You may possibly have been wondering what’s happened to the other posts reflecting on my time as a Councillor. I can assure they have not been forgotten. However, I have recently had an exciting opportunity to share something of my journey and indeed this blog in different medium of the Summer.
I was invited by Pam Mungroo of the BBC Cambs Radio Faith Show to be their Reflections guest for the month of July. So I will be continuing the thoughts on my time as a Councillor, later in the Summer than originally planned.
In the meantime, I thought you might be interested to listen to the Reflections from the radio show. You will find the programmes from the previous week and current week. On Sunday 2nd July programme I was also interviewed and that starts about 1hr 40 mins into the programme. The Reflections in each show are about 20 minutes in.
I am also publishing on here the first two Reflections in their entirety, I hope you enjoy them.
Prayers and Best Wishes,
Reflection 1; Journeys of the heart
When I am asked, as I have often been, to explain my Christian faith and a sense of purpose in my life, I have found myself alluding to the film ‘Sliding Doors’. For fear of giving spoilers, I will just say that it’s essentially a love story with many twists and turns but which ever path is taken or indeed door, they all seem to lead back to the same place.
I can see the parallels in my own life and perhaps most markedly in my sense of vocation. Folk have often commented on the variety and contrasting nature of my career, and it is indeed varied, encompassing: teacher; bank clerk; charity worker; trainer; council officer; consultant and county councillor. However, I have always been drawn and even compelled to work with and for people. As such, there has been a golden thread, if you like, of wanting to serve and support individuals and communities to achieve their potential.
Most recently, this has taken the form of being the County Councillor for the centre of Cambridge, which has been without doubt the most challenging role that I have taken on to date. Whilst seeking to balance the conflicting needs of groups and individuals and champion a more inclusive, diverse and open society, my Christian faith has been buffeted, tested and yet ultimately strengthened.
In the mix of that, and possibly exacerbated by my desire to give of my best at all times, I have been living with a deteriorating heart condition. One of my many failings is ironically the belief that I should be able to do everything and be all things to all people. Being diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm has eventually forced me to face my humanity. I suppose it is part of the modern malaise of not recognising the God-given gift of rest.
I certainly wouldn’t’ go as far as to say that God gave me a potentially fatal heart condition, but I do believe that He has used the situation to speak to me. In the spirit, but not subject matter, of ‘Sliding Doors’, it would seem that the thoughts of ordained ministry in my twenties have once again returned in my forties and nobody in my life seems terribly surprised…..
The worry of my heart condition, never went away and I think it can be all too easy and dangerous in our society to dismiss fears. But through it all my faith wasn’t diminished. If you pardon the pun, my hope and prayer, is that others will take heart from this, that our faith in the ability of others and our trust in God is there in our darkest times.
Reflection 2 ; Tolerating tolerance
I try not to hate things, but I must admit it is close to my emotional response to the word tolerance. I think it has to do with its origins from the Latin of the ability to bear hardship and pain. Frankly it makes me wince every time I hear it, particularly in political slogans. It feels to me that it represents so much that is damaging in our society today. We anticipate and indeed are given permission to only expect to put up with difference.
I am not naive, I understand that difference is difficult, that communities can and will have contrasting and conflicting views but our prejudice, our prejudging comes from a point of ignorance and unknowing. Having had the privileged opportunity at University to study world religions, I know that there is a huge amount of difference, but I also was warmed by how much commonality there was. In fact, whilst the expression and from varied, every religion I studied had at its core the belief in doing the good to others which, you wished they would do to you.
If we take the time and risk to find out just a little of our neighbours lives, I think we will be surprised how similar they are with our own.
It strikes me that whatever one’s view in our recent referendum on Europe, it has created something of a 21st Century Civil War in Britain. Turning friend against friend and daughter and son against mother and father………how so very sad. Personally, I am not convinced that any of this would have been necessary if we had taken the time to understand and listen to the concerns and needs of each other in the first place. Indeed it seems to me that some have sadly chosen to use this to drive a deeper wedge between people of different colour, creed, gender and sexual orientation.
I am currently helping to host an exhibition in a local Church of 33 portraits representing the spectrum of modern Britain. Looking into those faces with the richness of the diversity of the characters, there is also a shared humanity and lived reality in their eyes.
The much known parable of the good Samaritan is surely about this difference and commonality, it was the one separate from Jewish society that put the safety of their so-called enemy, above themselves, on a notoriously dangerous road.
It has been interesting to me to see the response of the Muslim community in particular to the recent tragedies and the scant coverage of that community’s compassion in the media. It is as though people are encouraged to demonise and isolate those that are different.
And so yes, I do indeed hate the word tolerance. It is just not good enough. There is little hope for humanity if our expectation is only to forbear the difference in others, let’s us instead all try to listen and understand each other. It might not make for such sensational headlines and political flyers but it would definitely make for a better world.