ACW

ACW

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Words



I woke up early this morning wondering what the date was. I looked at the calendar and saw it was the 26th with a circle around it and the words ‘ACW blog’ scrawled beside it. I had a sinking feeling when I realized I had not written the blog.
           My plan, you see, was to come back on Friday from a life-giving three-day spiritual retreat on Holy Island, and allow the words of truth that had settled in my heart there to gently spill onto the page. My blog was to be about peace and taking time out and oh how beautiful is God’s creation and the pilgrims I met and the wonderful people who served me. But, in my last hours on the island – despite my best efforts not to (I didn’t read a newspaper, had no internet access, and had no radio or television) – someone I bumped into said: ‘Have you heard? We’re out!’ I am not exaggerating when I say I nearly fainted.
I spent my last hours on the island crying. First at the altar in St Mary’s church, then I clambered over the rocks to St Cuthbert’s Island and cried out my prayers to the sea and the seals. I grappled for words and could not find them and, instead, poured out my heart in Tongues until there was nothing left.
        However, coming back from the island, there has been no shortage of words. Words for, words against, some of them said in anger, some in pain, some of them mine, some of them other peoples’. Some callous words: ‘just get over it’, or well-meaning but ill-timed words: ‘time to lay aside our differences and work together.’ Those words, spoken within a few hours of a result that will affect us for generations, are easy to say by people with hope – but not so easy when your hope has gone or you are still struggling to see what it might look like.
        Other words have been spoken: words like ‘divorce’, ‘unamicable’, ‘resignation’ and ‘no-confidence’. Each of these words carries a weight of meaning and consequence. I have also heard the word ‘regret’. Some people who voted ‘leave’ have said they are now beginning to regret it; that their vote was really just a protest vote, so their discontent would be heard and not swept under the carpet when what they believed the inevitable – that we would remain – happened. But it turned out the ‘leave’ word carried more power than the ‘remain’ word. And now they don’t know what to do with it.
        And then there are words like ‘joy’ and ‘sadness’. One spoken by people whose political dreams have been fulfilled and sincerely hope it will lead to a better future, and the other by people, like me, who mourn what has been lost and believe we have committed political, social and economic suicide.
        Christian people, for and against Brexit, have turned to the Bible too for words. Hoping to find unity there because, after all, we are one people under God. But for every Biblical verse of celebration and freedom, there are ones of lament. I was particularly touched by a post by the poet Andrew Philip who said ‘How can I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ (Ps 137:4) How indeed, but we must somehow learn. The first words that came to me when I heard the news were ‘You have sown the wind but reaped the whirlwind.’ (Hosea 8:7). None of these, I think, will be helpful or welcomed by people who feel it was right to leave. So, even the words of the Bible have not really helped.
        So that brings us down to one Word. The Word who became flesh and lived among us. He lives among us now in the post-Brexit world; He lived among us before in the EU world. I do not yet know how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land, nor how or when it will cease to be strange, but I know that in the end only one Word will ‘Remain.’ And for now, that’s the only thing I can thank God for.
           

Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer and writing lecturer, based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes across all media, for children and adults. Her children’s books The Young David Series and the Young Joseph Series (to be published August 2016) are available from SPCK. Her mystery novel The Jazz Files, the first in the Poppy Denby Investigates Series, is published by Lion Fiction, the second, The Kill Fee, will be coming out in September 2016 . Her novel The Peace Garden  is self-published under Crafty Publishing http://fiona.veitchsmith.com www.poppydenby.com

11 comments:

  1. Beautifully put Fiona and I am sure echoes the feelings of many people in the UK today

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  2. Thank you Fiona for reminding us of the need to grieve and the solid hope in the One Word who will always remain. He is with us.

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  3. Thank you for your honesty, Fiona. There is power in words, but even more power in The Word.

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  4. So well expressed Fiona. He is our only hope.

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  5. The Word. In Him we trust. Thank you Fiona.

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  6. Like many of those who voted to Remain, I am still shocked and saddened. Justin Welby and Sadiq Khan have both delivered inspiring messages, and I think we must all be determined that the way forward will be with hope and compassion.

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  7. Exiting the EU means according to Premier Christian Radio and other Christian groups that we can now rejoin our Christian heritage, so the news isn't all bad.

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  8. Well put, Fiona. The day after the referendum, friend of mine posted Matthew 6:25-34 on Facebook:

    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

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  9. On 24th June I felt a bit like you, Fiona. It was as if someone was involving me in a violation of the unity I have with my brothers and sisters in Europe and beyond. The pain was like a bereavement.
    But since then I have learned two things that have helped:
    First that many of those that voted to leave did so from a purely pragmatic standpoint. They weren't aware of the deep feelings that you and others express, and it has come as a surprise to them.
    The second thing came home solidly last night when I watched a recording of Brian Cox's BBC 2 documentary on the role of light in the universe. The scientific truth is that nobody (individual or group) can be truly independent. We are all fundamentally interdependent. We are products of the stars, and our existence and our future depend on the interaction of every other part of the universe. We are comprehensively integrated on every level.
    And God is the creator of all this. My verse is Isaiah 66.1-2
    "The LORD says, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house, then, could you build for me, what kind of place for me to live in?
    I myself created the whole universe! I am pleased with those who are humble and repentant, who fear me and obey me."
    The God of heaven is already healing, and making the most of the messes we get ourselves into. The clue, as always, is to let him in on every level.

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  10. A deeply sad story came my way. My step grand-daughter is a teacher in a London borough where only a minority of the children are of UK extract. On Friday morning several of the other children were in tears.”Will we still be able to come to school, Miss?’ Will you still be our teacher.What a cruel aftermath? If we were to use military terms, I guess the cynical ‘collateral damage’ might be trotted out. But what to do. I have fallen to wondering if churches could display a healing notice see https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=985848444846024&set=a.164139330350277.32437.100002626332079&type=3&theater

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  11. Thank you everyone for your thoughts on this. All of them - the hopeful ones and the sad ones - very apt. I continue to grieve about Brexit but I'm beginning, by God's grace I think, to see a bit below and beyond that grief. I've written about my current thoughts on my personal blog, if you're interested. http://fiona.veitchsmith.com/2016/07/brexit-and-why-i-grieve/

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