I write as the sweltering July weather continues – a heatwave – and I think of the long hot summer of 1976, which turned Pitsford Reservoir to a cracked desert of dry mud, we queued at standpipes in the streets, and emptied the bathwater onto the roses. I remember it also for being the summer that saw the birth of punk rock, and I have sometimes wondered if the relentless heat was one of the reasons that movement was so fiery.
Economic stagnation, changes in our social structure, a shifting place in the world all contributed to it too, and I wonder if this summer, of 2018, may turn out to be similar. We too may find the heat oppressive, and circumstances, at home and abroad, are for many unsettling. The endless arguments over Brexit, the wildly unpredictable diplomacy of Donald Trump, the pitch and toss of England’s adventures in the World Cup, and epic five set battles at Wimbledon, all contribute to the feeling that the world is shaking, and that a period of profound change is upon us.
For some this is exhilarating, an opportunity to catch the moment and triumph. For others it produces anxiety and a desire to retreat into the familiar and reassuring. But all things are constantly in a state of change, observed the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus; the art is to find in its dynamics the potential for good.
The Church, which has changed more often and profoundly than just about any other institution, has something to offer here. For no matter how profound that change feels, there are things that endure; most importantly, the hope of eternity, in which all our rivalries and disagreements and frustrations will disappear.
We have to keep our eyes fixed on the horizon where that begins to break and live in accordance with the place that awaits us there, and keep in our hearts the conviction of Julian of Norwich, that “all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. It just may take a little time and get a little bumpy before we get there.
Yours in Christ,