The Temple

A breath-takingly beautiful temple stood in the city, obviously made as a masterpiece; with gold leaf expertly placed over the doorway, and bas-relief carvings surrounding it. The roof was a marvel, shaped to intrigue the eyes into following its beautiful lines. Stained glass windows sparkled in the light – a gorgeously rich array of colours and tones in intricate and beautiful designs. One could imagine the large, cool interior, with hundreds of reflected shapes of coloured light dappling the walls and floors.

It was built as a temple of the Lord, a Dwelling Place for the Mighty Creator. It had been designed to be a house of prayer; a place of rest, comfort, peace and reconciliation where people who came in would find themselves loved and cared for, their own uniqueness discovered and known, their spirits lightened and inspired. The owner had gladly given the land and magnificent building to the service of the King of Kings, asking the Creator to dwell there and do whatever he wanted to, in it and through it. It had been formally dedicated to the Master’s use in a beautiful ceremony where water, words, song and prayers had all symbolically recognised that the life and light of the Loving Father God would be free to dwell within, as long as the building lasted.

That’s why it was curious the day the owner installed a large screen in the centre of the building, with an aerial stretching up from the exquisite domed roof. Where once the cool interior had been a quiet and peaceful place, with tasteful art works, and gentle music from time to time, now a thousand images a day flickered onto the screen. Mostly they were commonplace – photos of children, animals, families and food – with a few wonderful and only the occasional questionable images. Even so, the pictures did have a habit of drawing the eye, and you couldn’t help but want to read the accompanying text – humorous, angry, sad or banal, it kind of drew you in and before you knew it you’d been staring at that screen for half an hour or more at a time.

After a while, the owner had rearranged the seating to give a better view of the screen; and while there were still open spaces and little nooks and crannies where you could sit and think, it definitely changed the feel of the place.

Then one day, a traveling salesman knocked on the door. No salesperson had ever dared to do that before, knowing it was a sacred space and that they wouldn’t even get a look in. But this guy had seen the aerial, and knew it signified a change within, so he thought he’d try his luck. He couldn’t believe it when the owner actually gave him a smile of welcome, and stood for several minutes listening to his spiel. The next time he was in the area, he knocked again, and this time the owner welcomed him to come in and sit for a while so he could properly explain his products and open his suitcases. Well, before long, he was being invited to put a poster on the wall, and not too long after that, a static display of his wares. Within a few months, he had commandeered a small space against the southern wall where he could stay and demonstrate his various wares, selling bits and pieces to those who wandered in and out of the beautiful, but slightly noisier temple.

It didn’t take long for other sales people to hear about the concession made to their colleague. Being a fair-minded person, the owner couldn’t refuse them the chance to have a go at setting up a little stall or wheeling in a market display. It was a colourful, eclectic hive of activity; you never knew what new wonder would be brought in, and it was quite exciting to find objects and curiosities you didn’t even know existed, sourced from all over the globe, and reasonably priced, too!

The owner wondered from time to time how such a change had come about in the formerly peaceful, open space. Occasionally, he longed for that sense of stillness and rest, that now seemed almost like a dream in this flashy, busy, buzzing place. And when trucks backed up to the double doors to unload their latest goods, it was actually a little jarring to his nerves.

Sporadically, dancers and actors had asked if they could be allowed to present their latest show in the beautiful temple building. At first, the owner pointed to the theatre just down the road, a purpose-built locale for the arts where he himself had enjoyed the creativity of skilled performers. But after a while he thought it was silly to say no – why not enjoy this entertainment right here, relaxing on his favourite chair, and able to share it with whoever else was there at the time.

So, it became quite a regular thing – often just a short performance: a new song, or a compelling short act, even a whirling, scantily-clad dancer might leap onto the stage to show off their latest creation. Occasionally, the shows went for much longer, and everything else shut down for a while, as everyone there was absorbed in the action.

Needless to say, people who had enjoyed visiting the temple for many years found the gradual change of atmosphere surprising. Where once they had found solace and restoration within the gorgeously designed space, feeling the cool still air bringing its own presence into their souls, they could hardly recognise the new exciting hubbub that seemed to excite all the senses at once! Some people turned around and exited, and never came back. Others were drawn into the colourful array of experiences that were on offer, embracing this new expression of the temple’s life with gusto. Some even brought in their own displays or performances, sharing their own favourite images, shows or purchases with the owner, who was always ready for something new.

