Pearls in Bree

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“It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it’s worth
Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That’s burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful”

Sara Groves

There really is a little village not far from where we live called Bree and I look forward to going there every week on Wednesday evenings for about an hour, or a bit longer if all goes well. It’s up a on a hill with a lovely view. The far off fields in varying green shades are outlined by hedges and trees, with farms, houses and cows dotted in between. Rearing on the horizon is the purple whale-back of Forth Mountain which shields from sight Wexford Town and the sea beyond.

No hobbits in this Bree I think but plenty of little people. I come here so that my smallest daughter can take part in the local athletics club. She’s in the youngest group so the cuteness factor is high. In between races she and her friends bounce and cartwheel and skip about. Not too different to lambs I suppose, except for the cartwheeling.

Last week I strolled over at the end of training to watch her attempt the javelin which was something new. It’s probably a sort of training javelin that she uses as it’s short and stumpy with no sharp pointy bits anywhere. I think it’s filled with water as it gives a surprising little spurt every time it lands. This week is the relay across all the age groups which is a whole lot noisier and more confusing. The lines move forwards and backwards with some bumping off one another in the middle which I’m fairly sure is not meant to happen. They are all having bucket loads of fun though.

In Tolkien it’s the dwarves who are the miners and they don’t even live anywhere near Bree. But like them I collect treasures for that lovely hour and a bit within the cocoon of my car. It’s a time of being lost in other worlds apart from the one I see outside. Time moves at a different pace here, regretfully quicker. I’m oblivious to it’s passing and am surprised always by the final whistle.  I have a bag to carry my books which vary from week to week, sometimes a novel to read or a notebook in which to plan stories. This evening I have my Bible and a commentary on the Psalms in preparation for a women’s study in the morning.

The gems I am collecting are pearls and I’m carefully stringing them together in order to bring them to the faithful women tomorrow so that I can adorn their necks and make them beautiful. The words of Sara Groves, one of my favourite artists stir around in the back of my mind, workman’s words about building on what has already been done and about grace that looks beyond who we are with an invitation to be lovelier.

I am grateful as I could be tempted to feel inadequate and unworthy to be working with such precious gems. Then my mind moves on to older words that have been preserved for us safely through the ravages of time and they remind me that the Master Craftsman who fashioned these pearls makes all things perfectly and his purposes will remain.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.  Matthew 6:19-21

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