Tuesday 21 April 2020
Thank you for your letter. I am definitely writing more often these days. Ah, you speak of nostalgia: I can't say that manual typewriters, tipp-ex and quink ink have that effect on me! I did not know that such ink was still available, but my memory is that it was messy and got everywhere you didn't want it. You're right, though, that the paper itself, and maybe whatever lies beneath it, can affect the way the pen glides. There is no hope for my erratic hand, but your handwriting is always neat and every 'd' has a swirl and twirl on it, pointing west. One thought - if we recognise items on display in a museum, even if we last saw them in somebody else's home, then we know what it means. Fortunately, I still remember somebody saying to me on the eve of my birthday, "You're twenty tomorrow," to which I responded, "No, nineteen." I had no desire to be as old as twenty that soon and now, I have in mind somebody who is almost exactly at the same stage, so I wonder if he feels the same way.
Much has been written about Captain Moore. His determination and endurance are admirable, while his words are perhaps more inspirational to me because they are founded on the wisdom gained from years of experience. Such people, wherever they are, are worth listening to. Since reading about him, there have been other instances of somewhat infirm people striving to achieve similar goals. I can't help thinking, "Oh, do be careful." On the other hand, I think it was Jeremy Irons who once said in an interview, "Risk is extra life." It is a statement open to many different interpretations. There is no doubt that significant funds are being raised with the best of motivations and I hope that those responsible for determining their uses will spend the donations wisely.
I did hear Archbishop Welby's celebration of Easter and regarding the Pope's blessing, how strange to see St Peter's Square empty on Easter Sunday. Thinking of Paul's letter to the Romans and your response to the text which I mentioned last time, I was surprised to know that it featured in the book you are reading. Somebody once said of such occurrences, "It's not a coincidence. It's a God-incidence." Possibly for that person, there were no coincidences, just the others, but I tend to think that both happen, even though I lack the words to explain the difference. There can be just a little nudge, or even several of them, to suggest special significance. Yet, other experiences seem beyond coincidence and on another plane. How do you perceive this mediocre attempt to distinguish the two? Without knowing the full context of your quotation from Chris Wright's book, I am curious about the meaning of "exodus-shaped" here - is that liberation from sin?
It was good to see that you had printed the Romans text from the ES version. I have been considering the differences of wording compared with the authorised version, particularly between "For I am sure" and "For I am persuaded" as in my Bible. You know far more than I do about our translations from the earliest texts, but ESV is supposed to be a more literal translation, I think. Being 'sure' has a definite tone; being 'persuaded' has that hint of still considering, questioning and that there is still more to understand.
Despite the current difficult circumstances, your ministry continues. While we can learn so much by listening to others, the value of being listened to (especially at times of sorrow and trouble) is beyond measure. Perhaps, it's a good time to simply acknowledge what you do, Mark, and say thank you, to you and those around you, for offering your time, listening ears and much besides.
I have just read on the website your interesting reflections about the doors being locked. I have always had some sympathy for Thomas, perhaps putting myself in his shoes. He was actually living the account which we can read about today with the benefit of hindsight. We know what happened next, but he could not have had that awareness. Perhaps I do not know Thomas well enough, but I imagine him to have been one of those reliable people who knew what was what. Maybe he was not likely to be taken in by fake news, nor to be swept along on the latest wave of zeal or opinions that were trending. It sometimes takes courage to be different, rather than choosing to fit in, just to be popular. I wonder if he was seeking a foundation of truth and when the circumstances were right for him, his response was instant. I like that and his unconditional reply. Strangely enough, I was only wondering on Easter Monday whether we each have a unique something at heart that just requires the right 'key' to unlock it.
This past week I have enjoyed looking at the clear night skies and listening to music. Finishing on a high note, I read last week about a BBC weatherman in the north west. He was working from home and then ended his broadcast by accompanying the News theme tune on his drums. In your Easter letter you wrote of Lambeg drums, so if you're interested, look up the name, Owain Wyn Evans, and listen to his drumming. I thought he was uplifting, especially with the volume up!
Peace to you and warm wishes always,