Out of Control

Friday, May 22nd

Spectacular patterns and colours at Sandwood Bay, south of Cape Wrath

I am no geologist. I just stand amazed at some of the rock formations around our coasts. It's hard to imagine the forces that threw up these rocks, melting, crushing, moulding them into fantastic shapes. It's also hard to imagine the power of the sea to erode and reshape many of these formations over the centuries.

Over the centuries, we have learned how to harvest the rocks for building and extracting minerals. We are harnessing wave power to generate electricity. Occasionally things get out of control because of earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. If we weren't so concerned about our own plight, we would have heard much more about the cyclone which is devastating parts of Bangladesh and India this week.

These crises come and go. Communities recover and rebuild. Our loss of control is temporary and regional as a rule. That's where our current predicament differs. There is a virus which at present is out of our control. We cannot even see it - only its effects. And it affects us all, worldwide. As does climate change. At least with that crisis we know what we need to do to counter it. Our problem is that collectively we do not have the will to change our ways and stop exploiting the earth.

Covid-19 is a different matter. We may be forced to change our ways. We are certainly not in control yet, and we may take years to wipe it out. It's hard not to feel that we've overreached ourselves. It is certainly showing us that there are things we cannot solve simply by applying technology and science to the crises while we just carry on as we are. That feels a bit scary, and being at the mercy of forces we do not fully understand makes us feel insecure.

Which is why we need each other more than ever. Science may eventually give us solutions, but it cannot sit alongside us to reassure us, to comfort us, to encourage us, to cry with us. We need each other. Faith communities may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they hold clues to a sense of solidarity, of togetherness, of cooperation which is what is required at the moment. And faith or no faith, workers in hospitals, care homes, food banks and neighbourhoods are suddenly demonstrating the spirit of solidarity that seemed to have been forgotten in recent times with the rise of nationalism.

This spirit of common humanity is one we must cherish and nurture in these days and carry forward into a different future. A future where our dreams are not so much of travelling to golden beaches and basking in glorious sunshine as they are of creating a new sense of membership of a global village where all matter and all are cared for. That's a good enough dream for me, anyway.

It could be...

Think of a world that could be;

Too long have greed and hatred raged,

By our own hand the world is caged,

How can the Kingdom come?

Is harmony an idle dream,

Justice and mercy but a scheme

Only reserved for me?

Pray for a world that can be;

Where self is routed from its lair

And love becomes the rightful heir -

Pray that this time will be;

When all the earth is loved and shared,

Ravaged, polluted things repaired,

All creatures join the plea.

Work for a world that must be;

It's not enough to sit and hope,

Or dimly wish and blindly grope -

The dawn can speed the night.

The time is now - before too late,

Before we are destroyed by hate -

For love needs lamps to light.

Sing of a world that shall be;

Its rays of hope break through the gloom,

And now awaking from our tomb

We walk to meet the sun:

Transmuting wrong, as love has taught,

The Spirit's alchemy is wrought -

The will of God is done.

Cecily Taylor (copyright Stainer and Bell, 1987)


Mother, Father God,

Hold us in your arms when we are feeling helpless and afraid,

Spin for us the vision of the world as it can be,

Reassure us that with you, all things are possible;

Send us out to make it so,


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