The Harvest Field of Life

17 September 2014

Bending in the wind

Bending in the wind

When we are cast from our mother’s wombs onto the ground that is life on earth, some will fall on a difficult landscape, born into poverty; circumstances that will deny them much, classify them, deter them.

Others will find themselves cast onto a prosperous plain where their privileges will determine that their dreams are more easily realized than would have otherwise been the case. They can easily be led to think that achievement is possible for everyone else if only they were to put in the effort.

Wherever it is that we are born and raised we reside in the sphere of God’s activity, blessing and merciful judgment. We are therefore responsible for responding to the environment in which live. We have something to give and something to receive, God sees that and evaluates the response accordingly.

It may not always seem so, we may feel as if we are all alone and that whatever we do it goes unnoticed. Therefore we may dread some days more than others and often with good reason; after all each of us is limited in what we can aspire to. But the God who has been with us from conception and who created the means by which cells form into living, breathing creatures with a consciousness of our own abilities and limitations and a conscience toward those about us is the One who will forever care for our souls whatever the circumstances.

We fear much. We miss much in our fear; but we are told and, if we are fortunate, we know by experience that perfect love casts out all fear. God’s love, God’s providential, loving care will catch us when we fall, calm us in times of anxiety and help us transform our world alongside those with whom we share this world.

One day in life…

12 September 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Tower of London

Life is brief. As the years increase we know this to be true. Even a child may know it if they remain familiar with the nothingness from which they have so recently emerged.

A day is briefer still of course. It may pass, as with most days, seemingly without incident and will not only pass quickly but will be quickly forgotten. Conversely of course for some the day goes too slowly as they either await something that will thrill them or fill them with dread.

On occasions the day will pass with such valuable incidents, encounters and insights that it will long be remembered; it may even be life changing, for good or ill.

Yesterday had the potential to be one or the other.

A meeting had been scheduled that had given me great cause for concern. Though I was not fearing the outcome, I still prayed that it would not be necessary for it to take place. It didn’t, for some reason or another it was cancelled and it will now never have to be faced.

I had a choice to cash in my train ticket or press on with the journey to the city where the meeting was to have been held. I decided on the latter believing that something bad and wrong can be turned to something good.

Even when the train was delayed half way into the journey because of a brake failure I was not dismayed. I turned to my neighbour and struck up a conversation; why is it that we have to wait for something to go wrong before we engage in dialogue? What is it about our sensibilities that only when we share a common concern, or threat, do we dig deeper than the weather? To be fair my opening line was about compensation should the train’s arrival be delayed significantly! But it was enough to begin a discussion on the coming Scottish referendum and what happens to the UK debt and military bases in Scotland should the vote be ‘yes’. We then touched on the rise of ISIS, politics, history and all manner of things. The delay was more than half an hour and it would have been understandable had we become agitated at arriving so late, but I wasn’t and I don’t think my travelling companion was neither. It was also long enough for us to eventually claim back half our rail fare! The only downside was that she didn’t have the claim forms on her as she usually does!

The day continued in a similar vein, meeting up with a good friend, browsing in a bookshop, taking time over lunch and visiting the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red memorial at the Tower of London. Gazing on the ceramic poppies being planted around the Tower of London until they reach the extraordinary number of 888,246, each representing a British military fatality in the war, was a timely reminder of the need to make every day count when there were so many whose days were cut short for the lives of those yet unborn.

Later when taking a photograph for a group of American tourists and the long-held belief that saying ‘cheese’ would be sufficient to raise a smile failed I found a more successful means of achieving my aim by resorting to shouting ‘1776’. This gave me and my newly discovered trans-Atlantic cousins much joy. I like bringing happiness to strangers especially those who visit our nation from overseas.

Then as I walked amongst the swell of passengers between stations I recognised a woman to my left as a popular TV historian. Why miss the opportunity to express brief appreciation when someone has brought you some delight? I am sure she must receive much praise for her work but she looked pleasantly surprised and quickly responded ‘Ah, clearly a man of culture and great taste!’ Maybe praise is due more often to those who bring their gifts to us for in so doing they open themselves up to this cynical world of venomous reviewers, the latter safely distant and maybe even anonymous because of their chosen form of media.

The Gospel is about redemption, a term that is less frequently used than it once was; it is about transforming what is dark and threatening into a more positive outcome.

When I first entered the train times into my diary a week before my trip I did so with some trepidation. On the journey home I smiled at a day well spent; firstly with a travelling companion who made the journey so much more enjoyable than would otherwise have been the case; secondly with a friend who, coincidentally like me, had time to spare in an often otherwise busy life. The day provided the chance to briefly express appreciation to someone whom I never thought I would have the opportunity to do so. And finally I spent time in the company of those souls who gave their lives a century ago so that I and countless others could have such a day as this.