A (rather simplistic) Good Friday promise (April 2019)

 

When the sun’s shining brightly, and the going is smooth,

When, obedient, I skip through my life.

When kindness comes easy and witness just flows

Without any worry or strife.

Then I feel optimistic, have a spring in my step

And I think, “Guess I’m doing okay:

I am following His path and am building His kingdom

And no one can take that away!”

Then I feel Jesus watch me with a smile on His face:

“Keep going, my child, don’t get stuck.

You are precious to me, and I sing over you.

Just remember: I died for your muck.”

 

Then, on those crippling days when the going gets tough,

When, exhausted, I slam the front door,

When guilt and shame overcome me

And appearances matter no more.

When memories flood in of those manifold times

When I could have done good and then failed;

When a kind word was needed, not impatience, not wrath;

Yet-lazy or hardened-I bailed.

Then, as I lay down in my room all alone,

Overwhelmed, aggrieved, weighed down by fears,

Downtrodden, ashamed, not forgiving myself,

Too exhausted to fight back the tears…….

 

…..Suddenly Love stills the storm with a flash flood of light,

And I feel a hand lifting my face,

Stroke my cheek, dry my tears, break the darkness of night

By covering my guilt with His grace.

 

And I hear a voice whisper (through the enemy’s lie

That I should not believe in my luck):

“Oh my child, chosen darling, for you I gave all.

Remember: I died for your muck.”

 

 

 © NR 19th April 2019

Written after Soul Survivor Watford’s Good Friday reflection; inspired by my own internal battles on Maundy Thursday 2019, when Jesus lifted me up, once again, from a place of shame and a sense of worthlessness and wrapped me anew in His unfailing love. 

Cherry Blossom Glory (8th April 2019)

 

sky-view-blossom.jpg

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On the third day,

after the sweet scent of the proud Rose

and before the timeless blue of the Forget-me-not,

God created Cherry Blossom.

 

White and pink He created it,

Delicate and tender He created it,

Heavenly caress to both joyful

And mourning souls.

 

For a brief time He created it,

Gradual yet sudden He created it,

Anchored tenderly to blue skies,

Or dancing to the gentle pulse of the wind.

 

Spring snow crystal yearning for summer.

Imprint of God’s glory on a weeping world.

Awesome yet fleeting

As life itself.

 

© Nicky Rieger, 8th April 2019

Washington D.C. during the Cherry Blossom festival

 

 

A Christmas blessing

Funny…….the activity had been more of an add-on on the last day of school when I–rather annoyingly– got called into a meeting and had to leave my children with a cover teacher instead of spending time with them:  in the rush to find something for them to do, I had told them that they could make Christmas cards for family or friends or, if they wanted, for someone living on the streets. I  mentioned in passing that homeless people have a hard time and that often, people forget about them, but that they are human beings, for whom love and care is as important as for anyone.  I then dashed off to what turned out to be a rather pointless meeting. …….

When I came back to my desk at the end of the school day, one of my children had left this card on my desk and asked me while walking out with his lolly and my Christmas card to him if I could pass the card on to a homeless person.

 

homeless person card

I broke down in tears when I read it. His card encapsulates the true spirit of Christmas in just a few lines: the beauty of the little people in my care; the pain that some of them have had to go through even at such a young age. It shows how capable of love and empathy these young souls are; how much they can not only appreciate simple gestures, kind words, encouragement but also pay these forward to total strangers with unconditional love, even at age 8! We adults are so wrong when we sometimes (and inadvertently) act as if little people do not hear or cannot  understand the big issues in our world today. Throughout our busy school days, when we cram in Maths, English, Science and gazillion of other supposedly life-changing learning activities that someone in the government has told us are important, we do not make enough time to reflect with those little ones on the world around them. How much we miss, how much we could learn about their precious hearts and souls if we did!

So yes, tomorrow I should be doing many things to do with Christmas. Post my Christmas cards, buy last minute gifts, tidy my flat. But actually, my number one mission has to be –and will be–delivering that card to one of the many homeless people in Watford. I will pray that somehow, it blesses one of those souls who are out in the cold, that it will warm their hearts and give them hope that one of the citizens of tomorrow cares more for them than so many adults do. Praise God for that.

And while I am at it, here’s my New Year’s resolution: next year, I will make  more time in my day to chat to my children about what really matters.  I will pray for those precious minutes to somehow be carved out of my all too busy teaching schedule, so that I can discover more of these precious gems hidden away in my children’s little hearts , and to be able to affirm the innate goodness and kindness within each one of them.

“Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel”

 

 

 

 

A Shrove Tuesday promise (2018)

In the midst of sunshine and rainbows,

On bee- kissed petals,

in drops of morning dew,

In whispering winds and star-lit skies

I AM.

 

In the song of the sparrow,

The babies’ first smile,

In children’s unspoiled laughter,

In hands entwined and carefree lovers’ kisses

I AM.

 

In the grip of strife and sorrow,

the tossing and turning of sleepless nights,

in the midst of the pounding pain of the past

and the futile fears of unknown futures

I AM.

 

In those dark places that no soul enters,

where no voice is heard, no comfort soothes,

where regret fights with hope and longing

and naked truth prevails

I AM.

 

In the piercing whistle of the bullet,

in the crashing of the bombs,

in the ruins and ashes

pulverised by a mother’s cry,

 

In the scorching, tormenting sun

taunting torn tarpaulin,

in the weary wait for a pound, a word

on an outstretched hand and soul

I AM.

 

On the cross at Calvary

torn apart, torn away

from my Father’s love,

in the tearing of the temple curtain,

the ultimate sacrifice

FOR YOU,

my child, my precious child

FOR YOU

I AM.

 

© Nicola Rieger 13 February 2018

 

Received straight from God at Heathrow airport.

May you be blessed this Lenten season and always.

 

 

New Year’s Eve reflection (2017)

Once upon  a time, in a deep blue, colourful ocean filled with fish of all shapes and sizes and radiant marine flora, lived a tender, multi-coloured marine coral. It was anchored securely in a rock, studded with other members of an exquisite coral community.

The coral loved living in its ocean: there was so much to discover and the current was not ever the same on any given day, allowing the coral to travel both near and far. Nonetheless, it remained rooted in its rock and nurtured it gently. At the beginning of each day and as the sun set, it drew close again to its root and then furled its petals each night, calm and peaceful in its very core.

But with time, filled with peace and supernatural strength, the coral became bold and more and more adventurous.  It began to take advantage of the beautifully steady currents to stray from its rock,  to stretch its one tender root as far as it could, so as to be able to explore other parts of the ocean. It began to unfurl its tender petals earlier and earlier in order to maximise the time to go about its business unhindered, too busy to nurture its roots each morning, allowing the current to carry it to and fro wherever the journey led.  The sights it beheld were beautiful, but at the end of each day, the coral would return to its rock dizzy, too tired to tend to its anchor before it furled its petals and retreated into silence for a night of short rest.

This tumultuous routine continued for a while until one day, at the end of a very busy year in its new and exciting life, the coral lay dizzy on its rock after a day of drifting in a storm, too exhausted to even nurture its petals, let alone its life-giving roots, its heart hopeless and weary. ” I feel so worn out”, cried the delicate plant, unable to even care whether anyone heard its calls of anguish in the howling winds. “Why do I feel so battered by the gusts and the currents? Why am I so weary that exploring the beauty around me feels nothing but exhausting these days?”.

And suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a tiny voice rose about the winds and the waves.  “My dear child”,   it whispered, ” as long as you nurture the roots which attach you to your rock, you will never grow weary. You will not grow faint. You will be thrown to and fro by the currents, but you will enjoy the journey, knowing that I hold you fast, that there is peace and safety if you only cling to me. You have not given me your full attention for a while and I have not been able to keep you strong. But I remain strong and faithful to you, and if you remain in me every day of your life,  I will remain in you, and give you strength. ”

As it bathed in this still small voice of calm, the coral was flooded with a deep sense of peace and love.  It turned and began once again to nurture its roots,  determined to make time for its long-forgotten routines. As it did so day in day out, its anchor grew stronger, its petals more colourful and resilient to the battering currents, its knowledge of and journey with the other corals deeper and more meaningful. Suddenly, the days began to stretch, allowing plenty of time for the coral to explore, even enjoy,  its tumultuous journeys despite the added daily chores, which felt light and easy .   Peaceful and secure, even on stormy days, the coral now flourishes, safely enfolded in the gentle arms of its powerful root and anchor.

© NR 31 December 2017

 

Wishing you all a deep sense of being anchored in what truly matters,  this New Year’s Eve, in 2018,  and always. 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by my own journey and John 15:4

“Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really-for me? (A Christmas reflection)

As we celebrate the birth of God’s only son Jesus, God Incarnate, it can sometimes be hard to believe that Jesus was sent for each one of us. Sent for mankind -yes….but for me? For me PERSONALLY? To meet me right where I am at…..on my wobbly journeys, in my mess, in my failings, in my hopes and disappointments? Really- for me??

