Posted by: owizblog | July 10, 2018

Pain and Hope: Thought For The Day, BBC Radio Scotland, 9 July 2018


“A Community united in Hope” – a headline, summarizing the experience of the community in Thailand, whose boys, trapped in a cave by floodwater two weeks ago, have begun to emerge. Communities experience things together. Despair, joy, grief – and now, finally, real hope – yet still, this community sit with the possibility that rescue might have to wait, and with the danger, which still surrounds the boys.

“I was in a narrow place” says the Psalmist, “and called on God. God answered me, and set me free…” The narrow place can be desperately difficult.

We on Bute have come to a desperately difficult place this week. We are shaken and appalled by the death of Alesha McPhail. Her family sit with to us unimaginable loss. What do we say? Where do we turn? It has been as though time has stood still.

In 1831, John Constable painted Salisbury – another stricken community today – and its Cathedral. Over the Cathedral arches a rainbow, which wasn’t there in the original painting. The next year, Constable had lost his close friend John Fisher of Salisbury, and it seems he added the rainbow after that; the distant end of this rainbow rests on Fisher’s actual house. Scientifically, it’s an impossible rainbow; the angles and position of the sun are all wrong, and Constable, a student of physics, would have known that. But the painting needed it, because Constable, the artist grieving for his friend, needed it. So there it is.

A rainbow, impossible but there, biblical symbol of hope, of a “beyond” to trauma and pain, the promise that we shall, and do, move beyond events that feel at the time as though there is no getting beyond them.

That is what hope is, and we need to be able to cling to that God-given hope. It is no fiction, no impossibility, but there. Our community on Bute desperately needs that, this week. We will not, could never, forget these things; but there is healing, there is a beyond. We shall know that. We will be brought through.

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