Tag: The Revd Canon Joyce Smith

Aspire to Be

Another picture reflection from my friend Joyce Smith

This quotation from Oscar Romero is one that is often quoted. In one sense it is about putting the needs of the poor and the oppressed before onself. In our tupsy-turvy world the love of possessions is often greater than responding to the needs of the people who have little. This is becoming more obvious as the Covid virus is affecting levels of society which have, hitherto, been fairly immune, maybe even cushioned, from reality. Less so now, though there is a strata of society who have been rarely affected by the vagaries of the economic and social situation. We had an example of that yesterday in a thoughtless and rather pompous utterance in Parliament by a Government minister, with much personal wealth, whose main job ought to be about serving the people – all, not just a select and privileged few.

Oscar Romero knew life to be at its harshest and also fought for those in material terms have very little. He cautioned against judging people on what they haven’t got in the way of possessions. We must affirm people not for what they lack in a material sense but rather for WHO they are.
Being or becoming the person God means us to be is much more important than any thing else. Sister Edmee of the Sisters of the Love of God believed that it’s our prime vocation to enter into a unique and personal relationsip with God as, through grace He shapes us into becoming the person He longs us to be.
Each of us is called into a unique relationship with God which allows Him to love us in a special way. It is a call  heard and answered in prayer. Out of this is the love we pour into a fragmented and often despairing society, especially at present. Our true being is expressed primarily in serving God and so reaching out in love to others. Especially those who need our love the most – the lonely and afraid, the sick and the suffering, those who are having a rough time in so many different ways. We are called to be healers who in the power of Jesus’s name touch open wounds and pour in the balm of love.

Jonathan Sachs understood this more than most and not just because he represented a people who have suffered (and go on suffering) at the hands of others through prejudice, persecution and destruction.
He understood the need to celebrate who we are and to reach out to others way above aquisitiveness.

In the end we will be judged by how much we have tried to love others, God, and yes, in the right way, ourselves, rather than how much we have in the bank or how much we have achieved in terms of personal success or what we have acquired.
In his book, To heal a Fractured World, Jonathan Sachs speaks of the most difficult thing he had to do after becoming a rabbi – taking funerals. Being new, he had little knowledge of his people and he had to ask others about the deceased.
Usually, he says, they would tell him about how so-and-so had been a loving husband or wife, a loving parent, a loyal friend. They would speak about the good they had done to others, often quietly, discreetly. When they were needed, they were there. They shouldered their responsibilities to the community. They gave to charitable causes and if they couldn’t give money, they gave time. Those most mourned and missed,  he says, were not the most successful, rich or famous. They were people who enhanced the lives of others. They were the people who were loved. At no point did people speak in praise of people who had died, about what car they drove, what house they owned, the clothes they wore, the exotic holidays they took.

At the heart of all this, he says, is that “God created the world so that others could enjoy it. Goodness is not an attribute of the soul but a way of acting and creating: creating happiness for other people, mitigating their distress, removing even a fraction of the world’s pain. we worship God spiritually by helping his creation physically.

That was central to the praying, teaching and action of Oscar Romero and it breathes meaning into his belief that we should : Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
Rather like the lovely owl who is ready for flight and freedom. Who soars above the world and celebrates sheer being and brings joy to all whose lives are lifted by the sight.
Do we lift others by our actions, our love, and who we are?

Thank you Joyce for the lovely image to go with Oscar Romero’s vital words.

[Mr G]

The Rainbow Promise

A vibrant rainbow arcs across Norfolk Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia.

An Advent reflection from my friend Joyce Smith.

God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you ….  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  (Genesis 9: 12-15)

As the last tears of rain fell to the waiting earth,
the sun emerged from behind the darkened cloud
and a rainbow arced across the sky.

A rainbow
bright with promise
fragile with love.

Each colour of the bow
formed through brokenness
each colour
shining with hope.

The red, energetic and passionate;
on the outside, yet enveloping the whole.

The orange, glowing and warm;
encouraging, yet challenging.

The yellow, bright and sharp;
fun-loving, yet self-giving.

The green, vibrant and fruitful;
dancing, yet nurturing.

The blue, clear and concise;
seeing, yet knowing.

The indigo, royal and strong;
commanding, yet feeling.

The violet, mysterious and delicate
on the inside, yet in touch with the edges.

Each colour, unique and special;
each formed from the one broken and true light.

Each colour, unable to exist without the others;
each a vital part of the bow.

Each a part of the promise;
each a part of the brokenness.

Lord, as you remember your promise to us,
help us to join together to be the colours of your rainbow;
and reflect your one true light.