This year for Lent, I gave up watching Naruto. I decided to write daily snapshots about my pursuit of God and posted them on Facebook. I realise that it probably would have been better to post them day-by-day here now, but here is the culmination, and I hope to continue the updates!
For lent, I’m giving up watching anime and reading manga, and using the time to meditate. This is for anyone remotely interested in following the story. Fortunately, I was able to complete the main story arc of Naruto on Shrove Tuesday (saving me the agony of a forty day wait), and this is where our story begins…
Day 0 (Ash Wednesday)
Woke up really tired, as it took me ages to fall asleep because I was buzzing from the conclusion to Naruto. Brain started working properly a…bout 11:30. When I got home, had a few hours before tea, so started meditating. Started cross-legged on the floor, then made the mistake of lying on bed, became sleepy. After eating, tried again, this time cross-legged again, listening to Judy Collins’ Wildflowers album. More successful this time, in Tibetan monk tea drinking mode. Went to Ash Wednesday service, very reflective and beneficial.
Day 1 (mediation instead of manga/anime)
Woke up, and for the first time in my life had no idea what the day was. Is this what happens to me without the structure of Japanese storytelling? Needed a day with Holyspirit to understand what my emotions are. Went into town to buy music to help with meditating. Bought some Thomas Tallis and William Byrd (Renaissance vocal music), as well as Claude Debussy (Impressionistic) and John Mayer. Sat in Caffè Nero for ages to write in note…book, very distracted and restless.
Listened to music while cooking tea to get in the holy zone, as is tradition; A Head Full Of Dreams by Coldplay and 1000 Forms Of Fear by Sia. For a day that I wanted to totally devote to spending time with Holyspirit, barely any tangible results. Too tired to focus now, will add new music to my iPod, and hope for a better tomorrow!
Day 2 (so much meditation, no more Naruto)
Listened to Debussy after having breakfast; good to take care of physical needs, then spiritual. Started off by thinking about Mark 7:6-7, not just accepting the status quo, then embraced the Impressionism. Again, didn’t pick up on or feel/hear anything in particular, but was very focused for the rest of the day, and productive. Did a bit of song-piano worship after lunch, massively connected with emotions.
As if I didn’t already monitor every hour of my day for efficiency and direction, I am becoming painfully self-aware in this process. Is this a good thing? I am both doing, and observing myself doing in order to monitor and test any results. Anyway, it feels weird, but I think it’s what Holyspirit wants.
Day 3 (Lent adventures)
Watched Logan and Patriots Day today; it’s going to take me about five years to wind down from the combined intensity of those films. Got home, and meditated in silence cross-legged, then lying on floor with cushion. Started listening to Ludovico Einaudi to ease back into reality, alternating between these two positions. Felt myself returning to a healthy level of wholeness, instead of being highly strung and mildly bewildered.
I find that watching anime and films sends my mind “up,” as they contain so much imagery, while day-to-day tasks bring it “down.” Doing too much of one or the other can produce an unhealthy, unbalanced approach to life. Meditation lies in the middle, both focusing the mind above (heavens) and below (earth), as you are focusing on a greater reality, while becoming more aware of your reality.
Day 3.5 (Lent, Advent, repent; what is it with Christians and words that end with -ent?!)
I’ve contracted a minor addiction to Fanta Orange; maybe my subconscious is craving the sight of Naruto’s brightly coloured jacket. Anyway, it’s run out now, so my problems are over (or maybe they’re just beginning…)
I worked for most of today, so was really tired when I got home. Listened to Troye Sivan’s album Blue Neighbourhood. Something about that music makes me feel so comforted. Not enough mental energy for any massive spiritual pursuit now, so may as well watch Friends!
Day 4 (the struggle is real)
After another busy day, I’m finding it really hard to sense God. Watching Naruto was such a reliable way of encountering Holyspirit that, now I’m trying to do it a totally different way, it feels like nothing is happening. Meditation requires a different kind of focus, and while listening to music helps, it also feels like cheating. See you on the other side of William Byrd…
Day 5 (adjusted my day number after having learnt the “proper” church way of numbering the days of lent)
First really good time with God today, yay! I was powering through the gospel of John, planning on finishing it in one go then focus on Jesus’ face, but got stopped by this bit (chapter 12 verses 27-28):
“For now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”…
Really saw Jesus’ humanity in that moment, and how even he struggled and had to persevere, and just had to stop to worship. Will finish the book next time.
