Of all my nerdy habits, high on the list is a practice I share with my mum – texting each other when there is something interesting on the radio.
‘RADIO ULSTER NOW.’
We are not technology-savy, we are whatever the opposite is, but we know the frequencies for Radio Ulster and Radio 4 and we wield our ancient Nokias as weapons for good as we interrupt each other’s day with these recommendations. Maybe William Crawley is on unexpectedly! Maybe there’s a compelling discussion on Talkback. (I have been advised at the lunch table at work not to say these things out loud).
So this morning, preparation for a toxic-poo change was interrupted with this information: “Stocki on radio ulster. Meditation for good friday. Just starting with song.” I pushed open the door to the kitchen where radio ulster was whirring quietly in the background and turned it up, just as U2’s ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ was starting. In the living room my girls did what they always do when they hear a TUNE, dropped their legos and ran for the kitchen floor where Livi spun and Immie shook her toxic bum.
I shushed the girls to try to listen to Stocki’s words following the song. He was talking about Grace Interruptions. A phrase that makes sense to me in this season of life. I want grace to come in the stillness and in the time and space I long for. But it interrupts, like everything else in my life these days. It interrupts, thank goodness.
I have tried in recent years to hold space for something at Lent, to read liturgy or adopt a reflective practice. This year it has passed me by. But grace still interrupts. A Good Friday reflection finds me, among the lego and the poo, right where I need it.
Olivia is shouting “FRIDAY!” “SATURDAY!” “SUNDAY!” as she hears Stocki mention these Easter days. And hearing them, and the music, and the 2 words Grace Interruption are enough to stick in my head through the day, to keep interrupting, to mean something.
And the thing about fleeting interruptions these days is we can usually listen again, or find them written down somewhere. When we hear a snippet and it does us some good, we can usually come back to it. Which I do, when the girls are in bed and the house is quiet. I do because the snippet reminded me that I love Good Friday, that it makes sense in life, as well as in the resurrection story. I do because the snippet reminded me that I love preachers who play songs like ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’.
Last night I sat with my ear pressed up to my laptop listening to another speaker who inspires some people I respect. I listened intent and disheartened, straining to hear his words as his voice rose and dipped with emotion. I listened as he identified my generation in the church – the ones who talked late into the night when they were 20 about changing the world – but who sold out to it, buying houses and distracted by the choice of toasters. We have become cynical and hard. He rally-called us back to Big Things.
I listened and I felt dismissed and misunderstood. I thought of the complexities and the journeys and the reasons behind the cynicism of not only myself, but of the friends and mentors who once talked late into the night. I thought of those who have walked away from church or faith, who couldn’t care less about toasters. I used to take notes when some of them were speaking and I haven’t just stopped respecting what they think. It doesn’t help to hear someone spit ‘cynic’ at them. I thought of those struggling who haven’t become hard, but who always feel too soft… too sensitive, too serious, too confused. I thought of those reclaiming faith, or traditions, who value all of their story and do not dismiss their time in the wilderness or the tension they still sit in.
I read and listen again to Stocki, knowing all of these thoughts are probably only connected in my head, but I’m claiming this Grace Interruption, I’m loving that phrase. We are Easter people, thank God, but I feel less lonely sometimes sitting in Good Friday for a while. Sitting in the company of those Heroes of the Bible while they felt afraid, and confused and sad and unsure. When they didn’t trust the future, actually. I notice a poem below the Radio Ulster piece called ‘Discomfortable Friday‘. I like that. I like it for everyone who has known ‘Everything in shadows and dark’, and I like that Grace Interrupts.
I think of Olivia shouting “FRIDAY!” “SATURDAY!” “SUNDAY!”, I think of the Barbara Johnson quote often repeated by Anne Lamott that “We are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world”, and I think of Tony Campolo’s trademark message “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin'”.
Toasters are not luring us away from church, or from believing in what happens on Sunday. Our journeys and struggles and paths and redemption stories are unique and complex, valuable and ongoing. It’s Friday, and in between the dishes and a tantrum and a knock at the door, grace interrupted. I may have dwelt too long, otherwise, licking wounds from last night’s podcast, but thank goodness for interruptions- for texts from mums, for voices on the radio, for favourite quotes and honest songs and phrases lodged in our memory… for good, discomfortable Friday… it suits soft cynics like me.