I leave Germany early tomorrow morning to return to Croydon and prepare to take a group to Israel next week. The two and a bit weeks here have given me the space to reflect on a lot of things – as well as read a shed-load of books and do some writing. And I have slept alot and thought alot about alot of things.
Look at the photo below:
That was the view from my window the day I arrived from England. It was the same view today, just before I depart. A couple of days ago it cleared a bit and I took the photo below:
What is remarkable about both pictures is what you can’t see. If I had with me a photo taken in summer you would see the mountains of Switzerland around St Gallen and over to the right a bit. I haven’t seen them from here once in over two weeks.
When I came here with a friend for a sort of retreat week several years ago, it looked like this for about the first four days. I think he was beginning to doubt that the mountains really existed – that they were a figment of my fevered imagination.
Then the cloud lifted, the mist dispersed and the view was transformed.
If he had come with me this time, he would not have seen the mountains and would have gone home with a perception of ‘reality’ that was limited and partial. But, it would have been the totality of his experience of this place.
One of the benefits of getting some space to think and pray and reflect and read is that there is time for the mist to disperse and for new ‘realities’ to be glimpsed. But, it is also a reminder to me that I must be careful of making fixed judgements based on my own limited understanding or experience: there might be a hidden vista that, given time and exposure, will change my perspective.
This applies to God, the world, the church, myself. And, of course, as this visit has demonstrated, it is not in my power to change the view by forcing the clouds and mist to disperse.
You have to wait for grace and you can’t claim or manipulate what is gift.