Day 6 (is this the real life, is this just fantasy?)
One of those days when you’re tired, but you can’t stop being tired, because you have to keep doing things. It’s not a bad thing though. However, after spending the whole day listening to and helping with other people’s problems and emotions, I had to spend some time alone in the early evening (before even more social stuff, yay!)
My relationship with God has definitely changed; it’s one of those times when the structures we use to understand God fall away, and you’re just left with him, i.e. a complete mystery. I normally walk with Jesus, but at the moment it’s more like daydreaming, then occasionally walking into him, or falling over him! We had a great worship time tonight. We’re told to worship our father in spirit and truth (John 4:23). We don’t need anything of ourselves to worship, apart from an acknowledgement of him; he is spirit, he is truth, and we are in him.
Day 7 (drifting through life, yeah…)
Had a day off today, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Carried on reading John while listening to Who Knows Where The Time Goes by Judy Collins; great combo. Played Fire Emblem and violin, went slacklining in Weston Park with friends.
Listened to Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay while cooking tea, then went to watch Kong: Skull Island. Entertaining, but hardly groundbreaking, and not as individual as what I normally watch. Enjoyed the day, but neither music, film nor anything else provoked any spiritual encounter.
Day 8 (on a train, going someplace, don’t know where)
Did some work this morning, before catching the train home for the weekend. I always hype myself up for massive Holyspirit times while travelling, but it often doesn’t work out. Listened to How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + The Machine to get focused, but by the end I was practically passing out, not because of weighty glory, but due to the heat of a windowless carriage. Oh well. I spent the rest of the time trying and failing to complete a map on Fire Emblem (it must be possible).
There is some level of personal responsibility when it comes to pursuing God. It’s great to have fun, and he likes it, but I find it hard to determine when it’s not beneficial to just wait, and I need to push myself. But how do you decide where to push? So many questions.
Day 9 (comfort in sound)
Had a massive lie in this morning, much needed. Spent most of the day rearranging things in my room. I was sorting out all my albums into order, and tracking my taste in music over the years; thankful for the gift of music, and the significance it has in my life. Encountered God more in ten minutes with music than the rest without.
Day 9.5 (happy feelings on arriving in the country)
Had a good last day in Heysham. I always love going to HomeChurch Morecambe; always very real and joyful. Listened to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony on the train between Manchester and Sheffield. It complimented the scenery, but high levels of engine rattling dampened the atmosphere.
Often I find that specific locations sometimes sum up the essence of an entire area. I always make an effort to visit St Patrick’s Chapel in Heysham (where Patrick was once shipwrecked on his way from Ireland to England), and I never feel fully settled when I visit home until I do this. For Sheffield, walking through Peace Gardens is just as important, and I always do this on my way home from the train station. It helps me regain focus on the present.
Day 10 (dazed and confused)
Had a working day today. It started slowly, with lots of space for mental drifting, before I set off wandering around Sheffield on various missions. Yippee…
Finished off by listening to Oracular Spectacular by MGMT; my newest album, but reminds me of the time I really started listening to music. The song “Kids” got me thinking about how my attitude and approach to God has changed as I’ve grown up. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
Sometimes I find my understanding of God has become outdated and unbeneficial. Not that it was wrong, but some new level of revelation has to come for progress to occur. That’s what I’m waiting for now.
Day 11 (just keep swimming, just keep swimming)
I was looking forward to spending loads of time with Jesus this evening, but got distracted by this and that. Finally got some music on; I was going to listen to standard worship for once to make things easy for myself, but ended up listening to some Native American music I bought of some guys in the street. A bit pricey, but they had nice clothes. This music has so much space.
Reflecting on living life for God (Galatians 2:19-21). I often act as though progress is my responsibility, like I have targets to work to and “levels” of spirituality to reach. But in fact, it’s more like turning up to God with what you have. It may feel like a total mess, but it’s quite fun to muddle things along with God, and watch him work things out (although sometimes a bit slowly, get a move on mate!)
