SLOWLY BUT SURELY I’m regaining strength, and if not exactly full of energy am not needing to sleep around the clock quite so much. Awake enough to realise how much I miss contact with the parishioners, friends and family who’ve kept faith with me, and have prayed, and wished, and delivered French beans to the doorstep, and kept in touch. Awake enough to realise how much I miss the daily prayer and reflection that I do through reading and writing, as much as through silence, and meditation, and the liturgy of the Church. Awake enough to realise that I’ve taken for granted the energy consumed in maintaining contact with many, many precious people across the years and that – in what Fr Richard Rohr calls “the second half of life” – there’s going to have to be a bit of careful self-regulation required if energy is to be available for the things that really matter (namely the said maintaining of contact with the said precious people … )
It’s our connection with one another that matters, above all else, it seems to me, for the future of our world. No sportsman, I’m nonetheless missing the “Olympic spirit” of the past few weeks almost as it were a physical hunger. My heart is battered by the sights and sounds of injury, insult, torture and torment and killing in Syria right now. And God knows how many other places besides. And it’s for want of connection – for want of the realisation that when Jesus wept over Jerusalem – (ironically, translated, “Vision or City of Peace”) and many another prophet besides, before him and since – he was weeping for the arrogance, the profoundly ignorant stupidity in those members of the human race that believe they’re in sole possession of every religious thought and word and deed that matters. For not only is that untrue it’s also dangerous. Such stupefying ignorance and arrogance costs lives. The lives of children, their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and grandparents and role models. And often the very lives of the ignorant themselves. And that’s not (bearing in mind that I speak from within my own tradition) “Christian”. Neither is it humane. Neither is it what we were created for – being truly human.
“The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” said Jesus. For the life of the world. And the “bread” that he gave and gives was his life – the same life, the same breath that fills our lungs and animates our bodies, and that we’re called to “give for the life of the world”. The life of the world. Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t building a Church so much as building a new vision for our world. A world where connections and empathy and sympathy and mutual respect matter as acts of creation.
I made the photo attached to this post whilst on a recuperative visit to “sea air” ten days or so ago. Perhaps you’ve spotted the lone fisherman? Or maybe (especially if you’ve clicked on the image to enlarge it) you’ve spotted that s/he’s not alone. Closer inspection reveals the moving presence of others. We’re not alone. We’re not built to be entirely alone. We’re built to be connected, to one another and to the One who built all things. We are to take care of ourselves. And we are to take care of one another. And that means sometimes asking questions about our religious assurances – and standing on a quiet seashore often enough, quietly enough, to begin again to hear some Real answers to our prayer – “as the waters cover the sea …”