Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lent: Day 4

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Ok, you probably don't want to admit it, but many of us will have pressed our noses against the glass of a shop or other window to see what was inside. Besides the obviously amusing results for the people inside, I guess most of us would feel pretty stupid if caught. But we do have this desire to peep inside, to get a glimpse of something more.

I have been reminded of this by a chaffinch which has become a regular visitor to my daughter Elspeth's window. She has a small bird-feeding box on the outside of the glass attached with suction cups. It's not particularly unusual for birds to drop by and feed. The chaffinch, however, knocks on the glass. It taps away for quite long periods of time, breaking off periodically to enjoy some bird seed or a quick trip round the local trees.

Presumably there's something inside, amongst the colourful and sparkly things which fill Ellie's room, that is attracting our friend. We just don't know what it is, and presumably neither does the bird.

I couldn't help wondering what the spiritual equivalent of nose-pressing-on-glass was. I think a lot of people look at the prospect of being a Christian from behind a glass wall - they see it, they like it, they are sympathetic, but somehow they can't get inside, get into it. And I've seen some people knock on the glass for years. And it's not necessarily any better for those who are active churchgoers. Many people come along, join in, go through the motions and look as if they are fully on-board, but when you get a chance to talk, sometimes it hasn't actually all fallen into place. For others, the distance is more apparent - other people seem to be more engaged, more spiritual, more 'into it' but something inexplicable holds them back.

I guess a good question for today would be whether we can get a little clearer on what holds us back - what is our equivalent to the glass for the chaffinch. For some it will be intellectual; for others it will be baggage from our past, or inhibitions we have learned; for others it may even be something about the Christian community itself.

Banging endlessly against glass you can't break just makes you frustrated and sore; better to work out the nature of what the glass is and crack it.

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