Discovered by accident in an old hymn book while scouring for lyrics requiring new tunes, I'm now a confirmed fan of Jane Crewdson.
It helps that she was Cornish and a Quaker – a more refreshing combination to my mind than another public school Anglican – but really the thing that grabs me (as it does with William Cowper, who is a bit of a hero in my eyes) is the honest engagement with things that are more easily put to one side. Observe:
Lord, we know that Thou art near us,
Though Thou seem’st to hide Thy face;
And are sure that Thou dost hear us,
Though no answer we embrace.
Not one promise shall miscarry
Not one blessing come too late
Though the vision long may tarry
Give us patience, Lord to wait.
While withholding—Thou art giving
In Thine own appointed way
And while waiting we’re receiving
Blessings suited to our day.
O the wondrous loving-kindness
Planning, working out of sight,
Bearing with us in our blindness,
Out of darkness bringing light.
Weaving blessings out of trials,
Out of grief evolving bliss;
Answering prayer by wise denials
When Thy children ask amiss.
And when faith shall end in vision,
And when prayer is lost in praise,
Then shall love, in full fruition,
Justify Thy secret ways.
She's very good, isn't she?
We all know that our own perspectives on the world are horribly limited, and are far more likely to be skewed and squint-eyed and biased if we live in a bubble with only our own thoughts, or the unquestioning nods of yes-men, for company. We all know that, right? Right Tony?
But, savage satire aside, I do have a point to make. We do (pretty much) know that we need to be in relationship (ie. with the wider world) in order to get a bit of balance/correction/not-be-a-total-jerk – that why it's good to read/hear things by people you disagree with, and also why it's good to have friends who can point out how you come across. We presume it's because we need our egos deflating.
Yesterday morning, I led worship in church. I've had a pretty rubbish week, came straight from a night-shift, and then found the whole thing pretty hard – it just didn't feel like I, or anyone else, was 'getting it'. By the end of the service I was consciously thinking, "Maybe I shouldn't do this stuff anymore; maybe I should move on to something else."
And then the deluge began. Person after person after fricking lovely person came up to me, telling me (with such kind insistence that I couldn't help but admit that it was genuine) how 'lovely' [x4], 'sensitive' [x5], 'worshipful' [x3] it all was.
And then a grieving family, who don't usually come to church but did because one of them was killed in a road accident this week, asked me to sing at the funeral. It just went on and on like that. I'm not great with compliments, but after the 20th-odd person, I had to admit that I stood corrected.
Now I see just how fricking brilliant I am 🙂