2: The hills #Lent2021

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

I’m 15, and asking for my Dad to get well, and help doesn’t come. I really thought it would, up until the last second. Some people give my Dad some tapes to listen to in his Walkman. They go to a church that believes sickness is a manifestation of sin. The tapes break the Walkman and can’t be listened to. Mum buys him a Discman which means he can listen to the Beatles with a nice palliative care nurse named Shane.

I’m 17 and I’ve decided not to ask for help anymore. I have no defences against or framework for understanding control, gaslighting, manipulation. I learn not to be vulnerable. I lift up my eyes to the hills.

Different years blur past, change is forced, I am mostly happy. I am a person who finds it hard to be close to people and close to God. I can’t imagine ever wanting to climb the hills.

I will sit at the bottom, lifting my eyes but avoiding eye contact.

My faith and beliefs have been shaped by fundamentalism and spiritual abuse, but I am learning to think that God is safe. As soon as I write that, comes another thought like a rock through a window, “but you KNOW, that God is NOT safe!” I google “god is not safe” to get some context for my assumption. Oh sorry, I got Aslan and Jesus mixed up. I decide to ignore that thought, and focus instead on the imagery Jesus uses: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Matthew 23:37).

My experience has shaped the way I witness. I am extremely cautious and gentle, even to the receptive ears of the ones I most often witness to. I emphasise love, and work on collaborative ways of showing love to others. This year I am putting some scripture on the classroom wall. I’ve chosen “My help comes from the Lord.”

I would like to be closer to God, but I am content to wait at the bottom of the hills for now. Ω

Imagine: You are in the foothills. Look around you: What do you see? What do you smell? What sounds do you hear? Now imagine: You are bearing a burden: What is it? Name it, to yourself and to God: and ask for help. When you are ready, gently raise your eyes and look up. Again, what images do you see? What words or sounds do you hear? Could this be your help? What will you do with your burden?

 What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.

#Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.

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