I don't do this often, needless to say I am not in church so very often. The pastor had given space for people to recall any special stories where they felt God had had affect in their lives that week. Well my story was to process a fortnight, of two halves. I do realise that amounts to two weeks.. but view it then as a fortnight with two tones set within it. If you so wish to join me on this story, then you are much obliged to do this. Stick with it. It gets to the point, I promise.
I was not intending to talk, I never do.. but the first woman gave a story about being reunited with a stolen bike. I wouldn't mind, but I've heard this testimony in church before. and it just made me sigh.. like really? is that what goddy-god is all about in Amsterdam, retrieving stolen bicycles to their rightful owners? A noble cause, but surely there is more to be done than police the (lack of) bike situation. Normally when i have a bit of stomp about such likes, I have this pressure come over me, a sort of spiritual kick up the ass. The result is me reacting proactively, something that doesn't always feel natural, or willing. And so when i did reach the microphone, I immediately explained that I am not very christian. I don't act in a typically christian manner towards God. I stomp my feet, and i swear at him without this "God fearing" attitude that some seem to advertise themselves as on dating sites. And because of this, sometimes the honesty i get back from the universe can be equally as true in character and raw, and i like it that way.
So, I was able to recount, what i had told a friend was without doubt one of the most special, and most wonderful weeks of my life. I described my uproot from Breda last year, and finding a room in Utrecht, that through some funny way I made connection with some inspiring poets and spoken word artists. And that one imparticular had really looked after me last year. Knowing that I could not afford so many luxuries, I would receive emails "are you going to the poetry event? your name is already on the list". How can you repay kindness?
What I didn't manage to recount, and it was maybe due to a hesitance of a non-christian talking to Christians, was the transition from Utrecht to Amsterdam. I had a choice, to go with trial period as a nanny in Utrecht, or to go for an interview/trial day working with horses. Next to music, another passion is horses. I was really over thinking all the possibilities in the possibilities in the possibilities. The pros and the cons, the pros and cons of the pros, the pros and cons of the cons, and so on. I already knew that god was working through the people that had helped me already. And within myself i have to stop myself from asking constantly, OK I see a pattern of people coming into my life, but why? for what reason? whats it going to conclude to? I have met some people who look at others in terms of there own gain, i DO NOT view it this way, I enjoy people, but my reasoning, is that I will always be affected and affect those who come into my life, and the curiosity lies in the how, and the why. Its the temptation to look at the last page of book as you just begin, and i sometimes still do that. For those "oh no you don'ts" - bite me. So back to the story, in the last evening in the Utrecht hostel, I prayed in return for relaxing and accepting what would come next. God please give me clarity.
The next morning, I woke and played some of my friends piano music, relaxed, and enjoyed its euphoria. And what seemed an endless list of clear, logical suggestions on what next to do, filled my head. The only problem was, the fecking clarity was for someone else. I was not very impressed. The guy who i had been talking to the day before, saluted me at breakfast, I think perhaps noted my less than enthusiastic morning face. Pulled a hippy sort of dance and said "... did you have a vision or something?".
"No. But i have words." I related the suggestions of what he should do to focus HIS career, and sighed.
"Well, really, thank you so much for thinking of me." With a smile.
"I didn't." No smile.
The interview was the next day, and i was still, well. perplexed. Then via facebook, I saw a flier for free theatre in Amsterdam. Ok, Goddy-god, since you are not giving me a direct decision. I'm going to go finish up things, and take a train to Amsterdam. See some theatre, and not cancel the interview at the manege. There was then a bit of an untimely skype meeting with mum, who called as i was getting organised. She gave me a list of "But! Have you considered(s)".
"Sorry mum, but the battery is running low, and i really have to go for the train."
One should never really fear closing the laptop on their mother on such occaisions. Suffice to say, there was a text message full of question marks to follow. And so i wracked my brain for possibilies to calm her. Its based on my sisters advice as a student. "..you don't need to follow your plan, but aslong as mum thinks you've got one."
"Mum, it will be ok. I'm staying at a Christian hostel."
Once in Amsterdam, I was invited to a second evening where my spoken word friend was performing. Its called Dag van Empathie, and the aim is to encourage cultural togetherness. It happens on the 3rd of May, this year also in Mozes en Aäronkerk I found it so inspiring to hear stories from different backgrounds. And also from a Jewish Rabi, who talked about how we can move on from difficult pasts. Some music was played, and I took time to look at the beautiful art, which felt spiritual to me. (I was later told by a christian friend, that the Mozes en Aäronkerk is a mosque. it makes no difference to me. It felt spiritual enough for me to exasperate , "God, what. do. you. want me to do??". I was so tired of thinking about possibilities, I just needed a sign, that and/or a lot of patience. (More information can be found about Dag Van Empathie on Facebook).
Throughout the last year, I received so much support from friends, both brotherly, and inspirational, and that grandparent sort of nurturing, that its a constant thought as to how i can repay kindness. And in this first week, two friends, both of great support to me, but unknown to each other, united and discussed plans of creating something really special. It was so beautiful to see those moments where you know absolutely one hundred percent that something wonderful is being envisioned by them both. And as time goes on, i will let you know exactly what this is. But that now becomes their story, and i smile as i think about it building.