Day 12 (sneaky jazz)
Had a day off today, and was going to watch a few days, but decided to spend the day outside due to lovely weather. Was annoyed that someone had set the washing machine to a ridiculously long cycle though; sitting on a bench in Weston Park, all I could think was, “My duvet could be basking in this heat as well.” What a joke. I did start reading a book called One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which sounds a bit like the story of my life (I’m not quite there yet, but we’re building).
Had a great music throwback while cooking, with Hot Fuss by The Killers, and Black Holes &a Revelations by Muse. Then a great time worship practicing tonight. Some things in life seem so complicated, but as soon as I’m stood at a piano, I’m there.
Day 13 (passengers of time)
I started a two-day course about mental health awareness today, so was pretty exhausted when I got home; heavy topics. For some reason I decided physical exercise was the best way to relax, so did some Pilates, while listening to Yesterday Went Too Soon by Feeder. Funnily enough worked! Brings a sense of focus.
Amazing time of worship and stuff tonight at KC. One of those unexpected times of spontaneous fun that I live for. It’s great to pursue God with other people, as being in a group with a common goal pulls everyone upwards.
Day 14 (I love wholemeal)
Finished the mental health first aid course, yay! After that, went down to church to eat tea before the conference. Had a great Tuscan soup from Tesco; two of my five a day, that’s higher standards than any other broth I’ve ever eaten. I became unexpectedly thankful for bread just before I started eating, and started tearing it all in half ceremonially, Last Supper style. Listened to some Hillsong while eating for a bit of pause. Also broke off halfway through for some quick silent meditation, with hands clasped together, first two fingers pointing upwards; great stuff.
Pretty good music rehearsal, although had to dash off to Tesco five minutes before the conference started to get some earplugs. If last minute adrenaline isn’t involved, I’m not interested. Exciting event, really refreshing to hear someone talk from a different angle.
Day 15 (when the music needs to stop)
Busy day playing at the second and last day of the conference. It’s always fun to play music, but I never thought I’d become so physically and mentally tired. Towards the end, I didn’t even have the capacity to work out or form the chord shapes, I was just hitting the piano keyboard randomly and hoping for the best.
I’m going to make more of a conscious effort to actually spend time meditating, instead of using my other ways of engaging with God easily. I find it really hard to focus, but my few minutes yesterday were really beneficial, and even a small amount of time is better than none!
Day 15.5 (the show must go on)
Spent time working today. I often find the best way to relax is to actually do something. When I got home, had a good few hours with God. Started by reading Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Dwelt on that for a few minutes, then spent a few minutes in silence. It was good, although I was getting a bit distracted by the smell of Neutrogena on my hands. Maybe I should be more careful about when I use hand cream. Then carried on listening to music, Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, while reading and gaming. Nothing massive happened, but felt relaxed after chatting with Jesus about some normal things.
Day 16 (at least I’m still allowed sugar)
Instead of taking great strides in spiritual discipline, today I fell into dietary indiscipline. I was going to spend some time with Jesus in the morning, but got distracted by pancake mix in the fridge, and then by cooking and eating it. By this time, I had to leave.
Had a chat with a wise man named John in the early afternoon, which involved wisdom and carrot cake, but not necessarily in equal proportions. After tea I decided to do some Pilates to combat the madness; listened to This Is Acting by Sia. About to finish off some leftover cookies from yesterday (required for food wastage prevention). At least sugar is providing me with some consolation in my abstinence.
Day 17 (not living the dream)
I had a full day at Form today, and was planning to spend some breakthrough time with Holyspirit this evening, but ended up watching an hilarious comedy called This Country at the Williams’ house after tea. It’s really important to have fun with friends, but at the moment I feel like I’m beating around the bush, and not really achieving what I’m after (i.e. picture below, total focus/immersion in Holyspirit). It’s also hard, because I’m not watching Naruto anymore, my primary way of connecting, but I want to learn other methods in this period. Maybe it takes time, and I’m too impatient.
Day 18 (the power of stories)
Had a good time in the prayer room this morning with Form. Worshipping, felt Holyspirit like a cloak. After that, I was exhausted and desperately needed some alone time, so went to see Beauty and the Beast. Such an escape, and I always know God’s in the room when I watch films.
