Trains and planes and automobiles all move me towards a state of reflection and today was no different ; pasing through Millstreet the fields and gardens along the track were a bit flooded. In Mallow again field upon field was flooded, diggers and earthmovers stranded in the water.
Flooding evokes two things in me, drowning and overflowing. My cup overflows. Someone was describing it as coming from the inside out the joy bubbling up inside, not unlike (but not as badly executed) my painting of a champagne rainbow on the wall of Gateway Church Kenmare. Yesterday in service I was doing the transition prayers in the praise time and I could hardly get my breath, I had poured me out in the previous praise song and I was as out of breath as if I had run a half mile at pace. It felt good, just like running, it felt good to be out of breath for my Lord. However, coherency is key in church, because so easily we can say something that can be taken up wrong, or where we have mixed our words up (I am mostly in this category) It all worked out okay and the praise was acceptable.
Drowning is a whole other story, or is it? You see a long time ago in a far and distant land two drowning incidents took place with me at the centre. In a swimming pool not a million miles from my home town a man tried to drown me at the age of thirteen or fourteen, the age does not matter. The man does not matter, he was a ne’er do well, a fleeting visitor to my life and my mother’s heart. He still exists and still leeches off single mothers and their daughters.
Good drowning stories though, I like those. When I was eleven on the cusp of becoming a woman (on paper and physiologically though technically, oh that’s for another time) I almost drowned in a cold North Sea near the holiday home. I got this story so wrong for many years and really only now understand the significance and lost opportunity.
Elsa, Katya and I were swimming in the sea. Elsa was a nervous new swimmer (who would never swim again), Katya was a strong enough swimmer and I loved the water. My entire holiday was spent getting optimum swim time. Granda would drop me off often in Bamburgh and pick me up at This day we were at Monk’s Bay, The maiden Aunts were sitting in their foldable chairs, joined today by Elsa’s nervous mama. We raced down to the sea, spending some time in juvenile splashing, running in and out with the waves before wading out past the shelf and into the sea.
The same sea that Grace Darling and her daddy saved all those sailors one stormy night eons earlier. We swam in, the waves crashed down as they only could onto that beach. We were crushed, sucked under and released over and over. Elsa got scared of the pull and drag of the undercurrents and we put her up on the rocks. She was pinned to them her feet unable to walk over to the safety of the beach and her mum. After a few minutes Katya also decided that it was unsafe and I pulled her over to the rocks and pushed her up.
I remained, under the water when being pulled down and dragged along the bottom and out there was a peace. A massive silence. On the surface the world was noisy – I was being dragged and pulled into a life I didn’t want. I was a member of the Ichthus Club at school, I skipped in my heart the 300+ kilometres from home to holiday home not for any other reason but United Beach Mission for two weeks. Two whole weeks when I could be myself. I had yet to have a personal relationship with Christ but I was moving in the right direction. I look back and see that. My Christian friends though, back then, just saw Susan Sinner. They didn’t sin. They were good people, good children, I was the bad penny, I was the one no one wanted to sit next to in case the sINNINg came upon them.
I watched these people and I tried to be like them. Amazingly when I was healed last year I stopped looking to others as to how to behave. I was given a freedom to be me, me surrendered and submitted to the Lord, total submission.
So I am never going to wear a hat in church and hoodies are my chosen garment for the pulpit. My language is fresh and from the street(innit) and I will be with people that my childhood Christian friends would step over. To Pharisees I am Susan Sinner, to mature Christians I am Suzie Sinner. I am a sinner, I can’t help it. I aim for the perfection only found in Jesus but fall short.
And at the very first glimpse of God in all His glory, I messed it up, I got it so wrong. I was in the sea, I was drowning, my lungs were bursting, but there was peace, there was light, there was God in all His glory, with me in the sea. I got it wrong.
I was scooped out of the sea by rough strong hands and dragged up the rocks. I cried. I was crying because I wanted to go back, I wanted to be in the peace, in the silence. I knew stuff in the world was changing and I would no longer be able to keep duality. My circles were becoming more disparate and in one years time I would stand depressed and drunk before Granville the Christian and walk away. He would persist but I would be stubborn.
I spent the next thirty years trying to get to that peace again, to that silence, I thought I would only glimpse God by dying in this world. Oh I have learned so much. I have seen so much. So much is being revealed in bite sized pieces, one by one by God given one.
A really good friend of mine said not so long ago that she was so glad I had never actually attempted to kill myself because she felt I would succeed. Yes it made me grin, but I know what she means. As for drowning I am now drowning in a sea of love, drenched in love, my thirst quenched. Reflected in the flooded fields is the sky created by God. All of creation is drenched in love.