This picture represents what I feel in my heart and soul as I come close to my Lord; none of those aches and pains, no heavy rucksack of guilt, shame or fear, no tears, just freedom and joy.
I began the preparation for this, my final faith marker, in reflecting what it means to me to be set free from earthly cares, contemplating an eternity living in the promises of our faithful God, now and after earthly death. I used some of of my favourite scripture with the help of Bible Gateway and Word It Out to create a word cloud to visualise the promises. This is a great help to me in the compilation of my dance, the medium I have rather rashly chosen to put together my 4 faith markers in the hope that it will bring them together to make the whole; my journey.
The cloud brings out so many of the words that describe the life Jesus would wish us to live as a child of God. Which ones stand out for you I wonder? None of us know what our life will look like, what amazing things God has planned for us, what challenges we will meet. We would like to be able to see the bigger picture, like the impressive people picture created by Hamburg in its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. However, in His great wisdom, our Lord gives us what we NEED to know, in small steps, rather than what we WANT to know.
I have just come to the end of a five day exploration of north-west Spain, based in the 3rd most travelled pilgrimage destination for Christians, Santiago de Compostela. Although the main purpose of our visit was to spend time with our daughter, Katie, who is now living and working there, it seems curiously apposite, and possibly a gracious answer to prayer that she is based here.
Pilgrimage seems to be about a personal journey of exploration, reflection, people, challenge, walking, sometimes singing, sometimes hurting, perhaps feeling lost and ultimately victory and joy having successfully reached the end of the route.
The purpose of Christian pilgrimage was summarized by Pope Benedict XVI this way:
To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. They go to Rome, the city of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, and also to Compostela, which, associated with the memory of Saint James, has welcomed pilgrims from throughout the world who desire to strengthen their spirit with the Apostle’s witness of faith and love.
I have just come to the conclusion of an excellent book about overcoming oppression and persecution, ‘The Beekeeper’s Promise’ by Fiona Valpy. It also unexpectedly mentions Santiago and pilgrims and concludes; ‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain’.
So this is why I have chosen dance as my means of expressing my journey of faith. I have chosen ‘No Longer Slaves’ by Bethel Music to dance to. Its lyrics and compilation describe my 4 markers closely and its ultimate verse declares my new identity:
You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me and I will stand and sing
I am child of God.