Saturday 15 March 2014

Homeward Bound

We are as the old hymn goes 'dwellers all in time and space' this time and space is our life, a world which is literally moving under our feet, so to speak and we are on a journey, a journey of life that has a beginning and an end. In the spring time there is this explosion of new life and we don't have to go far to see it the greening of the trees, spring flowers forcing their way through the dormant soil amidst the increasing warmth and light of the season. In new life there is a sense of innocence of confidence and purpose all of it at the brink of a new journey; outward bound. And yet there is this allure this gravitational pull almost; in the message of being homeward bound. 

I think the hymnodist, Isaac Watts give expression to this yearning when he writes: 'Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all who breathe away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come; be thou our guide while life shall last, and our eternal home." Psalm 23 begins with the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . ." and it closes with, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This dwelling in the house of the Lord is not a dwelling in a church or a temple it's not even a place. Rather it's an attitude and a relationship with God. It's part of the human condition to want and there are always things we think we need and want but not to be in want is contentment to live in acceptance and take if you like, a more philosophical view of life. Our dwelling in the house of the Lord is to enter into this contentment and into a filial relationship with that power that is infinitely greater than we are.

 A child lives in it its parent's house and has no worries because the child knows it is not in control and that the ways of adults are not particularly clear to them; to children. A child lives in acceptance more often than not and is not subject to the pressures and external stresses of providing and surviving and worrying about things as an adult is. I don't think that the practice of faith or religion is actually a 'cop out', an abrogation of our responsibility to face up to life but rather it is that faith can allows us to be honest and to recognise our frailty within the impermanent and uncertainties of life. 

In one mode of transport, flying, perhaps more than any other, we are brought face to face with our own vulnerability, we get on that aeroplane as passengers and we are like the child, totally dependent on the crew of the aircraft, the weather conditions and it air-worthiness. Sadly, tragically, as we know, this weekend as the Reuters news agency reported: "A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew went missing off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and was presumed to have crashed. There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines, would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after take-off."

How can we deal with these awful realities except through acceptance? Our homecoming is to dwell in the house of the Lord, our homecoming is our acceptance of all those things we cannot change, our homecoming is the death of ego and the acquisition of that peace that passes all understanding, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." Our homecoming, when we have done all we can, is simply to let go and just be, to dwell in the house of the Lord.