It was a day just like any other, when a quiet and thoughtful looking visitor stepped through the ornate doors, which these days were propped open from first light til well after dark, the owner figuring that whilever he was awake he may as well see what new attraction might pop up to pique his interest. (Occasionally, he even got out of bed to answer the ping of the doorbell, and sometimes he was very pleased that he had done so, happy to sacrifice a bit of sleep for something that intriguing!). The owner looked up at the visitor; but since people of all types were constantly coming in and out, he didn’t take much notice of individuals, until they managed to grab his attention.

The stranger gazed intently around the crowded space, and tried to scrape from his shoe the sticky mess he’d accidentally trodden on. There was quite a bit of garbage lying around these days, the inevitable result of so many going in and out, eating and unpackaging their purchases. Sometimes even the shop owners were careless with the wrappings and cast off goods, and the owner occasionally burst out in frustration at all the mess they seemed to leave behind.

With careful steps, the new visitor walked around, taking in the various items for sale, the dancers and clowns and orators all waiting for their turn on the stage. He saw the images on the screen, sometimes held for several minutes, other times flicking through each second. He looked in vain for somewhere to settle quietly to rest his tired feet. All the seats and benches had been commandeered by the salespeople, or dragged up close to the small stage that had been installed. He even bought a brown loaf from one vendor, but after one bite re-wrapped it and looked in vain for a bin. The bread had been a disappointment, somehow looking fresh but with a stale taste and some hidden mould underneath.

After quite some time, he managed to get the owner’s attention. He spoke quietly with him, and in fact the owner had to bend quite close to even hear what he was saying above the crowd and the noisy salespeople, not to mention the blaring music of the dancers. The owner’s face reflected several feelings at once – shock, sorrow, fear, confusion. As the stranger slowly spoke, the owner looked around him, the colours and shadows reflected on his skin. He spread his hands in a gesture of resignation, shrugging his shoulders. He tried to point out some of the more beautiful and useful wares to the stranger, also indicating with despair some of the less savoury sellers whom he’d tried unsuccessfully to evict.

“You know I could help you with all of this, don’t you?”, the stranger finally asked. “I would happily send all these away – back to their own places, so you could still easily get what you needed, but they wouldn’t all have to be right here, crowding you all the time.”

The owner’s shame and regret was evident. He was torn between the man’s offer, and all that surrounded him, that he quite enjoyed and in fact, relied upon. His own repeated efforts to bring a little order to the chaos had never really worked, but the thought of quiet, empty space had become so foreign it was almost frightening.

It seemed an age before he hesitantly turned back to the earnest face of the unusual visitor in front of him. “I’m sorry. I do know you are right, but this…”, gesturing around him, “…This is my life now, and I can’t see how I could be without it. I would still love you to come and see me again though.”

The stranger nodded sadly, and looked around the building again before grasping the man in a strong hug, and then turning to go, after assuring him he would definitely visit again, to see if the owner had changed his mind.

He walked calmly to the doorway and through it, turning as he went to look up at the half broken sign dangling over the entrance: “A House of Prayer”. He himself had lovingly carved those letters, and put the beautiful sign in place, all those years ago.

With a heavy sigh, he pulled at the wood until the only remaining nail gave way. He rubbed the dust away with his craftsman’s hand, and placed the sign carefully behind a column, with the writing up against the wall. With one last longing gaze at the owner, whose back was visible amongst the crowd, the stranger brushed off his hands and slowly walked away.

(Short story, c. Nerida Cuddy 24/11/18 – a few days after my smart phone broke!)

Song 4 of 9 – The More I Know

This week’s song has been one that has influenced and comforted me greatly over the last 15 years, and I hope and pray it might minister to you wherever you are this week.

Last week we had a look at the Beatitudes, and how we can unwittingly live by quite a different set of expectations and ideals that lead us away from trusting dependence on the Father. We can be driven by our need to feel in control, to appear perfect, or to “have it all together”. Over many years, God has graciously continued to allow this tendency in myself to smash up against life’s realities, trying to rescue me from that ingrained habit of self-reliance. It’s interesting that the writer Paul Young used the word ‘independence’ to describe the essence of sin, in the context of how we relate to God. That’s worth giving some thought to.

