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Monday, 27 January 2014

Awakened to Astonishment

I have not blogged for days. And partly because I have not felt like it. Not felt the urge. Not felt I had anything to say. This is partly down to pressures - external and internal. But also reluctance. I have been asking myself why. And I was reading something by Catholic priest and writer, Richard Rohr, about reading the Bible. And he quotes something by a guy called Eugene Ionesco which hit me between the eyes. It said:
'Over-explanation separates us from astonishment.'
 That's it, I thought. I am trying to blog about a journey and what I think God is doing, and about what I am learning. And the instincts of the teacher in me make me want to explain. But what do I know really? Because actually 'the wind blows where it wants. And we don't know where it's going.'  If we're not too asleep, we may get to feel the freshness of the breeze, or hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees; and maybe, if we're really alert, we get to ride this wind and be taken to new places on our journey. But trying to explain exactly what is happening and how we got there is like trying to trace the contours of the wind.

Now I do like theological writing (see Pentecostal Pilgrim) which tries to explain and wrestle with various ideas about God's revelation, but this is often about getting clearer about what God has said (in Christ, Scripture and Nature) and the processes by which we can know with some confidence. But when it comes to trying to realise what God is saying (and doing) it's different. And requires a different approach. I realised that the writing that has spoken to me most recently and that helps me on my spiritual journey is not that which tries to explain stuff. It's that which captures and shares occasional thoughts and insights. Especially those that come from personal and present experience. And they just make a tiny but precious contribution to the mosaic of truth and revelation. They help us to understand something of this heaven that is breaking in upon earth, but don't try to explain the big picture or how it all fits together. Often we just can't see that. I am realising that this better world and better way I look for (God's beautiful, different kingdom) may well come in these little snatches of insight, broken patches of revelation as we strain to see through a glass darkly. And that's OK. This kingdom comes not in words only but in miracles - and 'miracles' are not just the healing, or the angelic visitation, but the many, various, easily missed ways that God moves in our ordinary lives.

This is more the way Jesus taught: small parables, sayings, illustrations and stories together with demonstrations of power and compassion that provoked people to think, question, hope, follow. They were thought-seeds planted like bombs that would finally detonate to blow us out of our assumptions, our familiar ways of seeing, our 'little systems' as one poet called them - 'the petty cobwebs we have spun.' His words and deeds astonish us out of familiarity and awaken us to truth; over-explanation just sends us back into the sleep of the complacent.

When I do write something here, then, from now on, it will probably be just a broken patch of reflection, not an attempt at explanation. I hope not so much to provide answers but to provoke more questions. 


  1. Blogging is a strange beast. I still can't work out why I love to blog one minute then have no desire to the next. But I keep getting drawn back to it.

    However I am always wary to share anything too personal or even 'preachy'... basically I haven't worked out what the purpose of me blogging is!

    I'll always be reading yours however :)

    1. Great to hear from you, Dave. Keep blogging. Have you given me a link to it in the past? If not, please do. I try to think of it as thinking out loud among friends, or trying to get a conversation going. And I guess moods affect that...and that's fine. Thank you for reading and commenting, though.

    2. if you click on my name in the comment that will take you there... :)