How do we respond when our vocabulary runs dry? Words such as awful, atrocious, terrible, horrific, needless, senseless have littered our media, both public and social since March. And yes I am aware of the irony that insists on using words to express myself.
I have posted ‘There are no words’ on face book after Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and on the wall of a friend whose niece is still missing after the fire in Grenfell Tower. This morning I awoke once more to the attack on a Mosque in Finsbury Park.
What began slowly has escalated to the point where I wonder just how many more mornings I can awake to another tragedy, to another senseless death or injury of innocent people going about with the intention of living another day.
My thoughts move on to those who live in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Turkey, South Sudan, the Yemen, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines to name but a few, for whom this is a daily reality, and I am reminded to be thankful once more.
We are an Easter people – I am called to be a sign of the Resurrection in the world today. Resurrection is to be fully alive, to share in the love of the Triune God.
In the weeks leading up to today I could have been forgiven for beginning to doubt the reality of this. I have never felt less like an Easter people in my life. I know God is here with us, and yet I want to shout long side Thomas ‘Show me’.
Yet The Joy of the Gospel of the Gospel tells us that “However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads … beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history … Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.” 276
Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, talks of our relationship with the Living Lord making a difference in the world today.
It is because of our relationship, this invitation to share in God’s love that we are able to respond to the Spirit when she says ‘I tell you get up’.
This good news that fills us with joy is not something that is simply talked about, it is a way of living. If we are to live as Easter people, people who believe in the Resurrection, then sharing the love of God is not an option. We are called to bring the about the Kingdom on earth. We are to share the glimpses of heaven with those we meet.
In Paul Valelly’s book ‘Untying the Knots ‘ Pope Francis says:
“Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say.
It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals.
Dialogue entails a warm reception and not a pre-emptive condemnation.
To dialogue, one must know how to lower the defences, to open the doors of one’s home and to offer warmth.”
We do not need plans drawn up by a few for the few, or an enlightened or outspoken minority which claims to speak for everyone. It is about agreeing to live together, a social and cultural pact. (p.239)
And so when there are no words I turn to the Gospels and prayer. As a woman of faith I know that the Spirit prays in me when I do not know how.
I pray for those affected, that they may know that God is with them in their suffering, their loss, their fear, their anger.
I pray for those who see violence and greed as a legitimate way to live may have their hearts changed.
I pray for those who hear and respond to the Holy Spirit’s urging ‘I tell you get up’ and be the Good News that their actions may inspire others, especially me.
I pray for those who who are paralysed by grief that they may see glimpses of heaven and find God is there with them.
I pray for those who, day after day, work to keep us safe, that they may know our gratitude.
I pray for those who make future decisions that whatever their faith, they may be guided by a common concern for the dignity of all.
I pray for those building bridges in the face of opposition and cynicism may never lose heart.
I pray for those who when words run dry may take comfort…
‘In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.’ (Romans 8 26-27)