A Candle in the Window - 27 May 2020

A Candle in the Window - 27 May 2020

Peter Millar

Words to encourage us in tough times.    

***   This is God’s day, so make the most of it.  (Words seen on a poster)

To brighten the day – the story of creation by Nick Midgley when he was 13.            

On the first day God made light, and he was dazzled and made dark, and then a switch.

On the second day God made the earth and he took the elements, shuffled them, and dealt them.

On the third day God made plants. He learnt to breathe the fresh air before it was too late, and he saw beauty.

On the fourth day God made the stars and God was proud of them. He winked at them and they winked back.

On the fifth day God made birds and fish and wanted conversation, but they would not talk.

On the sixth day he made animals to talk to but they would not listen. And in evening he made humans. He said, ‘Women and men you are my companions’, but one of them replied, ‘off my land, you’re trespassing.’

On the seventh day God rested and looked at his creation, the animals and people, and began to think long and hard about what he had done. 

The precious air:

The air is precious to the Red Peoples. For all things share the same breath - the trees, the beasts, the women and men. What are we without creation’s goodness? If all the trees and beasts were gone, we would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the trees and beasts, happens to the people. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the peoples of the earth.            Chief Seattle, Duwamish leader, speaking in 1854.

*I believe, O Lord and God of all peoples, that Thou art the creator of the high heavens, of the skies above, of the oceans below. That Thou created my body from dust and ashes; gave to my body breath, and to my soul its possession.*

Quoted by Esther De Waal (editor) in The Celtic Vision: prayers and blessings from the Outer Hebrides.

Rediscovering the wonder of it all:

Recently I was re-reading a book I wrote more than 20 years ago ‘Waymarks - signposts to discovering God’s presence in the world.’ One of the chapters was headed ‘wonder.’  In this time of separation I think that many people, often in surprising ways, are being given an opportunity to rediscover a sense of wonder about life in its many colours; to glimpse the essential wonder inherent in life on earth. Albert Einstein expressed it this way: “Whoever is devoid of the capacity to wonder, whoever remains unmoved, whoever cannot contemplate or know the deep shudder of the soul in enchantment, has already closed their eyes upon life.” These are challenging and wise words which open up a fresh vision for all of us in the frenetic busyness of the modern world. Centuries ago, Saint Augustine made the observation that the human mind has the capacity not only to observe, measure and explore creation, but also the ability to wonder at it.

We look at the night sky and the nearest fixed star is 2.5 million miles away. A former Astronomer Royal here in the UK calculated that six specs of dust in the vastness of Waterloo Station in central London represented the extent to which space is populated by stars: a fact which is certainly beyond the imagination of most of us! ‘Wonder’ takes over when imagination fails. We are in awe. We are silent. Perhaps some kind of prayer is born within us – human words, but with an internal movement which transcends them. George MacLeod, founder of the modern Iona Community experienced this wonder when he wrote; “Once more we give thanks, for earth and sea and sky in harmony of colour: the air of the eternal seeping through the physical, the everlasting glory dipping into time.”

Indigenous people speak of the ‘soaring heart’  We all need soaring hearts in these days – our inner selves taking these leaps into the mystery of life and of all creation and being silenced by the immensity and beauty of it all, enabling us to be more human and less fake: more loving and less anxious. The world famous cellist, Pablo Casals 1876 -1973, never lost his sense of wonder and at the age of 93 could write, “For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner. I go to the piano, and play two preludes and fugues of Bach. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning. It is a rediscovery of the world in which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being human.”

Every day we read about an increase in depression among all ages. There is no easy answer to depression, but I believe, along with many others, that a part of the healing process is about an inner realisation of our sense of wonder. To recognise that we are part of the great framework of life. To be able to place our lives within the mystery not only of creation, but also within that framework of awareness which encompasses the whole world and blesses our souls with yearning. We may not describe healing in these exact words, but we all long for our hearts to soar from time to time. For our spirits to rejoice; for our souls to find their true and energising song. And often it is in the most surprising places that a sense of wonder envelops us. Even in tough times we can be conscious of being in some way ‘blessed’ - of glimpsing a further shore; of looking at life through a different lens.

 Waymarks, published by the Canterbury Press UK ISBN 978-1-853111-336-9.