Friday Week 29 Year II

Signs are funny things, rarely straightforward, often misread. Road signs we can manage: once you’ve learned the code you’ve only yourself to blame if you get them wrong. “Well, officer, I thought that meant I had to go over 30 miles an hour.” But try reading the human signs in a relationship and you know how much comes down to interpretation and how much space there is for getting it wrong.
Jesus seems to reckon that reading the spiritual signs of the kingdom is as easy as reading the natural signs of the weather. “Red sky at night: shepherd’s delight,” we say. But when was the last time that was right? … Maybe he’s got it spot on: maybe the signs of the times are exactly as fallible as our weather forecasting.
But I don’t believe so … there’s a middle way, and it’s a way you discover and develop on retreat. What is our prayer but a web of signs? We read the signs of words in scripture, we interpret the signs of our lives, we fashion a house of signs in our imagination and walk there with Jesus, talk to him, bear his touch. The weaving of that web is an experience of God, or at least it might be, it could be, but don’t we find ourselves always pulled in different directions, with different interpretations fighting for our hearts? “God loves me” on one hand and “I am worthless” on the other. Peace and light and life versus turmoil, darkness, misery. Which verdict are we to believe? The signs of our life can be read in two very different ways and sometimes—especially on retreat—we struggle to sort them out. But ultimately the key to all signs, the touchstone of discernment, is this: God is a God of peace and light and life. Of goodness and blessing, of hope and ease. A God of love. And we are made in God’s image and likeness. Signs.