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. 

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