Just back from one of the most intense few days I can remember! The spires of Ely Cathedral rose gently out of the fenland mist and the wide skies of that flat landscape offered a slow reflective space, but inside for the Bishops’ Advisory Panel, there was determined focus, long days and heightened expectations on all sides. The news passed us by; the shops seemed irrelevant – except the ‘religion’ section of that marvellous bookshop (thank you Anne!); and I did not touch emails (sorry). Reality was contained within Bishop Woodford House for a while.
Emerging into the daylight and settling down on the train back with ‘Barefoot Disciple‘, by Stephen Cherry – the ABC’s Lent Book for 2011 – I was struck by his reflection on the story of the loaves and fishes (p.142):
“Passionate humility involves making a commitment to trust in the abundance of God and to believe and act as if we believe there is plenty of money, talent, time for mission and ministry. … For the Barefoot Disciple, the problem is not that resources are not there, it is that they have not yet been spotted or liberated.”
Abundance mentality is maybe what we need when things get tough – paradoxically. The grace of trusting that God will provide to excess, even if we cannot imagine in what form, carries us through the difficult times when anxiety generates what the author calls ‘the hot air of our own self-important meanness’.
Vocations, money for the roof, energy to engage with an indifferent society – it’s a big ask when things seem short. But I like the different slant in Barefoot Disciple: that it’s about having the humility and generosity of the child who’s prepared to give all the little he has because somehow it’s going to be more than enough.