Good to be back at college today. A month is a long time to be off. It's great to be with the family but I do miss the discipline and the contemplation of college life. There are lots of strands of connections between my life as a mother and a wife and my life as a student but there are the contrasts too. Both are about serving but there is little time for contemplation at home. There is very little silence and probably a little less harmony with a squabbling four and six year old. The emphasis at college is on being one in heart and mind with those around you, which is very refreshing.
At home, however, my husband and I set the agenda. We plan the meal times and bedtimes and how we spend our time, whereas as college there is a definite regime to fit oneself into it.
At college I am less the parent and more the child - to my heavenly Father. My emphasis is on doing his will rather than subjecting my will on my children at home who do not always want to obey. However, I am sure that my Heavenly Father feels the same way about me at times too.
We listened to Christina Baxter on Colossians 3 and she really brought it to life. She used analogies drawn from the journeys she has made recently. On one regular journey, she is forced to make a diversion, but sometimes forgets on the way home the new temporary route because there is no yellow sign on the way back. She's on automatic pilot and takes the wrong turn to be faced with a 'road closed' sign and has to correct herself and turn around. She recounts another time, when she went down the' road closed' street anyway, after having worked out the day before as a pedestrian that there were no longer any workmen there at that time (Good to know she's just human!). She talked about how on one journey someone else took, they simply moved cones, drove through and then replaced them behind them before driving on.
She illustrated thus the idea of the life that is now closed to us as Christians:
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
We know there is a diversion sign against the things of before, but sometimes we ignore the yellow sign and continue in our old ways because we forget (we are sinful), sometimes we deliberately refuse to follow the 'road closed' sign and we are deliberate in our transgressions, sometimes we cover our tracks, we replace the cones so that no-oe knows we have gone the wrong way. Whatever we do, we need to be aware of this, repent and remind ourselves constantly that there is a road that is closed to us now. The old life is dead and we shouldn't behave in ways associated with it, we must die to that life and rise to the new one in Christ. This is what happened to us at our baptism. There is the risen us with Jesus alive and we will one day catch up with that redeemed person.
We sang great, vibrant worship songs and exchanged the peace, really glad to all see each other again - it was lovely.
As I learnt from Mark Russell, CEO of the Church Army, in celtic theology, the celts had a term, a "thin place" where the space between heaven and earth feels smaller. For me, St John's College is a "thin place".
Where's your 'thin place'?