she wore the veil

she wore the veil with virgin grace
and draped it o’er her brow
and hidden there she wore the air
of dignity – yet how
came she to stand, shunned, in this place

she wore the veil of unjust shame
by others she was robed
– this quiet child of manners mild –
in words that cut and probed
determined to find sin and blame

she wore the veil her man gave back
despite his love, for she
had crossed the grove which he behove
and rumour had run free
and found her guilty of the black

she wore the veil the angel left
it shone through pain and gloom
spoke God’s great need to plant a seed
of hope inside her womb
to save humanity bereft

she wore the veil with reckless joy
abandoned to His love
the shame was lost to higher cost
of birthing grace from Him above
wrapped in her holy veil a tiny boy

© Emma McGeorge

Advertisements

It’s Time to Break the Rules

September 2016 - Emma McGeorge - Breaking the Rules.jpg

Jesus broke the rules. He defied the law. He was not exactly your average “middle ground of goodness” type of guy.

Sure, he lived what seems to have been a fairly mundane, normal kinda life, for the first part anyway. Not much seems noteworthy about his first few decades, except for a brief episode of teenage angst when he freaked out his mom by not telling her he was staying behind from a family trip to the temple.

Maybe that was the first indication that this boy, this Christ Child, was not going to play by the rules. By the time Jesus of Nazareth hit his 30s, the midlife crisis kicked in and he unapologetically disrupted society, culture, religion and the world with his radical, rule-breaking, religion-defying, simple, humble life.

The Rules of Religion

For a man widely associated with the Church, the saints and all around religious conventions, Jesus was conversely sacrilegious. Just watch the sudden gasp of the crowd who stood in frozen awe as he tore apart a marketplace in the temple. With a whip. Which he’d just made. With his big, muscled, carpenter’s hands.

Or feel the smouldering indignation of those who pointedly told him it was the Sabbath (clearly a holy day of pious reflection and rest), then watched in frustration and disbelief as he did the unthinkable and stretched out his hand and healed a broken man.

“Playing it safe” clearly wasn’t a phrase in Jesus’s vocab.

Neither was “religiosity”. For some reason, the pinnacle of all our sacraments and sanctifications wasn’t too fussed with making sure he walked within the clean lines that the law of religion so carefully penned.

The Rules of Culture

Nor was Jesus overly concerned with fitting into the culture of his day. Just hear the muted grumbling of the pompous, patriarchal leaders who watched in horror as he, in the midst of a dinner party of rich, proud and respectable men, blessed a woman. She who wept and snotted and collapsed all over his feet. Who doused his salt-bathed peds in perfume. And who then did the unthinkable and wiped it all down with her hair…!!??

And Jesus smiled, and forgave her, and calmly continued with the 7-course buffet like this disruptive little scene was the most normal occurrence in a woman-oppressing, religion-caressing environment.

The Rules of Expectation

By now, Jesus, the breaker and quaker of rules, had quite the reputation. Apart from his continual defiance of rules and norms, there was something glorious, something magnanimous, something incredibly powerful about this humble oxymoron of a prophet.

So the crowds clung to him, the towns rushed out to meet him, the crippled found healing at his hands, the beggars found love at his feet. “Teacher” they called him. “Rabbi” they revered him. And the great and mighty Christ surrounded himself with…

Fishermen.

Once again, when it came to expectations, this carpenter-turned-preacher had no qualms in tossing them aside like the gambling tables he’d once flipped. He hand-picked his team himself, choosing the roughest, toughest, most-likely-to fail-at-the-rules fishermen. They were not religious nor holy. They did not fit into the Church’s box or inspire holiness and piety.

They probably stank.

But Jesus wasn’t out to play by the rules. He was carefully and methodically toppling the Jenga towers of expectation, culture and even religion. He was not about to conform.

The Rules of Conformity

Everything Jesus said and did defied some aspect of the rules and systems of his day. Somehow, he missed the memo that said “Don’t Make Ripples”. Maybe he was too busy shouting down a storm or strolling on the raging sea.

Is it any wonder that Paul, having met a death-defying Jesus, wrote*:

“Don’t conform to the pattern of this world… Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.”

In other words—don’t follow the rules just because. Then Paul went on:

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

And the Jenga tower came tumbling down.

Rule-Breaking Love

If we’re honest, most of the time when we bypass the systems of our culture, or step outside the lines of our religion, or non-conform, we do it because we want to boast about how “un-PC” we are. Because we’re different. We’re smarter. We certainly aren’t associated with all the other dumb sheep running off the cliff.

