Everything changed.

Irrevocably? Yes.

Everyone will remember the day the city fell silent.

The London bombings shifted the war on terror up a gear, it also shifted our fear up a gear.

We saw it in New York, saw the horror and the fire and fear.

And whilst on perhaps a smaller scale, London felt it too.

I remember so clearly sitting in my ICT lesson, scouring the internet for names and places. Hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be touched by it.

And I am beyond grateful and thankful that I wasn’t. Those I loved and love still, were safe. I did not have to face trying to navigate life around the crater left by terrorism.

And yet, in my small corner of the city, everything changed for a different reason.

It was too much. The straw that broke an exhausted camel’s back.

The year that preceded I had felt my mind twist and turn, bruising itself as it wrestled its’ way towards life.

Somehow, the London bombings felt too much. Too much fear, too much pain. And unable to find my way through, I reached for a way to make the unbearable, bearable.

Self-harm has been a part of my life for nearly a decade. Even now, when it is years since I reached into that darkness, I remember. And inadvertently I have defined myself by it, marking the passing of the years every 7th day of the 7th month.

On Sunday I preached on not letting what we lack define us, and as I prepared it, I realised how very pertinent it was for me.

I am not what I resorted to on the 7th July 2005.

And then comes one of those “sneaky Jesus” moments. Monday morning at work, lost ever so slightly in my memories, our chapel time focussed on this verse:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I was reminded powerfully of salt water cleansing and stinging the skin. The power of the water; washing through the grit and the mud and the murk.

Those who lost loved ones, who witnessed horrors not present in our nightmares at 7/7 will forever remember the day life changed.

It will have become a part of them that still hurts, still aches.

I cannot even begin to comprehend the agony that terrorism leaves in its’ wake.

It is my prayer, that salt water can wash their wounds, and begin to bring something like healing.

I remember reading the following passage from Marya Hornbacher’s memoir, many years ago and clinging to it because it expressed so eloquently how I felt.

“There is an incredible loss. There is a profound grief. And there is, in the end, after a long time and more work than you thought imaginable, a time when it gets easier.(Emily Dickinson wrote:
‘This is the hour of lead
Remembered – if outlived
As freezing persons recollect snow
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go’)

There is, in the end, the Letting Go.”

Somewhere along the line, I got lost in the grief.

And there will be times in my life when it is right, again, to grieve.

But for me now – it’s time again to let go. Let go of the 7th of the 7th 2005.

I hope and pray that those affected by 7/7 are able to make a dent in their pain.

The 7th of the 7th marked me, indelibly. It changed me, irrevocably. I can still live.

I will still live.

I am going to live in the New Thing that God has prepared for me.

And I hope and pray you can do the same…

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