Sparked by Easter some thoughts for April – The Tendency to Fix
I’m an engineer and I think I was born that way (if that is truly possible) as even when a young child I liked to see toys working ‘properly’ and if they weren’t, I would take them apart, fix them, put them back together – and sometimes they would still work! In some ways all us humans have a touch of the engineer in us as we have a tendency to grip happiness and positivity the moment it peeps out of the ground. For good reason – we all want to look forward to something. Sometimes there is almost a desperation to put the bad past behind us as “banking something before it has ended”, a tendency that seems very strong as we see the corona virus constraints being eased, take confidence in the vaccine programme and start planning to meet with friends and family but is ‘banking the past bad times’ the best way forward? Humans are not fixable as easily as a toy or even a complex piece of machinery. Our permanent state is fragile with the capacity to be broken. Pain and exhaustion cannot be ticked off like another task on the ‘to do’ list. Perhaps Leonard Cohen’s thought – “we’re all full of cracks, that’s how the light gets in” – is a more apposite approach to take.
In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis writes: “Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God.” The embodiment of that could not be much more evident than in the nailing of a human to a wooden cross on a hill outside a city 2000 years ago. Sometimes you can almost sense a collective sigh of relief amongst Christian congregations on Easter Sunday when Resurrection is celebrated and the weight of torture is behind, almost to the point of “let’s forget all that nasty stuff”. A bit like our attitude to the pandemic is at risk of becoming. But that’s not reality and nor is it particularly helpful for those still on crosses.
The Welsh poet and Anglican priest R S Thomas, who was also something of an early nationalist, wrote:
When we are weak, we are strong.
When our eyes close on the world,
then somewhere within us the bush burns.
When we are poor and aware of the inadequacy
of our table, it is to that, uninvited, the guest comes.
Easter is a short period of time when all of life’s long spectrum of experience is encapsulated – the darkest and most painful of experiences take place and can remain with us, while simultaneously hope and light filter through. This year as we enter the Easter season, see the green shoots of spring, and look to the summer wardrobe again we should not choose to ‘forget’ the past twelve months of separation, loneliness and hurt. Not to be maudlin but to remember that if cruelty is a mystery and if we describe a world to compass it then we bump against another mystery: the inrush of power and light that is the reality of Christ.”