Yesterday I was on a dog walk and worrying in a rather anxiously self absorbed way about how useless it is to be anxiously self absorbed about whether I am doing the right thing. Then I started worrying self absorbedly about the fact that I was worrying self absorbedly about how anxiously self absorbed I can be about doing the right thing! Luckily I then got home from my dog walk and had a cup of tea and broke the increasingly miserable chain of thought, but the fact remains. I do want to do the right thing. But it isn’t always easy to know what that is, and then knowing what that is, to do it, and being anxiously self absorbed about that doesn’t help anybody, least of all me.
I find it so difficult to work out what the right thing is. Life is complicated, and people are fascinatingly complicated too, with different gifts and viewpoints and personalities and histories and needs. There is the golden rule ‘treat others as you would have them treat you’ and I have a religious faith in a loving God to whom I can pray and from whom I can ask help, but it doesn’t change my personality. I have strengths and I have weaknesses and any loving I try to do, or ask God to help me do, has to be done bearing in mind this fallible mixture.
Sometimes I wish I was different. I went to see ‘Suffragette’ last night. I cannot understand how anyone can sneer at that film. I am so grateful it was made. It was so sobering and awe inspiring to see the bravery of those women. They were amazing. I admired them for their clear sighted devotion and guts – I was so shocked to see force feeding and the brutuality of the way they were treated to get what so many of us take for granted now, and for which those heroic women gave their lives. And I knew that there was no way I would have been brave enough or strong enough to be a suffragette.
I live in Kent. Across the water from me I read in a newspaper that there is a teenage boy, younger than my own son, whose parents sent him from Syria to find safety and to earn money to send back to help his little brother, who has a hole in his heart. And that boy had a horrific journey to get to Calais, and keeps trying to get into England, and has been beaten and has had his shoes taken off him, and is now thinking about going the long journey back to Syria and maybe, in his bitterness and suffering, will join a terrorist group when he gets there. And he is alive, and suffering so near me, and I don’t know what to do about him and his family except pray.
Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed by the endless enormity of suffering everywhere. I really don’t need Professor Dawkins and debates about Evolution to rock my faith – just the sheer unfairness of life for so many people is enough for me. But at the same time I feel that faith in Love is THE thing which makes sense. It isn’t a platitude. Everything good in this world has come from love.
So I would like to remind myself today, and any of you reading, that we need to honour and revere and treasure and be happy about every incident, every example, of love we find. A friend of mine has recently adopted a rescue dog. The love she has for that frightened animal is inspiring. That love comes from exactly the same source as the love which inspired Wilberforce to work for years to abolish slavery, which inspires an artist to paint a beautiful picture, a charity to help refugees, a musician to practice a piece of music, a nurse to nurse, a writer to write or an adult to read a bed time story to a child. I would also like to remind myself to honour everybody’s gifts, including my own. In my bible there is a passage from one of the letters of St Paul, ( I Corinthians 12 1- 31) where he says everyone has a unique gift, and that it is no good a foot wishing it was a hand, or an ear wishing it was an eye. It says we are all one body, and we need to do what we can, not wish we were somebody else.