CAN’T SLEEP. Watched Rev which helped the winding down process after the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. Ate pizza with friends – for which oh so many thanks. But can’t sleep – again – and the diary’s full tomorrow, and pretty much for the rest of the week. And actually it’s not the church meeting itself that’s keeping me awake – not this particular one, anyway! But I’ve been haunted all weekend by a photo-piece under “World” in the Times.

The full horror of nature: A heavily pregnant zebra shows dignity in her final moments as she is eaten alive by spotted hyenas in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya … she remained stoic and dignified to the end – photographer Marc Mol

I cried. Her beautiful eyes looking straight ahead – as though directly into mine – whilst being savaged to death. Oh, dear God, I cried. And I cannot erase the photograph from my mind. And the trouble is that the mind’s eye picture is a flickering one. Sometimes the eyes are those of a beautiful, beautiful zebra. Sometimes the stoic dignity is to be seen in the eyes of a young Syrian mother in a hospital bed – recovering (?) from having set herself alight, a living beacon of human distress at her enforced inability to provide for the children who stood by her whilst she burned – being savaged. Sometimes they’re the eyes of beautiful people, deeply in love – being savaged by an institution that preaches about love like there’s no tomorrow.

How’re ya doin’ Vicarage?

Well: wide awake actually. Again. And wondering how on earth I find myself spending hour after hour listening to debates about hymn books and service papers when we live in a world that’s crying out – looking me dead in the eye, whilst being savaged – stoically crying out for mercy.

I cannot bear to share these pictures here. Better to share a raindrop, a tear, if you like, reflecting a whole wide world. And I don’t want to hear that it’s not a vicar’s job to keep innocent zebras free from the threat of hyenas. They taught me that in the seminary a long, long time ago. But it is the vicar’s job, and everybody’s job, to keep persons protected from savagery – and at any rate I’ll never stop longing for the day when “the lion shall lie down with the lamb”.

Pray, pray, pray. Let’s leave the hymn book on the shelf for a day or two. No more beating people over the head with the Bible (anyone’s Bible) – lest some sad day we ourselves be knocked dead by our own crude and blunt weapons. Couldn’t we have a few days off spouting badly-understood creeds and misused sacred scriptures? – Reflect a bit upon our terrifyingly destructive ignorance? – Try to get a handle on the richness, the unity in diversity, the poetry of life?

And ACT. Gird up our loins. Speak up. Speak out for an end to each and every act of human savagery and self-centred, self-satisfied, religious obsequiousness. In God’s “dispensation” either everyone’s in or everyone’s out. And anyone reading this is called to be human and humane – and not a spotted hyena.

LORD OF LIFE, help me never to stop reflecting upon the grace with which zebras – and you alone know how many beautiful humans – “remained stoic and dignified to the end.”

Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy. And thank you. Thank you that Jesus wept. And for that resounding and tomb-shattering clarion call – LAZARUS! COME OUT!

9 thoughts on “NATURE?

  1. Hi Simon, been awake since 3.30 and interested to read your latest thoughts.i admire your “speaking out” and your questioning. You are an inspiration. Best Wishes, Jean Drakes.

  2. Thanks Simon for sharing your inspiring and challenging thoughts. You are in my, prayerful, thoughts during this Passiontide and Holy Week.
    God bless,
    John Bannister

  3. Simon
    You know that you can please half the people all the time and all the people half the time….people and life are like that….badly worded creeds bug me too….but then I am broad and liberal …..and believe that we should all remember above all else Jesus’s Command….Love God…Love one another….and not get bogged down in the minutia that we all have different views upon…..God loves us all… matter what our CREED…..and we should love God above all else…and stop the bickering that has dogged our Faith for 2000 years…probably more….back to the time of Noah even ! Be strong….keep doing your best ….for all !

  4. Ahhh, Simon, you write with such wisdom and passion, and you are a living example of grace and goodness. I feel your cri de coeur to the depths of my soul and I am with you….

  5. Ah Simon – you ARE that example…I wept when I read this, no need to for pictures when your words evoke the imagery so well. Mercy, yes..

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