It’s not long after dawn. Birds in the garden are singing, and over the radio voices are crowing which make me afraid and depressed. Beyond Britain, yesterday’s vote is a terrible signal to Putin and Le Pen, perhaps even to Donald Trump. The Leave victory is doubtless about many kinds of division in society besides those over Europe. I fear it contains within it many votes against diversity, against refugees, against the other, whoever that may be, and we as Jews have much experience of that. No doubt the remainers are seen by the leavers as having ‘others’ of their own, to whose needs they have been felt to be deaf. That’s very likely why Remain lost.
My only heroes of this horrid campaign are Jo Cox and her family, may God be with them; but I wish Jo was less well known for the heroic person she was, and alive and with her children this day.
I fear that the winter of peoples’ discontents will become the summer and autumn of greater discontents, and I’m troubled by some of those waiting in the wings of the stages of British and Continental politics, now that the lights are inviting them to enter and declaim.
I was lucky yesterday; I was knocked off my bike and fortunate not to be injured. For the rest of the day I was slightly shaking, and kept thanking God in my head. But I was well enough to go running and I took as my meditation Moses’s short prayer for his sister: ‘Please God, heal her please’. This is partly because the man who came to help me turned out to be starting a charity to help young people who had suffered breaks in their education because of cancer, as he himself had done. He’s one of the nicest and best people I’ve ever met. I kept thinking that God and destiny had made a special meeting out of a traffic accident.
So I ran several kilometres with those words ‘Please God, heal her please’ setting the pace for my feet. I’d be glad if they set the rhythm for my life; no other single sentence is so germane to my calling. How often I wish I could bring healing.
Time and again, I wish I could bring more healing to those who turn to me to seek strength for their spirit and comfort for their heart when they’re distraught, frightened or filled with grief.
But I also have in mind other kinds of healing in a far wider context.
My great inspiration is that all around me I find healers. I’m not thinking solely of nurses and doctors, though during the night I retweeted a message by a co-founder of HelpRefugeesUk:
‘EU nurses, carers, teachers, workers over here – I’m so ashamed of the message this is sending u. Pls know, so many of us value u so much’
I’m thinking of those who begin to heal the wounds of people who’ve fled their homes, seen their family killed. I’m thinking of those who feel for the injuries of the homeless and stateless, and who bring them into their own homes.
I’m thinking of healing between people of different faiths, whose knowledge about one another is so often mediated not by personal relationships and friendships but by the narratives and insinuations of suspicion and distrust, and the short, sharp, cruelty of social media.
I’m thinking of those who try to heal political rifts and rivalries, especially at a time when it feels as if more and more of the world is trying to exacerbate them.
I know, though days of rancour may well lie ahead, that what matters most now is healing, wherever it is possible. The vote is the vote now; the counting is pretty much over. We need to be with those who seek to heal whatever wounds in our society, country, continent and world we can most effectively address