I am sitting in the lovely sun room in the Manse in Blackpool looking out across my back garden, there are flowers blooming and a soft breeze is blowing, it would be easy to say all is well with the world, to bury my head in the sand ( not difficult here in Blackpool) and to carry on with the mundane stuff of life. At the same time I am reading news pages, reading posts to Facebook and twitter expressing continued outrage at the atrocities happening elsewhere, posts calling for peace, calling for an end to the madness, calling for something to happen, someone to listen.
I have joined my voice to these voices, shared and re-shared news items, grown angry at the atrocities, appallled at the continued violence and destruction. The place names are repeated again and again, Israel, Gaza, Iraq, The Ukraine, Israel, Gaza.... Image follows image, children maimed, bloodied, and tormented faces fill our screens. There are arguements from each side too, arguements claiming absolute "right", arguements insisting that war, violence and slaughter is justified. Arguements that fail to see the the inhumanity they perpetuate upon fellow human beings.
How can the slaughter of children be right, how can the targetting of family homes be right, how can the beheadding of children, the hanging of fathers be right? Quite simply it cannot be and is not right, no matter what your religion, what your race or creed wholesale slaughter and destruction is wrong.
As I ponder adding my voice to the voices crying out for peace again I am struck by the smallness of it, but I must not let this stop me, I must enter the storm of protest with an open heart and an open mind, I must be willing to speak up even if it seems that the winds are roaring so loudly that my voice is carried away. I must enter the storm because it is there that I find the open heart of God, the heart of a God who I am convinced weeps for the people he has made who are so intent on destroying one another, and I must be prepared to weep with him, and weeping will become my prayer. I have to challenge myself to see the humanity through the images and feel the horror of the stories that come to me day by day, hour by hour.
What is it like for the medic who can do no more because there is no power and supplies have run out? How does she sustain the strength to sit with the dying child whose life in different circumstances could have been saved.
What is it like to watch approaching soldiers knowing that your death is imminent unless you convert to a faith you do not hold? Can I place myself into the shoes of a mother seeing her children beheaded knowing that she faces rape and death herself, and there is nowhere to flee?
Of course I can't, but I can try, I can try to be open to the pain and the horror and to meet the Christ who met his disciples in the storm ( Matthew 14: 22-33), because it was Christ who sent them into it! I have a choice, I can bury my head in the sand, enjoy the flowers in my garden and generally ignore the suffering and horror, or I can dare to get into and maybe even out of the boat, dare to walk with Christ across the waves and allow my voice to join the many voices calling for peace until the storm is stilled.
Jesus compelled the disciples to enter the boat, and sent them out into the sea ( which represents chaos, darkness and evil), they laboured their pushing through the storm fearing for their lives almost all night before he came walking out towards them. He had been up upon a mountain praying, face to face with the Father before entering the storm, and I have a suspicion that that mountain top was not a place of idyllic calm and loveliness but once again a place where Jesus fought through the storms of his humanity to find the complete peace and strength of being at one with God. In that strength he walked across the waves and into the storm.
The storm is raging today, raging all around the world, raging in the Middle East with obvious violence and horror, raging in West as decisions are made over arms and aid, raging in the hearts of those who seek war, and those who seek peace. I believe we are called to enter into it, for if we ignore it we forget that we are a part of it anyway, so let us dare to enter, dare to step out, dare to speak up, dare to say once again, and then again, THAT THIS MUST STOP.
This is not about politics, race or creed, this is about people, real living, breathing, hurting, bleeding and dying people, and THIS MUST STOP!!!
Image "Storm" mine