I’m not an electrician by any stretch, but I spent a lot of time last Saturday to Monday trying to attach a new light fitting in my study. The old one had only one light out of four working, and replacing bulbs hadn’t done the trick, so I bought a nice new set of three spotlights. Unfortunately the instructions didn’t match up with the multiple wires I had coming out of the ceiling, and I had not made careful notes of all the wires I had detached from the old fitting, and had to undo some connections to properly remove the old shell. Nine wires and three attachments had rather a lot of possible permutations. And the whole potential shock scenario if I wasn’t careful.
I love a good connection. You might have noticed that it’s one of the most prominent themes on my blog here, as evidenced by the fat word in the Word cloud on the right. Connected communication was a major theme during my PhD research, along with working holistically. I’ve been going along to a holistic leadership course lately, and one of the tools we’ve used is the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. This asks you lots of questions and then identifies your top five strengths from a list of 34. My top strength comes out as ‘Connectedness’ which apparently means I “have faith in the links among all things… believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has meaning”.
I can definitely see this in myself, although some parts of the description sound a bit Zen whereas I would rather attribute the meaning and apparent coincidences to the grace and mercy of God. I love learning and expressing things through metaphors and enjoyed finding deeper meanings and connections in my creative endeavours as a dramatherapist, even if I occasionally got overwhelmed by finding meanings in every subconscious impulse or whim, dream or story. I enjoy connecting different things in this blog, and generally find multiple ways to interpret my title.
When I went to Germany recently I was keen to make a connection with a church in the area where I will be teaching and supporting students. I had my yellow T shirt friend and he had mentioned a particular church in the nearby area. Investigating further I found that some other church contacts had recently been to this church and led worship there in their roles with Worship Central. They put me in touch with a musician/ worship leader there and with very little time to spare I was able to meet him, hear about the church and find out how useful it sounds, both for me and another student who plans to travel to Germany before the main group go next autumn. Very cool connections.
Back to my new light fitting and some less cool connections. My early attempts didn’t work at all, and then I managed to get the light illuminated. Unfortunately I couldn’t turn it on or off with the switch. Even worse, the kitchen lights had also stopped working. Once I removed the fitting again, all Saturday night we had no lights in half the downstairs. I asked for some advice from a physics teacher friend at church on Sunday, trying not to make him worry about me too much. He gave me some useful tips about the switch live and putting red to red and black to black but it was too much to explain in a quick conversation. When I tried on the Sunday afternoon I managed to get the kitchen lights working by connecting up some of the wires, and I spotted the switch live, but I just didn’t seem to have the right wires left to get the kitchen lights and the study light to both work together.
On Sunday night I found a useful website online which had photos and a similar set up to mine. Before work on Monday I tried to connect it all up following their instructions, but I just couldn’t physically get the wires to all stay where I needed them to be. I didn’t have enough hands to hold the fitting as well as forcing the wires into the different connectors and tightening the little screws. I couldn’t find an easy time when my housemates would be available to help during daylight and I really wanted the study to be available again. In the end I got home after dark on the Monday but managed to improvise a head torch by tucking my phone into a woolly hat brim, and a cradle from shoelaces which held the fitting in place while I fiddled with the wires. My arms were tired and my prayers were getting more frantic and I finally managed to get it sorted.
It was such a faff it made me think there’s probably something God wants me to learn in this, and a metaphor about something that I want to share here. Maybe it’s about the surprising need to attach all three live wires together. Maybe it’s about the role of the black switch live wire, which looks and acts like a neutral wire until you flick the switch which turns it live. Maybe it’s about the two neutral wires which needed to fit in the same hole to connect to the light fitting, and really didn’t want to. Maybe it’s about the need for good connections to be light for the world, and where the power comes from. Tim Hughes shared recently how Desmond Tutu said that we are the lightbulb, we just need to stay plugged in. Some light bulbs are more complicated than others – but I guess getting the church to be light involves a lot of different people and different connections. It’s definitely better when we work together.
For me I think it’s probably about being part of two different church congregations at the moment. I love my local church and want to stay fully involved there but I’ve got a lot out of the bigger city church where I’ve done some training and attended some evening services. I know that has definitely contributed to how much better I’ve been doing spiritually lately, and I know my local church has got more from me as a result, but it does feel a bit complicated. I guess if I can stay connected to God as the power source and connected in the right way to both churches then I can help spread more light.