A Candle in the Window

3rd August 2022            A Candle in the Window            Peter Millar

Words to encourage us in these times.          ionacottage@hotmail.com

Celebrating Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador:

I am glad, brothers and sisters,

that our church is persecuted

precisely for its preferential option for the poor

and for trying to become incarnate

on behalf of the poor.

And I want to say to all the people,

to rulers, to the rich and powerful:

if you do not become poor,

if you do not concern yourselves,

for the poverty of our people

as though they were your own family,

you will not be able to save society.

 

What good are beautiful highways and airports,

beautiful buildings full of spacious apartments,

if they are only put together with the blood of the poor,

who are not going to enjoy them?

 

I want to repeat to you what I said once before:

the shepherd does not want security

while they give no security to his flock.

 

Those who do not understand transcendence cannot understand us.

When we speak of injustice here below

and denounce it, they think we are playing politics.

It is in the name of God's just reign

that we denounce the injustices of the earth.

 

My position as pastor obliges me to live in  solidarity with everyone who suffers, and to embody in myself every effort for human dignity.

 

All these words are from the writings of Oscar Romero, former Archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated on 24th March 1980, as he preached in his own cathedral, because of his commitment to the poor and to justice. He was recognised throughout the world for his work.

Deer trails and badger tracks:

 

On the hottest day England has known, I try to follow one of the springs to its source in the woods, thinking the shade and cool water water will be soothing.

I'm wrong. The humidity under the canopy is almost unbearable, the saturated ground sucky, the vegetation impenetrable. We spend so much of our lives in spaces designed for humans, it's instructive to be reminded now and then how easily nature can keep us out, turn us back. Despite our felling and our fences, our concrete and cultivation, despite parcels of data relayed to our pockets by satellite, we're not really in charge. I squirm and scramble and sweat, am scratched, stung, mired. I lose my sunglasses, am lucky to find them again. The wood swallows me effortlessly.

My feet find trails made by non-human strides. Along a deer passage, I reach for a handful of raspberries, but hesitate when I find the canes are interwoven with woody nightshades. In an area where ailing ash trees have been clear-felled, dogs mercury  – an ancient woodland indicator – is wilting badly. Looking spring-fresh, though, are dense stands of horsetail. Those living fossils with far more archaic ideas of green. What year is it again?

The deer trail leads to a badger track lined with more toxic bonbons – luscious-looking berries of lords and ladies. I have to duck and weave and climb to negotiate the low branches that badgers barrel under with ease. I go where it leads: to the disused sett, surrounded by half a tennis court of packed earth. It would make a good camp, and I wonder how many human settlements owe their location to this simple fact that badgers chose them first.

I reach  a break of the slope from which I can look down on my house – it's only 100 meters away, but looks small and distant, like a cottage in a fairytale or horror story, with wildwood pressing in on every side. And despite the heat, I feel a chill premonition of how easily we will be forgotten by this generous, implacable wild, as the walls crumble and green comes again where for a short while there was grey.

Amy-Jane Beer

 

The tree-frog croaks his far-off song his voice is stillness,

moss and rain

drunk from the forest ages long.

We cannot understand that call unless we move into his dream,

where all is one and one is all.

Judith Wright, Australia

 

One word of truth:

 

These words, so relevant today, were given by Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he received  the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.

 

This twentieth century  of ours proved crueller than the preceding ones, nor did all its terrors end with its first fifty years. The same old primitive urges rend and sunder our world – greed, envy, licence, mutual malevolence – though now they adopt euphemistic pseudonyms as they go,  such as 'class struggle', 'racial struggle', 'the struggle of the masses', 'the struggle of organised labour'. The primitive refusal to compromise has been elevated to the status of theoretical principle: it is considered the virtue of orthodoxy.

This refusal to compromise claims millions of victims in eternal internecine wars, tediously hammering home its message that there is no stable, universal human conception of goodness and justice, that all such conceptions are fluid and changeable, so that you should always act to the advantage of your own party.

 

The extent of the violent swings to and fro within Western society – or so it seems to an onlooker from without – is so great that the stage must shortly be reached when the system will become unstable and must collapse.

Violence, less and less restrained by the legal system built up over the centuries, strides bold and victorious through the  world, caring not a jot that its sterility has been amply demonstrated and proven throughout history.

 

Artistic resistance will aid our victory:

 

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has said the “artistic resistance” of a homegrown orchestra performing on the opening weekend of the Edinburgh International Festival will help spur his country to victory over Russia.

 

In the programme note written for the concert by the Ukraine Freedom Orchestra , Zelensky said the entire country defied Russian aggression, but the arts were a critical point of resistance “because the seizure of territories begins with the seizure of people's minds and hearts”. Music, he added, “can be a powerful weapon against invaders”.                              Mike Wade