SEVERAL CONVERSATIONS TODAY (as in most parish based days) have reflected on the fragility of life. Life’s tough, a lottery, as someone put it to me earlier. You win some. You lose some. And there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of fairness when it comes to the distribution of “good fortune”. We have to rely on something, or someone, vastly greater than ourselves for any lasting sense of stability in a shifting world. We need help that comes from beyond ourselves because it’s vital that we learn to live with mystery, with not knowing, with not being in control. And if we need help we must learn to pray, and with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Hymn of the Universe, p23) I want to say
Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to power, to ripen during this day, say again the words: This is my Body. And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words … This is my blood.
This is what the connectedness of the Body of Christ is for. I recall an encounter I had with a veterinary surgeon, many years ago, who held the tiny trembling body of a sparrow in his tender hands. I was very much moved by the compassion in his face, glad that the little creature had known at least this much warmth at the end of his days, and I mentioned this to Jack after an 8am celebration of the Eucharist a few weeks later. I told him of the sense of connectedness I’d witnessed at the end of the little sparrow’s life. “Well”, he said, “you know, I was and am connected to that bird, that’s how I got through the vet’s exams. And actually it wasn’t the end of his life. We kept him warm for a few days, got a bit of glucose into him, and set him on his way again”.
So life isn’t just down to the whims of a lottery. It’s more to do with the extent to which any and all of us are willing to hold life’s fragilities tenderly, learning to be in communion with one another.