“Blessed are the poor in Spirit for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matt 5:3). Other translations explain the phrase by using words like “those who only depend on Him”, “those who are poor and know their need for Him”, “the spiritually destitute”, or those who “recognise that they are spiritually helpless”. Jesus illustrated this truth by pointing to a little child and telling us that we needed to come to the Kingdom just like a child. The psalmist also contributes some deeper imagery, in psalm 131. I memorised it a while back, in the Good News translation:

Lord, I have given up my pride
and turned away from my arrogance.
I am not concerned with great matters
or with subjects too difficult for me.
Instead, I am content and at peace.
As a child lies quietly in its mother’s arms,
so my heart is quiet within me.
Israel, trust in the Lord
now and forever!

Sometimes all we can do is rest ourselves in the grace of God – mentally, emotionally, even with a physical action (like opening our hands, or writing out our burdens as an act of hand-over). He is the only one who can carry this world’s burdens. He is the one who knows our deepest hearts, and is unfailing in His loving commitment to us. Sometimes we can’t understand Him, we can’t understand our lives, and the pain that we or our friends are carrying seems overwhelming. In that time, the choice is still ours’ – to ‘soldier on’, or to rest ourselves and our burdens in the hands of the only one who can bring light into the darkness.

May you know His grace and care for you this week, here’s the song: The More I Know

Song 3 of 9 – The Great Doorway

Sometimes songs spring out in the most surprising ways. I wrote “The Great Doorway” in a circumstance of great heartache, and it’s referring to some deep matters of theology, and yet it came out as the “hokey-est”, daggy-est protest song I could imagine! I originally wrote it on a banjo-guitar, even! You may remember the folk singer/songwriters in the 60s and 70s writing a lot of ‘protest’ songs; and as a folky songwriter I find the protest genre quite a helpful way of processing frustration and disappointment with our culture. It’s a little more unusual to write a spiritual protest song, but that’s what happened here. So please don’t get hung up on individual lines or phrases, but try and take it as a whole and see if anything catches your attention. Sometimes even something that makes you feel reactive or confused is still worth giving some thought to. Also, sometimes exaggeration is a way of trying to look at something more clearly.

That’s what I did in the song: exaggerated certain beliefs and perceptions about God, ourselves and life that have been unhelpful to me and to people I love. I’ll never forget the protest in my spirit one time in church as I heard a beautiful old man of God pray, “Lord you know I’m nothing but a worm in your sight”. It grieved my heart, especially because in my own spiritual journey, for all sorts of reasons, I had often found it so hard to really trust that God could actually love me; that His forgiveness is real, and that he really does see me as His beloved daughter. In the intro to the song, I share some of those warped beliefs that I somehow grew up with about God and what He expected of me. Again I used exaggeration to help myself see more clearly where I was thinking wrongly. I wrote up a set of false beatitudes, that contrast glaringly with the real and beautiful teaching Jesus gave about us being poor in Spirit, being able to mourn, hungering and thirsting for His goodness, etc. I’ll put a copy of both sets of beatitudes below for your reflection, but feel free to go straight to the song. And if you want to skip the spoken intro, just jump to 2:25 on the clip.

When this song jumped out of my mouth & banjitar, I laughed and said, “God what the heck do you want me to do with this song?!!”. I still feel the same about it, so I’m just trusting Him in putting it out there to you guys and others. Maybe you can just laugh and leave it, or maybe it might get you thinking, or maybe you might even want to write back and let it be a discussion starter… Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s The Great Doorway

PS: Here are the beatitudes:

NERIDA’S (FALSE) BEATITUDES
Blessed are those who ‘have it all together’, for they have ‘arrived’, spiritually…
Blessed are the emotionally invulnerable, for they will never need comforting…
Blessed are those who control people and circumstances, for life will work out for them…
Blessed are those who know they are righteous, for they will never taste failure…
Blessed are the nice, for they will be liked…
Blessed are those who never do anything wrong, for they can feel sure of God’s acceptance…
Blessed are those who avoid conflict, for they will never offend.
Blessed are those who persecute anyone with a slightly different theology, for all Christendom is theirs…

CHRIST’S BEATITUDES (Mt 5:3-12)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven….

