Luke 15 and the Parable of the Lost Coin is a familiar story to us .. but it’s theme is in fact to look beyond the familiar to the hidden spaces and the neglected edges. This is a reflection adapted from Simon Western’s insights into Edgy Spaces.
To look to the edge locates us in a place of difference. A place where one thing meets another, a place that can be creative, dangerous, comforting, inspiring, mundane.
A sea-shore for example is a place where the edge of land meets the sea, where the edge constantly moves with the tides, it’s a place of mundane regularity, yet also a place of constant change and beauty.
Where sea meets land is a constantly changing edge, moving daily with the tides, and over the years shifting back and forth with erosion of rocks and displacement of sands. It means there are sharp cliff edges and softer grassy-sandy edges. These edges mimic our internal world, precarious places, moving places, beautiful and joyful places, wild places, living dynamic places, dangerous places, comforting places.
Within our internal landscapes we have edges. The edges between our conscious and unconscious worlds blur. Internal tides within us can change our emotions and affects, by the minute, hour, day or season.
The edge is a revitalising force.
This is an account of a friend of mine who moved to the sea shore after a difficult time in his life .. he writes .. each day I walk or cycle close to the edge where I live, which is a revitalising force. The Atlantic winds blow in my face awakening me and sharpening my mind. The sea smashing on the rocks sends droplets of water across my face, bringing new life to a tired mind. I watch wading birds play on the edge which always enchants me. Dancing birds feeding on the gifts from the sea, running back and forth to avoid being engulfed by the sea. Dynamic movement in contrast to the herons who fix themselves in a static pose, waiting to pounce on a fish below the surface. Transitory geese arrive from far away places as migrants mix with the indigenous locals. Swans, egrets and oyster catchers play in the bay. Sometimes seals and otters come close to the city’s edge, swimming into the harbour, fishing for love perhaps. Occasionally I venture to small wild islands just off the edge of the mainland, where I find huge cliff faces buzzing with birdlife, and tiny flowers sheltering in rock crevasses. On the ferry to the islands I look back reflectively at the land’s edge that fades from view, and then look expectantly at the edge I am arriving at.
Where then are the edges for you .. for us .. in this community .. in our churches. Perhaps we need to move away from the safe centres and like Jesus be willing to spend time at the edge of our communities where we are challenged and confronted and perhaps inspired?