Joe Aston, fisherman and sailor, tells what inspires him to be a believer.
Yes, St Paul is right, and it is perverse to deny this bedrock of human hope. But as he says a little later in his letter to the Romans: “we must be content to hope…our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were.” Yet if it is not in sight, neither is it unreasonable.
If creation is a mother, there should be a father around. Besides, we, who consider paintings of animals on the wall of a cave to be evidence of intelligence, can hardly maintain that the animals themselves are the product of anything less. Our problem is to perceive, let alone tune into, an intelligence that functions on such a different scale to our own. English designates it with the word God – strong sounds about an empty centre. Can He have gone off to try again some other place, having got into too much trouble with us lot?
There are intimations that this is not so: in nature, in people with their words who can help us how to recognise His presence, a presence that is strangely strong when we are most bereft. But let’s look at it from His point of view. There seems to have been some primal turning away from Him. We find ourselves inclined to want to go it alone, though we are but creatures. How can He reintegrate us into the great becoming?
A person cannot be integrated into anything less that a relationship with another person, under pain of becoming less than a person. He is a gentle and courteous lover, who wants us to flower in freedom and integrity. Well, at the crucial time, He became one of us, in humility, not in power and might, speaking His Word and establishing “a new and everlasting Covenant” by which He became physically available to all who seek Him. He suffered and died to do so, showing us the path that we too must tread to become with him.
I believe, despite appearances, that a new awareness of Him is dawning. We are rediscovering that time and space are not absolutes, and matter itself is best described in terms of fields of energy. That new and ever-lasting Covenant is for me; I can see no other place to go, for myself or indeed, the whole of emerging humanity. I expect a rocky, exciting pilgrim way to realise it.