Song 2 of 9 – MUTAWINJI

Last century (I just had to write that!) my close friend Sonja & I went camping in the Mutawinji National Park near Broken Hill. We would eat brekky then go our separate way for the day – she to do art, me to write. It was a very special few days – as you can see in the photo above, it is a spectacularly beautiful spot. I’m sitting up on the edge of a gorge, writing a song about a tiny tree nearby that was growing out of an enormous chunk of rock. Little did I know that Sonja took an amazing photo of that tree and rock from below, while walking through the gorge… Anyway, here’s that picture and the lyrics for this week’s song. I’ll write a few more thoughts, and give you the link, beneath it…

MUTAWINJI (c. Nerida Cuddy, Mutawinji National Park, 1998)

May my life be blown upon by your relentless Spirit,
laying bare the surface of my soul,
tearing out the trivial, exposing petty thrones
that blind me to all the truth I’ve known.

Like a windblown tree anchored in rock,
standing against a barren sky,
Let it be made clear that my life is in you,
that your massive strength is all that is holding me.

In the days of suffering the hope is growing clearer
that your love will decimate my pride,
in the pain of struggling against my rebel spirit
I will rest with nothing more to hide.

Beauty from ashes is your delight,
mending broken pieces,
bringing life back from the dead,
this is the wonder of your creating hand.

This is such a relevant prayer for me at this time. Today our house is a pretty good reflection of my state of mind – after several busy weeks it is full of random clutter and needs a lot of help! My mind and heart are also quite cluttered, distracted, a bit numb. I’d like to specially remind myself and all of us of how the screens/phones can be a ‘petty throne’ that can quite powerfully blind/deafen us – or just use up the time/focus we might need for prayer.

Usually I would start to feel panicked, stressing about what I should do to ‘fix’ my state of mind. But the past few days I’ve just been turning back over and again to the one who can actually bring the clarity. I’ve tried to thank Him that He is at work in me, and that He is able to speak to me regardless of how well I might feel I can listen. I’ve asked Him to continue to do what is needed to help me through this place I’m in, to ‘tear out the trivial’ and reveal the things that are blinding me. I’ve been thanking Him that He is doing the long slow work in me, and choosing to trust Him to continue it.

The fact is, our lives are in Christ – He is the one who is holding us, whether we feel aware of it, whether we are in a strong or weak place, whatever the circumstance. That photo is so powerful isn’t it, and I’m so grateful that my friend was prompted 20 years ago to take that picture, so that you can see what an incredible image it is of our life in Christ. He is strong, beautiful, and able to be depended on. Even though that tiny tree looks so weak, and like there is no nourishment there for it – it is alive and well, rooted in rock.

Much love to you all,
and enjoy the song – MUTAWINJI
in His unfailing love,
Nerida
… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:16-19

A live concert


Last month, I released the first in a set of 9 songs which were filmed 4 or 5 yrs ago in a live concert at the Surrender conference in Victoria. My brother Warwick filmed and edited the songs, and my brother Andy did the sound. Some of the other songs feature a few backing musos and are particularly lovely.

I thought it would be a good thing to release all the songs one by one, a week at a time. Most of the songs have a one minute or so intro – the concert was aimed at a Christian audience, and the aim of it was an encouragement for people to encounter God more deeply, even though there are hard things in life and even hard things in faith, that we need to encounter. I’m going to post each song here at my blog, together with the reflective thoughts that go with that song.

It was a very special concert of some of the spiritual songs that are closest to my heart – the forerunner of my Prayers album, and I’m so pleased to finally be able to share it with you. The filming has turned out really beautifully, thanks to Warwick putting a whole lot of time into it recently!

Anyway, hope you enjoy this first song, PEACE and thanks for your prayers and support in general. Love to you and yours,
xo Nerida

HOW TO SIT AT TABLE

Jesus,
I am asking you to set the table for me,
and to help me extricate myself
from these heavy moulded plates
that have shielded my tender heart
from the harsh and desolate sorrow
I find without and within.
It frightens me to bare my breast once more
to those fiery arrows
of truly outrageous fortune, and, worse,
of malevolent intent,
that wills to crush the heart from me
to leave me in frozen despair,
overcome.
With your help, I want to drop
that numbing burden of self-protection
because You will guard my heart as I learn to rest, afresh, in you.

