We've moved! And the whole thing happened remarkably smoothly. Unpacking wasn't too bad either. Friends came and emptied boxes. And despite having to ignore several unnecessary comments about the number of ramekins/earrings/shoes I possess, things quickly took shape. But one thing was missing. The oven. All we had was a Massive Big Gap, where an oven should have been.
I had spent weeks agonising about an oven. Should it be a 60 or a 90 or a 110? LPG, oil, ceramic or induction? Black, chrome, grey or red? I read. I scrolled the internet. I asked questions. I looked at other people's. And still I found it difficult to reach a decision, because it was impossible to see one. I needed to see the oven of my choice. I needed to feel it. To open and close its doors, to turn its dials, to experience its heat and its fan, to caress its surfaces, to stand in front of it, like the High Priestess Delia, tossing in herbs, spices and seeds, conjuring imaginary culinary delights.
In the end, I heard my mother's voice ringing in my ears. 'You can’t go wrong with John Lewis... John Lewis... John Lew...' So, I listened to the ghost of Ma and went to the Sainted John, ordered an oven and was given a delivery date.
But the delivery date changed. So much for saints! So much for Ma!
After nearly three weeks, Oven Delivery Day dawned. But something very strange had happened to the Massive Big Gap - it was no longer there! It had been filled with other items.
With the longed-for promise of a roast, and surrounded by salivating offspring, the oven was installed. I reached for a saucepan, and assumed, what I hoped was a Kitchen Goddess pose. But I couldn’t open the cupboard door! Not now I had an oven in the Massive Big Gap.
Squeezing my arm through a crack, I desperately tried to feel the familiar shape of a pan. Any pan. Contorting like Houdini, I limbered down, with absolutely none of the elasticity of a pole-dancer (or should it be vaulter?), and without any of the poise and grace of Darcy (I wish!). Eventually I managed to twist a pan through the gap and slam it, triumphantly on the hob. (Eat your heart out Mary Berry!)
Only to find that none of my saucepans worked on my new induction hob!
So why am I telling you this? Well, it strikes me that it is something of a metaphor. I bought my oven in faith, without having seen it or tried it out. I plumped for it on good advice. Before it arrived, I had filled the space with other things. Repeatedly using old stuff on it was not going to work. Faith is a bit like that. Sometimes we need to buy into it before fully experiencing it. Sometimes we need to act upon a hunch, a feeling or a prompt while there's still space for it. In so doing, we may have to ditch some old stuff to fully enjoy the new. Jesus said that all it takes for incredible things to happen is faith the size of a mustard seed. Have a look at all the faith stuff that is happening across the Exe Valley in the next couple of months on pages** and find out what it’s all about. Easter is a good time to 'dip your toe' in the waters of faith. You may well be surprised. And join me, wherever you are, however much faith you do or don't have, to pray. Together, great things can happen.
Oh, by the way – the oven's wonderful! Better than I could ever have imagined.