The Sky Is Falling Down!
Thursday, October 8th, 2020 - Thoughts in the Rivelin Valley, Sheffield
Early yesterday morning, we set off on our dog walk along the Rivelin Valley from the Fire Station to Rails Road and back again. Shortly into the walk I picked up a WhatsApp message from one of our Gwens, reflecting on an article about Mark's Gospel which our other Gwen had sent her. What struck me about her comment was ....... an acorn! It bounced off my unprotected head from such a height that I thought it must have been a conker if not half a house brick. My immediate reaction, of course, was to run and tell the King that the sky was falling down. Or not.
What I really thought was, 'do I blame Gwen for making me stop in that particular spot?' or 'serves me right for stopping to look at my phone instead getting on with the walk.' Or was I meant to stop at that particular point on the path so that I could reflect on what happened and write a blog about it? If so, whose fault was it? Perhaps it was just one of those things that resulted from a number of incidental occurrences. Sometimes we try to read too much into what happens in life.
There is often a temptation to lay blame for what happens to us into the lap of those around us, political decision-makers or as a last resort, God. Some people even suggest that whatever happens to us is part of God's Plan - be it a joy or a sorrow. It is put there for a purpose. I don't buy it. Donald Trump tweeted this morning about his treatment for Covid-19, “I feel, like, perfect. So I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise,” he said. Really?? Trump has even dragged the Bible, religious buildings and now God into his election stunts.
Do we really think that God is manipulating our lives to such a degree that even acorns landing on my head are a deliberate ploy to make me stop and think? Even if you do believe that God has a purpose in creating the world into which we are born, isn't what we do with this world and our everyday actions down to us? God may inspire us to respond to life's ups and downs in a way which ultimately draws out positive outcomes, even from tragedy as well as good fortune, but I don't believe he 'means' us to lose loved ones through a pandemic so that we can 'grow in grace'.
What happens to us day by day is life as we, and those around us, have made it. Climate change is our doing. Covid-19 is our doing. Sending a pandemic isn't God's way of making us think about climate change, but he may encourage us to reflect on what we have done to our planet. If I thought God was directing my every thought and action, I would be shouting, 'get me out of here, I'm not a puppet!' Surely, God's purpose is that we should cherish and respect the world we live in. But it's down to us to realise his vision and we've always had the ability to do that. Where there's a will....
Mother, Father God,
Help us to find you in the everyday things of life.
Not to protect us from life's storms, but to be alongside us.
Help us to take responsibility for our own actions.
Inspire us to rise above our basest emotions and be the salt of the earth.
Encourage us to love the unloveable,
Embrace the vulnerable and abused,
Feed the hungry and homeless,
Fight injustice and bind up the wounded,
Work for a better world which reflects the vision of your Son
To serve, and not to count the cost
Well, that all came out of a little acorn. I bet you're glad it wasn't anything bigger than that. Unless you think that something heavier might have rendered me unconscious and silenced my rambling once and for all! My daughter, Bex, has commented that my blogs are the ramblings of a madman and refuses to read them. I'll leave you with a photo she took of me in the Summer of 2018 on another ramble along the Rivelin Valley...
The Rivelin Valley was once the site of early industry in the region, where metalwork was forged and gritstone wheels quarried form Stannage Edge, north of here, were used to sharpen metal objects at the wheels scattered down the valley. The Plonk Wheel is still marked by this post as well as wheels with names like Upper Cut, Wolf, Hind and Swallow. There are remains of dams, races and forges also marked along the beautiful two and a half mile length of the walk.