Jesus,
I am asking you to set the table for me
and to help me lay to rest this impressive array of weapons,
tried and fairly true:
they’ve been solid in my hands and quick in impact as I’ve faced
one foe after another,
tried to shield myself and my dear ones
from utter tragedy, senseless waste and
the many and varied threats of this culture.
Dragging myself from one battle to the next,
because I had to do something,couldn’t leave them or myself
defenseless.
But now, You are doing the fighting.
In theory I’ve known this,
but now battle-scarred and too weary
to even make a fist,
I will choose to trust and see that you are my
Strong Protector, my Champion,
my Mighty Saviour and Redeemer.

Jesus,
I am asking you to lay the table for me.
It is too hard a thing by myself to remove
a helmet that is so perfectly shaped
to scaffold my thoughts, my sense of self –
that it is almost invisible,
protecting me from the sheer naked terror
of not knowing, not seeing.
I’m trying to let go of all these threads
I’ve woven together and fixed,
to allow my perilous escape
inch by terrifying inch,
from nihilism’s deathly tower.
This helmet has served me well,
and yet has no place here,
where wisdom is a loving person
wanting to sit at table,
sharing daily light and nourishing truth.

“Lord of unimaginable hospitality”*,
you have prepared a table for me,
on solid ground, even in the
presence of my enemies.
You coax me from this rusting pile
of heavy armour,
of strong but costly weapons –
inviting me to bare my soul
in the warm candle light,
to rest myself and be restored
by your generous provisions,
to dare to feel the warmth
of your gracious company,
to know myself in the Safest Place,
until you, the Victor, finally
bring the battle to its end.

(* quoted from Diane Vincent)
c. Nerida 21/12/17, after prayer with Rose and Darryl

The Great Unraveller

We tie it all up so tightly,
the wrapping smooth and taut,
corners perfect,
string stretched and knotted.

We tie it all up so tightly
though it rattles if shaken –
and if truth be told
there’s one too many broken bits within.

We tie it all up so tightly,
trusting those knots to hold –
to discourage inquisitive fingers
or loving investigation.

We tie it all up so tightly,
even though we KNOW
that you are the great unraveller –
your determination endless.

You pick away at those ties,
one by one, so gently
caressing our deathgrip
till at last we open our fingers.

You pick away at that neat wrapping
to show us the gift of ourselves
– shaking out what needs to come free,
revealing the whole picture.

6/8/17 Cornerstone Women’s Retreat, Canowindra

Breath of God

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
a great breath of fresh air,
chasing out the stifling closeness,
waking me from the stupor of sameness,
tickling, teasing, refreshing, revitalising.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
blowing out the cobwebs, sweetening the air,
tempering my temper, opening the shutters,
throwing up the neatly raked pile
in a kaleidoscope of colour.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Almost unnoticed, then whipping up,
suddenly, surprisingly,
throwing the settled mindset awry,
landing perceptions in new places.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
inviting me out into the open air,
the big skies and the misty beauty,
cool air on my skin, whispering promise –
momentum, direction, filling my sails.

5/8/17 Cornerstone Women’s Retreat, Canowindra

The sheepdog story


Several years ago, we were having trouble with our adorable labrador, Hugo.

He was one of those gaze-lovingly-into-your-eyes, chunky-headed, completely loyal, change-your-life kind of dogs. The pet dog I’d always longed for…

When Hugo came into our family, we lived out on the beautiful Cornerstone property in Canowindra. I walked with him every day out on the farm, with a kid or two in a pram. No lead required… he just loped around and always stayed with us.

However, when we moved into town, Hugo didn’t cope at all with the confinement of living inside a fence, and only leaving on a leash. He started to make his own way out – and no matter what we tried, we couldn’t keep him in!

We were at our wits’ end, and one day I was telling a friend about it all, and she said she had an idea that might work. Her friends had had a sheepdog that kept escaping all the time, and they came up with an idea that changed everything. Every day, they put the dog into the yard with the chooks. The dog was completely happy, busily occupied all day with rounding up the chooks!

