27th April, 2018:
I’ve been watching the Alfie Evans case in the press. Part of me wants this baby boy to be given every possible chance for life. Part of me understands the logic of the doctor’s position, and that ’life support’ is an invasive, unpleasant process. All of me grieves for the breakdown in trust between the doctors and medical staff, and Alfie’s parents. But the real questions here are “how do we judge someone else’s quality of life?“ and “who has power to decide?” in these cases where the ethical issues are so complex.
Each of us has different things that we enjoy, and that we would say make life worth living. But I think ‘being loved’ would be high on most people’s list. There is joy in love and relationships that soothes the soul. And Alfie is clearly much loved. ‘Being perfect‘ would not make it onto most people’s lists. But somehow we seem to be moving towards a society where it is expected that all babies should be born perfect. Pre-natal screening is increasing in its ability to warn of ’imperfections’ yet there is no public debate of whether this is what we want for our society. Do the doctors really know best? Haven’t we reached the point where our society can cope with diversity and imperfections, and where everyone can be valued, the powerless as well as the powerful?
20th April, 2018:
Just back from a short retreat. I haven't been looking at the news or facebook, so had missed out on what was happening in the world. Such as the Windrush problems. People who have lived in this country all their lives and contributed so much to us through their lives, their work, their taxes, and their creativity suddenly made to feel that they no longer belong to UK society.
Wherever we live, we all need that sense of belonging. Of having people who care about you and will help you. Of being a valued part of the community. But we are not always good about allowing others who are different from us to 'join' and belong with us. This can even be a challenge to the church sometimes. New people may bring change! 🙂
Last night I was given a beautiful 'thank-you' note because we had welcomed someone into our church community during the last few months of his life. He wasn't an easy person, and sometimes it was a challenge. But I am just so glad that we did. We all learned from him, and were enriched by him being part of our community, and I am pleased that he was able to continue his lifelong faith journey with us at such an important time in his life.
We need to reject these barriers that are being put up in our nation, and argue with those who try to tell us that we have to protect our resources because they are scarce. We have been immeasurably enriched by the people who have emigrated to the UK, they belong with us. In the Bible Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, reminds us that we are all one in God's eyes ("There is neither Jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, neither is their male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus") and perhaps we should remember the Good Samaritan...
14th April, 2018:
I feel that I have woken in a less safe world today. I don't believe that violence ever solves the 'problem' of violence. I do believe that politicians at times use the military might of the countries they govern to deflect attention away from their own mismanagement. And to bolster failing domestic economic policies as well as to boost their own popularity (remember,"We're all in this together"?). And I believe there should be a public debate in parliament and in the nation as a whole before military action is ever taken against another country, even if that slows the response. The use of force should always be an absolutely last resort after all peaceful resolution has been tried.
This week in Linooln we saw the unveiling of the monument to the brave people who served and died as part of Bomber Command during the second world war. The death toll was particularly high in Lincolnshire. At one point the life expectancy among some crews was just 2 weeks. I remember my mother telling me of how she would count the bombers as they flew out over the house, and then count the ones returning...
There is a feeling that we have had to wait so long for the bravery and sacrifice of bomber crews to be honoured because international public opinion is uncomfortable with the huge civilian deaths that resulted from bombing raids. But the pilots didn't determine the policies and strategies that were used. That was the resposibility of the politicians.
If we want to defend democracy, surely we need to make democratic decisions ourselves? Surely the voices of our people should be given a chance to be heard or our 'democratically elected representatives' won't be representing us. And I find myself (strangely) agreeing with Donald Trump's words to Russia and Iran, "The nations of the world can be judged by the friends they keep". I am not sure that our politicians have chosen our friends wisely, or for the best of reasons.
13th April 2018:
It feels to have been a long winter of storms, and snow, cold and fog. I quite like having 'proper' seasons, but by April that should mean warmer days, and the encouragement of spring! At least we have the daffodils and other spring flowers, even if they are a little later than last yesr.
I'm not a fanatical gardener, but I do have occasional bursts of enthusiasm and love the colour that flowers bring into our lives. To be a good gardener takes real commitment to the life of the garden, as well as understanding of what the different plants need, where they will flourish best, and when is the right time to prune or fertilise. It also takes an understanding of the soil, and the conditions that are going to affect the garden. There is always something to do, some pests to fight (organically, of course!) and some new thing to learn about a garden.
In some ways we are like the plants in the garden of the soul. Our Gardener knows what we need for us to flourish and he is committed to loving us and caring for us. But unlike the plants in the garden, we can choose whether we want to be cared for and cherished, even if sometimes that may mean a time of painful pruning! And, if we want to, we can drag up our roots and go it alone without the Gardener's help.
A new thought every couple of days