Broad-shouldered, muscly men walked faster. One crossed to the other side of the unlit path to avoid me. I’m not surprised. I was a bit worried too. I’d started involuntarily talking out loud to God, expressing my frustration and sense of isolation in aggressive, repetitive mantras. Appealing desperately to an invisible audience with my hands, using plenty of colourful language, I walked my regular prayer route. And scared people.
I was never taught to pray like that, and either I am losing my mind (I’m not excluding the possibility) or I’m slowly learning what real prayer is. Like the inexplicable ravings of someone with mental illness.
What I was saying? I can’t tell you the words… You’d be shocked. But about the difficulty of birthing the new thing God is doing. And the possibility he’s not doing anything new, and I’m just deluded. Speaking about something others can’t see. That’s the definition of deluded, right?
Raving like a woman in labour. Swearing like a woman in pain, trying to get through this moment. But missing something to push against.
I met Richard, who stopped for a chat…. We talked about Christmas, and we considered Mary, who when she said ‘Yes’ to be mother of God’s child, didn’t know most of her support systems, everything that was familiar and reassuring, would be withdrawn. She didn’t know she’d be pregnant and in labour in circumstances that would challenge her physical, emotional and spiritual strength to the limit. She didn’t know she’d be compelled to carry out her task on very thin resources, pretty much on her own, without a script or a map.
And so it is, I suppose, with all the new things God does. The invisible and unknown have few fans. God doesn’t do a big media launch for his fresh initiatives with a prior press release sharing the aims of the new strategy. He gives hints and intimations of the possible for ordinary, hidden people to bring to birth. In unprivileged circumstances.
And it’s hard. Resources are thin. The pregnant are tested to the limit of their physical, emotional and spiritual strength. If you’re pregnant you need people who resist you, perhaps, to push against, to get the baby out. And you need to swear, to scream, to yell at the God who’s put you in this situation and apparently left you to get on with it.