It’s really helpful to relax and take the pressure off by doing things that I know help me connect with Jesus, instead of constantly pressuring myself to try new things. Sometimes I need reminding that he’s nice!
Day 19 (the power of folk)
Today will go down in history as the day folk music was assimilated into my day-to-day listening. This is a change I’ve been subconsciously resisting for the last few years (although for what reason, I have no idea), but I listened to Dead & Born & Grown by The Staves, and I liked it; there’s no going back now.
In other news, I had a mildly productive day doing life admin, and applying to some long-term jobs. I finished off John today; I’m always surprised at how beneficial the bible is, as I normally revert to non-traditional ways of seeking God. The conclusion is very poetic, and I love how Jesus resets and refreshes his closest friends.
Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned towards him… (ch. 20 v. 16)
Then he said to Peter, “Follow me!” (ch. 21 v. 19)
Also, Peter gets to see way more of Jesus than others, not because of strategy, but because of his blind enthusiasm; he gives me hope!
Day 20 (sabbath)
I stayed true to my inner promise yesterday, and had a proper rest day today, yay! First in a few weeks. Went to the cinema to watch two films, Power Rangers and Get Out. Some spiritual insight in Power Rangers when their mentor Zordon says, “If you can not morph, you are not a ranger.” It’s only possible for them to morph into their armour when each member is thinking more of their team mates than themselves. Thought it was similar to Jesus being like, “If you can’t love other people, then you aren’t my follower, because that’s what I do!” Deep.
Finished off the day with pizza and game madness at the Williams’. We all suffered sabotage in Empires, but I hope by tomorrow morning my emotions will have recovered.
Day 21 (t-shirt freedom)
So much sun, I love sun! Spent most of the day roaming around fulfilling random assignments. Spent an hour or two basking in Botanical Gardens and journaling. Read a few chapters in James, and started thinking about how “God is one” (ch. 2 v. 19). Some good stuff right there. It’s a book that talks about actually doing something about your love for/faith in Jesus.
Saw that the cookies in Sainsbury’s were still on offer, and felt no qualms in purchasing. Since I recently discovered my love of these circular sugary snacks, I’m more obliged than persuaded to purchase under such circumstances.
Day 21.5 (a heart of compassion)
Had to wake up early in the morning, but my body hadn’t quite clocked the hours change (see that pun, yeah), so I was lying in a semi-paralysed state for about half an hour. Eventually got down to church for worship practice. I love playing bass; every instrument has a unique, inherent characteristic, and it always feels like a dance.
Had a few hours outside eating lunch and chatting with the housemates before back down for another worship event thing, yay! The sun can really tire you out. After chatting with Evie, realised God’s trying to teach me how to be content in the present (instead of watching epic ninja battles when things seem hard and getting lost in a glory cloud). Really felt Jesus’ heart of compassion while worshipping. Not really a physical sensation like I normally get when encountering his presence, but an emotional awakening to his love for others.
Day 22 (ceremonials)
Started off today by doing a cleaning job. Got a text halfway through from Matthew Drapper seeing if I was free to meet up in the afternoon. This message inspired great leaps of speed and efficiency in the mystic art of bleaching.
Before our rendezvous, I got a haircut. I always consider these to be symbolic, even though I never go for the full head shave, and I’m not sure what I was leaving behind, apart from brown curls on the barber’s floor. Then met Matt at Philly to leave some flowers and cards at the foot of the cross in remembrance of Jonny (our friend who died in a car accident a year ago tomorrow). Spent some time distracting the permanent staff in the offices, then headed up the hill to where it all started, Broomhill Costa. Upstairs is one of the best locations for a spiritual catch-up. Afterwards, had tea at Jayne and Rob’s, and made plans for ever-increasing glory.
Day 23 (encountering God’s love)
I got quite a bit of revelation from Jesus today about where he’s leading me. When I gave up Naruto, I was thinking, “I’m going to have spare time to pursue God’s presence in news ways, it’s going to be hard, but when I get there it’ll be amazing!” I’ve realised as I’ve gone on that the level of physical encounter I expect and experience is normally a lot more than other Christians. I normally start wondering what’s going on after an hour of n…o sign from heaven.
