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Today we remember John Donne. He was a priest and poet in England in the seventeenth century. I posted one if his poems on my personal Facebook story last week. Quite coincidentally I found myself in church singing one of his hymns they next day (don't worry, I was by myself, singing because I wanted to sing!).


It is a beautiful hymn and deals with sin - that which pulls us from God. Remember, sin is not really a laundry list of things we have "done wrong" but much more a noticing of times when conversation with God or walking with God have drifted. The first verse explores our tendency to continue to return to the wrong direction. The second our encouraging others in the wrong way and both verses end with the idea that even when God has forgiven all this, there will be more.


Of course, Donne's final worry is that sin will keep him eternally from God. What grabs me in this verse is that Jesus is already shining brightly. There is a longing for God which is beautiful and familiar.


Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,          Which was my sin, though it were done before? Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,          And do run still, though still I do deplore?                 When thou hast done, thou hast not done,

                        For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won          Others to sin, and made my sin their door?

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun          A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?                 When thou hast done, thou hast not done,                         For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun          My last thread, I shall perish on the shore; But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son          Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;                 And, having done that, thou hast done;                         I fear no more.


(If you missed the poem earlier in the week'


No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as any manner of thy friends

or of thine own were;

any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

it tolls for thee. )



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Yesterday we watched a movie called "The Last Black Man in San Francisco". I really enjoyed it. There were all sorts of themes going on but the one I noticed was about lies. I cannot say much more without giving away the plot, but these lies which we tell ourselves in order to make our lives have meaning.


I think, for many people right now, the sense of holding onto a safe narrative of ourselves is being challenged. We might be seeing our edges which, at a different time, we would be able to cover with a story which is comfortable to us. One of the journeys of any Lent is to learn where our raggedness is and to ask God to come to that place.


As doubts and fears whirl around it might be worth noticing, rather than becoming captive to, those places in which we are doubtful, angry and anxious - not to dwell on them, but simply to acknowledge our edges.


Edges are noxious when we squash them or ignore them. In this time of the desert, we are going to notice them more, we can choose whether to construct an elaborate narrative where they are the exception to who we are, or a real one where they are a part of who we are, a part into which we can invite divine grace, not for a momentary miracle, but for fuel for the journey.

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There is an old song, written by Irvine Berlin, called "There may be trouble ahead". I have no idea why that popped into my head this morning. The first verse is;

"There may be trouble ahead,

But while there's music and moonlight and love and romance

Let's face the music and dance."


What is interesting to me is the double meaning of "Let's face the music and dance". I like that idea of combining what we can do now with what may be to come. It is years since I watched the movie in which it features so I cannot remember the details of the trouble!


Perichoresis is a word which is sometimes used of God in Trinity - that is God Father, Son and Holy Spirit - in a never ending dance. That might seem strange but the idea it tries to capture is that God is never still and always beautiful. We hold that as a foundation of who we are - love of a God who moves around us, in us, in the world.


Dancing may be the last thing on our minds - it may seem flippant and, even, callous. If you do watch the video you will see that Fred Astaire simply keeps going until Ginger Rogers joins in - perhaps a whole different blog there! I am a terrible dancer but there are things which I can do to add beauty to the world, to both acknowledge an unknown future and to celebrate the good which is in the present.

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