Friday, December 18, 2015

Wipe our mouths and move on - life's too short

I've been reminded this week of the importance of embracing peace in our lives.

Feuds, rivalries, hostilities and resentments can eat us up. They provide a cruel spectacle for outsiders looking in, they can also be distracting and all-consuming. Sometimes we can be driven by a sense of justice and fairness, that our determination to right a wrong grows and grows. But all that really grows is negativity and bitterness.

I've witnessed this week a humbling and brave act of reconciliation, dwarfed though by the enormity of the life of a departed friend. Funerals tend to focus our minds on what is truly important, to reinforce our sense of humility.

Forgiveness is an important part of faith. It's right there in the Lord's Prayer - forgive those who trespass against us. Our friend Father Edmund Montgomery, former priest of our parish, describes purgatory as like a waiting room where you can't leave until you've made good all those feuds, conflicts and arguments.

You don't even have to be religious to see the sense of this. Even a stark utilitarian assessment of it tells us that we can have achieved so much more, but for the distraction of settling scores.

To me the greatest reconciliation is within our own hearts. We say to our kids, "come on, make friends, play nicely". I think about the people I've fallen out with and that's clearly impossible. You can't go back to what you used to have and in a busy and changing world it's important to recognise that what was once working, maybe now doesn't. Saying sorry can help, but it's become rather devalued once you attach the caveats of "if you were offended". No, maybe it's better to just wipe our mouths and move on.

I'm in the privileged position of looking back at an extraordinary year in my life, truly bizarre, but also looking to the future of a new challenge and purpose with hope and great expectation. Thank you all for your support, friendship and occasional comments on these Friday missives. I look forward to renewing our conversation in January.

Peace be with you this Christmas.

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