A couple of weeks ago I read something written by American author Philip Yancey, who was referencing the late English author and theologian GK Chesterton. I was greatly impacted by what I read.
With COVID-19 making the headlines, Chesterton's words have spurred on my thinking as much around pleasure as around pain.
Chesterton wrote, “...Moments of pleasure are the remnants washed ashore from a shipwreck, bits of Paradise extended through time. We must hold these relics lightly, and use them with gratitude and restraint, never seizing them as entitlements.’”
I like this. ‘...never seizing them as entitlements’.
Why human kindness?
Why, in the midst of the isolation, suffering and uncertainty of COVID - 19 is there also goodness and at times, and in places, even joy and pleasure? Can you imagine how it would be to live though this time of physical separation and sickness in a world bereft of small human kindnesses, the simple beauty of a sunset, the scent of rain, the sound of bird song?
What brings you pleasure? What gives you even a small glimpse of something that transcends?
Now ask why?
Why is a bunny so darn cute?
Why is a raindrop beautiful?
Why is a stranger kind?
I can’t shake the thoughts of this wise, long ago author as I consider how it could be so much worse for us as a human race if we lived in a world devoid of these... treasures. In his book Soul Survivor, Yancey says that, “Chesterton viewed this world as a sort of cosmic shipwreck. A person in search of meaning resembles a sailor who awakens from a deep sleep and discovers treasure strewn about, relics from a civilization he can barely remember. One by one he picks up the relics- gold coins, a compass, fine clothing-and tries to discern their meaning....Good things on earth - the natural world, beauty, love, joy-still bear traces of their original purpose, but amnesia mars the image of God in us.”
In these days I’m seeing how some people are speculating as to why we are experiencing this horrific virus.
I find myself instead, being struck again and again by the love of God that undergirds and sustains the world and it’s inhabitants.... me...and you.
I am in awe of such persistent, pervasive, beautiful love!
This love has drawn me when I have felt lonely and afraid and is showing me that - all will be well - come what may. Because of his love I am reassured that, ironically, peace can exist in uncertain times, pleasure alongside pain, healing in a wounded world and even life on the other side of death!
Written by Gail Thornley. Gail is an Educational Assistant by day and always a wife to ‘The Blind Sailor of Lakefield’ and mom to two teenage boys. Gail resides in Lakefiled, Ontario with her family and is a friend of Open Table Communities.