The following evening, i received an invitation by a musical friend, in fact he had been the one i was meeting at the open poetry night, where i met the spoken word girl (and so here, is a hint towards a whole iceberg of connectedness!). I had the opportunity to go and watch a debut of a new album being worked upon. It was also being worked on with a lot of honour and emotion. And all of a sudden it struck me, that all of these connections, sewn together to create and inspire, were being developed even whilst i fretted over which way to go, whilst i lacked faith in what was being created, it was still being created. I would of course like to be in credit of it all, and take decisions that will give me great advantage, but taking time to step back and look at the patterns arising through travelling from one Dutch city to another. Something wonderful was being created around me, and it was created by something much greater than i can completely concieve.
To conclude the wonderful week, I am going to quickly introduce you to an older couple that i clean for. A cleaning job is an even more wonderful employment, if you have opportunity to laugh, and join intellectually stimulating discussion with your employers. This couple will, I am sure have their own stories, and humour to relate. But to conclude this week, with homemade Dutch chicken soup, and sparkly water in a wine glass, whilst looking over the old Gein canal, well it makes an exceptional week even more special.
The second part of the story, actually runs over. And has given me much more learning than at the time i could relay to the christians. Sometimes it is utterly heart sinking to watch a friend sink into a dark chaos, despite showing support again, and again, and again. In some ways it makes me so sad to see, I can see the reasons why something as ammounted to a situation, why some situations become so desperate that a friend could feel so recklace with their own life. It makes me very sad, and as a result of course i want to show my support. No man is alone. My dad always says that when hillwalking, to walk at the speed of the slowest walker, so should that be seen in life too? This is a path where i have definately appreciated where i can show support, the direction of the path is ultimately at the decision of the walker, and respect ultimately has to be given to that, no matter how difficult it may be.
As I stepped out of the church, fairly amazed that i'd been there to show insight unintended. I had no expectation that life still had to show me some lessons in this area. I overthink things, I see the what ifs in the the what ifs. I dont play chess, but sometimes life feels like chess to me. which move to make?
Photograph- Jonathan Oldam Photography (Amsterdam)
The weather this week in Amsterdam has been appaulling, and some part of me was still very worried about the friend, what was best to do, what should i do? And so one errand was made on his behalf, part of me had already decided that this would be the last. I care for him, but we are makers of our own mess, and i am not there to clean everything up. I have an ex boyfriend who was very sensitive to his environment. I was never in tune like he was, but it was fascinating in some respects. We all have different ways of learning, and I've said this to some book-hardy christian friends, I am never going to sit down and retain everything i read, and believe it. I am never going to listen with full concentration in class, but show me something where i can learn hands on, and it sinks in as acceptable. So cycling through the wind and snow, and fulfilling this errand, something in my being felt completely, this is the line now. No more struggle towards cleaning a mess, where he doesn't make effort himself.
And to enforce this point. I decided to find some beads in which to make jewellery. And i found myself by the hippyshop. I go there sometimes because I feel balance in my energy from the stones that they sell. There was a lady doing Angel readings, and for some reason, it felt right to ask. Not in desperation, but really it felt like a time out moment, OK... lets evaluate the current situation. Without going into details of everything, the main card that fell out of the pack, shouted the point of it all. Shut up. take time to chill. "God is in Control". ..."please remember that". I had to laugh. whether this challenges your comfort in reading or not. For me aside from the obvious, it confirms my last theory in this blog. Its a theory that's building, but this is what I have so far..
The theory is so far.. that God doesn't just work through Christianity, and Christians trying to work out how to develop their own concepts of christian values. Don't get me wrong, I do believe and respect that Jesus existed, and had a special path to take. But my thought is this, and remains this. If all the written scriptures in the world, regardless of religion. If all the scriptures that are held onto so dearly as truth were burned. Then surely God would still want to reach us?
I really do not think that he is standing on a pedestal saying, well luvvies, to be close to me, or within me, you can only go through a certain route. Someone who loves, acts in terms of others needs. someone who loves will go beyond their own comfort and boundaries in order to show that. So if an all loving God looks at the current situation, where in an MTV culture not even hiphop(pop) to the masses keeps it real these days. So perhaps it could be that he turns his thought to how to work within those who are not aware of.. or not aware that they are, already working within the love of life. so my perspective here takes a different tangent to how Christians would typically see it as only believers in Christ to be living within Gods love. So how ever you want to call it, the universe/creator/god/life.. has already places blessings and skills within people in order to affect those living life. By using creativity, nature, humour, positivity, music, dance, anything else that causes meaningful affect, well the result is, that it moves people, challenges people, empowers, inspires, heals and uplifts through connecting people and creativity in different ways. I think that I will try write a new blog on this, just to explain my reasoning further.
So through different ways in the last weeks, my learning has been to realise and celebrate blessings in life, and whilst being open to feel and act in situations to show love for others, to remain grounded in developing self respect, and to fall in love with life. Life is in control, and I am learning how rest in that, and re-fall in love with it all.