Monday, 25 August 2014

The summer is over and we are not yet saved

 A rather chilly second half of August has been topped off by a Bank Holiday weekend which has managed to continue the theme of cold and wet weather, even delivering frost in some areas on Saturday night. Add to this the fact that I can no longer convince myself that I am not yet back at work, and it certainly does seem that the summer is over.
In the meeting yesterday, I was thinking about this summer, about how I have not wanted it to come to an end and my fervent hopes that this coming year at work will not be as difficult as the last one was (please Lord...) In many ways this has been a blissful summer for me as I have really taken the opportunity to relax and have enjoyed doing simple things, growing vegetables, walking the dog, reading along with the occasional day out. Kev and I also went on holiday alone together for the first time since the boys were born. I was pleased to find that I thoroughly enjoyed it just being the two of us, and this was a relief as, after twenty years, it isn't always the case!
In terms of what we have heard on the news and seen on our TV screens, this has been a far from blissful summer. The shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, the worsening situation in Palestine, the terrible atrocities in Iraq and concerns about the increasing power of the so called Islamic state in the region are all not just distressing in themselves but a cause for international concern and anxiety about the future. I also personally am saddened and horrified by the way that religious extremism can lead to such evil, and I am not complacent as I know that religious extremism of any shade can lead to the justification of inhumanity. In the words of Jeremiah, we might say that the summer is over and we are not yet saved.
It was a very silent meeting yesterday. Perhaps, like me, people have come to the end of knowing what to say or feeling that words are very helpful. I find it more and more of a tragedy that in this difficult world, in which we suffer what Shakespeare referred to as "the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to", that on top of this we feel the need to engage in conflict and inflict further wounds on each other. I have not blogged this summer about any of the horrible events in the news. What is there to say that has  not said by others or does not seem like a platitude?
It may seem pale and pusillanimous, but in the face of  this summer, with all its personal goodness and happiness for myself and all its suffering, conflict and atrocity for this world, all I could do was to place it, myself and the future in the hands of God.


  1. Yes, I know what you mean... It has been a depressing day here in Hertfordshire - pewter coloured skies and small lake growing in the parking places that line the cul de sac where we live. It reminded me of when I used to live in Lancashire - 24 hours of rain: rare, here in the Beautiful South...
    I’ve not really commented on the horrors of the Middle East and Iraq – save the irony of conservative Christians deploring what is actually just a fairly predictable fruit of exclusive religion. There is a remarkable similarity between the words of St Bernard of Clairvaux, encouraging Western Christians for Holy War (the doomed 2nd Crusade) and those of Sayyid Qutb – an Egyptian Muslim ideologue who has been influential in the theological reasoning for armed conflict against non-Muslims (or nominal Muslims for that matter). Exclusive religion does much to take away the humanity of its (real or perceived) opponents – or those who just get it in its way.
    I do feel very guilty sometimes about the peaceful lives we lead here in the West. It also angers me that there is so much whinging and whining – in some quarters there is the idea promoted that we are living in some dystopia that is sliding ever further into chaos and depravity. When in reality, many Western nations – not least the UK – are far more socially moral societies than they have ever been. If we step back a hundred years or so, the lot of the vast majority of Britain was far worse off than it is now. Here I don’t just mean in terms of material needs – I mean rights before law, social and gender equality, access to health care, decent housing, a working wage, an old age with an income.
    The current dismal weather does seem to echo the mood at present occasioned by the doom and gloom that emanates from the Middle East. Yet will such fighting come to the streets of Europe? I was in the midst of 7/7 – how long before the next atrocity? I do wonder, if one day in the not-too-distant future, Enoch Powell will be lauded as a prophet.
    Now there’s an even more depressing thought...

  2. Hmmm, yes. On the one hand you can't imagine the sorts of troubles we see in Iraq and Syria happening in Britain but history can have surprising corridors. We may well see increasing terrorist attacks, on the other hand we may see increasing ethnic divides, decent British Muslims must be feeling increasingly vulnerable.
    I do generally believe are very fortunate in the UK to currently live with relative prosperity and a tolerant culture. Interesting what you say about how we are better off than 100 years ago. It concerns me that so many people live on a less than living wage, and the problems that our debt culture has led to. I have read, and believe it may well be accurate, that those on low wages or paying off debts are on the whole worse off than those on welfare. I was listening the other day to an item about food poverty and it brought back a memory of a friend I knew in Wales when I was about seven. At that age I didn't notice much what other kids' houses were like, but Emma's house did shock me. There were no carpets or wallpaper, just threadbare rugs and up the living room wall there was the sort of wide lipped fungi that you see growing on trees because of the damp on them. It was more like an outhouse than a living room. I don't know if there are houses like that still in the UK. I guess there are but I just don't see them? You may have done through social work.
    As to old age with an income, given the state of pensions, that one may be diminishing in the future!