On Thursday afternoon I was taken over. Planning for two funerals was being made so I could not phone out, as I like to do each day, to the lonely, ill, housebound in the parish and around the country. I have a generous contract with BT that allows unlimited calls (landline or mobile) for a fixed quarterly rent.
The parish address books were at my side, I was in the prayer room of the house, looking out at our lovely Lourdes garden and went through the books, praying for every home. It was wonderful. I was with you all. My mind teamed with memories. Over two years now since I have been able to go out but you were as vivid to me as if it were only last week. Some of our homes I’ve not had the chance to visit – but I can come in prayer.
Several times I turned on the TV to glimpse the news around the world: Al Jazeera, Europe, BBC, Sky, and my heart went there also, then back to the parish and what I knew of your love and concerns.
I was in every home, I was in many countries: Ukraine, of course, but then Yemen, Ethiopia and Tigray, El Salvador, Nigeria, the Balkans, the Baltic States, countries devastated by fire and floods, the generous countries open to giving refuge to peoples fleeing from persecution, especially from Ukraine, and then working generously in helping with meals, refuge, planning onward journeys; and the wonderful people constantly serving in the refugee camps established in a number of countries: the inspiring international organisations which achieve so much.
I heard the courage of those, who even a couple of months ago had no experience of military service, being willing to die for their people. I also sensed the lies within lies that the failed Russian army have been telling a dictator who is willing only to hear what he wants to hear. When lies are the medium all lie for themselves and no-one can be trusted.
It was a tumultuous couple of hours. Around the parish, in every home; around the world in many countries, praying for the people in their suffering. A friend phoned and told me of his understanding God’s longing to forgive. His little boy, about three years old, had been playing with a stick, testing its effect on various surfaces and had smashed a small pane of glass. He looked up at his father with horror and Terry knew and understood God’s longing to-forgive love in that enlightening moment.
What a moment!
Can you see and read the eyes of those who long to be forgiven, who discover the horror of what they have done and caused and look and long for understanding? Can you hear the truth being told, the sorrow beyond words being shown, the forgiveness beyond understanding being offered? I felt great longing that we are going to know the same in Ukraine and in other countries where the cruelty, as in every war, has been so great.
I did find myself taking sides: my heart to the oppressed, weak, helpless; my anger to the cruel and the manipulators. In the Holy Land I was Palestinian and despised those who read the Bible as the title deeds for the Jewish people. But I was on the side of the Jewish people in their dreadful persecution by Christians down the ages: in Rome the Ghetto is a holy place for me. In Sudan (Darfur) my heart had been with the hristians but how cruel those two Christian tribes are to each other in the new South Sudan. The tribal hatred between Hutu and Tutsi lives on in Rwanda in spite of their all being Christians. My pain was intense. I asked God to guide me to the goodness of people – and I was taken to and reminded of so many good people and organisations and I found peace to hold my turmoil. Our world.
If you understand how I was, pray with me for the goodness and the courage that protect our world.
God bless us
(3rd April 2022)