Wednesday, 30 December 2009

It isn't fair

I was listening to an interview with the painter David Hockney. Hockney is a charming man. He is now in his seventies and has returned to his native Yorkshire to live. He was talking about how he treasures every day. He was asked rather bluntly what he thought about dying and he said it was his next adventure. He hinted that he believed that objects did not have a natural colour but only what the light gave them. We may consider certain objects to be gray but in some light they are olive. He sounded like a man at ease with himself.

Vincent Van Gogh was a totally different soul. Tortured by demons in his head and misunderstood most of his life. Were it not for his kindly brother, Theo, his life would have been worse probably. We all know of his severing his ear. He was dead by 37. He died by his own hand. Above is his famous painting Starry Night. It oozes originality.

Hockney has been a very successful man and he has been able to have positive publicity most of his life. He seems always to have been able to use life to his advantage. He is probably the UK's best known painter. He is known as a playboy artist. He has had several homes in California.
I once talked to a painter and he referred to Hockney as the Noel Coward of art. He is an entertainer but I could tell he did not regard him highly. Van Gogh is now seen as one of the greats in art. His use of colour was revolutionary. I once went into a gallery and I found my eye immediately drawn to a painting. It was Van Gogh.

Life is not 'fair.' The talented are overlooked and the untalented ( and I do not refer to Hockney here ) are praised. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet time has a way of redressing the balance in life sometimes. In time lies are discovered and truths appreciated. To me this is even more reason for dedicating one's life to God. Men and women are capricious in their appreciation and so easily led by the latest marketing campaign. God however is truth.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. Ecclesiastes 9.11

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


A friend and I were having what we jokingly call our works' dinner. We are both freelance ie out of work most of the time and not being part of a firm we get together at Christmas and have dinner just the two of us. We were talking about our weaknesses and we both agreed how judgmental we could be. I said it might be because we are both a bit prudish deep down. Who knows. In Matthew 7 our Lord talks about the same type of judgement that we use being applied to us.

We can all be very good at missing the specks in our own eyes.

I have recently moved to a tradition that practices the right of reconciliation ie confession. To be honest I am still getting used to it. It is one thing to be aware of your wickedness and another thing to have to spell it out. In my tradition you do this literally on your knees. I have to say though confession is good for the soul and the conscience. I come away with a much lighter heart. I feel sorry for the priest who has to listen to all this muck.

After confession I wandered through the City of London. It was Friday night and Christmas is not far off. The decorations were splendid and there were folks spilling out of the pub onto the street drinks in hand. Almost as an automatic reaction I started to be judgmental imagining all sorts of debauchery that might ensue from this drinking. It is prudery I swear. I then remembered what I had to spell out in the confessional just a short while ago. I was judging people I did not know of the same things I got up to.

The only one who does have the right to judge says this: God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

anger management

An Anglican nun I know said that when she was interviewed for religious life in a convent they asked her how she thought she would get on with the others in the community. She replied,
"I'll be fine; it's the others I'm not too sure about."

The life of prayer and contemplation is hard enough with its distractions but the life with others is even harder. We are all of us rubbed up the wrong way and often we look for ways of justifying our anger or seek revenge.

In the film the Godfather, Sonny Corleone is lured to his death by his known temper. His pregnant sister is violently abused by her husband and he is told of an alleged incident of this. Rushing to punish his brother in law he walks into an ambush.

Spend a few moments with this passage of the Bible. Matthew 14.13 Herod is having an adulterous relationship with Herodias whom history has it uses the liaison to climb the social ladder. John the Baptist is known to disapprove of the relationship and she has him killed by colluding with her daughter. News of his death reaches Jesus. Look at how He deals with the situation.

I am watching the TV series The Wire about drug barons in Baltimore. Normally the gang leader sends out his thugs to kill anyone who has double crossed a friend, family member or ally. In life revenge is often the norm. Do you struggle with anger?It is one of the passions as much as lust. Last night I wanted to punch someone who rode their bike at me on the pavement. I was shocked by the anger and potential for violence inside me. I was returning from a meeting on prayer!!!

But when a person is spiritually awakened, even if something irritates him, the bond of love is not dissolved; rekindling himself with the warmth of the love of God, he quickly recovers
himself and with great joy seeks his neighbour's love, even though he has been gravely wronged or insulted by him. For the sweetness of God completely consumes the bitterness of the quarrel. St Diadochos

Maybe Our Lord was seeking to rekindle himself with the warmth of the love of God. Maybe it was His version of counting to ten before reacting. What do you think He did in that lonely place?