Instead of having more power encounters, I’ve unexpectedly met Jesus’ emotions, encountering his love rather than his presence. Having a break from watching Naruto, when I would consistently connect with God in my normal way, has actually opened me up to an aspect of Holyspirit I never really knew existed. Now I’m looking forward to what life is like at the other end of the spectrum.
Day 24 (ties that bind)
Had an extremely tiring day. Even the small amount of structure it should of started with was immediately removed by the obligation to react and respond to the needs of others. Also, I had thousands of tasks to complete, all small and unrelated apart from the fact they were linked by my life. I only finished them all towards the end of the day, so I felt like I’d had no rest or sense of achievement, even at the completion of each job.
I read a few chapters of James again; “he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us.” God wants us, whether we feel good or bad, wrong or right. Went to community for pizza and quiz. These sorts of occasions are when a classical education comes in handy. Realised I’d not had a cup of tea all day, which is why I had a mild headache. About to go into Tibetan tea drinking mode and listen to Ghost Stories by Coldplay for classic glory times
Day 25 (not my own)
Went down to church again today I help out with stuff. Made a video interview with Joel and Chris, then various admin tasks. So thankful for some time alone in the office listening to music (Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay); it makes such a difference to my day.
Had a rehearsal for playing at Francie and Ges’ wedding, then more music practice at home, trying to work out some songs for worship on Sunday. Massively felt Jesus’ compassion again. Not really looking forward to the next few days; quite full of arrangements, and most of them worship related!
It feels like the day was unbeneficial, as I didn’t get any time alone to work out how I feel, or gain much self-awareness. But it doesn’t matter: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians ch. 6 v. 19-20)
Day 26 (true sonship)
Started off by going down to uni careers advice for help on an upcoming interview. Then went to Marmadukes for some alone time with Holyspirit; even though I’m not completely busy the next few days, my mind was clogged up with arrangements, which was stressing me out. Lydia was working there, and we had a chat similar to what’s below.
I was finding it hard to work out the balance between being an instrument of righteousness (someone who does stuff for Jesus) and a child of God (someone who doesn’t have to do anything). Actually, they’re not too different. Being God’s kid doesn’t give a promise or entitlement to comfort; in fact, we will definitely experience pain, because we’re one with Jesus, who suffered and was poured out (Phillipians 2:6). Jesus had the most mature understanding of sonship possible, as he gave up every benefit possible, yet remained a son every day.
Went to the prayer room to worship tonight. I’m glad hardly anyone turned up, as I had a sore throat and really appreciated soaking alone. Enjoyed a visit from Sam PH. Afterwards, contemplation transformed into dancing.
Day 27 (the supremacy of cake)
In the morning, I thought that two and a half hours would be enough time to buy our Sicilian visitors breakfast (yes, for some reason I am now operating in the realm of hospitality), and iron my shirt and trousers. Unfortunately this was not the case, and I ended up being late to another worship rehearsal. Francy and Ges’s wedding was great: amazing music (obviously), layout, talks and food. I felt the Lord’s presence on many occasions, especially while eating cake. It was rainbow coloured.
After that, I cleaned the Playtime Centre, before heading off to Cineworld to watch Ghost in the Shell with Luke. One of the best remakes I’ve ever seen, and much better than I was expecting, having seen the original before my anime boycott. At one point, two characters remind each other of their original names, calling out the hidden identity in each other. Big stuff.
Day 27.5 (music)
I went to KC this morning to lead worship, late yet again because of the classic bathroom waiting game (I will be punctual, if only once). Was feeling a little nervous, as it took ages to set up, and I had a slight cold. A sad service, as one of the congregation took their life this week, but worship helped to restore vision and hope.
Went to the pub afterward with friends, and was fuming at £4.40 for a cider; Bulmers never tasted so insipid. Had an extensive bath when I got home, as my shins were quite painful. I then vowed to spend the rest of the day alone, but ended up playing piano with one of the Sicilian’s, Reuben, for three hours, and then food. Got to hear some of their cultural and worship songs. I find music is very magical and unifying, and it’s always a special privilege hearing people singing in their native language; that’s what heaven will sound like.
Day 28 (how come ducks aren’t obese?)
