I finally heard my first Cuckoo of the year this last week as the Clychau’r Gog (Bluebells – lit. Cuckoo bells) ring in her arrival in glorious carpets of blue. The arrival of the cuckoo seemed to inspire a number of welsh plant names whose emergence is timed with the arrival of our elusive spring visitor. I’ve yet to see her, but the sound is unmistakable. This spring arrival supposedly ushers in the warmer weather and brings hope for the year to come. It is the beginning of Christian Aid week, a week which promises a brighter future and certainly more than hope for a warm summer – especially for those in the projects they support. As we move slowly from the Easter story, the stories of fear after the violence of Good Friday begin to turn more hopeful and the still rising Christ continues to be revealed. So we move on our journey from Death to life, Dark to Light, Fear to Hope, Hate to Reconciliation, Strangers to Friends, Suspicion to Understanding, from Monologue to Dialogue.
There are a number of modern ‘walls’ that have been built to keep communities apart, and some ancient ones. Building walls is not a new phenomena. Though Offa’s Dyke, may no longer belong to Offa! I remember sitting unaware in a classroom one November morning in 1989 when the class teacher came in euphoric, then in disbelief as none of us had heard the news. The so-called peace walls in Northern Ireland between communities and the mother of them all, still being constructed, the wall annexing Palestine from Israel. These walls, and especially the wall being built by Israel are often built upon fear. It is almost as if we want to build ourselves an ark to keep ourselves away from what we fear.
Seeing the effects of the floods on the communities of St. Asaph and more recently Rhyl, I can quite sympathise with those who say build bigger and better walls to protect us. And when you hear those who have been flooded say they are not interested in flood mitigation, they just want the water out and for it never to return, it is understandable. However, quite apart from discussions of building on flood plains, there is something to be said about facing and confronting the ‘enemy’ as it were and how we go about it. Whatever form conflict comes to us we have a choice in our response. Do we head off flooding water with a wall – only to push the problem onto someone else? Do we meet violence with a similar response – only to confirm the fears of our attackers that we too are dangerous and violent? Do we meet with anger those who attempt to marginalise us – only confirming their original thoughts of mistrust? Or do we meet each of these challenges with creativity and with love. Psalm 23 is a psalm of restoration, but it comes at a price. That price is being able to give up a little of ourselves for the other. To begin to hear and understand the stories of others and to live as people of reconciliation. If we meet death and darkness with the same we too remain living in fear without the courage to Hope. Hate & suspicion will eat away at us if we are not moved to Understanding & Reconciliation. Strangers will remain so for all of our life if we are not prepared to make friends. Sometimes the other side of the wall is not so different from our own.
Christian Aid works tirelessly with those who chose to be creative in response to violence, however there is no pathway we can take that leads to peace, there is no road we can travel that leads to Jesus. Peace itself is the road, and the way of Jesus the gate to reconciliation and light.