Friday, 6 October 2017

Apples of gold in a setting of silver

The healing would come like sunlight through trees (Pixabay)

March 1982.  I was in my second year at university, and suffering from unrequited love.  I had been in this state for pretty much a year, and the pain wasn’t going away.  My anguish over my broken romance was a real, physical ache.  It didn’t help that I saw Ex-Boyfriend almost every day (we were in the same Hall of Residence).  Being an introvert, I internalised the pain and mostly kept it to myself, apart from a few anguished wailings (usually at night) to a couple of close friends.  

Early spring had come and the end of term was nigh.  The Christians in my Hall invited the Anglican chaplain to come and lead a service of Holy Communion for us – ironically enough this took place in Ex-Boyfriend’s study.  The quiet serenity and intimacy of sharing bread and wine with each other was too sharp a contrast with my inner turmoil.  The chaplain seemed like a nice guy: approachable.  And he was a grown-up.  He would be able to be objective.  Perhaps he could help.  That was his job, wasn’t it?   I decided I must talk to him.
So I approached him, and we arranged to meet, and I blurted it out – that I was still in love, and it was a hopeless situation, and the intense pain of rejection and a broken dream was burning me up.

He listened. And then he spoke.
I wish I could remember his name, or what he looked like.  I know he was probably in his early thirties, but that’s all I can recall 35 years later.   I wish most of all that I could remember what it was he actually said.  The gist of it was that I was suffering a bereavement, because all loss is bereavement, and that’s why it was hard for me to find closure and a solution. As painful as my grieving was, it was a natural reaction to loss. 

As obvious as it sounds, this was new language for me, and it was a revelation: nobody from my quasi-fundamentalist/charismatic circles had ever talked like this, with such keen psychological perception.  The chaplain’s gentle, understanding counsel felt like cool water to my soul.
It was such a relief to know that my feelings of grief were completely natural and normal.  This proved to be the turning point.   I realised that the light of God’s healing would come and indeed had already begun.  Slowly and gradually, perhaps, but it would come, like the silver spring sunlight piercing through the naked March trees.  The grieving was a process; I could be gentle with myself, not beat myself up; and I would be able to move on.

I felt understood.  I felt HEARD.  And I was consoled. 
Such is the power of wise, healing words – they can be a powerful channel for God’s healing to flow through.

‘Like golden apples set in silver is a word spoken at the right time.’  Proverbs 25: 11, International Standard Version.
Image from Pixabay



  1. Thank you, Philippa - a word spoken at the right time for me. I was evicted from my lovely home three weeks ago. I knew it was coming. God found me somewhere else, perfectly nice, to move to. But I've been down and miserable and beating myself up for ingratitude... Yes, it's a bereavement. And yes, with God's help, I'll get over it. Thank you!

    1. Oh, really sorry to hear that, Dorothy. How traumatic. I'm glad this spoke to you, and very glad you have a new home that you like. Every blesing to you.

  2. That's lovely Philippa ... (I wonder how many other poor souls he;d had to explain that to - several, I would guess! - it is such a painful time for youngsters who have come both to study and to find forever friendships ...wish we'd had a person like that at Uni when I was ejected from a relationship after boyfriend had gone on a 'Christian sailing holiday' ... everyone either got dumped or got married, on graduation, from our C.U.!) I wonder if you have moved on into another branch of the church now?

    1. Thank you! Yes, indeed, I wonder about the other students he counselled who were suffering similar pangs ...!

      I've pretty much been in Anglican churches all my adult life, although I'm not a traditionalist sort of Anglican: I'm very low church Protestant and enjoy some New Wine events on occasion. Charismatic worship at its best can be powerful and moving (at its worst it is manipulative). But really at heart I'm a contemplative ...