I’m asking myself right now – what do I want to write about? What words could possibly make any difference in the fear and desperation of our mad and chaotic world? Some might say our ‘God-forsaken’ world but I reckon God would never forsake anything she created from love. Which is everything.
I guess we all need hope right now. Maybe I need to write about hope?
What does hope look like? It looks a lot like love. It’s the kid who has her arm around the kid who’s not picked for the team. It’s stopping to buy a hot chocolate and a BLT for the guy sleeping in the doorway. It’s rocking up to pack bags at the foodbank because you said you would. It’s schlepping into town on bitterly cold January night to make sandwiches for the night shelter. It’s making a coffee for the window cleaner on a freezing day.
It’s all about love.
Maybe I need to write about hope and love? Hope and love which are rooted in something –or someone bigger than ourselves. Bigger than all this – the violence, the sorrow, the darned injustices, and terror beamed daily into our sitting rooms on the news every night.
You could call that faith. Faith, hope and love. (Thanks St Paul).
When I was young, I didn’t understand what faith looked like. I never took to the evangelical God of my childhood with his pointy finger and expectation that I would dutifully tick all of his boxes. And so I’ve lived a life of two halves – the top half with its hard carapace of disbelief, the soft underneath of yearning, of vulnerability, of reaching out to hope and love.
This is the part that now finds God in song. The part which dons cassock and surplice and sings in a church choir. The part that drowns in the most exquisite words and harmonies and instead of encountering oblivion, finds itself more alive than it has ever felt before. This is where my stone is rolled away, where I emerge from the tomb, blinking in the sunlight to encounter resurrection, my road to Emmaus when I realise who was there all the time.
I guess you could call that faith.
So in my writing, I need to write about these three things. Faith, hope and love. And in these three things I will encounter my expansive, loving, generous and spacious God who always, but always holds onto me.
Now writing about faith, hope and love would for me at one time felt impossible. Or, like a piece of Physics homework at my grammar school, something which I just had to do whether I could or not. It would have felt a petrifying task in my already stressful day. I never understood Physics although Brian Cox makes things a lot clearer for me now than ancient Mr Sharp back in the days of One Alpha.
And writing about anything to do with God at one time would also have felt impossible because I equated God with terror. I grew up with the theology that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse could come riding down our street any old Monday night whilst I was watching ‘Blue Peter’ and and peer in the window to see if I was behaving myself. Although I expect Valerie Singleton might have done something creative with four plastic Fairy Liquid bottles and a couple of toilets roll tubes to herald their arrival.
But the God I know now, the one who knows me with all my fractures and failings and fears gives me faith, hope and love as gifts. And holding onto my gifts also means holding on to the conviction that somehow, somewhere in all the mess of the world, there is a loving Creator who wants to see us through it. And if I believe that, then I also believe that I can talk to her and ask for her help. The Third Order of Franciscans say they recognise the ‘power of intercessory prayer,’ and I reckon the state of God’s world is keeping quite a few of them on their knees at the moment.
So I’ll write about faith, hope and love.
Thanks St Paul.