‘But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall‘ Malachi 4v2
FREEDOM! Having been penned up for the winter, those calves are OUT! Space to move, to run, to jump and play – to stretch those long legs: what a wonderful picture of welcome release. (If you’re looking for the calves in the photo, they have run over the horizon, leaving their mums to enjoy the space in their own way… after all, youthful enthusiasm can be quite exhausting for us older ones! ;-))
I have been looking forward to Leap Day. No-one shut me up in a confined space, except perhaps myself… and there was discipline and purpose to the decision, it wasn’t all bad. Just like those wintering calves I needed some walls around me, some protection and boundaries; the past 2 months of being restrained and re-trained have taught me a lot… mainly that I really miss blogging! Today, 29th February, I am re-opening the door to this wide-open field and despite some uncertainty and loss of confidence – my heart is leaping in hope and anticipation: it is like being re-united with a dear old friend. Perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder – it certainly gives a new perspective if we’ll examine those relationships and motivations objectively.
That’s good then! I made it to my goal, I waited out my sentence and now I can come back to this particular expression of my journey. Well, I hope so… It is another life choice that comes hot on the heels of several others I have made in recent weeks as I’ve tried to take hold of the reins, make some considered investments… and lose weight! But choices have consequences and both positive and negative effects, and already as I eagerly write this post I am neglecting something else I promised myself I would do first…
Ah, but I am so lucky to be able to choose how I use my time – because surely living life well IS all about how we invest our time and energy… It takes us back to the old question we ask children just starting out in life: “And what do you want to do?” And for what purpose might they make their choice? For growth in a certain direction, with a goal in mind, like seeds being sown to bear fruit later on? Perhaps to earn money and create a certain lifestyle – most people have to work to put bread on the table whether they enjoy it or not… 😦 Or when we have the time and freedom, the choices can be just for love, for well-being, for fulfilment – for ‘art’s sake’! – because it’s in my heart to do it, because I’m good at it, because I have a talent, because it makes me happy.
But the calves don’t even ask that question! They leap for the joy of stretched muscles and unaccustomed air around their young limbs – they experience the moment and experiment. Or here is Florence and the Machine, physically responding to the same sense of space and gratitude in a dream…
‘The grass was so green against my new clothes,
And I did cartwheels in your honour.
Dancing on tiptoes,
My own secret ceremonials,
Before the service began.
In the graveyard, doing handstands…’
from ‘Only if for a night’ from the Ceremonials album
‘In the graveyard, doing handstands’ – in defiance of death, perhaps – outside the church walls, unrestrained by architecture or formalities, other people’s expectations. Celebration is important, ‘secret ceremonials’ mean a lot, springing out of delight and colour in child-like joy. It’s pretty grey out there today as I glance away from the screen through my 3rd storey window: I can see the white sky but I know if I could glimpse the sun I’d feel better… nevertheless, I choose to look at things that will lift my heart, whether seen or unseen, nature’s beauty or inner imaginings.
Ah this lovely thinking aloud on the page, letting thoughts lead the words… Over the past 2 months I have been keeping myself focussed on particular themes, working and blogging towards a prayer gathering that was very important – to me even if to no-one else! And I’m pleased that I kept to my plan – because I just knew I didn’t have the capacity to do both – and the day did go very well on Saturday. I still have other ‘work’ to do over the coming month, but now maybe I can allow myself this creative space again… and ooh it feels such a relief! I guess drafting those teaching notes will just have to wait a bit longer… 😉
Anyway, here we are: leap day was the destination – even though I did sneak in a couple of extra ‘silent’ posts after 201 on New Year’s day… you do know that it’s OK to change your mind, don’t you?! But February finishes at last and March is at the door and here is this extra day like a gift that comes round every 4 years to shake the earth back into line with time… as good a marker as any of the start of a new phase. We’re surely all looking forward to Spring, standing on the threshold. Maybe today looks ordinary on the outside, but under the surface, in it’s deeper meaning, this can be an extra-ordinary day!
So, I heard on radio 4 that the PM programme have put out a challenge to people to do something they have never done in their lives today. It’s called ‘remarkable feats for leap day’ and you can hear some of the stories here. An anorexic is going to eat a chocolate bar: a man who has been playing with writing music all his life is going to actually compose a proper piece! It is a deadline, a goal, a way of being accountable, people making choices and setting goals, taking a step up… You can do that on any day, of course, if you choose to – it’s a ‘leap of faith’.
Sounds a bit like ‘calves being released from the stall’ to me!