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Photo of split wood

One bloody thing after another?

Newsletter: September 2018

Dear Web friend

Warm greetings as crumpled children stumble once again to school, early morning traffic thickens, politics gets noisier, mornings get darker and, well, for good or ill, a season ends, for ‘summer’s lease hath all too short a date.’ (Though you may not feel this if you’ve found yourself having to entertain the children.)

And in this new September world, it’s possible, unless careful, that I can look at the events which litter my autumn diary (the diary which seemed more carefree in August; not a proper diary at all) and perceive them as just ‘one bloody thing after another’... and this I really don’t want to do, because that isn’t living.

And perhaps this is why I’m struck by Emmanuel Carrrere writing about the face of Jesus. (Bear with me.) I have already blogged about his remarkable book, The Kingdom, elsewhere. If you want to read my blog…

http://bit.ly/2M3i6gv

But like Emmanuel, I’m interested in the fact that no one describes Jesus’ face. It’s there, he must have had a face, but it isn’t there, no one talks about it… and one of the most striking things about the resurrection stories is this: no one recognizes him. He turns up, but everyone is blind-sided… perhaps a sign that they too were caught up in one bloody thing after another.

So at the tomb, he’s thought to be the gardener. On the road to Emmaus, an interesting fellow traveller. While on the shore, as dawn breaks, he’s some irritating bloke who asks the fishermen if they’ve caught anything.

‘He’s what they always wanted to see, hear, and touch,’ writes Carrere, ‘but not the way they thought they would see, hear and touch him.’

It reminds me (as the photo suggests) of the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas: ‘Split the wood, I am there. Lift up the stone, you will find me there. Look at your brother: see your god.’

The face we thought we knew, or the face we expected, is in fact quite unknown to us, and arrives without fanfare. We haven’t seen it here before or not looking like this – and suddenly it’s dissolving perceptions of how things will be or should be, because he seems to have a thousand faces.

Which, perhaps, means that life this autumn - contrary to depressed speculation – can never be a mere list of events, because the face of hope is always changing and quite unknown at first glance, though maybe discovered as we look again.

‘Did not our hearts burn as he spoke?’ say the travellers on the Emmaus road, after they’d finally recognized their fellow journeyman. But then they’d been so busy talking about recent events in Jerusalem… one bloody thing after another, as far as they were concerned.

Meanwhile, The Secret Testament of Julian makes her fragile way in the busy (and ruthless) publishing world. I won’t mention her again, barring extraordinary circumstances. But I’m delighted that she’s the excellent Sarum Bookshop’s book of the month for September, so for a special offer, go here…

http://bit.ly/2Cr2DHy

And while my 2018 retreats are now full, I believe there are places on my Enneagram and Julian of Norwich retreats in 2019. Click here and scroll down…

http://bit.ly/2MTNhQH

And thank you so much for your fascinating responses to my last piece on the seasons. We all have such different relationships with them. My only wish for you as the days shorten and the leaves turn, is the kind companionship of faces of hope.

But you and I may need to look twice…

Simon X

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