Started the day with breakfast while listening to Fire Within by Birdy. Afterwards, I was planning to read some bible, but ended up watching political videos by Jonathan Pie. Went to Hillsborough to clean someone’s house, then ate lunch in the park. I witnessed seven ducks eat a whole loaf of bread in under two minutes. How is this behaviour sustainable without a Weight Watchers programme?
I got home, and broke yet another inner vow to stay alone, and got sucked into the excitement of Sicilian cooking, so much so that I launched a honey jar into a basin of ragu sauce to redecorate the kitchen. After tea, we spent time worshipping together. Again, it’s incredible listening to songs in other languages. There is a certain power in the tongue, and I was overwhelmed by God’s presence whenever we sang a tune I knew, and I joined in. Amazing to be family with people I barely know.
Day 29 (mist)
We went on a walk in the peaks this morning. I started having flashbacks to doing the same walk earlier in the year (seemingly in a past life), and also to Middle Earth, because of all the mossy trees and rocks. It’s time to go back sometime soon. Then we ate at The Grindleford Cafe. Maybe my experience of Welsh and Scottish B&Bs on walking holidays has set my standards too high, but it’s 4/10 for the full English breakfast; I expected more from a cafe with that sort of name.
I started feeling a wave of exhaustion early on during the day, probably because I started to relax from the change of scenery. I really needed some proper time alone today, but that plan seemed to get swept aside by watching Nick beat up fantastical characters on Mortal Kombat, a mission to buy fish and chips for sixteen people, and then pick up my education certificates from the Harrison’s house. I did manage to finish James though: “See the farmer patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.”
Day 30 (sacrifice)
Today was the first day I really got stressed about having people over to stay. Plans kept on changing, and I feel when there is no consistency, it’s hard to think and react. Anyway, this pressure forced me into a long-awaited time with God, as is so often the case. It is obviously beneficial, but I often wish drama wasn’t needed to force me into his arms.
Reflecting on individuality and community. Having watched the Sicilians, I see they put a much larger emphasis on corporate, group time than our culture. While this is great, the lines of my personality have begun to blur. Where does myself end, and the collective begin? In the end it is a question of sacrifice, both to spend time with Jesus (refining my personal identity) and with other (living in family). David says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” meaning God actually benefits when we sacrifice to spend time with him.
Day 31 (dis/engage)
The Sicilians left this morning, and I found it hard to switch from the mindset of hosting to being able to spend time alone. Also, I had an interview today, which for the past week I’d been viewing in my mind as the “end of doing stuff,” so had to wait until this was over before I could properly think about how I actually wanted to spend my time. Before this, I spent an hour sitting in Weston Park to disconnect. When it’s windy, I can never tell if I’m experiencing Holyspirit, or I’m just cold. Jesus refers to the spirit and wind being the same thing in John 3, so maybe there’s no difference.
After the interview, I still found it hard to asses my desires. I was thinking of watching a film after tea, but ended up playing Call of Duty for an hour. I’m not sure shooting people in a virtual environment is the most relaxing pastime, and I was even worse the second time I played than the first. I was listening to some music before I went to bed, and ended up falling asleep, explaining the lateness of this post!
Day 32 (not all those who wander are lost)
Absolutely blitzed the bathroom this morning to give myself peace of mind with regards to its cleanliness. I then tapped into my inner rage by listening to Drones by Muse while playing Call of Duty again. I don’t really even like the game, but I needed to see some improvements from my performance yesterday. One of the songs sings, “It’s human nature, the strongest hunter will survive alone, with no one left to love.” A reminder that a life focused on self-preservation can only lead to isolation.
Then headed over to Lee’s house to play Bomberman with Samuel and Liv. After a shaky start, Sam rightfully learned to fear my prowess, and I was happy to accept a handicap. After leaving, we made the fateful decision not to walk to the bus stop we got off at, leading to much wandering and wondering. I had to be at Centertainment to meet my grandparents, and Liv to watch a film, so we were forced to get a taxi. Such inefficiency was positively disastrous in my mind, as I hate needlessly spending money, and had worked out an amazing public transport plan. Fortunately, this mood was nothing that roasted duck and coffee couldn’t remedy.
