This would likely have not been written unless at 1335 on Tuesday 4th January I had chanced across http://sajshirazi.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-ask-impossible.html . A poem had been posted which started with
I ask the impossible: love me forever.
Love me when all desire is gone.
Love me with the single-mindedness of a monk.
When the world in its entirety,
and all that you hold sacred, advise you
against it: love me still more.
When rage fills you and has no name: love me.
The sentiments were already present. For weeks now a mix of Auden Amor Loci, Elliot's Little Gidding and the two books I have on Mother Julian had filled my mind. The focus has been through the Hexham Society for Sacred Studies working through Jeff Astley's Christ and the Everyday. I had drawn the short straw for the December meeting to lead on Providence.
This morning I had taken a shopping trip to Consett. It had not been easy. At the Post Office despite my letter passing through the small letter slot, I had been advised to buy a large letter stamp because a machine might think it is too large!!!!! A society which has absolutely given itself to insanity is the cause of this. "It nearly did not pass through" the lady said, but it had passed through and that was all that mattered to me and all that should matter.
I was trying to buy a Wii controller for the daughter. Consett was not the right place to be after I had tried three likely shops. Consett seemed exceptionally full of rolling derelicts and house after house had half hanging guttering and no-one apparently doing anything. That in turn because Health and Society now probably demands a full suite of scaffording to repair a gutter. Thank you snow.
I retired hurt but not before the Carlton Bakery had delivered me a superb corned beef slice. Such precious commodity required somewhere suitable for its consumption. I drove down to the park at Ebchester's old station and there in suitable peace I ate my corned beef slice and listened on a CD to the choir of St Edmundbury Cathedral sing "Lo he comes with clouds descending".
My Skoda's interior soon became numinous. I was parked right at the intersections of the lines of history. Beside me I had just pulled off one of the most famous of Roman Roads, the Dere Street. Crossing it at ninety degrees behind my bumper was the old trackbed of the Blackhill Branch. Nowadays a very pleasant resort for leisure, a cycleway and path but once an artery of industry. Seen in retrospect an industriousness that lasted for just a blink of an eye and yet one which when I first glanced at it, few would have realised was doomed.
Place and landscape are so regularly sacramental to me and a few precious minutes in this car park, alone with only a choir for company was no exception. Last night we had watched Brian Cox on Stargazing. What had I learnt from him? That reality is ever more awful than we first conceive. The writer's of Genesis conceived an awful creation. Yet they hardly knew the start of it. They were wrong to think that the pain was the consequence of our misbehaviour and even more misguided to lay the blame on the temptress Eve even if sex can so easily play a role in our misdeamours.
The reality is that the more science unpacks about creation, the more violent and extreme it becomes. If there is a Living Universal Loving Creating God, his explanation for our existence in the face of such raging forces of such age has to be clever and neat. The Christian would say Incarnation and Resurrection are just that. They would add that the history of Christendom shows many authors who have understood that this is not matter of science or of theology but of love. Save that you understand the nature and mysteries of love, you cannot readily find a way to faith in Christ. It is a matter of passion and strangely the consideration of human passion may help you to understand how it is, that even in the face of immense creationary violence, one can still have faith in the loving God and submit to the wild and frightening ride that is life and death.