where my sentence ends.
Again my sentence ends
at a full stop.
Will you not take my waiting pen
at this full stop?
Then you and I shall write again.
But all I can give you
is my full stop
and my waiting pen.
Sometimes life seems to come to a full stop. Something ends and we don’t know what comes next. Or perhaps we just recognise the need for a pause before we set out again
In something written – as with this piece – a full stop marks the end of one line of thought. If we are reading aloud a full stop allows a breath – a pause – before we begin again.
Full stops might seem to oppose the natural flow, but we need that breath. When writing it gives space to consider what it is we want to communicate and the ways we might do so. When reading we gain the time to take in what we have read: what is being said and what is its significance?
Like a piece of writing our life with God will have plenty of full stops. They exist not to impede our activity but to empower it. Some are like the ending of a chapter. We retire or change jobs or move home or experience the difficult ending of a relationship. Or perhaps the full stop feels more as if it is inside us: we sense it’s time to stop something that has been significant in our life. It’s time to move on. But to what? The pause invites us to let God in. We recognise afresh our need of guidance. It’s not that we stop wrestling to know what that next sentence might be but that now we do so in company. If ever we were in danger of thinking and acting as if we could make it alone the full stop reminds us of our need of God. We might be tempted to rush on to the next sentence – any old sentence – to avoid this uncomfortable halt in progress. But that would be a mistake. We need a deep breath of God; it will help us see where we have been going and where the road might now lead us.
Some full stops are smaller: not the end of a chapter or even a paragraph but a break within the activity of reading or writing. ‘Sometimes, Etty Hillesum wrote in her journal, ‘the most important thing in our whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths or the turning aside in prayer for five minutes.’ These full stops are the intentional way we seek to abide in Christ and to draw life from Christ’s abiding in us. We have space to listen to the events of our day and what has been happening within us. We remember that we move forward together. As on the written page the stops are small but frequent. They help rather than hinder the flow of our activity, giving meaning and shape to what we do.
So as you write or read or live this day put in the necessary punctuation.