarity as they shook my hand. I doubt they knew the word ‘scunnered’ but as they watched my final pin dance harmlessly over its target they undoubtedly would have known what it meant.
I was disappointed but as I walked out of ‘the arena’ my heart was already beginning to soar. I’d been part of something that still shines bright all these years later because I cared about it and the men had in their gruff, taciturn way cared about me too.
When we fly with God we’re not always going to land well… But under the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and one another, we will rise again and beat our wings once more.
Thank you for inviting us again and again
to soar with you
inviting us to care, to try, to give it a go.