Spent much of the morning beside this statue (a resin cast of the original which is St Martin-in-the-Fields: Edit new lighter version courtesy of my clever friends in Cambridge...thank you both!).
It was my companion during the last Shrove Tuesday Quiet Day, so I thought I would return to see where it led me today. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the competing claims of ministry and marriage, of what to do when one feels life enhancing and joyous and the other just plain hard work, and so it was good to sit beside this representation of the Holy Family and reflect with God. Last year I wrote, as part of a longer (rather self indulgent) reflection
“The one on whom they think to lavish care
Holds open-armed the world with his vast love
Which spreads beyond their vision and their day
One year on, it was still mostly about the impossibility of limiting or protecting that child who is Love.I wondered about the way the two parents were united in supporting that precious baby, whom they would have loved to encircle forever in a protective embrace, but who already stretches out in love to the world….He IS their ministry.
And, just in case I was in any danger of thinking that this was a rarefied, remote kind of love, as I knelt there on the cold stones of the Cathedral, the silence was broken by the unmistakeable sound of a small child with hiccups. A family,- a real, flesh and blood family,- appeared around the corner…The toddler, clutching a biscuit in his sticky fingers, recognised the Christ child and began to love him…patting his face, caressing him from head to toe, trying to share that biscuit. “See. Jesus” he repeated excitedly, again and again, until his parents, embarrassed that their child was breaking the silence of the day, shooed him on…One last kiss for the baby, and he was gone.
And then,- oh then I finished the hard work of struggling with myself.
Then I dared to ask again for the absolution that is so freely given, and heard for myself the words I love to share with others
“God loves you JUST AS YOU ARE”
Suddenly the cold Cathedral was full of light and warmth, and it was time to approach the table and know myself at home