We’ve just come back from a lovely weekend visiting friends and unexpectedly seeing some other old friends. How lovely to be away from everything for forty-eight hours, to enjoy the end of Peter’s half-term together, and to take a short break from the various tasks which are jostling for my attention! (Tesco hotel vouchers are great; and, what is more, they should give me commission for the amount I recommend their credit card and its reward system!)
Things lately have hit that crazy busy rpm again. I seem to have three sermons to preach within two weeks starting a fortnight hence, one of which is in a scary context where I’ve never preached before (some of you know where I’m talking about!); I have a very little chunk of text to write as an insert for someone’s book (you know who you are and you’ll be pleased to know that it’s basically written and only now to be edited ); the books for review are now sitting on the Kindle and in every room of my house after another six arrived in the post on Friday; and I’ve set myself a deadline (one which even I think is hardcore) for finishing getting my head the other side of the key texts for my research literature review. This week, I’m also hosting a coffee afternoon for church people which means that tomorrow will be a day of baking (whilst reading and planning the first and second sermons?!). Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Yet, all is still relatively calm in my heart and head. If I can get those sermons sketched out tomorrow, then it will stay that way. If not, then I may turn into a recluse later this week!
One of the reasons for the calm is that I’ve been so enjoying my research reading over the last couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I still don’t have as much clarity as I want and I can find that so frustrating and, actually, frightening. But I’ve found two unexpected encouragements in my research over the last week as I’ve read non-research books.
Listen to these, the first of which comes from C.S. Lewis and the final two of which are from a book by Leonard Sweet and Lance Ford:
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
Sometimes you just inhabit the mystery as you go with Jesus.
The great work of faith is to embrace those things you know not now but shall know thereafter or understand more fully by and by.
This has been my experience since I began this water-walking adventure: sometimes there is nothing better than to inhabit the mystery, to embrace what I do not know from the inside rather than as an external observer. Mystery inhabited is other than mystery observed; perspective is inverted and what is not understood is experienced until the reality of this mystery can be clothed in words.
Such is the small work of faith which is this research.
Such is the great work of faith which is life in him.
And originality? Well, it feels like a swear word to me half of the time; I have no idea how I might ever presume to say or think anything original. Yet, Lewis encourages me to trust that perhaps as I seek to inhabit the mystery and to clothe its truth with words, I will become original.
That, I think, will be enough. To inhabit the mystery so fully that, when I am one day able to clothe its truth with words, originality will be the joyful by-product of this endeavour.