It is just a full week since the UK entered ‘ Lockdown’ and a couple of months since we heard that such a thing could be done. We heard of Wuhan as a far away city, in a country where the state has power and we shrugged. Now we have to get through Lockdown. A […]
There is something very special about seasons which change every three months. It is a gift of nature more marked for those of us who live further from the Equator, although, also there, different wind and weather patterns play a season role.
Living in northern England, we can love the leaves changing in autumn, but have faint dread of the colder winter coming, Of course, if it is a day of clear skies and minus two degrees Celsius or so ,the world is wonderful and the cold is crisp and very special. But change that to plus one degree Celsius with a wind and deep cloud cover and the land and the mood is not uplifted but depressed and weary. Winter.
As I write, in mid January, I hear the birdsong of a blackbird who has been day after day at the top of the old beech tree, singing and singing into the leaden sky. It was Christmas Day when I first noticed him and he brightened the complete time of daylight. Clinging to the top branch, swaying in the cold breeze. The bird has come and sung numerous times in the same tree since. He sings in the early morning, he sings in the mid afternoon and as dusk creeps into the light,he gives a final song before dark. We may be finding winter gloomy but the birds are out, singing, snatching seeds gratefully at their table and active .Winter.
The grass of the lawn is uneven with brown, dying patches, and moss patches are breaking out in brighter greens. And there around the edges, the promise of new life as daffodil shoots come through and stretch out for light and set themselves free from being brown bulbs. I marvel at this promise of life to come and promise of it coming soon . And hidden in the shelter of a small tree, the first snowdrop is still encased, but ready to break out and bloom. Winter.
So the birds sing through this winter and the flowers know there is a new day coming and in the middle of the winter both can put out the promise of spring and regeneration.And creation wraps that blessing of daylight around them as the earth in the north has turned passed the winter solstice.
Winter, a hard and cold season ,has been given treasures from creation to relish and use for sustenance, for encouragement , for our nurture. The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it .
Take a look at @BBCBreaking’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/BBCBreaking/status/761505804264452100?s=09
We sometimes sing with psalmists of old… “. Lord of the Nations.” … Lord have mercy Christ the Redeemer have mercy on all Olympic events and people. People of the world see Christ the Redeemer with open arms for you
Ask a ten year old ,nay a five year old ,what is a need in life , A hug ,aka Love? Food, a secure sleeping place ? Aka a home ..
Stop , think , what is your answer?
Then where is the justice in making a home a thing of investment and profit for self? Or of basic food being overpriced for profit , or the greed that fails to share love ?
‘ A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies and her husband has full confidence in her.’ A cry from the Proverbs of the Hebrew Old Testament for all times. And for today .
The death of Jo Cox is an immense tragedy for her husband and family. She was the mother of two small children and the gaping hole left in that family is all the more tragic when we dare to think of their future without her. We want them to be able to grieve with privacy, but so many of us want to hug them and just say, ” We are with you.” That is why the streets in in Batley were full yesterday. Humanity seeks to gather in tragedy. Seeks to comfort our neighbour;strangers and friends.
So the question is not if we knew Jo Cox or had met her, but rather how can we huddle together and try to patch up the hole she has left? How do we huddle to make sense of her death … and of her killer? How do we deal with a member of our humanity who brutally lashes out and kills a wife of noble character more precious than rubies?
But wait, we are not remembering just now the doing, we are remembering who Jo Cox was. (We can’t even bear to hear the word ‘was’instead of ‘is.’)This is about being. A human being. .and our being human. We don’t do noble character, we don’t do being. We are. And this public grief is about ‘who are we ?’ We urgently need to model a noble character as individuals and for society.
The description of a wife of noble character is from the thirty first chapter of proverbs in the Old Testament wisdom books. Just before this description is the exhortation to ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights for all those who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly ,defend the rights of the poor and needy ‘
Is this the response we have to Jo Cox’s death? As we grapple with immigration, integration, terrorism and fear? Speak up . Speak up for those who cannot help themselves. If we do this we follow not only the character of Jo Cox, but we can echo the teachings of Jesus to be an advocate for the poor and needy. With him as our bedrock and source of our strength . Jo Cox as a great pioneering example, we can seek to build a country of noble character; a better world of noble character.
I think this is the Sheffield to Leeds Stop Everywhere train.It’s warm and plenty of seats and a high proportion of men. Men in woolly hats.A window is open and the air is fresh. No one is talking and mindfulness hangs unspoken.Rain trickles diagonally across the window and the darkness wraps a cloak around us.Wakefield, Outwood,Leeds.
Sometimes I use the train from London.Just Wakefield Leeds. It’s warm, bright,spacious,plenty of littered seats.A collection of containers with a film of food and Starbucks and Yorkshire Tea cups with plastic lids. Yesterday,laughing loudly women around an empty Prosecco bottle dominated the carriage. Not pretty women. I think my woolly hatted fellow travellers would agree. Freshness exchanged for wear and tear.On yesterday’s train there were no windows to open but ageing or reduced air conditioning. 180 miles of fug grabbed its chance to escape into the Wakefield night but rushing in freshness was diluted by malodorous body used air,trapped by the door slam.
‘Leeds the next stop.Please take all your belongings with you.’
Leftover stuff someone else’s problem.
It’s the darkness that is such a changer of the atmosphere.Leaving home in the dark ,coming home in the dark .The central nervous system’s pressure to hibernate. So the promise of lights and fires and warmth is deeply attractive .
Light is a beacon for me now , sitting in a modern door less station shelter, designed to keep the air fresh,but with no lights .Cold.The tall light shining onto the platform edge gives warning of the darkness of the tracks three feet below. I’ve chosen not to drop into the pub,”The Station” perversely so I don’t get too warm ,nor too comfortable. But the damp cold draught is beginning to chill me. Train cancelled.Forty minutes wait.
The silence is broken by a man’s shouts .’You f…..ing idiot,you hate my family ‘.He comes closer with a women who enters the shelter first.She nods when I ask if she is alright, and the shouter rants and swears on .I ask him to please stop shouting and he sits and tells the women how much he loves her and how he will marry her and give her his child .I feel my indignation rise at the imposition of his plan on a women he has sworn and shouted at for more than 5 minutes in my ear shot.
In the darkness ,the light shines and the darkness has not overcome it .
The lady friend of the ranter and I catch the train .She moves away and finds a space to herself . I think of the Syrian crisis and the wars around the world .Conflict and man’s inhumanity to man in so many forms.
Advent .We prepare for Christmas .Lord, have mercy .
http://wp.me/p2Lhjb-e2 remembering my own tour de Yorkshire two years ago.. Need to do it again!