letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and it is well worth reading. It struck a chord with me partly because he starts off by focusing upon the suffering and tragedies that we have seen globally these past few weeks, he makes fleeting reference to the assassinations in Pakistan, the attacks on Christians in places such as Nigeria (among others) and the suffering in Christchurch, New Zealand, followed by the awful events unfolding in Japan. There is a real sense as the letter continues of the way in which suffering both moves and troubles us. We are troubled by the human cost of these events, and also troubled by the role humans play in atrocity, we are moved by the human suffering and moved by the role humans play in alleviating that suffering.
I have struggled to know what to write about events recently. On Friday I watched the video of the tsunami sweeping onto Japan's coastline and crumpling houses, trees and cars, carrying them - and the human lives caught up in them - effortlessly forward in a tide of debris. I almost posted the video, except to do so felt like voyeurism, I guessed people had seen it already anyway and I didn't know what I could say that would not sound inane and futile. We often forget what the scriptures tell us, that our lives are like grass, we can be swept away and our place remembers us no more, we forget, in the preoccupations of our lives that human life itself is fragile.
I am not at always very good at bearing with other people! I don't always have a lot of patience and can be easily irritated, or jump to conclusions about others too quickly. On the other hand, most of my hostilities melt away when I get to know others and see their vulnerabilities. A lot of us are like this, so the message of bearing with each other, and bearing each others burdens is not a bad one for this Lent. It is a scriptural lesson, and a lesson that needs to be learnt by the Church but it is also a message of universal relevance. It requires a change of heart - not a signature on a supposed covenant. It requires relinquishing power and replacing it with a genuine concern for the other, and it is as valid for individuals in their private and personal lives as it is to institutions, nations and movements. It focuses our hearts on the only thing we really have in an uncertain world which is our love for each other and God's love for us, which is reflected in human love when we see it at its most generous and self giving.