But Jesus had a different motive. One that stemmed not from selfishness, but from selflessness. He broke the rules of stigma and superiority, that his humility might display God’s strength. He ignored the rules of pride and power, that grace’s invitation of restoration might belong to all.

It was love, not rules, which nailed Jesus Christ to the cross.

And this is the love—the highest “rule” of life—by which we may live by grace, and love with freedom, and sometimes even break the rules.

* quotes are Paul’s words, as recorded in the Bible versions of NIV, New King James, and The Message.

This article first published on Christian Today: http://www.christiantoday.com.au/article/its.time.to.break.the.rules/22775.htm

Dear Baby Girl

You’re a young girl, a teen, a child to some, but soon you will be continuing further on the strange and glorious journey of womanhood.

There are so many things I would write you about this journey, and many are things you will learn for yourself, in time. But for now, I write to you, sweet girl, regarding this one aspect of your being that is the most beautiful thing about you, yet sadly sometimes the most difficult…

You are a woman.

You’re also a human being, and a unique and precious soul, but as well as all this, you are a female – a woman.

And while this a wonderful thing, it’s also a tough thing, baby girl, because we live in a world that is often subject to the various mistaken beliefs and thoughts that permeate it. And sometimes, somehow, the end result will leave you thinking that you – a girl, a woman – are not such a wonderful thing after all.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

You deserve respect.

Does this annoy some? Then they have forgotten that it was one of our kind who bore them into this world with sweat and pain and tears and blood. They have forgotten that we all – men and women – are irrevocably bound by our mutual humanity.

Like me, you will not understand why this holds no sway in the realms of safety and wages and rights. We, as women, have to fight for these and more. But it does not change the fact that all of humanity, with its mash of gender and colour and religion, still boils down to one thing – human beings.

The world may have an issue with your femaleness, but they can never do anything about your humanness.

You manifest intelligence.

Does this affront some? Then they have not read the works or heard of the inventions or felt the impact of women’s minds in unhindered action.

There is so much evidence of powerful intelligence – female intelligence – that has disrupted this world with brilliance and blasted enlightenment through murky clouds of slow advancement.

Intelligence runs through the veins of our gender, baby girl – and yes, of the male sex too. Yet it seems unfeasible to some that we, as women, could ever match the intelligence of our male counterparts. Such people evaluate intelligence based merely on the gender of the intellectual.

Ironically, the only thing that can measure one’s level of intelligence is, well, the level of their intelligence…

You have a voice

Does this frustrate some? Then they have not heard clearly the voices of the women who have gone before us and who have changed their communities, their countries, and even the world with the strength of their voices.

Or perhaps it pains them not only to hear a woman’s voice added to the fray, but also to witness the rippling effects of her sound waves. Such thinkers will wonder, darling girl, how it is that you, a woman, can combine your beliefs and passions and skills, put your voice to a cause, and soaringly – inconceivably – perform. Yet perform you will.

Could it be that the reason we women are oppressed and suppressed and repressed is simply due to fear? Could it be that the world is afraid of women who will not be held back by their gender?

The mystery may remain, but it cannot muffle the worldwide chime of our voices in full chorus.

So sing loud, baby girl. Sing loud and clear.

You are worthy

Does this pop the gender-gap bubble? Then they have not realised that hundreds of thousands of women and men are with us on this stance.

For every “woman oppressor” that rants, you and I are affirmed and acknowledged by many more people as having obvious value in society, the workplace, the home. As women, we have a unique viewpoint, bringing freshness and insight into the world.

Believe it, baby girl. Because that is the secret of your unwavering confidence in the very thing that they would like to cripple you with – you are a woman. And that is a part of your worth.

You are not alone

You are part of a long line of extraordinary ordinary women. Women who were not defined by their status. Who dared to see beyond themselves with courage and love. Who stood bravely for the good of others, regardless of whether the “others” were male or female.

Their legacy is your legacy, beautiful girl.

Remember this whenever you face the anti-feminist backlash, or dare to seek equal pay, or boldly speak out on behalf of your sisters around the world.

You are not alone.

You are a woman

By default, this means you will be forced to take a stand. Against oppression and disrespect. Against domestic abuse. Against the gender wage gap. Against any gap that has nothing to do with competence or confidence, and everything to do with differences in beliefs, or skin colour, or the pathetic excuse of gender.

It seems unfair that you and I have no choice but to fight for the bridging of the gaps. We didn’t choose this war. We don’t want to have to prove ourselves over and over.

