I LONG FOR A WORLD of many colours and blurred edges – so the Diamond Jubilee celebrations here in the UK and elsewhere in the world have been “right up my street”. Longing for such a world, for a “New Jerusalem” (loosely translated: “the peace of the Vision of Peace”) I’ve sought for most of my life quietly to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, whose awareness of the Divine at work in him enabled him, precisely, to recognise the Divine presence and dignity at work in all human persons, fully recognising that they sometimes “know not what they are doing”. And I honour and treasure many beloved friends and disciples who, in good conscience, walk in other great pathways of peace both “sacred” and “secular”.
A willing servant
Jesus’ recognition of the Divine presence at work in all people made of him a willing servant who, in placing the value of others’ lives before his own, became for them a “saviour”, one who came to be known as “Christos” – Anointed. And, encouraged by this same Jesus of Nazareth, I have gladly sought to assimilate his teachings, and some of the teachings of other great spiritual guides of the world’s faith traditions, who have sought to lead humankind into the paths of peace. I’ve a long way to go. There are many such teachings and we all have more to learn than we sometimes recognise or recall, so I’ve revelled in the celebrations.
Kindness and good
Why? Well, many commentators have observed that millions “feel safe” under the benevolent – and anointed – reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II because, ever reliable, “she is always there”. I would add that I “feel safe” precisely because the Queen is benevolent – someone who “wishes to do kindness and good”, someone whose reliability and steadfastness encourages an (albeit often forgetful!) nation to follow suit.
Hundreds of thousands have jostled together cheerfully and safely in the London of the past few days. Crowds have “rubbed along” in amazingly close proximity because a crowd that wishes to honour and to do kindness and good has no sharp edges. Laughter is heard in the land. Colours and differences blend so that even little children and the elderly are able to participate in the throng and press without fear for their personal safety, without for a moment doubting their personal dignity and worth as part of a celebrating whole. Here’s a grand vision of “a green and pleasant land”.
Defender of Faiths
I’ve heard too many conversations amongst English churchmen and women who have laughed scornfully at ideas proposed in the past by HRH the Prince of Wales – that there might be a time when the ancient title Defender of the Faith, as applied to the British Monarch, might be changed slightly so that the Sovereign became Defender of Faiths.
But the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, have been quietly getting on with the task anyway, without need, in the event, of an amended title. And the present Archbishop of Canterbury, working with and alongside other faith leaders in this country and around the world, has supported and sustained an ever healthier religious environment in which sharp edges are properly and gladly softened so that a diverse population finds itself able to rub along together without fear of injury to heart, soul, mind or body.
God save the Queen! God save benevolence!
The immeasurable goodness and greatness of the Fount and Source of everything that is simply cannot be encapsulated or contained in one expression or tradition of faith or philosophy. We do well to note that the Gospels record Jesus of Nazareth living and teaching two non-negotiables as firm foundations for the good of all:
… one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22.35-40
What, I wonder tonight, is the Name of the Nurse in William Blake’s Songs of Innocence?
When voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.
‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away,
Till the morning appears in the skies.’
‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep.’
‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed.’
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,
And all the hills echoèd.
Some glad day each and every one of us, presently at play, will know Her Name, the name of the One whom Defenders of Faiths now serve. And music and colours in hills and plains and valleys in every nation upon earth shall blend. And we shall live in an entirely Commonwealth forever. Pray. And if you do not pray then do and say:
Some glad day …