Emerging from beak black soil rise the snowdrops, daffodils & crocuses, bright waves of colour springing from winter. Like reinforcements of hope they join lengthening light from morning to night. I adore this time of year, cycling through the Ayrshire lanes, hills, and fields, grateful and hopeful. These earthy emblems of God’s Grace line the trackside of Lent as we head towards Jerusalem and Jesus’ certain death, resurrection, ascension and outpouring of God’s Spirit. It’s a time to renew commitment to conversion and allowing Jesus into more rooms in my soul.

Ron Rolheiser (Sacred Fire) claims that energies you don’t ‘transform’, process and convert, get consciously or unconsciously ‘transmitted’. a)
You meet someone for the first time and find an amazing chemistry and connection. In the movies what often happens next is that erotic love, like electricity, flies through and the couple end up in bed, no time taken to ponder and process such a free flow of energy and repercussions for a marriage, potential pregnancy, or one’s soul & character. b) Your kids wind you up something chronic, so you let fly, your anger landing unchecked bang between their childish eyes (I remember apologising to my own kids numerous times for channelling such negative energy). c) Someone in your circle, family, work, team, neighbourhood, church, speaks ill of you behind your back or / & hurts you face to face. How do you respond?

Our choice is to ‘transmit’ or ‘transform’ raw emotion & energy. Jesus teaches us to carry and convert the toxins, pain & pollution which people launch at us. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Hanging in agony on the Cross, Jesus prays, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” And standing underneath Christ’s Cross, his Mum ‘Mary’ joins Jesus in not retaliating or calling his killers down. Mary ponders and processes what’s going on, God’s Gracious Spirit helping her to carry the agony of seeing her son murdered. It’s the choice between acting like an electric cable or a water purifier, a conduit for dealing more muck or filter to stop pollution. As I write, SEPA agents are attempting to remove a large amount of seepage oil from the river Irvine. But what if we chose to just let such damaging oil spills go unchecked and unprocessed, the results would be increased damage to our local environment. Jesus offers us help to similarly be agents of cleansing & healing in our world of relationships.

There are some important caveats to carrying toxin & tension for others: 1. It doesn’t mean putting up with abuse. Following Jesus can demand hard confrontation and even a distancing from that which causes tension. 2. We need healthy outlets to release our tensions, preferably not with those causing them. My wife and some trusted friends are great helps for me. 3. We need help beyond us: a person, friendship, fellowship, faith, God, perspective to grow in this type of maturity.

A civil rights worker who endured much pain pursuing justice writes: “At first I fought back and made some of them sorry they’d attacked me. But then I realised that by fighting back I wasn’t getting anywhere. The hatred coming at me in fists and clubs was bouncing right off me back into the air and continued to spread like electricity. I decided not to fight back. I let my body absorb hatred, so that some of it would die in my body and not bounce back into the world. I now see that my job, in the midst of evil, is to make my body a grave for hate.”

If you’ve reached this far in my blog, might you join me in this prayer? “Lord,

May I never add a single drop to the negative, destructive energies that swirl around me everyday, threatening to engulf us. Teach me to be a transformer like Jesus & Mary.”