The first experience of meditation.
An early glimpse of beauty coming from chaos.
The memory of young rage and disproportionate sorrow, when beauty was almost achieved but went spinning out of control.
Spirograph: a lesson in being human.
Yesterday, a friend was hunting for Lent Blogging ideas and I suggested ’40 words that quicken or express your hope in God’. It was meant for her, not me, but I woke thinking, Maybe?
I was thinking of words like spaciousness, wonder, ellipsis, kavod — I was thinking avocet, lapwing, purr. Nowhere, in all my imagining, was the God-word spirograph. And yet, there it is.
I had just set a class to doodling, asking them to keep the pen moving, while thinking about what it felt like when the weight of the world fell on your shoulders because someone, somewhere, had convinced you that you were supposed to be perfect.
It was hard for them. They are not used to being asked to draw what they feel or to use drawing to help figure out what they feel. They were too young for irony, and couldn’t spot the raw data in the room.
So, I gave them a prompt: you can start with a circle, if you like. See where it leads you. And suddenly, pens were whirring round. And suddenly the headteacher was whispering to the teacher in the corner — remembering the hours she spent as a child, that thing, with the circles spinning round. How she loved it. What was it?
Spirograph. It was my childhood too.
The liturgical year is a gift of circles — a spiralling round that grounds us in God. And each year that passes, I am more grateful for the memories that flood, at each pancake party, of every other pancake party. That moment, in a too small kitchen, with a too large crowd, when a person with a hot pan, and a person with a wet dish nearly collide, and instead, spin and turn. The trust that comes; the awareness of something unspoken that bind you; the dance of the body of Christ.
Ash Wednesday brings different memories, of all the selves I’ve been. The years when I ran eagerly towards Lent, looking for growth, expecting healing — young, and naive, and sure that God would come gloriously. The years of loneliness and exhaustion, when Lent was a task of faithfulness, God long since hidden, disciplines lost to the struggle to survive.
It’s all there, every time. Every person, every feeling, every hope for God.
And sometimes, it seems the circle comes round, and we get to begin again.
Spirograph: the gift of childhood.
Beaty from Chaos.