All the right notes – not necessarily in the right order

Article in Stretton Focus September 2020

I suspect that many parents and grandparents and teachers will be very glad that their children are back to school. Home schooling is not for the faint hearted. But there will be changes for both the children and teachers – all the right notes, but not in the familiar order.

We have all been changing and adapting, reluctantly perhaps, to this strange world of some six months. We have lived with the contradictions of isolation, social spacing, separation from family, friends, and for some, personal loss and grief. Yet, there is learning too. Something new is heard and seen in our environment and there are new ways of doing the business. The right notes of caring and looking after our neighbours are there, but there is a disorder of notes – a discordance of fear, anxiety and such uncertainty about the future.

During lockdown of churches, people, not usually attenders of church services, found sustenance in virtual services. Religion does give shelter, hospitality, space and offers some stability and certainties. Is it reasonable though that we should expect certainties?

For quite a long time in human history people felt that on every side they were incessantly assaulted by daemons, the gods, comforted by visions, instructed by those who know about the supernatural. They were delivered from danger, sickness and from death itself by the prayers and sacraments of the church. Then comes the age of science and evidence-based observation of the causes of, and remedies for, natural events and the impact of our human activity. We have learned that there are wonders enough out there, even on earth itself: surprises, awesome events, extraordinary patterns of life, without needing to delve into the supernatural.

The Gospels themselves are conflicted with these beliefs, yet the light of the message of Christ does shine through. That light has not much to do with beliefs, dogma, doctrines, but has to do with the human spirit, which has the capacity to transcend fear and despair. Here is a very much larger picture of the God of life, within us – finding our fullsome humanity. It is about liberation of our selves – body, mind and spirit. It is a way of faith that offers, not certainties, but pathways of finding hope. There is company on the road together with all who are seeking to uncover hope. We can only confound this pandemic, and all that confronts us, through human enquiry and solidarity.

Those of my generation may remember those words from the most famous of Morecombe and Wise sketches with ‘Mr Preview’, of nearly 50 years ago, and still laugh out loud. We shall laugh again and sing a new song.

Noel Beattie

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