Shadow casting

Having walked a small person to school this morning I was enjoying the sunlight and noticing the shadows that were being cast by buildings and people. When the sunshine appears it is best to make the most of it, and so today I enjoyed two walks and the realisation that it has been the first time in several months that I have walked further than the door to the car door. I’m hoping that the sun might have further lightened my highlights.

Enjoying the sun further added to my knowledge that I miss walking, but I also miss walking with a good companion. Until this time last year, I walked 8 miles at least once a fortnight with a friend. Knowing that I would be meeting someone meant that the walk happened. The knowledge that those walks will no longer happen cast shadows through my thoughts today, for I miss a friendship as well as the exercise.

There are all sorts of shadows on the relationship, and I suspect there are no ways in which the distance that lies between two former friends can be reduced. Both parties feel hurt, one feels betrayed, and I imagine that the other feels judged and ignored.

How did a friendship come to this? Human relationships are always complex, and I suppose we always hope that some kind of redemption might be possible. Some distances are created because of the right words said at the wrong time. Sometimes we put distance between others because ill health means we want to put our own wants and needs first.

The shadows of today are of anger at being used to hide a secret, and only recognising the duplicity as different stories fitted together. They are of trying to keep a door open with conversation, only to be pushed to the borders. They are of hearing what is being said, when no conversation has happened for a year. But perhaps the biggest shadow of all is knowing that the other bears a shoulder full of grievance, and will not talk.

Will there be resolution? I suspect not. Having extended an olive branch in recent months, a card came in return that was definitely closure on the friendship. Both hurt, both stubborn.

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Who, which, what…..?

It had never occurred to me that people think that different denominations make a difference to this debate, but I learnt a whole new way of thinking about which was more appropriate recently.

 

I wonder which you use, or which you prefer…

It’s that moment in the service, and the encouragement words are said, and you set forth with others in what might be the only moment in which a whole congregation gets to speak…

Have you caught on yet?

 

Post a funeral, I was hanging about a room collecting my abandoned things when I was caught.

“I’ve been meaning to chat to you about this.   It’s just someone finds it very uncomfortable when you insist on saying “which” in the Lord’s Prayer.    They think it should be “who””.

Ignoring my usual philosophy on finding out who someone is (please know that that is always for my own benefit and not so I can go and speak to “someone” about the particular matter), I said, “Oh..?”

“Well, why do you say “which?”    I’ve told this person its because you were “Episcoplian” before you joined the Church of Scotland.”

“Hmm…well I wouldn’t have said I was Episcopalian.   I was brought up in the Church of Scotland before I went to live in England and only joined the church there because that was the local church.   We only lived there for five years, and we came home when I was still a teenager and I joined the Church of Scotland then.   So I’m not sure it is because I’m Episcopalian.”

 

[Interluding thought – does hanging out in the Baptist Church on a Sunday evening because there are boys, and they are not bad-looking, and you can sing in a band with them make you a Baptist?   Because if so I’d maybe better never mention that…]

 

Back to the conversation.

“It just seems odd that you should say “which” when it really is “who”.”

“Well I think some people choose to say “who” and some choose to say “which”, and I think “which” is probably the older form but I personally use it because for me it is better theology than “who”.”

“It’s not very Church of Scotland.”

“It probably depends on the Church of Scotland.   It’s the version I learnt in church.   And I know it is in the Church of Scotland Book of Common Order from the 1940s because I have my great-grandfather’s copy.   But I use it because for me “who” means a person, and I think God is much bigger than a person and I would hope that prayer could give voice to that feeling, so that’s why I use “which”.

“It’s in an older prayer book, what date?   I think someone would like that, I think they would appreciate knowing it as the older form.   Maybe they’ll not wince so much when they are sharing the prayer.”

 

“Who” or “which”, they are like hymns.   The one you prefer is probably the one you’ve been saying since childhood, and then someone comes along and disturbs you and makes you ask questions.   Questions are great, because in the working out of an answer with which we’re all comfortable there is an encounter with the wonder and oddity of this overwhelming presence some of us call God.

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