Tag Archives: friendship

Haybales and farewells

It’s June, and around here that’s the season of rising temperatures, goodbye parties and little round haystacks.

The haystacks sit rolled up in fields inside and around the city, straw-yellow rolls on a landscape of parched stubble.  The swaying grass has been cut, rolled up and now waits patiently in the sun for the day when it will be piled up precariously on a back of a truck and taken away.

I’ve been thinking about these haystacks a lot as I’ve watched friends pack up their homes and say their goodbyes this week. They too are experiencing the end of a season and wondering what the next one will be like.  Their lives have been cut down and rolled up, and they sit now in this field, in the odd period of in-betweeness, waiting, and saying goodbye.

One day it will be my turn.  For now, my heart is aching for the friendships that will be missed – empty fields in the landscape of my life.

The haybales that I’m seeing everywhere mark the end of a season, it’s ok, right even, to be sad that the grass no longer ripples at the touch of the wind, green from the winter rains or white from the spring sunshine.  It’s ok to be sad, but it’s also a time of year to be hopeful.

Because God’s word for us at this time of year, for the leavers and the left-behinds, is this: the goodness is not lost.

The goodness is not lost.

The grass is cut and rolled up because it’s made it to the end of its season.  If it were to stay in the field it would dry out, and the goodness stored up in it during this season would be lost forever.  But the haybale keeps the grass inside it fresh.  The goodness and growth is locked in so that it can be of use in a new season.

All that you’ve learned, all that you’ve grown, all the love and grace and hope that you have received and then given out to others… all that is not lost.  Somehow it’s just rolled up and put away for another season.

I’m sure I don’t completely understand this picture. But even as the cumulative grief of friends leaving is catching at my heart, so I can feel the hope in these haybales.  God knows what he is doing – the goodness will not be lost.

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On building a swing

Building a swing is the easy part, the trick is in knowing where to build it:

1. Strength.  Find a tree with a branch that is strong.  You want to be able trust this swing, to completely relax in it, and that means it needs to be well able to bear your weight.

2. Space.  Make sure there is room to move.  There needs to be space to swing out ahead and space to swing back behind you while all the while you actually stay anchored in the present.

3. Perspective. Tie your swing somewhere very high up. The higher the branch and  the longer the ropes, the higher you can swing. And every time you do you’ll be able to see the landscape around you from an entirely different perspective. Truth revealed.

4. Shelter. Choose a tree that will give you shelter from the sun, there will be days when you need it.

5. Joy. As well as building your swing, make sure you take time to enjoy it. Give yourself permission to play – have fun.

Strength, space, perspective, shelter, joy.  All things to look for in a swing, and in a friendship.

For me this is a picture of what friendship with God could be like.  It isn’t always, but it could be, if that’s how I choose to build it.

I don’t know which thing you need more of in your life today: Strength to carry you, space to breathe and move, a new perspective on your circumstances, shelter from the heat or the storm or just the exhilarating joy of freedom to play.

Whichever it is, it is in God’s hand, and he would love to share it with you.

You only need to ask.

Let’s build a swing.

tree with swing

P. S. I love this comment from my friend David (incidentally, the first person to tell me I should write, many years before I was ready to hear it):

“I would add – a friend to push you, to get the swing going and to keep on encouraging you to go higher”

If you find one of those friends, you have a treasure. Choose to be around them!

“What difference does it make… right here, right now?”

The leader of the missions team I went on as a teenager loved to shove a microphone into our hands and say, “Ellie, tell us what difference it makes to you to know Jesus, right here… right now.”

It’s a great question, if a little difficult to answer as a snappy soundbite in front of a crowd of young people!

What difference does Jesus make?

The next few postcards are going to be trying to answer that question, there are going to be many answers, but the first is that, for me, Jesus is like a cup of really great Latte.

One of the things I love about living in Cyprus is the café culture, especially the part where I get to meet up with good friends and drink (skinny decaff caramel) latte on a big sofa while we talk about all the things that are going on in our lives.

For me, this postcard -a massive cup of latte- represents three things about Jesus that I now know I couldn’t do without:

The first is friendship.  The kind where you can pour out your heart without fear of being judged or rejected.  The kind that doesn’t mind if you’re twenty minutes late and that you’ve got wet hair, or a bit of the kids’ breakfast has welded itself to your jeans.  And the kind that has time to listen to all the tiny things that matter to you without yawning or checking its watch.

Jesus weeps with me when I cry, he laughs with me over the crazy things that happen in my life, he shows me things I would never have noticed, speaks perfect wisdom and pours it all out with unending, grace filled love.  Best of all, he invites me into deeper and deeper friendship with him.  He asks me to join him for coffee.

The second thing is comfort.  This warm, sweet, milky drink is very like the ‘mellow birds’ my Mum used to make for me when I was a little girl.  It fills me up, the warmth seeping into my bones, helping me to relax down into the comfy armchairs.

Jesus’ love for me feels just like that.  It’s like being filled up with something warm and nourishing on a cold day.  Sweet, comforting, and I’m sure much more nutritious than a caffe latte, his presence warms and transforms me from the inside out.

Thirdly, Jesus’ love for me (and you) is vast.  Until last week I’d never seen a cup of coffee so huge it needed two handles to help you lift it but my lovely friend Jo ordered a grandissimo and this is what she got.  We both laughed at how enormous it was and wondered if she’d be able to lift it –  a massive, comedy-scale, giant’s kitchen of a mug containing a pint and a half of cappucino.  More coffee, as it turns out, than she was able to drink.

And I drew that particular mug (but filled it with latte, because that’s my favourite) because I am absolutely confident that I will never get to the bottom of the cup that is Jesus’ love for me.  It is bigger than I can imagine.  And, not because of who I am, but entirely because of who he is,  his cup contains much, much more than I can drink.

massimolatte