Beloved …Be Loved!

Over the last few days I’ve been unwell, no great surprise at the end of an intense year and a degree course, the sheer exhaustion made me succumb to a fever, but nothing that a few days of total collapse in bed and pints of water couldn’t fix…

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading Esther de Waal, reflections on the Rule of St Benedict: ‘Living with contradiction’ the book is called. It’s effectively a spiritual ‘retreat’ in written form…

For anyone who’s not been ‘on retreat’  a retreat is a sort of shut-away break, at a restful location, often a religious place such as a monastery or hermitage, during which one tries to sort of quieten ones spirit and try to attend to God. I only know about Christian ones, but presumably there may well be other spiritual retreats around too… anyhoo, this book is a series of short extracts that reflect on the Rule of St Benedict (yup, the chap who founded the Benedictine order of monks and nuns).

It doesn’t say anything I haven’t heard or read before -but it’s one thing to ‘hear’ and quite another thing to really ‘listen’, so I’ve been trying to read it slowly enough to actually learn something from it.

God knows how noisy this world is, and He knows how hard we creatures find it to listen, but very often, when God wants us to hear something, he will find several different ways to say it -until we start to notice the strange repetitions and our spirit becomes attentive to what it is… in the past I’ve usually assumed God’s message for me is ‘repent’… coz I’m a self-critical old bird… but strangely, or should I say, delightfully, it’s been ‘accept’…

Acceptance… acceptance of God’s love is the biggest challenge for me I realise… what an odd confession, after all these pages waxing lyrical about the Lord… but there is no hypocrisy in my writing -you see I hadn’t noticed for so very long that my absolutely sincere desire to let people know that God loves them, and my desire to thankfully love God back and to serve him, whilst no bad thing at all… had begun to lose their very first target, even to intentionally deflect from it (!)

This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ 1John4:10

‘We love because God first loved us.’ 1John 4:19

I have known this at various points in my life -but it is not something I have ever been able to hold onto alone… I know it most of all when I share it with other people -I know the truth of it so deeply that it almost makes me cry every time… it is the source and fount of all hope, it is the truest of true, beside which all the tiresome detail of religion bleaches to white… it is the reason I am typing with blurred vision right now…

…I have seen the beauty on people’s faces when they realise this is true, and there is nothing on earth like it … it’s the incomparable truth that would make even the most naive chap say, ‘an apple… no thanks… God loves me you know, so I reckon I’ll do what he’s asked and steer clear, me old viper‘ …

So I shall abandon the guilt and sorrow which I COULD feel for having forgotten God’s love. I shall cast aside the sackcloth and ashes which I probably OUGHT to wear to make up for not noticing such an important thing… and -for a while at least- I shall STICK MY FINGERS IN MY EARS and sing the la-la-la-la-I’m-not-listening song at the boring and relentless old voice of self-criticism… For now have come the salvation and power and glory of our God… and he loves me.

Thank you God x


About Jemma

Learning to be both a priest and a human being in the Anglican Church
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One Response to Beloved …Be Loved!

  1. hiddenlives says:

    From one of thousands who have been called to be oblates of St. Benedict – thank you for this lovely reflection 🙂


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