Sunday, 14 August 2011

Wonder and challenge

We live on a world, in a Universe, full of potential and possibility; how dare we attempt to do less than meet its wonder and challenge!

I remember some years ago speaking with a medical consultant at a meeting.  He was telling me that he had made two batches (yes two!) of mince pies – and that making mince pies (normally only once batch) was his Christmas job.  I was wide-eyed.  ‘You have only one Christmas job?’ I queried.  ‘Yes, but I earn all the money.’  I responded, ‘I earn all the money and do all the jobs!’  He didn’t seem impressed.  As for many, December can be a very stressful time for me – starting with my daughter’s birthday through a few other birthdays to Christmas and New Year – it’s a time of celebration but ultimately someone has to do something to make that celebration work.  I couldn’t bear to be inactive but ...

There have been times in my life when I am so overwhelmed by my responsibilities and so anxious about life that I have come along to a Unitarian gathering to get away from it all.  To find an oasis of calm and compassion where I can forget that I can’t pay my bills, that I feel that I can’t cope with my sick dog, that I am stunned with grief following the deaths of three significant people in my life in as many months or I am so worn-out that I can’t remember what it is I am trying to escape from.  This is life – we get these periods and we get periods when we feel much happier and healthier.

In our darkest or even our greyest times, wonder and awe can be too much or may go unappreciated.  It may seem at these times that challenge is the order of the day.  My experience tells me that in really difficult times the thread of connection may be invisible but it is there.  On coming out of the tunnel we can look back and marvel at how we made it through – and in one piece.  But we did make it through and perhaps that is the wonder.  That we are stronger, more determined, more positive and more resourceful than we ever imagined.  We made it through by sticking with it, trying to live a good life despite the set-backs.  We also suspect that without the slightest hint of challenge life becomes unbearably mundane and our spirits shrivel.

Our faith may be blind.  However I prefer to see it as built upon a foundation of experience and learning.  No-one wishes for hard times but everyone wishes for the riches that can come as we embrace these hard times and live with them. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Potential and Possibility

Heading in a general direction and trusting in what we find rather than trying to fit in to what we find sounds a much better idea.

Indeed, according to the saying, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present”. We can never know what it is that the birds of our lives are flying into, although we might be able to extrapolate something from our past experiences. Each second of the future unfolds new, and fresh, and full of potential, and we must try to make the most of the abundance which we find there.

I often have trouble filling in forms which require me to describe my life – past and present employment, earnings, interests, and so on, as I find that I just don’t fit into their boxes – their pigeon holes. My life is unique, as are all lives. My beliefs and thought processes can’t be put into narrow boxes – as our good old (or rather new!) “Purple Hymn Book” tells us, “Die Gedanken Sind Frei” – our thoughts are free, they can’t be trapped, or confined by scholars’ wisdom, or forced to bow to those who would dictate what they should be. So, too, our very lives and aspirations, our consciences, and maybe above all our human ability to look at a current situation and see almost infinite possibilities; a glimpse perhaps of the infinite web of life in all its mystery and potential.

I propose that we could think again about our recent reflective topic of “innocence” in that light, as a trusting in our own potential and that of the moment, as seeing each second as a fresh start. Of course, we must try to avoid the trap of being too na├»ve, of being unaware of dangers and pitfalls, but equally be wary of living our lives in constraints and stale habits. Each action, each thought, should be weighed on its own merits, each moment appraised for itself as we meet it.

We live on a world, in a Universe, full of potential and possibility; how dare we attempt to do less than meet its wonder and challenge!