I find it hard at the best of times to watch the news. I prefer to read about the suffering in our world on-line or to listen on the radio, than to watch it with my eyes. I find watching the news too much at times, especially the way the rolling news is presented today. I spent the next few days with family and loved ones, which had been the plan as I took a week’s leave. I spent time at home in Yorkshire and I spent time by the sea. The sea is always a place of solace for me.
I noticed that Tuesday morning as I spent some time walking around the place I grew up, Birstall in West Yorkshire, that I found it hard to even look at people; I noticed that as I passed people and they smiled at me, I found it hard to smile back, but after a while I began to do so. As I walked around familiar childhood places memories came into my being, I re-membered, I re-felt old experiences. Some from 30 or 40 years ago and some from this very same time last year when I walked these very same streets again in shock and horror following the brutal murder, by another fanatic, of the MP Jo Cox. I remembered my visit to Parliament just a few weeks earlier, when only a week later another hater of life had committed more brutal acts of murder. I thought of the troubles in our world of the countless brutality that we witness every day. The weekly shootings we hear of in American, how frequently these take place in schools and work places, the deaths of innocents in Syria and Iraq and the streams of displaced people and the suffering they face. I remembered other massacres of innocents, Dunblane and of course Anders Brevik and the mass shooting of 77 people in Norway in 2011 as well as the countless terrorist atrocities we have seen throughout the world in recent years.I woke again this morning to more horror as three more fanatical haters of life attacked murdered innocent people in London, just heart breaking.
I also remembered the violence and fear I have witnessed and experienced in my own life. I re-felt these feelings as I walked the familiar streets of home, alone. I passed people and I didn’t want to look at them, I wanted to look away. The people though, they would not let me. As they smiled at me, something inside began to wake up once again, I kept on seeing in them love and decency. That evening and over the next few days I witnessed and heard of countless acts of love that occurred that night in Manchester and in the days that followed. Symbols of love and compassion from all kinds of ordinary people. I saw it with my own eyes. I witnessed people coming together in love, as people always do. We see this every day too and throughout the world.
As she spoke I re-membered and I also remembered how this was another moment of healing when I would once again rise as I found the strength to turn back to life. I wouldn’t be a minister today but for this time. I wish it hadn’t happened, if I could change it I would, but so much has come from that suffering. This is the healing that rises from life’s suffering. This is the meaning that rises from the suffering and dispels all despair. It is this that enables me to bear witness to life, love and community.
The key is to see the world through “Unfurnished eyes” as Emily Dickinson described them, eyes untarnished by the past and wide open. This is like seeing with the eyes of the Buddha, uncluttered by attachments. If we can we begin to not only vision but create the Kin-dom of Love, the Kingdom of God right here right now. It begins by not turning away, no matter how hard it can feel at times no matter how much it hurts.
Just imagine what might happen if we saw all life and all people through such loving eyes? Well if we do we will see more, which means life will hurt more at times, but we will also know more beauty and love and we will bring more beauty and love into our world. All we have to do is live with our eyes wide open; all we have to do is not turn away.
Don’t turn away and if you do, don’t turn away for too long. Instead let’s look at the world with open eyes.
Our open eyes allow us to recognise where we can act in the world, if our minds and our hearts are open. If we live with open eyes we will see clearly how we cannot turn away for our world needs us to look on it with loving eyes.
Let’s turn away no more and look at the world through loving eyes.
“Each New Morning” by Penny Quest
Each new morning two choices are open to every one of us:
The choice to live that day in the joyfulness of Love,
Or in the darkness of Fear.
Each new day, as the sun rises,
We have another opportunity to make that choice.
The symbolism of the sunrise is the removal of shadow
And the return of Light.
Each new morning we have another chance
To rid ourselves of the burdens, sorrows and fears of the past,
To rejoice in the joy of the present,
And to look forward to a future of fulfilment
On every level of our being.
Each sunrise is a fresh opportunity to release fear,
To choose a different life-path,
To commit ourselves to joyful, light living,
To trust in ourselves and in the Universe,
To trust in the forces of Nature and in Mother Earth,
To trust God, the Creator, the all-That-Is.