Somehow the vision of a sheepdog happily (and madly) chasing the chooks spoke deeply to me, right there and then! That was what I was doing… Just running around doing stuff, busying myself with a hundred things that were good to do, or seemed important.

How different is a sheepdog out with the farmer? The farmer gives a single command, and the dog speeds into action… direct dashes effecting excellent results in the paddock, as the dog becomes the outworking of the farmer’s intention. A lot of energy, but all used in the most efficient way, to achieve exactly what is needed.

I want to be like that sheepdog who knows and listens for the master’s voice. Trusting that God is already at work in His world, and learning to join in on what He is doing; rather than madly dashing around doing busy work. The more I learn to wait on Him, the more my prayers and actions are able to be guided by Him, the more I will be free to sense the burdens and the little promptings that the Spirit has for me. Instead of running around chasing the chooks, I want to be able to live in partnership with the One who truly knows and loves those around me, so that He can guide me into lasting and fruitful action.

A story: Made to Fly

In 2012, I was praying a lot in the night for a friend, who was struggling with a lot of fear and mistrust, and I couldn’t sleep. So I got up, felt prompted to grab a notebook and pen, and this story tumbled out – almost word for word as it follows here. I’d love to publish it with pictures one day, and sorry it’s a bit long for a blog post, but I just wanted to share it. There’s a song of mine that seems to go with it too, that I’ll put at the end.


The Kingdom of Sunaria was a place of deep delight. Magnificent winged creatures, the Sunarians revelled in the joy of their existence as they swooped and soared. Light played on all the hues of their thick feathered wings, their tanned faces alive and radiant as they smiled towards the sun. They knew their Maker relished their freedom – He had called them Sons and Daughters of the Light – and this is what they loved to be.

Thosseyo was born a Sunarian too, but one would be hard-pressed to associate him with the Children of the Light. His face was lined and shadowed, his eyes had a haunted look. At times, as he stood looking out to the open sky, a wistful expression would steal into his face. The sunshine played with him, daring him to dive into its brilliance; the breeze ruffled along his glorious back.

But always, Thosseyo would remain on the land.

His gaze would drift downward, down to the deceptive shimmer of the wide ocean, down to the waves crashing endlessly on the rocks far below. The ocean might sparkle and the whitecaps play; but what terrors were beneath that innocent surface? He had heard tales of sharp-toothed beasts, of stinging creatures, of unknown horrors in the vast depths. He had even known of one who had flown too close to the brilliant blue, and had never returned!

Once again Thosseyo’s eyes would dull over with fear, his face beginning to reveal his panicked thoughts. His feet propelled him back, back, away from the edge – away from the place of danger. His shoulders slumped, the wings lifeless as he slowly turned and trudged back down the hill to the dirty town below.

Dankwater was well named – there was no light and brilliance there. The sun’s rays were hard-pressed to penetrate through the thick-walled hovels that were clumped together in a mess of poverty. A foul stream ran down one side of the town, made worse by the trickle of refuse and rottenness that stole past the dishevelled dwellings.

The inhabitants of this town were hardened to the ugliness of their environment. They shaded their eyes with thick dark glass, wide hats keeping their faces in the gloom. Their broad shoulders were weighed down by great heavy cloaks, roughly woven and clasped tightly at the neck.

Thosseyo took up his cloak as he passed the last tree at the base of the hill. He humped it onto his back and winced as the clasp bit into his neck. The pain was almost relieving, as it mirrored just a fraction of the agony he felt within. Why on earth did he torture himself with this useless climb? Why did he continue to hope, when he knew there was nothing to be gained? The familiar churning in his gut returned as his thoughts tossed to and fro, like leaves tossed by the wind.

He walked past the ale house, repulsed by the sounds of revelry within. Faces he knew leered at the window as he passed. One woman called his name from the doorway, then laughed loudly as he slumped on down the path.

Thosseyo finally reached his own dwelling, and felt within his cloak for the heavy old key with which to enter. When he turned the handle, his shoulders stiffened as a heavy hand was laid on his back.
“Thosseyo! My friend! Where have you been?”. The tone of voice in no way matched the words. Thosseyo’s face took on an even more haunted look – the door was open now, and his companion was right with him at the entrance.

“Where do you go, every day, Thosseyo? Why do you slink out of the town, and leave your cloak at the dying tree?”

