One Love

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My friend messaged me this morning saying she felt like going into hibernation. The news, the weather, the state of the world in general – what’s the point of getting up? As someone who has been known to work at home because it was too rainy to go to the office, I totally sympathised and thought about going back to bed. Whilst miserable weather pails into insignificance compared to the violence that is inflicted by humans on other humans every day, it feels like it both reflects something of the mood of the nation, and also compounds what seems to be a particularly depressing period in our common life.

Terror attacks happen all the time. They are a feature of the world we live in, but we are not, at this time in England, used to them happening with such frequency so close to home.  These events – when you know someone who knows someone who knows someone; or when you were just at a concert there, or walked over that bridge last week – intrude on our awareness in a way that a bus bomb in Syria may not. And as well as being devastating for those directly affected, it is scary and unsettling and the world stops feeling like home and feels hostile and frightening.

So staying in bed seems like a pretty good option. But, withdrawing from the world because too much of it is horrible is the very last thing we should do. This was very convincingly demonstrated by the One Love concert in Manchester on Sunday; a powerful reminder that love is indeed a stronger force than hate. Matching hate with more hate can only increase the amount of hate in the world. Matching hate with love changes the world back from being hostile, to being home. That is why the actions of taxi drivers giving free lifts, people opening their homes, police dancing with kids enjoying the concert and performers standing in a place of darkness and singing of love, all matters so much. And it’s why it matters that we don’t withdraw from the world. We don’t give up on politics because they’re all as bad as each other; we don’t lazily assume that a few people bent on destruction and caught up by hatred can represent a whole religion; we don’t stay in bed because it’s safe and we don’t return hate with hate because it seems like the strongest response.

Jesus’s instruction to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you is pretty well known.  And if you forget its familiarity and hear it as something new, that we are being asked to do right now, it’s a preposterous teaching. Choosing love isn’t just love for the victims of our enemies, but also for our enemies themselves. This surely is more than should be asked of us! But refusing to hate those who have chosen to make themselves our enemies prevents us from buying into their view of the world. We are not divided into people who deserve to be loved and people who deserve to be hated. We are one people, capable of one world-changing, radical, transformative love.  And that is worth getting out of bed for.

LH

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Medics and Ordinands

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Over the years various medical friends have described their job as a vocation. At the moment we have several ordinands who have been medics or will continue as both priest and doctor following their training. I was curious to hear more about their sense of vocation for either role. Abbie, who is currently training for the priesthood, has kindly provided some thought-provoking answers to my questions.

Q What prompted you to become a doctor or GP?

A I sort of fell into being a doctor really. I would like to say I wanted to help people but actually I just thought it would be fun and quite wanted to be Scully from the X-Files. I dyed my hair red and everything!

Q Did you feel that becoming a doctor, or indeed being a doctor later on in your career, was a vocation? And, if so, in what way?

A My sense of being a doctor as a vocation definitely came much later in my career. When I started to feel called to ordination I pondered the question of whether it was something I ‘do’ or something I ‘am’. I think I concluded that it was a mixture of the two. It is definitely a job and I have to be conscious that I don’t bring it all home with me, so to speak. But, there is something about our training and experiences as medics that changes us forever. It changes the way people respond to us, it changes the way we understand other people and situations, and I think as well as being a job it is also part of the person God calls me to be.

Q Did you/Do you feel that ‘the call’ to become a priest was very different from becoming a doctor?

A Having gone into medicine mostly for ‘Scully-from-X-files’ reasons I didn’t particularly experience a sense of call that I was aware of. I wasn’t a Christian at the time so probably wouldn’t have recognised that as a motivation anyway, even if it might have been there underneath. It may well have been there somehow, as I do find it hard to explain what I was thinking, or how I ended up here!

My sense of call to ordination was very different. I was preoccupied and thought about it constantly and it got to the point where I didn’t eat or sleep and I would wake up in the night thinking about it. In the end I decided to ‘confess’ what I thought might sound ridiculous to my priest — that I felt called to ordination. I was relieved when he replied that he had known about it for ages and it was obvious what was bothering me and he had been waiting for me to say something.

Q If you are planning to continue with both roles is that because you feel called to do, or be, both of these things?

A I think I am still wrestling with what my future holds. In some ways I feel that serving others as a GP is a worthy and much needed vocation. The NHS needs love and commitment, and General Practice is in a recruitment crisis. But, as I go through my training I feel more and more called to serve God as a priest and I wonder if a time will come when I leave GP to be full time in ministry.

JC