violette

violette
Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

I have a dream...

Happy Feast of St Augustine! Almost the first tweet I saw this morning was from someone saying this, then adding that Twitter would soon be awash with quotes out of context. And indeed there have been a lot of quotes and misquotes - and why not? Augustine has an enduring appeal: the wayward young man who somehow found himself searching and grappling and praying to be chaste - "but not yet"; who somehow allowed God to take over, and transform him into a great saint as well as a great theologian.

Augustine's searching and grappling, his fears and hesitations as much as his eventual whole-heartedness, surely make him the patron saint of all those journeying and discerning whatever their call might be. We can speak of God's unique call as God's dream for each one of us and for the world we affect, which brings me to the second thing filling my Twitter stream - the fact that today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech.

This was in fact just one part of one speech, one of many delivered that day, but one which has remained in our memories with enduring power, where other speeches and sermons have long been forgotten. BBC Radio 4 commemorated this speech in a powerfully moving way, with contemporary human rights activists, peace campaigners and others reading parts in turn, interspersed with King himself - do take some time to listen to it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0395qvq

I have a dream... if God instead of King were to utter those words to us today, that dream would undoubtedly not include the atrocities taking place in the Middle East, home of God's covenant and the Word made flesh. But my Twitter feed currently contains a dreadful juxtaposition: lyrical quotes about restless hearts and King's impassioned words alongside equally impassioned pleas to MPs due to debate the possibility of military intervention in Syria.

It's hard. Whose heart doesn't ache as they watch news footage of the carnage? Who doesn't feel helpless in the face of such suffering? Who doesn't wish for some kind of temporary superpower, with which to smite the baddies in a few seconds, restore peace and right order then whoosh off gracefully? Sadly, though, that's the one thing we know won't happen if we and other western countries get involved...

I have a dream... And God sighs those words with an aching, compassionate heart for all the carnage and atrocities taking place, and calls me - us all - to more and deeper prayer and striving for some kind of peaceful resolution...

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