Tuesday, April 20, 2010

cloud of unknowing

I had an IM on facebook today: how long did I think I would be stuck in the States? As I'm not due to leave for another week, I don't think that technically I am "stuck", yet... though there is a little sheen taken off a holiday when you don't know if you can get home because of the great cloud of unknowing that has taken us all by such surprise.

Reading web reports ("airspace to open tomorrow" "new cloud threatens opening of airspace" and a personal favourite - "navy to bring stranded tourists home") suddenly the world has become such a big place again, hasn't it? The day trip to paradise has become exile from Eden. Or at least from Europe. Or in Europe, if that's your problem.

The Cloud of Unknowing, by which I refer to the medieval book and not the current ash cloud, contains this advice to travellers: "A short prayer pierces heaven". Probably the government is right to want a bit more safety sorted than a wing and a prayer, but for us as God's people it does make us stop and look at where we place our security.

In a job? A pay packet? A house? A car? A family?

If we are to be Jesus' disciples, we are to be prepared to give all these things up - not because they are bad, but because they are temporary, ephemeral, earthly and finite. To be a disciple of Jesus is to know that when the clouds of unknowing hit, the sudden and catastrophic things that change our worlds, they are not the end of our worlds because our hands are held by the one on whom our eyes are steadily fixed. This is what worship achieves. We will struggle, we will feel the stress, we will be buffetted by the waves and the wind - and yet we will hear the voice of Jesus from within the boat calm the storm, heal the sick, comfort the lonely and raise the dead.

A short prayer pierces heaven? A life of worship helps us see through the clouds of unknowing to the home that lies beyond the skies, and makes us fit both to live here well and to live there eternally

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