Thoughts for Friday 29th May, 2020

Psalm 33:12-22; Exodus 19:16-25; Romans 8:14-17

 Friday 29 May - Rev. Jerry Eve

 I have a bit of a problem with verses 13 and 14 of our psalm today:

 “The Lord looks down from heaven and sees all of us humans.From where he rules, he looks down on all who live on earth.

 And my problem is that it reminds me of that conversation in The Third Man when, from the top of the Ferris Wheel in Vienna Harry Lime says, ‘Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving for ever?’ It’s moments later that Holly Martins, who Harry Lime has said this to, then asks him about his faith in God. When they step out of the Riesenrad, we get that other famous moment from the film, when Lime mentions Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and compares them favourably with a cuckoo clock.

 My problem is that if a God’s eye view of the world makes us look like so many dispensable dots, then we’re in big trouble.

 The famous poet, Seamus Heaney, is possibly best known for a poem he wrote called Digging, and again it’s problematic for me. It’s supposed to be a tribute to his Dad, who was a farmer. One of the lines is, ‘By God, the old man could handle a spade.’ But Heaney’s vantage point is from an upstairs window. ‘I look down,’ he writes as, preferring a pen to a spade, the poem, I think, has an air of condescension.

 It’s the same with Mount Sinai. And it’s only when we get to the New Testament, and passages like this one in Romans, that we realise that God is not ‘above and beyond’, or even ‘alongside us’, but that what all this talk at this time of the year (at Pentecost) of the Holy Spirit means, is that God is actually part of us – and we are part of God.

 In lieu of a prayer today, here’s another of S.H.’s best-known poems, and it’s a most moving (and honest) sonnet he wrote for his Mum:

 When all the others were away at Mass

I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.


So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives –

Never closer the whole rest of our lives,



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