On the train there was a little baby opposite me and she stopped crying when i smiled at her - that never normally happens! Babies nearly always cry when i just go near them! What a pleasant change!
Out of the window of the train there was this really old brick building, with smashed windows with bars over them. It looked like a prison cell to be honest and made me think how sad it would be to be trapped in there on such a beautiful day. The window was only tiny, so barely any light could get in. It made me start to pray for people who in various ways are 'trapped in prisons' in their lifes. And then i looked again and saw a butterfly right by the window. At least it looked like a butterfly! It made me smile and feel thankful that even when you're trapped in a prison God can and does still send glimpses of beauty to you right where you are. I feel that's been the case with my life. Butterflies do symbolise new life too i think, so it also made me feel hopeful - hopeful for the time when the prison walls will fall down and hopeful for the beauty God brings out of once imprisoned lives.
A couple of days later i was looking at this little old book of 'sunday school lessons' in a second hand bookshop. It cost £100, so i wasn't gonna buy it! But i did have a chance to read one little lesson and it linked nicely to what i was thinking about prison cells. Apparently birds don't just sing automatically but they actually have to be taught to sing by their parents (i never actually knew that!) And in the book it gave a simple analogy about how sometimes when masters are teaching birds in a cage to sing they have to put a black sheet over the cage. This is so that the bird isn't distracted by anything else so they will just focus on listening out for their master's voice. This way the master can teach them to sing. And even if the darkness makes the bird a little afraid at first, it will just make them listen out for their master even more. The parable is kinda obvious, but basically in the same way God sometimes has to put us in darkness so that he can teach us something better. Teach us some more notes of His song - whether that is how to be patient, or how to pray, or how to be more understanding - whatever the case, God knows and will only allow the darkness for his set time and then we'll be able to sing the song we learnt in the darkness in the light as well. There we go! What a nice little children's lesson! I'm loving simplicity more and more these days.
On the same day i found a really great picture by a photographer Martha Cooper. I think it fits quite appropriately so have included it. Hopefully i'm not breaking any copyright laws!
A long time ago i also read this poem by Madame Guyon, who spent 10 years in a dungeon, far below the ground, lit only by candle light for mealtimes. It is an incredible poem considering she was locked in darkness for so long:
"A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
Yet in my cage I sit and sing,
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.
Nought have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But still He bends to hear me sing.
My cage confines me round:
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart's at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control,
The flight, the freedom of the soul,
Ah; it is good to soar,
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose Providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find,
The joy, the freedom of the mind."
And you know what, although i do still have confused days, ultimately all i want to do is say AMEN to that. Obviously i have no idea what it is to be imprisoned like she was, but there has been a small degree to which i have felt imprisoned.... But despite that, my heart and my spirit are free..... and i can't thank God enough for that.