March 20, 2015 admin


‘Don’t you lose your faith?’ I was asked yesterday. What kind of faith wasn’t specified in the question, faith in people, faith in God, faith in life itself, that the buds on the oak trees will open and the blossom emerge on the grey apple twigs?

I can’t explain why my final answer is ‘no’. It isn’t even something willed or deliberate, but more of an intuition, a trust and a hope.

Yet it’s not been a good week. Yesterday the appalling slaughter at the Bardo Museum in Tunisia penetrated all the news. The attack was shocking, despicable and closer to home than it may sound. ‘We went there; it’s a wonderful museum’, said a friend. Our thoughts are with the families of those killed, with the wounded and with everyone who will suffer as a result of this abomination.

Nearer to home, I attended the dinner of the Community Security Trust and listened to the powerful speech by the Prime Minister in which he condemned without reservation all forms of violent extremism, racism and anti-Semitism in the name of the central democratic, liberal and pluralist values which characterise this country. But what made the deepest impact on me was the CST’s film documenting incidences of attacks here in the UK against school children, synagogues, Jews who happened to be passing by, even the gravestones of the dead. Why does hate seem to spring eternal in the human breast?

Regarding Israel, only one person accosted me enthusiastically so far, hoping to share his delight with the results of the election. They point to the centrality of questions of fear and security, understandably so. But they don’t open the shutters onto a vista of hope.

So why not lose heart?

Perhaps it is because of the overwhelming and irresistible force of life itself. The last days of winter still offer their growing buds to the first warmth of spring. The daffodils and cyclamen are no less beautiful. The blue tits are picking up the dry stalks from the grass and making their nests. These things make the spirit sing.

It’s also because of people. It’s the love, courage, striving and hope which I witness every day, even when that hope is frustrated and the love sometimes turns to pain. I was sitting with a man going through old family photographs, a ritual of solace and solidarity. ‘Look at that!’ he said, placing next to me a picture of a child in a garden and smiling for the first time that hour. Life isn’t in the end about power, honours or even accomplishments. It’s the about the impacts of companionship and love; that’s what tells our deepest story in the end.

Tonight brings the new moon of Nisan, the month of redemption, bringing Passover and the memory of the Exodus of Egypt. Once again we will wind our own lives and their meanings around that ancient narrative as it carries us from slavery to freedom, from degradation to dignity and from hopelessness to hope. Once again we will ask how we can travel further on the road to redemption, how God’s light can guide us, and how we can liberate others and be liberated by them.

We shall never give up hope.

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