REFLECTION FOR APRIL 2015 PETER MILLAR
*** Our beautiful and hurting world
Anna Briggs an amazing knitter and long- time member of the Iona Community has written some inspiring hymns. One of my favourites is the one which starts this way:
“We lay our broken world in sorrow at your feet, haunted by hunger, war and fear, oppressed by power and hate…and ends with these words..….O Spirit on us breathe, with life and strength anew; find in us love, and hope and trust, and lift us up to you.”
As we look around, it’s easy to feel discouraged. The unimaginable pain and suffering in the lives of many of our sisters and brothers is there for us all to see day after day on TV. It becomes overwhelming, and, as we all know, there are no quick fixes. The other day a glorious spring sunshine illumined Edinburgh and made brilliant the river which runs in front of my home. The beauty of the morning was all around. Yet ten minutes later the BBC News brought me, and thousands of others, to the ancient, narrow streets of Kathmandu in which hundreds of people lay dead under rubble. The earth had moved. Together we weep – often silently in our bewilderment.
At a time when things were dark in my life I wrote the following words. The other day I heard them being read in a church service. I had not thought of them for several years, but looked them up and now include them here. I hope that as you read them you may find that renewing spirit within you which is such a powerful marker in Anna’s hymn.
With the beckoning and dawning of another day,
can the fragile, yet extraordinary words of Jesus
propel us to a wider awareness
a gentler compassion?
To the rediscovery of the sacred in ourselves and in our world.
To that risk-taking place
where we are free to be aware?
To a different journey
in a listening companionship
with these prophets of our time –
the wounded and weary
who, amazingly, announce the Kingdom
and carry in their stories
the seeds of the morrow?
The ‘hidden ones’ whose joy and pain
when threaded through our lives
enlarges the heart and brings new meaning to God’s story.
The God whose light still shines, and who tenderly invites us
to love our neighbours as ourselves.
*** Two special lives to remember:
Elizabeth Templeton a great Scottish theologian who was for many a shining star in the world church and especially in the ecumenical movement here and overseas. Elizabeth’s rich and memorable insights concerning the Christian narrative touched the lives of many, yet her own life knew sorrow and times of desolation. She was a prophet in our time and we give thanks to God for her loving, creative life. Her words and wisdom will live on.
Elio Toaff who was for more than 50 years the chief rabbi of Rome built bridges of understanding among all faiths. Like Elizabeth, Rabbi Toaff had known personal suffering and saw massacre at first hand, yet he never lost the vision of a healed world in which genuine reconciliation took place. On the death of his close friend Pope John Paul in 2005 he was honoured to find that he was one of only two people named in the pontiff’s last will and testament. The Pope acknowledged that his friend had done more than anyone to improve relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism. “How can I fail to remember the rabbi of Rome?” wrote John Paul.
*** The Tower of David in Caracas:
Many thanks to all of you who wrote to me following the reflection on the Tower of David in Caracas. A good friend in Switzerland, Dr Reinhild Traitler who knows Venezuela and its people was one of those who responded. This is in part what Reinhild wrote: “The big problem in Venezuela is the omnipresent violence and fear. It is not just the poverty and inequality rampant in so many poor areas and among some of the sixty-nine Indian tribes. This violence concerns everyone, because you cannot leave your home for fear of being abducted or killed. The Tower of David in Caracas is well known there, and many other slum dwellers regard those families who live there as being fortunate. Swiss TV ran a programme on it last year, with interviews, showing all the ingenuity that the people have developed to make daily living as good as possible. The Tower is also a symbol of people taking possession of the ruins of capitalism and doing something useful with it. When I was there I was so impressed by the spirit of the local people and their warm welcome to strangers. Even in the face of so much injustice the people have not given up.”
( Recently I think the families in the Tower of David have been moved on but I am not sure of this.)
**** Sandy’s Mill, by Haddington, EH41 3SB, East Lothian, Scotland.
This restored small mill cottage on the banks of the river Tyne about 25 minutes by car from Edinburgh is now up and running for people to use. Either to stay there or as a place for day retreats/workshops. For day retreats there is space for approx 15/16 people. The cottage is surrounded by beautiful countryside and there are many wonderful walks all around it. It is also suitable for quiet retreats for individuals. It is fully furnished with 3 bedrooms (sleeps 5) and a lovely enclosed garden. There is also a small pilgrim route by the river. Please share information about the cottage with friends. If you need more information contact me by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
May the day ahead for you be touched by one of God’s surprises.