But when the going gets tough, baby girl, stand tall and remember…

Yes, you are a woman

Smart? You bet. Worthy of respect? Definitely. Deserving of equal pay? Of a voice? Of genuine affirmation as a human being?

Yes, yes and yes.

Go change the world, beautiful woman

Dedicated to all women who are underpaid, undervalued and underestimated, simply because they are the beautiful truth: “Yes, I am a woman.” #heforshe

First published on Christian Today: Dear Baby Girl

What the Witch Said

‘”You have a traitor there, Aslan.” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund.’
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I spent my childhood looking for Narnia inside every wardrobe. I even crawled into my cupboard with a blanket and pillow, and fell asleep there; determined not to miss the moment the doorway spontaneously opened into Aslan’s world.

I never did quite make it into Narnia, but it has never lost the charm and mystery that I first fell in love with during my childhood years.

Edmund the Betrayer

When I read this story as a child, my impression of Edmund was not a good one. To me, he was someone who was quite, well, despicable. A selfish and angsty pre-teen who sold out his siblings and dreamt of ruling in the meanest way possible.

Yes, Edmund the traitor. The ultimate betrayer. He had done everything worthy of scathing judgement, and now the Witch dished it out in large helpings. Suddenly, the Turkish delight had lost its sweet savour.

To his miserable credit, Edmund had been through a lot leading up to this public stand-off between Aslan and the White Witch, and it had been pretty awful. But most of it had also been self-inflicted—he was pretty awful himself. And I was as unimpressed as a nine-year-old can be.

Yet this time, 20 years later, as I read the story again I suddenly saw Edmund in a completely different light:

Edmund the Broken

Edmund stands before the entire crowd of Aslan’s army, his siblings and even Aslan himself, in full range of the Witch’s bruising shots. He has arrived in the Narnians’ midst, wounded and scratched and muddy and exhausted. On the inside, he hasn’t fared much better. Pride, selfishness and shame are heavy weights to carry, and Edmund’s heart bears the scratches and bruises of these as well.

He is a pitiful sight as he stands there awkward and ashamed, no doubt feeling foolish and perhaps even broken…

The scene is incredibly real to me because I, too, have been in Edmund’s place.

I have been bruised by grief and shame. I have stood and felt the thumping blows of accusations and struggled beneath the heaviness of labels I seem to deserve. The hurts and scratches and mud are my own, as tangible as the black ink that spills over these pages and pours out the painful story from which I can’t tear myself away.

I am a pitiful sight as I take in the Witch’s words. Awkward and ashamed, feeling foolish and perhaps even more than a little broken.

But Edmund is well ahead of me.

‘He just went on looking at Aslan.’

The breathless magic of these simple words floors me.

The parallel, being obviously and mysteriously woven in, crashes into my heart like a blinding revelation as I breathlessly watch this finale…

The Witch points her long white finger at Edmund. Her face twists in fiendish glee. She is loud and proud in her scornful condemnation, and he is the condemned.

Selfish. Ashamed. Broken.

Except…

Except that Edmund is no longer looking at the Witch.

Edmund the Redeemed

That very same morning, Aslan himself had spoken to the pitiful boy, and something had shifted. Instantaneously, it seemed, Edmund’s entire focus had swung around. Even his view of himself changed, and he now sees through the eyes of the noble Lion.

And I—pitiful and weak and just a little bruised—I too am drawn towards the Lion.

Suddenly, the accusations fall silent. The feelings of worthlessness vaporise and the unbearable labels simply dissolve like Narnian snowflakes in Aslan’s sun.

It doesn’t seem to matter what I, in my foolish pride and selfishness, have carried with me to the floor. It doesn’t seem to matter how awkward I look to an accusing world, or how loudly the cruel finger points at me, or how beaten down is my soul.

Love and grace dance together and hold me spellbound.

What the Witch Said

What the Witch said has no more power in this sacred place, and I look where Edmund looked and I see what Edmund saw.

That Aslan has eyes only for me.

‘”You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the Witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund.

But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan.

It didn’t seem to matter what the Witch said.

 

© Emma McGeorge
* All quotes from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
** “What the Witch Said” originally published with Christian Today


Gold Dust

The rain trickled down the car window in shiny rivers, blurring the outside world into a grey, muffled cocoon.  My brother drove silently; my two sisters slept, and I, in the back seat, also kept the silence, lost in my own thoughts after a long and tiring day.

