Monday, 18th May
Towards Rhum and Eigg from Arisaig
I have quite a few friends of Facebook who you might call 'radical Christians' They often post what you might regard as 'left wing' views. Sometimes their posts are very funny, though sometimes risqué. Occasionally they get very angry and a little rude in their choice of language.
My usual response to their posts is either to like them, add a laughing emoticon, or share their anger when they are protesting against injustice or some kind of discrimination. Before running into technical difficulties on a recent Zoom meeting, some friends of ours joined us in expressing our frustration at the ineptitude and dissembling of political leaders on 'both sides of the pond' - as they say.
What I find particularly annoying is the way in which some of the tabloid press distract from the heart of an issue by having a swipe at those who, in my humble opinion(!), are trying to put the safety and well-being of children and workers before economics. Teachers and their unions are the latest targets for abuse from a press which is not free at all insofar as their standpoint reflects the political stance of their owners.
At this point I should apologise for that tongue in cheek reference to my humility! And I also apologise if I seem to be 'sounding off' when you might have been hoping for a considered reflection on some words of Jesus. So...
'Be still, and know that I am God.' Not words of Jesus, but the Psalmist. However, a timely reminder to those of us who get a little rattled and frustrated at times to look beyond ourselves and seek help and solace in a higher power. When Jesus used those words, 'Be Still', it was to command the sea to calm down for the sake of his terrified friends in a boat.
Sometimes what is going on around us, or even inside us at the moment, is terrifying. Whether it is the pandemic or the chaos arising from it amongst our leadership, we are called to be still even in the heart of our anxiety and frustration. At times we just need to let it all flow over us and step back - for our own health's sake.
On last night's national news, we had a timely interview with Archbishop Justin Welby, sharing his own experience of anxiety and depression and hoping that as a society we would be as focussed on people's mental recovery as we might be on our economic well-being.
'Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm!'
Here's another few verses from Malcolm Guite about keeping things in perspective:
Then let the chaff of life just blow away
The cynic scoffer and the evil troll,
The hunters and the haters who hold sway
In raging twitter storms, the ones who scroll
Through hate- and hit-lists in their tiny rage,
Are dust upon the mirror of your soul.
Blow them away, the idols of this age,
And let their fury settle in the mire.
Uncap your pen and open a clean page
For now the Lord will give you your desire
And set you high upon his holy hill.
He draws you to the garden through the fire
Back to the fountain where those waters spill
That christened you as his belovèd child
That you may find your peace in his good will.
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake. May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable. May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent. May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options. May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no place to go. May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all. May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home. As fear grips our country, let us choose love. During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.