Alway is yours

This week for a class on theological reflection I was challenged to write a piece of a narrative that was ‘how theology was done’ after Heather Walton’s wonderful piece “Passion and Pain”, her exploration of infertility and faith.

I have been surprisingly moved by my reflection, and feel freed to be able to experience God through creative writing. This really helped me to name some of the joys but also some of the painful times and the failures of a community project I was part of on the Alway estate in South Wales.

The Alway vicarage garden was abandoned, neglected, sporting waist-high weeds, without vision and in need of love. Inside the Alway vicarage young adults were being thrust into ministry on an abandoned, neglected estate sporting a young population, educational drought, funding cuts, a dodgy bus service, without vision and in need of love.

No-one had showed us how to tend a garden, how to weed the weeds and sow the seeds, how to make the best of both the wheat and the chaff. No-one had showed us how to be community, how to live with each other’s faults, how to help each other become the people God was calling us to be, how to grow up without growing old and hard.

Recycling collections came and went, as did school assemblies, Sunday services, sleepovers, seasons. There was plenty of guitar and drums, praising through the medium of Mumford and Sons, glorifying our maker through the ipod, through gig night, through rock band on the Xbox. There was sporadic sowing and growing amidst toast and hot chocolate. Fights, spray paint and cigarettes were the compost of conversations and relationships. Often a petrol-powered strimmer seemed the only answer to the neglect; other times a fine-tooth comb and a friendly face.

Grass seed grew alongside dandelions. Delicate bulbs appeared through last year’s leaves and this year’s snow. The garden was set on fire once. It was only a fire extinguisher that was set off at the youth group. We prayed and dreamed and nurtured and waited. Some mistakes we learnt from. Some harvests take a long time.

This is life and love, hope and glory, fruit and failure.
Alway is yours, always yours.
This is how theology is done.