Friday, 27 March 2015

Holy Week

At almost the start of Holy Week, a meditation from a dog who says it much better than I can.

Thought for the day: If only human beings could be a bit more like dogs.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Ask not for whom the bell tolls

I am still struggling with what seems like never-ending coursework (the stuff is like a boomerang and keeps coming back) and it is now combined with timed essays I have been setting due to exams looming on the horizon. So weekends are being pretty much wiped out but yesterday I did get down the gym and while working out on the cross trainer I watched the procession of remains of Richard III through the streets of Leicester and their reception at the Cathedral.

I have mixed feelings about the whole matter and spent some time pondering the motives behind all the fuss. The cynical part of me was very aware of the commercial potential offered by ensuring a real show with all the media coverage, no doubt Richard's bones will draw tourists to Leicester. Then again there is the undoubted fascination of a historical figure, no doubt maligned for political ends. There is perhaps the sense of guilt from the historians and scientists who dug him up- and while there has been much fuss about him getting a "proper" burial, it is also true to say it matters little to him now and he was actually buried, albeit hastily, in the Greyfriars Priory after his body was recovered from Bosworth field. To read the media you might think he had been originally buried in a car park...

Yet despite all these doubts, when the procession reached Leicester Cathedral and the remains were officially handed over and the coffin entered the door, I suddenly felt a rush of emotion and the sense that, at some level, we mark death and life in this way, not for others whether they be Kings or commoners, but for ourselves - to say something about the importance and dignity of this life. As the coffin moved from the streets into the cathedral, from secular to sacred, I couldn't help but reflect on the power of religious ritual to mark that sense of human dignity and of the worth and beauty of life more profoundly than anything else. You may say this is ironic because religion can treat the living in ways that diminishes or even abuses human dignity, yet I think it is because of the belief in a God who values each of us that, despite its many flaws, religion and religious ritual breathes its power and through its power can breathe hope and meaning into death and failure.