Meadows, Socrates and Football.......
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
One of the things I love doing on a Sunday after the service is to walk through the churchyard, reading the occasional grave inscription and taking in the sheer beauty of the setting. The Woodlands, the wildflowers growing everywhere, the South Downs above and perhaps a glimpse of the sea in the distance….. St Wulfran's is nestled in the most wonderful valley and we are so blessed.
Daphne's field and the wildflower meadow are especially beautiful at the moment. After much work by our Green Group volunteers (thank you!), the meadow is full of flowers of different kinds and colours and there are a myriad of different butterflies and insects enjoying this oasis of calm and nature. On the Downland, not far from here, there can be as many as 50 species of plant in just a meter square of turf, it's extraordinary. In the countless varieties of plants and animals in the world it is clear God delights in diversity.
It is equally clear however, if the Radio 4 Today programme is anything to go by, that whilst we also like diversity in nature, we struggle with diversity in other human beings. In the last few weeks alone interviews have gone beyond the usual fraught discussions on political difference or the pandemic to issues concerned with racism, homophobia, the rights of women and the trans community ...the list goes on. In the last few days whilst I have pondered the writing of this note the Captain of the English Football Team has written to the nation explaining why the England squad is taking the knee in support of the black community. At the same time the Church is trying to put its own house in order with regard to racism and is also continuing in its discussions on marriage and love, especially with regard to the LGBT community.
Listening to a Podcast from Bishop Robert Barron I have been reminded about the necessity for proper dialogue if we are to learn from each other, if we are to grow and to create a fairer society. Socrates always got into dialogue with people he disagreed with. He asked questions in his quest to understand the other person's views before considering his own response. We are asked, I think through this example, to consider our motivations. When we get into a disagreement are we pursuing the truth or trying to win the argument? Are we genuinely interested in the truth and in finding this together or do we just want to win? If we forget our morals of kindness and respect when seeking the truth what are we doing? What is the point when winning the argument in this way risks losing both the person and access to the greater truth?
God doesn't make mistakes. God loves the diversity of his creation: the pebbly beach and the sea, that Ovingdean wind that rarely ceases, the racing clouds, the chalky soil, the sunshine, the trees, the flowers in Daphne’s filed, the Downs, the birds and animals and of course people of all kinds.
The challenge we have is that we are called to love just as God loves and we are therefore called to honour, preserve and celebrate this diversity in all its forms. The opportunity we have is to really learn how to do this with others, with those who have also been wonderfully created but are different from ourselves.