Posted by: owizblog | February 2, 2016

Thought For The Day,BBC Radio Scotland, 1 February 2016 – Roger Gower: A Life Cut Short

Many people will be remembering Sir Terry Wogan today, and trying to sum up what he meant to them. It’s what we do at the end of a long life, respectfully and affectionately. It’s the point from which we feel it’s natural to look back, and sum up.

I was already reflecting, though, on the news of someone else’s passing. Roger Gower was a helicopter pilot, for an organization dedicated to protecting elephants against poachers in Tanzania’s Maswa Game Reserve. His main job was transporting people, but he also volunteered to track poachers from the air. This is dangerous work, and the man who founded the charity he worked for spoke of “the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.” Roger Gower ran that risk at the cost of his life when poachers fired on his helicopter last Friday, and he was killed. He was a dedicated man, doing something about which he felt very passionately, and we can but think of those who will be bereft at his murder.

Instantly, we feel that this is a story that shouldn’t have ended like that. Certainly, no-one’s life should have ended like that. We have problems in our culture with the stories of – and we say it, don’t we – a “life cut short”, a story apparently incomplete.

Yet the idea, the meaning, of a life lovingly laid down is so powerful that it defies, and even confounds, the dark forces that cut it short.

At the centre of the Christian tradition is the story of a life cut short because of what it contained, what it embraced, and what it meant. For Christians, the story of Jesus is the story of the life that the dark forces of alienation, hatred, greed and fear could not overcome. It turned out that the apparent defeat of that life was actually the defeat of the dark forces ranged against it. There’s a deep pattern here, a resource in our culture that can transform our understanding of these things.

Human lives have a significance and meaning that isn’t measured in length of years. Even cut short, they can point beyond themselves, and illuminate the darkest corners of our world.

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