Day 33 (there’s still good in him)
I saw Pete and Katy working on the house while I was on the way to buy milk, so helped them out sanding for a few hours before heading to the cinema. Star Wars VII was showing in iMax for £3. To be honest, I was quite underwhelmed by the “immersive” experience, but the film was as great as ever. It contains so much symbolism, my favourite being the passing on of Anakin and Luke’s lightsabre. Also, for the first time, the final duel struck me as being quite Shakespearean in style, a bit like the conclusion of Macbeth. Holyspirit was there. I also watched Raw; freaky but mesmerising.
Finished off by having a late tea, while listening to Harmony by Native Indians; his album is always a glory shower. I’m the only person in the house for the next few weeks now, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to the introverted adventures that beckon. And now I don’t have to worry about how my actions may impinge on others.
Day 33.5 (abide)
I started today by reading the end of Galatians 2, which got this hymn going round my head for the next few hours. Then headed down to The Cabin to work. I asked Jesus what he wanted me to do for the next few weeks, and he said, “Abide.” (John 15) The weather was beautiful, and I love being outside, so I was expecting to feel annoyed all day, but didn’t for some reason. I did get to sit down in Devonshire Green for a few minutes before, and Weston Park afterwards.
Managed to waste about an hour when I got home, between hunting for a mysterious beeping (low battery smoke alarm) and watching videos. I listened to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way while having tea. Not everyone appreciates her, but I think she’s one of the most prophetic musicians of my generation, and is often misunderstood. Then decided to have time with God without the trappings. I do not want the blessings, healings, mysteries, confusions or failures associated with following Jesus. I want the person of Christ, who lies in wait behind all these things. For from him and through him and for him are all things (Romans ch. 11 v. 36)
Day 34 (Sheffield realness)
Started the day off with a breakfast worship rave listening to The Friendship and the Fear by Matt Redman. Groovy nineties vibes were later disturbed by social media and technology distractions, an unfortunate theme of the day. The main event was meeting Monsieur Drapper for a few hours. We met in Botanical Gardens, then floated down to the Cathedral, and then to The Cabin for lunch. It’s the first time I’d been as a customer, and I was able to properly appreciate the interior and layout. And omg the waffles! When I left the Cathedral I felt slightly spaced out and trippy, a condition that unfortunately wasn’t cured by virtue of the food.
After Matt left, I went to the library for a few hours, to actually make some progress on the book I am allegedly “reading”. When I got there though, Mum phoned me to remind me to update my student finance details. I decided to hike back home, as I didn’t trust the Wi-Fi security in the library, only to eventually find that the interest rate should fall at the end of April by default. They better be on it, because ain’t paying that extra 3%. Although I did have a nice cup of tea, and listened to Aerial by Kate Bush for the first time. Also decided to have a holy bathing time in the evening. Shower + no light = instaglory.
Day 35 (delusional and proud)
This morning I remembered that I’d worn a hole in my favourite pale jeans, an event more significant to the fashion world than any of Kate Middleton’s appearances in 2007. Coupled with the fact I couldn’t find my Casio watch for half an hour, my day was off to a shaky start, and I wandered about in a reverie that lasted quite a while.
After cleaning, I headed down to church to learn how to advance the kingdom by selling items on eBay. I then went to the Williams’ (self invited as always) for high class conversation, comparisons between our qualities of upbringings, and food. Then inappropriate mockumentary comedy courtesy of BBC Three. I’m planning to bring the force back into balance by listening to Ghost Stories by Coldplay, a highlight in popular reflective tunes.
Day 36 (cabin fever)
I decided to listen to Coldplay this morning instead of last night to get the day off to a reflective start, but the atmosphere kept being interrupted by toppling speakers and what not. Then headed down to Philly to help out at Restore. The day was punctuated by lunch at The Cabin, the third time I’ve visited in the last four days. I love soaking up the vibes though.
While cooking and listening to Origin of Symmetry by Muse (an album I bought ages ago, and which signified me taking ownership of my music taste), I got hit by a revelation of the cross. Jesus took one of the most brutal forms of torture and transformed it into a symbol of hope. The cross can be used as a metaphor for God’s law: a set of rules that are impossible for us to keep, and which can only bring us sadness (Romans ch. 3 vs 23, 27 & 28). But Jesus’ death freed us from the law, so we can now look at those same rules, not despairingly, but as a vehicle for living godly lives. The curry race session was rounded off by Enya’s Shepherd Moons.