Thosseyo’s dread was palpable. His unwelcome guest had a great ability to ignore his mute discomfort – he regularly pushed his way into Thosseyo’s hovel and made himself quite at home. Today was no exception. Thosseyo wearily entered, and the shadowy figure followed, filling up the room with his gloomy presence.

The conversation that followed went along all-too-familiar lines: endless questioning of Thosseyo’s actions, and the motives behind them; and all of the underlying causes and effects, real or imagined. A tirade of warnings and fearful tales – every dangerous possibility explored and exposed. Scorn, accusations, threats… Even though Thosseyo experienced this volley of negativity daily, it never ceased to leave him ragged and worn, a sorry picture of despair.

When he was finally alone, Thosseyo could still hear the litany of lies and fears. His teeth were on edge, his brain wired, his panic threatening to spill over into madness. When finally he could no longer fight his weariness, Thosseyo’s dreams were haunted and disturbed.

However, the next day still found him nearing the cliff’s edge, the chilly wind pulling and pushing at his dejected wings. In spite of his misery, Thosseyo could not seem to let go of this desperate daily climb. Or perhaps there was something that could not let go of him – a longing that refused to die, a yearning for all that he had ever dreamed to be real. The questioning of his accursed intruder could not completely drown out his deeper questions. Why have wings – bleached and tatty though they may be – if not to fly? Why did he wake with tears on his face, not knowing where his dreams had taken him – except that it was home?

Suddenly, Thosseyo’s reverie was broken by a joyful call. He looked up to to see Olena and Kalay speeding toward him, gleefully waving. Their loud greetings were followed by warm arms grasping him close.
“Today, Thosseyo! Surely today you will turn your back on this slavery, and join us in the sky!” Kalay’s voice had no trace of accusation.
“Yes, Thosseyo”, Olena smiled, “You know you were made for this!”
“If only I could, my beautiful friends! If only I were like you, strong and able to lift myself off this heavy earth!”

This, also, was an all-too-familiar conversation. Thosseyo was sometimes overwhelmed by the extremities of his situation – blinding light to hellish darkness, all in the one day! (All in the one hour, even the one minute, within his own thoughts!). His longing to be free was like a bitter poison, mocking his useless and hopeless reality. The disappointment he lived in threatened his sanity, leaving him feeling weary and lost – like a paper-thin shell.

Kalay embraced him afresh. “No, my friend! We are not strong! It is not our power that lifts us up to the heights!
All we do is let go of our grasp on the earth, and surrender to the One who is in this wind! We were made to fly, and all we do is step off, and find ourselves carried, lifted by the wind’s own power and strength.
You think we are able to send ourselves here and there, as we will. But what we do is rest on the wind, and enjoy the surge of its breath taking us wherever it wants!”

A harsh voice rose up over the hill, from the direction of Dankwater. Thosseyo’s heart chilled – the words stole away any hope that had been there. The voice was coming closer…

Olena’s eyes filled with tears. “Come with us, my brother! He has no claim over you! He wants to keep you away from the light; but it was light you were made for! It is light that you long for!”

Fears screamed at Thosseyo! All the familiar worries and doubts clung to him like a thornbush and he knew he would be shredded to pieces if he tried to break away. He had failed so many times before; how could this attempt be any different?

His feet had NEVER once left the ground…

But Olena and Kalay were holding his hands, their beautiful wings shimmering in the sun’s rays. Thosseyo’s own wings still felt heavy and dank as they had always been. His old companion was at the top the hill now, yelling insults and dire warnings.

This was indeed a moment of clarity! A choice had to be made –with lasting consequence. Thosseyo could no longer cower in the no-man’s-land of self-doubt and longing.

The step he took almost finished him! Right on the cliff’s edge he could almost feel the spray and mist of the churning ocean crashing onto the jagged rocks. How could he be so deluded – 0h, this was a terribly foolhardy place to be and he would surely be dashed to pieces! But then a deeper voice whispered, “Even death would be better than this endless clinging to the edge!”

And that was all he needed. He stepped out…
…into the vast unknown
…into the yawning abyss of trusting,
… up, up, up into the glorious blue!

To listen to a song along these lines, click on the link below:
The Safest Place