“In India, we have a saying: ‘Everything will be alright in the end.’
So if it’s not alright, it is not yet the end.”
-From the movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
I recently heard this wonderful quote read on CBC’s Tapestry show on prayer. It brings to mind that other great prayer from 13th century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well; all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
Often when things are not well, we are led to despair and dark thoughts, yet, these prayers remind us to keep the big picture in mind. Maybe, just maybe, the story is not over yet, and something will be resolved even if it seems impossible in the moment.
Last Sunday, our community had a time of reflecting on the past year. We’d all been asked to bring a picture or symbol of something that happened in 2012 which encouraged us, gave us comfort during a difficult time, let us know we weren’t alone, or something that evoked a greater openness of heart.
One by one, everyone began to share a story along with their picture, which we put on the centre table. We all know each other pretty well, so most of the stories weren’t new, but when we put them all together, we couldn’t help but be amazed – God had helped each person with problems they thought were insurmountable. In each situation, everything was indeed alright in the end.
The story I shared was one I wrote about in a February blogpost – about our Ash Wednesday service in February. We were asked to give to God a memory which dragged up our mistakes, losses or failures; something we felt helpless to change. I remember at the time that I was struggling with a certain problem and the evening gave me a ray of hope in a dark time.
Looking back, it was a turning point in that winter. After giving it to God, praying about it, and having the prayerful and encouraging support of friends, a miracle happened months later. Something I could not do was solved in a way I could not have predicted, but for which I was so grateful.
There’s a phrase that Jesus uses in the New Testament. He talks about something being impossible – like a camel trying to walk through the eye of a needle. Don’t worry though, because Jesus says, “With humans it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” (Mark 10:25) It seemed that each story that was shared was like a camel whisking through the eye of a needle. Each person left the Sunday morning meeting encouraged.
Then came Monday morning. I don’t know why, but I’d been feeling the old discouragement come up for me at work since going back in January. It’s an ancient and depressing feeling I know too well. “I’ll never change,” is usually the theme of my thoughts.
But a thought interjected on Monday morning as the underlying dark thoughts began to kick in again. I remembered the eye of the needle, and how God had gotten all of us through impossible situations. “Why can’t it apply here?”
This thought changed everything. If God brought me through the eye of a needle in 2012, why can’t it happen again? I began to pray. It has always been my experience that when honest and heart-felt prayer is brought to a situation, God always comes through. Hope began to bubble up again and love began to replace the despair that I’d been feeling.
I was looking for a book to read to my students for my lesson when a book called The Eye of the Needle, by Terri Sloat, caught my eye. I laughed at the synchronicity. In the book, a boy has a problem that is too big to solve and he has grown too large to re-enter his grandmother’s hut. His grandmother has a magic ivory needle and tells him to come through the eye. The problem of the story is solved. He thought he was a failure, but somehow he becomes a hero who feeds the whole village.
I think everyone can identify with being caught in the horns of a dilemma – something that is too large to solve. As my students gobbled up this well told tale, I knew that in their own 8 and 9 year old ways, they understood perfectly. No one in this life, not even at their young age, is exempt from problems that seem impossible. They say God is closer than our own breath. It is often hard to remember that during difficulties. They seem so large and the way through is so tiny, almost miniscule. But with God, all things are possible. We all laughed as the boy got through by the needle’s magic.
I hope I remember next time the ancient troubles start to stare me down that I am not a victim of my circumstance. Everything might not always be alright, but there is more to the story than I can see. I was grateful that God saw me through one more needle this week.