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It’s hard to imagine that, around 4 weeks ago, I was languishing in Los Angeles International Air Terminal, waiting for a plane to begin the long journey home to Perth. A souvenir of the 9 hour wait sits on my desk, staring accusingly at me. It’s a book – The New York Times think outside the box crosswords. It is folded open to number 9 (out of 75) , which is half-done (I think that’s when my plane was called!) The first eight were completed with agonising mental gymnastics and a lot of help from the “solutions” pages.

Cryptic crosswords have never been my strength, and I stand in awe of those people I know who knock one out every day. All the skills of lateral thinking, deductive detective work, general knowledge and wordsmithing are called for – not to mention much patience. I know those who are more disciplined than I (or who don’t have access to a “solutions” page) will often leave a vexing clue and wake up the next morning with the answer. Such is often the right-hemisphered, subliminal and intutive process of arriving at the correct solution.

Never fear if you are logically determined and left-hemisphere dominated, however. Wikipedia suggests no less than fifteen different types of possibilities to explore in solving a clue. It helpfully advises, “In essence, a cryptic clue leads to its answer as long as you read it in the right way. What the clue appears to say when read normally (the surface reading) is almost never anything to do with the answer and is there as a distraction. The challenge is to find the way of reading the clue that leads to the solution.”

How like our normal conversations and every day relationships! Take the typical chaotic hour of fellowship following Sunday morning worship. Hundreds of conversations and interactions are taking place. Expressions, tones of voice, anecdotes, postures, gestures and groupings send out hundreds of clues about our dreams, disappointments, hopes, visions and desires. Often these are like cryptic crossword clues to one another, and the more aware go home to lunch pondering “Now what was that all about?” Sunday afternoon phone calls, emails and visits begin to unravel the clues and deeper meanings emerge amongst us.

This is the Spirit work of the church and it often transpires unseen and unremarked upon. Just thought I’d point it out!