I leaned my head back against the seat and watched the smudged cars and blinking city lights whirl past in the melting twilight. A music album I didn’t know was playing in the background, and I half-listened to the unfamiliar tunes, my ears slurring the words in my tired state. But despite the peace of the quiet car and the soft music, it seemed that my mood was being coloured by the day outside, and my thoughts gradually became more and more grey.

The droplets drummed on the roof, the wheels swished through the rain, and the tears began to pool as I shivered, suddenly cold, suddenly caught in a flurry of hurried and hurting thoughts. Then one phrase throbbed heavily into my heart, as I gazed out at the crying landscape:

13010072_1037203763000847_308039176_o

“I am not worth keeping.”

The thought was as unexpected as it was painful, and in seconds my mind had flown back over buried memories – memories I had thought were hidden for good. Memories of friendships lost, of trust broken, of painful misunderstandings… all gathered to accuse me with the nagging thought, the frightening feeling that I was too easily cropped out of others’ pictures.

I staggered emotionally through the haze of flashbacks and fears. Could all this hurt still dwell in me? Could all this pain still cut so deep?

The tears poured hot and silent down my cheeks. The rain poured frigid and dark in a cloudy grey fog. The words poured sharp and cruel through my heart, slicing me with their dissonant mantra:

“I am not worth keeping.”

Part of me held fast, defiant and angry that these words would try to bruise me so. But part of me had already given in to despair, wrapping my heart in the cold cloak of sorrow, slowly crumpling beneath the harsh discouragement.

The tears fell, the rain fell, the words fell.

“I am not worth keeping.”

At that moment, as I swayed on the edge of raw grief and pain, the music track changed. The next song began to play; still part of this unknown album, still completely foreign and unfamiliar to me.

wpid-20131231_200307.jpgBut with the opening piano arpeggios and the low hum of the deep bass chords, a vivid image suddenly blazed into my mind. I stared wide-eyed out the rain-washed window, seeing nothing that was before me. Seeing only a glowing, growing picture in my mind…

A man stood on a stage, relaxed, ready to sing. A microphone stood before him on its base, and he lifted a hand to free it and hold it firmly, his graceful movement illuminated in the soft blue spotlight.

The wings and backstage were in darkness. The seating area before him was also in hushed darkness. There was no audience, no orchestra, no director.

Just this man, alone, centre stage.

He wore dark grey pants, a silvery-blue shirt, and black polished shoes. His dark blonde hair was stylishly cut, short on the sides and swept over on top in the style of many pop artists.

I caught my breath, as I suddenly realised that his eyes – a strong grey blue – were looking straight at me from my viewpoint on stage right. He held me in his gaze, and I could do nothing but stare back. We looked at the other, not speaking, not moving, waiting as the song preliminaries softly built around him. And I suddenly knew two things.

12980804_1037212329666657_638539985_o

One: this man, this pop star, was Jesus.
Two: whatever this song was, whatever I was about to hear, he was going to sing it for me.

The chills swept up my spine, the air was thick with anticipation, his and mine. The grey words from before still hovered in the background, but I barely saw them. Somehow I knew that when he began to sing, they would disappear completely out of the picture.

My heart thumped wildy as Jesus, handsome and poised, confident and kind, lifted the microphone to his lips and took a breath. My skin tingled, my ears gasped… and the music suddenly spilled over me  like a gentle beam of light. My entire being was smothered in wonder and beauty as he sang, and I soaked in the splendour of the performance.

He sang with such raw depth and feeling that I was completely swallowed up in the sound. His passion ebbed in every note, his love painted each word, and I realised that he was not only singing, but singing desperately. He sang with every fibre of his being poured into every word. He sang, desperate that I hear this song, desperate that I would know it was him singing, desperate that I would understand, unshakeably and unfathomably, the simple truth of this song. That this song was to me. This song was for me.

And he sang.13035643_1037207126333844_849740763_o

“You’re like Gold Dust
It rains over me
A foreign sun that I thought I’d never see

You’re like Gold Dust

Oh don’t change
Ever
No don’t change
There’s a
Hollow in this house whenever you go

You’re like Gold Dust
It rains over me
A foreign sun that I thought I’d never see
You’re like Gold Dust

Keep
Coming
Down that street
There’s a
Hollow in this house whenever you go

You’re like Gold Dust…”

The last shadows of self-doubt flickered and died. The broken pieces of my soul lifted gracefully to listen in fresh, golden hope.

And I – staring out into the driving rain while the tears poured down my face – I knew the truth. The real truth that laughed in defiance at the forever-vanquished “I am not worthy…”. The solid truth that had flashed before my eyes in the form of a glowing vision.

