A Way Forward: Voting in the time of Advent

 

Selection 999013

 

 

The first time I heard the phrase 'a way forward' was in the early years of the millennium and it rang with the darkest irony. My husband was doubly disabled with terminal cancer and a palliative care regime was the only option.

How to proceed is, in some measure or other, the challenge, the trial, the privilege, we face with the dawning of each new day. In what frame of mind and heart we approach it will determine outcomes in the near and far future. Daunting responsibilities may be presented we aren't wise enough, nor foreseeing enough, nor strong enough, to tackle. There are times when we cannot 'go it alone' without breaking down. We need help. We need each other. We need a loving Heavenly Father who will not fail us nor forsake us and who will undertake for us in our direst moments.

In a democracy, the common people are the movers and shakers. We look to governments to enable a framework in which we can flourish as human beings and play our part. The rest is up to us. Shades of politics, and whether Leave or Remain, are very much states of mind, theories, and not the reality of how things work out when rival agendas run riot. If we look for divisions, we will surely find them. If we focus on them, we will become obsessed by them so that perspective becomes entirely warped and destructive.

What we must deal with on the ground is bigger than any ideology.

Sometimes, it is good to take stock of where we have come from as a people, as a family of nations. If we aren't devastated by the faith, the charity, the community, the respect for healthy boundaries and sincerely held opinion of others, that have become a casualty of recent decades, how shall we begin to Hope? How shall we build a new era?

The other day, I came across this statement: Time is not given to us to keep a faith we once had, but to acquire a faith we need now.

Once, we assented to the idea that there was a better path than everyday expediency. We relied heavily on guidelines, a route map, exemplars. Even when it hurt, we felt happier when we had done our best to obey cheerfully. Those times we went our own sweet way, we felt dissatisfied, frustrated, depressed, remorseful. Though we still respected the blueprint that might appear flawed, we sensed, deep down, that something further was needed. Some agency beyond us. A Deus ex machina.

We were weary of strife. For those who persevered, the crack in the door of Advent shed an illumination we were drawn to and blessed by. The door was nudged further and further ajar, banishing the shadows, until at last we beheld the unspeakably humbling Truth, that the God of Creation was the little child born within our very injured and suffering selves and that when we honoured him with generous and thankful hearts, day in, day out, never mind the circumstances, His Kingdom was manifest within and about us. The miracle of shared and sharing Bread was beginning to renew the face of the earth.

We fail. We fall short. It is a journey. If we want a better world, let us acknowledge that we cannot construct it alone, neither for ourselves nor as a race.

Let us pray for, and long for, the hastening of that time when ‘the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.’

I wish you a Blessed Advent and Hope in the coming year.

 

Adoration of the Christ Child Gerard van Honthorst

 

 

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Tree Of Life

 

A poem for the season of Ascension and Pentecost...

 

 

Like whispering silk, the elm

Like Bridal Veil the birch

The Groom is gone...the Groom is come!

His Body is the Church

 

The Marriage Bond aspires

to realms beyond closed doors

A new vocabulary transcends

Past covenantal laws

 

Like Eden's fruit, the Vine

Transplanted now in Heaven's Acre

Wind whistles through the golden pine

Like tongues of fire, the sanguine acer

 

 

 

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Incandescence

 

 
Poem on the first Feast of Pentecost



They don't know what comes next.
They are trembling,
assembled together for comfort,
confused, bereft, vulnerable,
exposed to hostile forces,
on the edge of unbeing.
They've nothing to bless themselves with
and their manifesto looks dumb
without a party leader.
Where are they to go from here?
 

It was safe in his company,
despite the witchhunt.
The suffering had a purpose.
They trusted what he was about,
dimly grasping that the 'whited sepulchre'
must be blasted to shards.
To Regain Paradise by dint of law
and the redistribution of wealth
was both illusion and travesty
that cost blood anyway.
 

He had come to weigh himself
in the balance,
the fulcrum of those scales
unhinged by Adam for all time,
without some Mighty Advocate
intervene with a case
of special pleading and turn the tables
on the wealth-and-muscle hungry,
those with intellectual pretensions
and stiff-necked arrogance.
 

But why abandon his own,
just when the tide seems
to be turning? The corporate
wounds, defiantly repairing, are now
incorporeal. His mother, the chamber
of his incarnation, the only shrine
and single point of focus, holding it
all together: they could scavenge
with their eyes of dust until eternity,
the vision fumed with nostalgia.
 

