Tuesday 28 April 2020
It looks as if my last letter resulted in what almost seems like hard work for you, but I enjoyed reading all your reflections. Despite the reference ending paragraph 3, "let your words be few," it would have been difficult to condense so many inspiring ideas to fewer words. I had to smile, though!
Thank you for expanding on the concept of 'exodus-shaped' and indeed, I should have linked it not only to liberation, but also to the Promised Land. I particularly valued the comments on the different Bible translations and uses of different words. Yes, 'persuaded' (past tense) is an endpoint, but having arrived there, we can still be open to further understanding, or maybe that's just me. As for the person who did not seem to accept coincidences, it probably was not an exhausting experience, but rather a complete and absolute faith. My approach is perhaps neatly expressed by one playwright, "Fail better." In reading your thoughts about coincidence and God-incidence, I found myself accepting everything you had written, yet still needing that extra something. Then, I came to see that both our perspectives can probably be accommodated.
This notion of control causes me to envisage some sort of grandmaster who moves us all around on a massive, probably multi-dimensional, chess-board. It does not chime with me and can you imagine me standing on one square? Social distancing is very difficult. After pondering on your remarks, it was the word you chose, 'all-powerful', that seemed important, creating a new thought : It all depends how The All-Powerful uses that power. A tyrant will not permit us to forget who has the power. Our loving God gives us free-will, even though He knows in advance what we shall choose. Now, I have advanced to consider if what I call coincidences are the end result of this mishmash of free-wills. In the midst of it all are God-incidences and, if I did not make it clear before, even the small ones (the nudges) are included, as well as striking events, akin to the Emmaus road encounter. While they can be appreciated with hindsight, as you suggested, many are felt at the time, instantaneously, like a kindly, guiding hand. I am mixing my metaphors here, as a nudge usually involves the elbow, but never mind.
Once again, it seems to me that different perspectives are far from being an unsafe space as some would argue. Where there is goodwill on both sides, such an exchange is usually a route to personal growth and life enhancement. I am reminded of a friend known to me for many years and who almost reached his hundredth birthday. Our discussions were wide ranging and, given that he was a committed atheist, they included religion, values, beliefs, the existence of God and more. The subject of everlasting life versus nothing once resulted in me saying, "Well, if you are right, you will not know it. If I am right, I shall know." He laughed out loud and we agreed that whoever knew this afterlife first, would try to tell the other.
Returning to our horticultural theme, the amaryllis has produced four flowers once more. Another detail this past week was the sun highlighting the hawthorn blossom, reminding me of a televised interview with Dennis Potter years ago. He was already seriously ill and because of that, was seeing afresh the tree beneath his window. Among other remarks, his description of it has stayed with me, "the whitest, frothiest, blossomiest blossom that there ever could be." Having seen that the recording has been uploaded online in recent years, I intend to watch it again and see how it affects me this time. I know that some of his language was not what you would hear in church, but I do not think that there was any malice intended in his choice of words. I have also heard recently a report that imported olive trees and plants such as rosemary and lavender could bring a disease that may threaten some of our native trees such as the oak.
Although it is not horticultural, you referred to the bright moon a few weeks ago, so have you noticed the close alignment of the crescent moon and Venus in the early night sky? After the downpours today, these are unlikely to be visible tonight. However, I must mention the documentary which we watched one evening, about the Hubble space telescope. The subject has always been of interest, even if the concept of amazing images detected from objects millions, and even billions, of light years away, is beyond my understanding. It makes me realise that my brain must resemble one of those shrivelled peas that has fallen down the back of the freezer drawer! The wonder remains intact.
May you and your dear ones be held in the sure palm of His hand,