Headed back down to church again (I practically live at the site), for meditations, worship and praying for Restore.
Day 37 (the aisles are alive – Thursday of Mysteries, the one where Jesus was betrayed)
A fairly uneventful day, with the highlight being a morning shopping trip to remedy the toilet paper shortage in our house (trust me, this stuff is essential). I was wandering round picking up a few more items, when a four pack of Braeburns launched itself into my basket. This startled me slightly, but I went with the flow, and bought them. These apples were obviously a sign from heaven, a…s the total was £7.77! The divine number representing each member of the trinity; the force was strong. The Native Indian music was blasting out as soon as I returned home.
In the afternoon, I played some piano, read the start of 1 Chronicles, revisited Bloons Tower Defence, and watched an episode of Friends. Then headed down to Philly for tea with Restore people; it was really interesting hearing people’s stories. After that was evening meditation with communion. I’ve been worrying about the outcome of last week’s interview, so I surrendered my future into God’s hands. Then worship rehearsal for Easter Sunday, where a few accidental (but tasteful) E7 chords were thrown in; bring back the nineties!
Day 38 (depth – Good Friday, the one where Jesus gets murdered)
I got to work at The Cabin today again, and had to properly serve people for the first time. Customer service can often be a challenge, but it’s definitely not as bad as being abandoned, tortured and crucified. Thank you Jesus! I did some Pilates when I got home; I find that exercise is sometimes the best way to relax, even if I’m physically tired. I listened to A Head Full Of Dreams by Coldplay while eating tea. This album is one of ten or so that I listen to the most out of my music collection. Starting to anticipate what the next cohort will include; maybe Katie Melua.
I decided to go really deep in worship, classic Good Friday reflective style, but it didn’t work out, as I was feeling too inwardly joyful (Tides by Bethel Music). Found it hard to focus on the tragedy when I know the following victory. Romans 6 is the bible passage that is always most firmly imprinted on my mind, and I’ve made a massive conscious commitment and effort to never leave that state. “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Oh well, maybe some Jason Upton will make me cry.
Day 39 (a song – Easter Saturday, the one where Jesus was still dead)
Went down to Preston today to meet my family for a joint celebration of my Aunty and Grandma’s birthdays. I read Psalm 119 on the train down, which is about following God as a young person. “I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word… Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit.” (vs 81 & 96)
Grandma read Psalm 128 over us as a blessing before lunch, wh…ich I thought and felt was a special privilege. I’m grateful for my spiritual heritage. After that, some of us went on a walk. All the rain had disappeared by that point; all was tranquil and bright. On the journey back, got some good down time. Trains are like mini temples, at least when the engine isn’t constantly droning. Walking back through Sheffield on a Saturday night makes me wonder how people can call such darkness and confusion, “life.” Walking past the SU, restored calm, and two owls calling and flying near Weston Park reminded me of the start of Proverbs; Wisdom shouts in the street, “How long will you love being simple minded?” Looking forward to tomorrow, and the long-awaited return of Naruto/Jesus.
Day 40 (Easter Sunday, the one where Jesus isn’t dead anymore)
Started of the day playing at the morning service today, absolutely fat praise as always on Easter Sunday. Went to the Simms’ for food; sausage juice as always was a favourite on the menu (I didn’t know it was gravy, and it needed a name). Then it was time for the big ninja reveal, and after a humongous forty-day fast, I rewatched one of my favourite moments in Naruto. As always, it’s very different watching something again, and storytelling is a massive part of how the anime is structured, so I was appreciating the imagery and illustration even more than usual.
Ended the day with vast amounts of food and antics at the Cutting’s. Fizzeco is the hidden ingredient to any major party; watch out, that stuff is lit up. I felt betrayed and undermined by Joel while playing Empires, who I informed of my “infallible” tactics last time we played. I’m proud of the title of last lone wolf though.
With regards to Lent reflections, I started out expecting to meet more of God’s power, but accidentally ran into his love instead. Not that that’s a bad thing, but I’m going to have to work out how to consciously search that out.