I know. I'm nearly a week late. Such has been the chaos of life over the past week that I haven't had time to post anything. I keep saying it will be better next week but life always proves me wrong.
I felt very reminded of the mess and mortality of human life on Ash Wednesday and this has stayed with me through the first week of Lent. After Morning Prayer, Eucharist and a meeting with my Spiritual Director, I was summonsed back to the church where a lady had appeared in some distress. She was passing on her way back from a mediation meeting in divorce proceedings, and wanted to call in where she had been married. I sat with her for more than an hour as the sorry tale of an unravelling relationship was told. I was transported back to my tiny office on the outskirts of Glasgow where I used to hear similar stories from clients in my then professional capacity as a solicitor, specialising in divorce work.
There is so much that can be wonderful in a marriage at its best, But at its worst, it must be one of the most miserable ways of living. I don't like divorce. I didn't especially rejoice when my clients' cases were over and the decrees issued, and they were single once again. Where there was abuse - and in that part of Glasgow, it was not uncommon - it must surely have been better for the abused spouse and for any children of the marriage for that relationship to be over if it cannot be healed.
And yet, the lady who I spoke to last week reminded me of the pain of a failed marriage - even where the relationship cannot truly be called a marriage as is it so dysfunctional . In the church where they had made their marriage promises to each other before God, it hurt that those promises had been broken repeatedly over a period of 21 years, and that the relationship was finally to end. It hurt a lot.
Human sinfulness is hideous, and on Ash Wednesday my visitor reminded me of the damage and pain that we can inflict on each other. I have certainly hurt people I professed to care about. That's what we as humans do. We find ourselves doing thing that really we don't want to do and that we know will hurt others and consequently ourselves. I think St Paul knew about that when he wrote to the Romans 2000 years ago and not much has changed.
After the lady left the church, I had (yet another) reminder of mortality in a funeral visit.
Sin and mortality. The ashes felt surprisingly heavy as I made the sign of the cross on foreheads that evening