Not all barriers are Bad Things. I sympathise with the farmer who felt a need to reinforce the message that the field beyond is not public space, but working land.
Sometimes we need to protect the landscape of our interior, where the Holy Spirit is hard at work. Often we are called to respect other people’s boundaries: their physical ‘personal space’; and the integrity of their interior life.
There’s a moment in one of those long Russian novels when one character has a sudden insight into what is happening for another, but does not press the point. The comrade (it’s a Soviet novel) is grateful for the other person’s understanding and for their reticence: ‘Few people like it when someone digs about in their soul and then broadcasts to the world what they’ve discovered there.’
I will give you a white stone, engraved with your new name – a name known only to you.
God’s working is secret. (Julian of Norwich, ‘A Revelation of Love’ Chapter 10)
Lord, you alone know everything.
Give me the portion of understanding I need to deal gently with truth: and to know the difference between secrets and toxic secrets.
Give me composure, to keep private what should remain sealed, and grace to disclose wisely that which should be revealed.
And may all be done for love of you, who are Truth!
One test for deciding whether to ‘share’ something: before opening mouth, ask myself as honestly as I can, ‘Would words serve to build relationship?’
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A reflection from Jennifer Brooker ObJN, who has been a frequent visitor of Sarum College. She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and master’s degree in theology awarded by Durham University.