Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Square in the Tower

It was dark and damp inside the tower, the circular floor and wall were slippery, green and cold. She sat on the floor, her head resting on her knees barely aware of the smell of rot in the air. She felt the ink black of the tower press into her, holding her down. Little Girl could not move. She couldn’t remember how old she was, was she 5 or 6? Maybe she was 35, she searched her mind for some reminder, some clue but found none. In the dark tower, the girl had a vague sense of her name, where she belonged. It fluttered through her mind like a butterfly but was gone before she had time to grab hold of it, to snatch it from the darkness and hear what it said. She had lost herself in the tower, she couldn’t find the door. Little Girl knew there was a door, she had come in through it but now when she looked for it she became disorientated. So she gave up and let the damp seep into her bones. She was so cold, she could not conjure up the feeling of warmth anymore.

A tear escaped from her eye and fell to the floor. Little Girl tried to remember, she searched her brain and found nothing. Her mind was hazy, everything jumbled. “Help,” her small voice whispered, “Why have you left me all alone in the tower? Why won’t you rescue me?”

She looked up again at the square of blue in the tower wall, wondering what it might be. She liked the colour, a flutter of joy pierced the darkness but before she could grasp hold of it, it was gone. In the recesses of her mind the colour evoked a memory. It was fuzzy, she was too exhausted to try and unfold the picture.  If only she could reach that square in the wall and look out of at the blue. Little Girl saw how far away the blue square was, she knew that she was too little to climb up so high.  She stayed on the cold concrete, tiredness overwhelmed her. Sleep came and took Little Girl out of the midnight of the tower for a few hours.

It was the feeling of warmth that drew Little Girl out of her slumber. And something hurt her eyes, a glow of golden light. Slowly she raised her eyelids, blinded by the bright square in the wall. Little Girl felt her heart beat faster, “What is that?” she wondered. Looking around the tower, Little Girl saw that it all remained in darkness but she sat in a pool of light that came from the square in the wall. She felt the Light on her skin, it was not unfamiliar, she knew she had experienced it before but could not picture the place or time. She sat very still, tried not to move a muscle, tried not to breath too loudly, she didn’t want to chase away the Light that shone through the square. Little Girl kept her tear stained face in the glow of the Light. She felt the way it caressed her cheeks, how it spread warmth from her face to her body. Very still, a tiny statue in the square of Light on the floor in the darkness. Little Girl didn’t know how long she sat with her face turned towards the Light but soon she could not bear to sit down any longer. She needed more Light, she needed to feel it on every part of her frozen body, she craved it, she felt she might die if she couldn’t get herself into the Light that came through the square in the tower.

“I want to get out of this dark tower, I have had enough of the eternal midnight, the cold walls and the concrete floor!” Little Girl whispered the words so quietly she wasn’t sure she had even said them. The Light on her face felt warmer, a little more powerful. The flicker of the joy Little Girl had felt before opened like a flower in her heart. She could see the joy, smell the fragrance of it. Little Girl unfurled her body, slowly and cautiously she stood up and lifted her hands towards the Light. “Help me,” Little Girl’s voice was barely there. As she spoke the Light intensified, the heat flooding her, feeding the joy, making it grow. Little Girl was afraid. She had not felt like this for as long as she could remember, she didn’t want to lose it but when she looked around, she could see the darkness just a foot step away from the Light coming from the square in the tower. What if she fell out of the Light into the dark space around her? What if she stepped out of the pool of Light? Her fear began to grow and her joy began to fade. But the Light shone through the square, the Light didn’t seem to care about the midnight around Little Girl.

Little Girl looked at the square in the tower, so high up and knew she had to reach it. She understood that if she didn’t get out of the square the darkness would take her again. Fear crept into her mind, Fear told her that she would get lost in the lower again, she would slip on the slimy floor, fall over. But the Light was so sweet, so powerful, it filled her with a new feeling. If Little Girl could distinguish emotions, she would have recognised courage. Little Girl looked at the square in the tower and saw for the first time that there was a ladder from the floor to the square. “I never saw the ladder before,” marvelled Little Girl.  Little Girl wondered is she had ever looked under the square before, had she only ever seen the darkness, the walls, the slime?

Little Girl saw the dark floor between her Light and the ladder. “If I step into the darkness, the Light will be gone, I will get cold and lost,” Little Girl’s lip trembled and tears welled up in her beautiful eyes. The Light warmed her skin, the heat like a father’s arms holding Little Girl close. Tentatively, Little Girl held her hand out of the Light into the dark, cold of the tower. Her mind told her that her hand would feel the icy air but Little Girl could not believe what happened! The heat of the Light remained on her skin, kept her hand warm as if the Light were still shining on in. Little Girl knew that if she kept her hand in the dark for too long, the heat would disappear and then she knew what she had to do.
Little Girl took a deep breath and stepped into the black space between her pool of Light and the ladder ahead of her. With legs like jelly, little Girl moved across the black floor and grasped the ladder. The glow of the Light stayed on her skin, pushed the icy cold from her. She kept her eyes on the Light coming through the square in the tower. One rung at a time, Little Girl climbed. The closer she got to the square, the more the joy and hope began to fill her heart. The square, a heartbeat away, the Light flooding in, a river of gold. Little Girl climbed onto the sill of the square and stood tall. The view from the square took her breath away, filled her with awe, was nearly too much to look at. From the square in the tower, Little Girl saw freedom

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

When life gets tough...

A friend asked me a while ago about how I can reconcile my faith with going through the very real struggles of life. It is a good question. To be honest, in the midst of pain and fear I completely understand why she would ask. I am almost tempted to give a glib, insignificant answer just so that I don't need to think about it too much! There are times when I cry out to God asking Him where He is in all of the chaos of life, I think any follower of Jesus who says they don't is not being totally honest.
To some people it makes no sense at all that we would cling to our faith when our circumstances tell a story that seems to be the opposite of what we believe. And there a few of you reading this who are thinking something along the lines of:  "Some people need a crutch, they need something to hold onto when times get tough, let it be their faith even though it holds no power or truth- whatever they need, let them be."

I have been reading a small book called Epic. The author tells the story of humanity through the eyes of the bible. He looks at how we have been created to crave relationship, how we are built to belong, how we all long for a story of our own. He describes our lives as a movie script, written and played out in this world. We search for a hero, we look for adventure and love. And every good story has a villain! Darth Vader, Dark Lord Sauron, the wicked witch of the west. He asks the question: why would we live our lives without acknowledging that there is a villain, an evil force prowling the earth? Just look around people, just watch the news and you will see pain, suffering, narcissism, greed.... If every wonderful story ever written had no baddy then how would we have been able to fall in love with the hero? The hero would never have a chance to shine, to save the day. The story would be boring!

When things go pear shaped in our life, when everything appears to dissolve into a heap of steaming mess, it is our turn to take centre stage. As a follower of Jesus, I truly believe that satan doesn't want me to grow and change and make any difference to the world around me. And I also know that I was been given authority over satan the moment I accepted Jesus into my life. It is how I choose to fight this battle, not whether it should have happened or not.

So my answer to my friend is this : my faith never promised to make my life pain free or easier than the rest of the worlds. My faith gives me the power to fight the villain that comes prowling around, it helps me to grow and change through every tear I shed so that when we come out the other side, I will be stronger, wiser and more equipped to help others fight their battles.