Sick of Church??? . .. er ... umm ... well actually no.
Nicest thing I've heard for a while was last week when one of the children who is part of our church told her mum that she'd been feeling 'church sick.' By this she meant that in the same way as people may get home sick, the family had been away for two weeks and now she was missing being in church: she was therrefore church sick!
Makes perfect sense to me ... wish it did to more people
If you've been following and supporting the campaign to let Rima stay with Robert and Alison in the UK here's the good news ... they visited the UKBA yesterday and came home with confirmation that no removal directions were being prepared and a review date is set at the end of June. Things are far from settled and it is still a stress to live under this shadow so do not give up campaigning, but lets give thanks for this blessing of respite.Don't forget www.letrimastay.org.uk
The first ripples of election fever are finding their way through my letter box. I have decided to set a task for every prospective candidate I meet ... I will consider the proposals of their manifesto if they promise to read this book and come back and talk to me about it. I may even buy copies to give away.
The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett gets to grips with the central thesis 'Why Equality is Better for Everyone.' These two well respected epidemiologists name the way the quality of life diminishes for everyone when we value growth over equality. Looking at everything from crime to mental health, stopping on the way to review education and life expectancy it almost has the chapter headings of a political manifesto but it's central theme is simple: almost everything we do is affected not by how wealthy we or our nation is .... but how equal a society we live in. Cultures with a bigger gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' are bad for everyone ... including the well off.
I didn't always spend the time I should have on the statistical analysis and the graphs included (not my way of thinking) ... and perhaps I lingered much too long on the cartoons (but they are both funny and poignant) ... but the book remains compelling if disturbing reading for how we might shape our country in the future ... because here is the proof that we do life better when we do it together and do it as equals.
Of course it is not just about how the politicians might make this happen, it's what I (or you) might do about it too. So maybe I won't just give it away until I'm doing something more about this stuff myself.
Today is Day Fourteen for Rima. Or Zero Days left of Border Agency grace remaining.The Facebook entry from Alison says so much: 'Today our home is no longer safe.'
In such a moment 'homes' often become no more than 'houses.' but I cannot bear the imagining of Rima Robert and Alison being without a home ... left only with a house. The foundations of hospitality go too deep in them in their place of belonging for 'home' to be lost.
As I prayed for them all today it felt to me as if a robber had posted a calling card through their front door and said 'I might be back anytime soon.' This may be an unfair image for the UK Border Agency or the Home Secretary but it is what came to me. And it came on the day when Wales celebrates its patron Saint, David. It seemed significant that Robert and Alison live as a Columban Home ... offering sanctuary ... as part of their commitment to the Rule of the Iona Community and it seems to me that whether it was Columba or David no-one I know is more in need of the protection of the saints, the angels, and all the host of heaven than this family. If St David could make the ground grow beneath him so better to speak to his congregation ... perhaps another miracle today ... that the words and prayers of those who have written and petitioned and spoken out would be raised high so that those in power and authority could hear better and respond well by doing what is right...
So today I did in private what I managed to avoid twice in the pulpit yesterday ... I wept for them. Psalm 121, the text for yesterday evening, promises that God will watch over us ... not that no bad thing will happen,but that God who made both heaven and earth is present even in the apparent absence ... in the darkness ... in the silence ... and so I bowed and knelt and offered my hopes and fears but as RS Thomas once said: for one who knelt no word came.
Except perhaps the word to keep on kneeling and believing that goodness remains stronger than evil