But hark! This rushing wind fans
embers into conflagration.
He's here! In cloistered space!
Mary's haloed head peers heavenward
and hands are linked in concord.
Atomic Courage! Immortal Inspiration!
Babel rased to debris! Love reigns!
No power on earth can quench
Shekhinah's fire! Go, tell the world
and dare to live as if...
 


From JERICHO ROSE, Songs from the Wilderness (poetry collection in preparation).

 

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Altar, Throne And Cottage: An outmoded vision?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa Passes - John Butler Yeats

 

 

...a quaint notion, minted in the early years of the 19th century as a uniform hierarchy for the ordering of society in Britain. Some may argue that, strictly speaking, it belongs to centuries before the English Reformation.

 Or, to put it another way: God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world. So sang Pippa, the little silk-winder from Asolo in Robert Browning's poem, Pippa Passes. I sometimes think he should have made that a qualifying clause: When God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world.

I was reminded of this some years ago by an online article entitled The Power of Words. Marsha Hansen revives the convention of giving honour to God before a public address. She feels that only African Americans of a certain age will know where she's coming from. At the time, I couldn't help wondering what this practice might signify to Barack Obama, or John McCain. Doubtless, it would be as mystifying to Donald Trump as the customs of Ancient Mesopotamia. Few will have been taken in by his charade at the Western Wall of Jerusalem.

Time was, when before a meal, with all family members assembled (simultaneously!) around the table, the head of the household would say 'Grace', a prayer of thanks to God for providing their food, but not only that, a blessing upon it that it would nourish the body and do no harm if it were contaminated. It was a kind of domestic Eucharist. The tradition survived through WWII and into the sixties when a certain degree of affluence and taking things for granted began to permeate social life. Today, it is observed only in religious orders, in academe and at (some) public functions. Even among Christian and other Faith families, it has become an overlooked habit.

This was a way of being for all parties, no matter how wealth and opportunity were redistributed from one term of office to another. A broadened franchise came with the understanding that governments were there to enact policies on behalf of voters, as expressed in general terms through the ballot box. The democracy we prize does demand leadership. Whilst it spares us the tyrants, it exposes us to the tyrannies of our own limitless expectations which, in turn, paves the way for the autocrats we dread. The idea of a democratic free-for-all and the overweening reverence for personal choice in every aspect of our lives creates noise in which the weakest voices are drowned out and the vulnerable get crushed.

It seems this template is in our very DNA, an image of our relationship with the Creator, from which we can’t depart though we may allow other powers and passions to occupy the territory and reconfigure it in their own interests. In the past, it was recognised that divine wisdom was needed in the making of decisions, and in the striving to live them out faithfully. If you prefer, you could say it was to accord an Intelligent Universe its due. Thanks and appreciation really can change our perception of the world and our destiny. What Tennyson articulated was once widely held belief and therefore had a very real charge: More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.

We live in an age of glib sound bites, rhetoric and empty promises, but in the beginning was the Word. If we believe in its everyday ability to focus the intentions of the heart and mind (down to memos on the fridge door!) then prayer and the sending of healing thoughts borne out by actions that enable them, must improve the quality of life for everyone, near and far. The extent to which it does so depends on our perseverance and how widely the energy takes fire.

As things stand, the cosmos is in crisis, the nations ungovernable. The rising generations are left bewildered by what life on this planet entails. They have no sense of where they've come from or where they're going. In Britain, they have no systemic connection with their cultural heritage, thanks to spurious interventions in education.

The old framework was as aspirational as it was formed. Yes, it was instinct with nostalgia for what never wholly existed. History lays bare the legacy of corrupt Popes, self-serving kings, disaffected peasants and revolutions that replaced one kind of despotism with another. But does that make the reaching for it misguided and the effects of reaching for it redundant? Politics and Faith in God have never wholly mixed, yet everyone has a blueprint for living in the gentle Beatitudes given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Honouring that 'policy' would go a long way to changing the climate of politics and delivering truer leadership.

Isn't it precisely because of the excesses of human nature that we lose our way and need such a model to get us on track?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thy Kingdom Come

 

This post was prompted by Stephen Evans' On Rolls the Old World, an excerpt from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

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