I had felt it shiver up my spine. I had heard it flow forth in an unknown song. And now I knew it for myself.

Jesus was a pop star. His song was me.

And I was…

gold dust

gold

 

Gold Dust © Emma McGeorge 2016
Photos used with permission

Catching the Stars

“How do you catch the stars?” she asked.

The childish voice lisped the question. The little toes curled in the soft grass. The curious eyes captured the wonder of glinting diamonds flecked in a darkening sky.

But I could not answer. And so I chose to reply instead.

“You can’t catch the stars.” I buttoned my voice into my best ‘I-am-the-reasonable-adult-in-this-conversation’ tone.

“You can’t catch the stars,” I repeated. “They’re too far away. Too foreign. Too, well… too much.”

“Oh.”

And with that the conversation was closed.

But her mind was not, and she spoke again into the velvety darkness.

“But I meant how do YOU catch the stars. Because… sometimes… I come outside at night just to catch them.”

There was no condemnation in her tone. No judgement of my rational disbelief. Just a calm, factual statement of impossibility.

“I see.” I really didn’t.

There was a pause while she wandered and I wondered.

“So,” I adjusted my collar to fit a ‘midly-interested-but-still-confident-in-my-superior-knowledge’ tone, and dared to return the question.

“So, how do YOU catch the stars?”

She glanced at me sideways, smiled patiently, lifted chubby fingers to twirl in the silvery glow.

“I catch the stars with my hands.”

And with that she was off, skipping through the inky tendrils of night, dancing and giggling beneath the ebony froth of the sky, chasing and grasping and catching the stars with tiny hands of joy.

I watched. I stood, frozen on that narrow trapeze wire between logic and wonder. And as I wavered in solitary disbelief, I saw it.

A shooting star, falling from the heavens.

It fell, curving and glowing in fierce and glorious descent. Painting its blazing light across a black canvas sky. Brushing the star dust from its trail and shaking the clouds with tinkling music.

Down, down it fell; closer and closer still.

Its glow lit up my eyes.
Its beauty held my breath.
Its wonder lifted my hand to catch its fall.

And suddenly I was there. Lost in the moment, captured in the magic, defying the impossible and tasting its sweetness.

Catching the stars.

© Emma McGeorge, Oct 2015

 

This Is Your Moment

The phone rang.

I nearly didn’t answer from beneath the chaos of papers, pens and little coloured post-it notes shouting for attention in their rainbow voices.

But good breeding kicked in, and I made an attempt to push aside everything urgent or important or both, and graciously take the call. I secretly hoped it would not be an enquiry from a crotchety customer, or a 2-minute request that would mean a 2-hour job, or a colleague enlightening me about yet another big project to get started on as of yesterday.

It was the latter. At least for 2 seconds…

The call was from a colleague based in another country, but he had not phoned to check up on my work progress or to present me with yet another task and deadline. He had simply phoned to share a word of encouragement. To point out that the sun was shining, and that our work was important and made a difference, and that it was a good day to have a good day.

So I did. Have a good day I mean.

I was pressured and stretched and frantically chasing life’s coattails as it galloped along. But I was grinning all the way.

What made the difference? What slipped that silver lining into the clouds hovering over my sizzling keyboard? What hung a smile on my face so that I spoke to customers and received mail deliveries and took urgent phone calls with a smile?

It was that moment. The briefest of moments, and really not a very complicated or over-exerting moment.

But someone had made an effort and siezed the moment, and now the moment was mine. Because as I pondered the lightness of a few kind words and sipped a brew made sweeter by happiness, I realised something about that moment.

It was the easiest thing in the world.

All it took was someone to look up from the whirring spin of the globe and see a moment and be a moment and make a moment for someone else.

All it took was a moment.

And there is such a moment in every day, if we only have the mind to think it and the heart to act it.

That moment in which we can purposefully add a splash of sunshine to someone’s day.
That moment when we can actually call the person who’s been on our mind, and let them know, tangibly and unmistakably, that they matter.
That moment in which we can find some act, no matter how small, that makes the world a kinder, brighter place.

And then make that moment happen.

So what will you do to make that moment? How will you act it or create it or burst it unexpectedly and joyfully into someone else’s day?
Because this is it.

This is your moment.

Don’t waste it.

10312688_769146719784977_3258173143038992244_n

Kind thanks to “Uncle” Ian McDougall who made that moment for me

© Emma McGeorge 2015