Letter from Rev Jacqueline
As we journey through Lent, I always acknowledge that unlike the first disciples, we are blessed with the insight into what lies on the other side – the spiritual promise of Easter-new life that shows itself on the ground with leaves and blossoms on trees, flowering bulbs and the nesting of the birds – new life and new hope…
The Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘Hope’ is that it is ‘a belief that something you want will happen’. What is it that we want and hope for? For me, I hope that those I care for and love are OK, but the overarching hope is for peace and kindness to prevail everywhere – and that we all come to know that Jesus-peace that ‘passes all understanding’ – that no matter what is happening in our lives and in the world, we have a sense that deep down there is a way through and we will find courage and strength and fortitude to get through…
On that note, I was recently having a cuppa with a friend who is poorly and she reminded me of a framed picture I used to have on the wall of my home some fifteen years ago which said ‘Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm’. This affirmation had helped us both back in the day – even before our Christian-faith journeys began – and the reminder of it helped her again as she spoke of her fears in her frailty of health.
This is an example of how I believe God speaks to us in a world where the clamour and busyness of life shuts out God’s voice of calm encouragement that can signpost us in a hopeful direction through the ups and downs of our earthly life. Something comes into our mind – or to our view. We remember or see something that sparks a vision of hope or inspiration that we need at a particular time – a sign out of the blue and out of the ordinary amidst the ordinariness of our daily living – just like the way the conversation with my friend led to a semblance of hope for her in that moment.
Not long after, it was my turn to be in need of some words of encouragement and hope as I faced a challenging situation in my own world. Here’s what happened. I found myself one morning having to wait around at my (very helpful) local garage as they put the finishing touches to some repairs to my car before I could take it away.
So there I was – on the sofa of the rather typical grubby garage-like waiting room rummaging through the pile of auto spares and car magazines when I stumbled across a book – and let me tell you, this was no ordinary book. In fact it was so extraordinary, that I ordered a copy there and then. This book – lying alongside the auto spare mags in a garage waiting room – was a collection of poems called ‘Hope through Heartsongs’ by Mattie J.T. Stepanek.
Mattie was an extraordinary poet and peacemaker, a young American boy who ‘writes movingly and courageously about life and death, love and loss, faith and hope, innocence and joy. His struggle with a rare form of muscular dystrophy gave him a wisdom and insight.’ His life message and quest for peace had been noted by top American programmes and people, including peacemaker Jimmy Carter, and by the public in general. As I read, some of Mattie’s poems brought tears to my eyes – yet much hope in my heart…
Mattie – sadly and tragically like his three older brothers before him, died in 2004 aged fourteen – but even so, he left a legacy of hope for peace and trust that there is a goodness and sense of wonder in the heart of humanity that might sometimes be hidden but that is nevertheless there. I believe that through the finding of Heartsongs, God brought me hope for that day and the nudge to start being grateful for the good things going on in my life and not to dwell on the negative…
I pray that this time of Lent will lead you on into the dazzling light of new-life Easter-hope that can help you to make sense and purpose of life a day at a time, one step at a time, and that you also find time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of springtime’s own hopeful promise
Blessings and Love, Jacqueline
|Collections by Mattie:
Journey Through Heartsongs: 2001
Hope Through Heartsongs: 2002
Heartsongs (combined works):2002
|A New Hope – by Mattie J.T. Stepanek
I need a hope … a new hope.
A hope that reaches for the stars,
and that does not end in violence or war.
A hope that makes peace on our earth,
and that does not create evil in the world.
A hope that finds cures for all diseases,
and that does not make people hurt,
in their bodies, in their hearts,
or most of all, in their spirits.
I need a hope… a new hope.
A hope that inspires me to live,
and to make all these things happen,
so that the whole world can have
A new hope too. May 1999
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