Sheridan Voysey is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. Aswell as a contributor to BBC Radio 2, international networks and BBC Breakfast. His new book, The Making Of Us, explores who we become when life doesn't go as planned.
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Sheridan: I'm always in two minds as to whether I tell this story because it's right at the end of the story and on this pilgrimage we're going to end in Durham Cathedral. We're there to see the Lindisfarne Gospels. They were created in the very early eighth century so they're twelve hundred years old, very frail. They don't come out of the British Library more than once every ten years. When they turn a page they have to leave it on that page for two weeks, it is so frail. Beautifully illustrated gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
This was a one-time opportunity to go and see these gospels that were on display in Durham. Our plan was to arrive at evensong service at Durham Cathedral. We thought that would be a great kind of marker. By the last day, we are in quite a bit of pain; we've got quite a few blisters. DJ, poor thing, he's got blisters covering his whole feet and he is limping. We're late so we're trying to increase our pace to get there in time and we get there about 10 minutes late. When we get into Durham Cathedral it is packed, about a thousand people are there. We were thinking, since when did evensong in a cathedral become so popular? We can't find a seat and we are dying to get off our feet. The best we can do is find the base of one of those big columns so I was able to sit on that and get weight of my feet. DJ got another one on the opposite side. We couldn't see anything that was happening at the front. So we sat there for a few minutes, they were singing.
Then the visiting speaker gets up and says some of you have been on pilgrimage this week; some of you have been learning about the lives of Cuthbert and Hilda and Bede. We were doing what? Do they know we're coming or what? Some of you this week have been on this journey that has been so important to you personally. It turned out that they weren't expecting us but we had happened to stumble into the one and only service that they had planned to celebrate the lives of Cuthbert, Bede, Hilda, to celebrate pilgrimage. It was this profound sense of serendipity, at the end of our pilgrimage; we hadn't planned that, we didn't know that was going to happen. It whispered to me that when we have that moment, when we see him face to face, that there may also be moments where all the threads of our lives that we never thought would connect tie into a lovely bow. Somehow he will bring them all together, and we'll see that actually we've been waited for, we've been expected. There's a whole heap of these things that have been all part of the making of us.
Jonathan: So rather than who we can become when life doesn't go as planned, you discover that all along you were being woven into his plan.
Sheridan: Nicely put! I'll grab that for the next book, thanks!
Jonathan: Towards the end of the book you wrote something called the Creed. A lot of people know that within the Christian church there are various creeds. You've written one that sums up your journey, your perspective of faith, your perspective of being a disciple of God, the journey you've been on and I think it's fantastic. I'd like to end with you reading it to us.
Sheridan: I'd love to. You can download a version of this from
themakingofus.com. I've got it printed out, I've got it on my wall and
I read it every day.
The hands that spin the galaxies brought me into being.
The One who holds the stars has made me his own.
I am God's child. My life is rich. My days are sacred.
I have meaning and value, even when the shadows fall.
I'm held by a love that's wider and higher than the farthest edges of this expanding universe.
My first task in life is to embrace this love, leap into its depths, splash in its waves, drink it in, let it define me, seeking my worth in no other thing.
I'm a pilgrim in this world in search of wisdom and wonder.
I will take new adventures; I will follow God into the unknown.
I will listen for God's whisper, knowing wrong turns will come and that even then I am still in God's hand.
Love is the river from which all the streams of life flow.
I love God, I love others.
This is my mission, whatever my role.
What I achieve is not as important as the person I become.
So I will seek to imitate the nail-pierced one.
I will step in the direction of my strengths and talents; they are spirit given tools for my God given tasks.
I will pay attention to my persistent aspirations; they could be the whispers of God.
I will serve all I can but walk deeply with a few: brothers, sisters, joy bringers, salt keepers.
It is a holy thing to be called a friend.
The path is long and the terrain at times hard.
There will be tears, scars and unfulfilled longings.
But the tears can take us deeper into the heart of God; the scars can initiate us into a tribe that we can serve; through those empty spaces divine life waits to flow.
And so I will walk on. I will step to a rhythm of mission and retreat each day, each week, each season.
I will aim for great things but leave my legacy to God knowing grace covers my failures.
I am basically one brief flash on the timeline of history; just one note in the great symphony.
Still, I will not wish for another's life.
I will take my place; play my part.
Something important will be missed if I don't.
For the hands that spin the galaxies wants me here.
View all articles by Jonathan Bellamy