After a conversation yesterday and watching ‘Bloody Sunday’ this evening, I’ve been prompted to meditate on this thought again. For those who haven’t seen ‘Bloody Sunday’, it’s about the events around the deaths of 13 people in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972. The discomfort I felt whilst watching it (and not for the first time) made me want to make a difference, to help the world become a safer, happier place. But yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who has just returned from visiting Auschwitz, who said that when people were stating that visiting the death camp made them want to be ‘be a better person’ he responded with scepticism (to put it mildly). I could really relate to both sides of that – when I visited Auschwitz two years ago I wasn’t upset as I was expecting to be, but rather determined that I didn’t want it to happen again. I left feeling positive, that I could make a change and help the world heal and become more peaceful. And in response to my friend’s doubts about the longevity of such a desire, I’m sad to say that I think I have failed.
As some of you will remember, I am an RE teacher as well as a singer. People are invariably shocked when they find out that my faith is such a deep part of me as it is because I am (in their words) ‘normal’. I’m not entirely sure how to feel about that, but it must mean that people feel they can be honest with me and talk about things which they perhaps wouldn’t discuss in front of a ‘typical’ Christian. I’m cringing as I write this!!! But my experience is that people will come and confide in me things which they then feel embarrassed about when they learn of my faith – and this is the best way I can describe what I mean.
I often think that I want people to know that I am a Christian by the way that I act, not by the things that I say. Slowly I think I’m getting better at portraying myself in the way that I would like to, and I am happy enough to ask God for help with this and depend on Him. And I think that in many ways I do help – the education I help to provide, the support I give and the guidance I can offer as a teacher as well as the peace and serenity that I try to create with the music that I sing as all ways I can measure my progress in this. But it all seems so futile, sometimes.
This evening the wind was blowing so hard and the rain was falling so heavily that I was genuinely concerned about the future of this world that we live in. If we in the south-west of England are feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy’s fury then I can scarcely imagine the fear being experienced by those who are being touched directly. We take so much for granted, and I am especially guilty of clinging onto security in whatever form it appears. A part of me loves the idea of physical security being taken away from us so that we can become closer and closer to the pure love of God, but the larger part of me remains terrified.
I know I’ve said it before, but what if suffering exists only to give us the desire and opportunity to do good things? Is it enough to continue with life as it is, offering each other the little kindnesses that make us smile on a daily basis and comfort us when we need to be comforted? Or should we leave our lives and follow Jesus as he called his disciples to do? If we were to all do that, I’m not sure how long we’d last because to do so is to rely on those who have not left everything behind to follow God. So surely God means each of us to serve in our own way?
This makes a lot of sense to me, but then the question remains: how do you become the best person you can be in your current position? ‘Love thy neighbour’ is the simplest commandment to understand but perhaps the hardest to follow.
And the answer to these thoughts which keeps coming back to my mind is so simple:
Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray.