November and remembrance go together, unfortunately and sadly. Remember the stupidity of warfare. Remember how killing never achieves anything other than increased bitterness. Maybe what we really, really want is forgiveness. We need to forgive the wrongs of others. Let go of them, without retribution. Resentments in you and me don’t hurt the person that did us wrong—they hurt ourselves. They grow inside, a cancer of the mind, making us bitter and twisted. As surely as any malignancy, they destroy us. What’s the point in that? And we need to forgive ourselves for the daft things we’ve done. If the Divine Lord is a headmaster who insists on the punishment fitting the crime, then I’m give up this vicaring malarkey and become a pagan. I like Cardinal Hume’s image of God: someone into whose ear you can whisper all the things you’re afraid and ashamed to tell anyone else, and know that you will not be rejected. Like the gracious father of the two sons (one ‘prodigal’, the other mean). So whisper your shame and regrets, throw the past behind you and move on, resolved to withstand evil.
The poppies of Flanders fields appeared because the trenches and tanks of warfare churned up the ground and provoked dormant seeds to life. We can hope that the turmoil of confronting grief and resentments will allow dormant seeds to flower within us. Who knows what wonderful things might result? This is healing. It’s not about medical cure, but about accepting the truth of the situation we’re in and gathering strength to move on. This I know for certain: we can’t move on until we acknowledge the reality of where we start from, and identify what we really, really want. And that takes me back to the beginning of this month’s ramble. Jesus said what do you want me to do for you? Ask and you will receive.