On my Christian journey,  I have often been guilty of doubting…..not that God loves us all, but that He could love me as much as everyone else. That His interest is not only in mankind but also in each one of us personally. Rationally I know it, but have I really and truly known it in my heart?

A simple question from a loved one, related to my new (teaching) career, has  recently turned my life around : “Is it hard to treat the children fairly? Do you not have favourites in your class?”

It took me only a few seconds to answer with a resounding “NO”: no, I do not have favourites; no, it is not hard to give each one of them the same care and attention; no I have not and will never give up on any one of them.

Don’t get me wrong…..there are days when some of them (often the same ones) can drive me to despair;  when it feels like I am pouring love and effort into a bowl with holes in the bottom;  when I want to quit and give up on some of them and use the extra energy for others. But actually I would never give up on any one of them: every little face is special, every child loved, every one of them priceless, worth nurturing and investment. Oh yes,  it is possible to love and care for thirty little people equally!

If I, a weak, fallible human being, can love my class of children equally and continue pouring into them out of a superhuman, deep sense of commitment to and love for each one of them, then how much more could a perfect, all knowing Abba Father and Creator God love each of us equally, in the good and in the bad?

Oh yes….I suddenly know it deep in my heart: each one of us is one of those shepherds,  invited to gaze in awe at that baby in the manger and to rejoice in the promises fulfilled through Him. Yes, He notices each one of us, has time for each one of us, cares and loves each one of us. Equally. No question.

Amen-Lord,I believe. Thanks to thirty little nine year olds.

May you, too, know the truth and joy of the Christmas message this year and always.

 

 

A Christmas confession

There are times when my heart aches so much for our fallen,broken world that I do not know what I can do with that pain other than pray.

Just now, I met a lady called Karen (name changed to protect her identity) on a busy London Underground platform at Euston Square. In the midst of crowds of people, she was cowered up behind a pillar, crying, dabbing a tissue onto a small cut on her head, clearly homeless. She told me that she had been kicked in the head by another homeless person because, apparently, she was begging on “his turf”. She is meant to be resting and eating good food while taking her antibiotics,  but has no money to get a decent meal and nowhere to sleep so how could she get better?  She said that the other day, a stranger had offered to give her 20 pounds and she was so happy- until he asked her for sexual favours. When she protested,  he said,”You did not honestly think I was giving you twenty quid for nothing in return?”

When faced with so much brokenness, how could I not do something  that would restore her faith in humanity?  And so I gave her the cash I had in my wallet.  She was so grateful that she hugged me, and at that moment, all the differences between us evaporated, turned into a sprinkling of angel dust and rays of light in the darkness. We were both sisters in Christ, called to share our common humanity. Nothing more and nothing less.

I am not telling you this story to make myself feel good. Rather, it is part of a heartfelt confession, a moment of personal repentance on my journey. After all, how often do I fail to do the right thing by those who truly need my help? How often do I grieve in private-about homelessness, poverty,  suffering-and yet take no action? This Christmas,  I feel weighed down by  a realisation that  I did not do enough this year to play a tiny part in making this world a better place. Yes, I wrote to my MP to complain about Britain’s failure to help more refugees,  but when he sent me the lamest of responses in return, tainted with the jargon of party politics and political correctness, I failed to act , convinced that I could not make a difference.  As the horrors of Syria unfolded and continue to become apparent, I cried silent tears of despair, sometimes prayed -but did nothing. If we had all raised our voices and demanded actions from our governments, would our leaders have done something to intervene rather than stand by and let these crimes of humanity unfold in front of our very eyes?  Perhaps;perhaps not. All I know is that I would find it easier to live with myself right now if I had at least tried.

Is there a possibility that Karen will spend my gift on drugs or alcohol? Yes there is. Would it have been wise not to take the chance and give the money to a charity instead? Possibly yes. Could Karen have grabbed my wallet and run off with the little that was left in it-yes.But perhaps one thing that is wrong with our world is that we no longer trust, no longer believe that people’s stories can be true, that our individual actions can change lives or our world for the better. For me personally, the time has now come to challenge that “pattern of this world” -in my  own thinking,in my actions, by God’s grace and with His protection.

So tonight I pray that God will help me honour my conviction and take the risks this may involve; that I would not be complacent;that I will use all the blessings that I have been given to bless others in any way possible, big and small, through a kind word, actions, raising my voice or money when appropriate. I pray that right now as I write this,  Karen is tucked up safe and well in a bed in a hostel; that someone is giving her a chance to turn her life around as we speak. And I pray that all of us would  believe that we can make a difference-in the power of God’s son Jesus, whose birth we are getting ready to celebrate.

Merry Christmas to you all.