Although we live in such a digital age, I still have many books around my house. Many of them mean something to me and even though I haven’t looked at many of them in a long time, I wouldn’t want to get rid of them. I was just leafing through a book about Iceland with some amazing views which I have offered to lend to a friend. Not far away there were some books of poetry by John Hegley, a favourite from years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe. I find some of his poems really moving, particularly the honesty with which he talks about family relationships.
In a poem called ‘Revisiting Home’, which I think he also recorded as ‘Luton Bungalow Revisited’ he talks about his father’s artistic skills which in later years were little in evidence, except when he got a bit carried away drawing crazy paving in cement. Hegley continues:
“We should have hung out bunting,
Let the beach-ball colours show
for all unsung potential
in each Luton bungalow.
For all unused abilities.
For undiscovered skills.
For confetti which has not been cut,
no horseshoe shapes or frills
For my mum’s soft singing voice
it was her choice to hardly show…
For the love inside the Luton bungalow”
There are a few John Hegley poems which I know by heart, but many more which have touched my heart and which I have mostly forgotten about. Perhaps if I sorted through my books a bit more often I would rediscover all sorts of treasures, some of which couldn’t be found on the internet even if I did think to search for them.
This last weekend I was away with my church family at a centre called Quinta near Oswestry. There were many different activity sessions including one with lots of different colour beads, some of which ended up rolling away as spherical objects tend to do, and ending up on the dining room floor. When I tried vacuuming the floor (more after a messy mealtime than the craft activities) the beads just rolled away, so I ended up crawling around (looking most elegant I am sure) picking up the beads which varied from purple and white beads about half an inch across to much tinier black and metal beads.
As I gathered quite a handful I was struck by how attractive they were, even though they had been lost or discarded and perhaps singly didn’t count for much. I decided that I wanted to string them together to make some sort of necklace, reclaiming what had been lost and turning the collection into something beautiful which could be worn and enjoyed. Suddenly it struck me that this could be how God sees us, and brings us together, perhaps individually discarded and downtrodden but precious and beautiful as we are united together in all our variety.
The whole weekend was a precious gathering of young and old and in between, people of varied ethnic heritage, former members of the church and friends of current members. Somehow I felt God had brought us together and found us beautiful. I shared this picture on the Sunday morning and today I strung the beads together to fulfill what I had imagined. One of the songs we sang referenced the lost sheep and how far the shepherd goes to recover the lost one, leaving the ninety-nine. I was also reminded of the lost coin, and how precious that was, and you are.