Friday, 29 October 2010

Suffering and Death

It seems that lately there have been many friends, both within and outside the Unitarian movement that are currently either physically nursing or watching sick relatives or friends who are aware of their own mortality reaching its end. Such times in our lives fill us with fears for what is to come.

Watching someone you love suffering is a painful enough experience. Being the one who awaits their own end is often fearful, and the knowledge of leaving this life appears non-comprehensible. No words or actions can take those fears away, they are natural to our survival instinct. Very few can truly lay down their armour and fully accept the inevitable. Few of us are really that brave.

Death itself is a rebirth, a new beginning, a journey we are all destined to make. Our fear of it is based purely on lack of knowledge. We are a race that finds blackness and fear in the things we do not understand. No matter how long our race exists into the future, this riddle will never be solved, ‘what lies beyond?’

Many can relay stories of ‘being there’ at the final moments of loved ones who have taken the journey. Stories of how, those who have died, even in the most retched of agony, demonstrated a ‘peace’ which appeared to wash over them as they slipped away. These are the moments we should take notice of, for they are the only glimpse we are given of “the passage”.

Death must come. It is the eternal promise. For those who are left behind, the non acceptance of it is from Love. The sadness of death is our longing to keep the ones we love with us. While watching the suffering, which often comes before death, there is an urgency to ‘be there’ for them. All too often, the opportunity to ‘be there’ for someone is not given to us, which adds to the hurt of that person leaving our lives.

Surely this urgency, this need to ‘be there’ comes from our soul knowing that to feel love overcomes all. Being able to demonstrate with strength, laughter, tears or even silence that there is pure love for that person will make their soul rejoice even during the most painful of times.

It wouldn’t be right to imagine that in ‘not being there’ we have failed the ones we lose. The soul continues and will feel our love long after it has left the flesh, long into eternity. It is never too late to allow our hearts to speak to those who have departed.

The underlying factor of our hurts in life lay with the very thing we all seek ..... ‘love’. It is the most beautiful and the most painful of emotions and yet, without it, our race would shrivel into oblivion.

Do not be afraid to love. The ache of it is our proof of life. To accept it from others is truly a divine privilege, but to give it to others is testimony to our own divinity, giving us a worth that proclaims we are creatures of survival and we will uphold our race with an emotion that can truly conquer all.

By giving love, when our time comes to make the journey into the unknown, we will have generated enough food for our souls to make a safe and comfortable passage into the beyond.

It matters not whether we believe in God or gods or spiritual guides or nothing at all. The love we give will be returned to us in the end and, although the body is destined to fail at some point, our essence will remain.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


So the Labour party now has a new leader in Ed Miliband. Irrespective of political views we’re all now in a position to make balanced decisions when voting because this major party can now display the direction in which it is now heading..... or so we hoped when the vote came in.

It was a shame that the media decided to put more of its attention on the relationship between Ed and brother David, who also ran for the leadership. Any message that Ed tried to put over as to Labours political direction was certainly heard but dully in comparison to the more prominent message of brotherly love .... or not.

It was a very brave step for both brothers to stand against each other in such an open and public forum. Obviously knowing from the start that one or other of them would fail in their bid, they showed enormous dignity in both the battle and the result. That is where the media should have left it, but news isn’t worth reading or hearing unless it has sensationalistic value and Ed’s priorities for the future of his party were dreadfully overshadowed by cameras and microphones homing in on every facial expression and every word uttered by his brother during the rest of the Labour conference. Whether or not it was the original intention for the defeated brother to step away from front line politics, both brothers must have felt frustrated at the menial and very intrusive gaze into their relationship.

Family rivalry did not have a place in the case of the Milibands’ but the media knows too well that blood being thicker than water can sometimes turn to blood being as dangerous as poison and they spoon fed us all the intoxicating liquor.

Family relationships have more difficulties than the poets would have us believe. It’s programmed into us that we MUST love our family, it seems to be an unquestioned rule that family love is unconditional and that it deserves our loyalty whatever the cost. Some are lucky enough to have such without difficulty. In all honesty, it isn’t automatic nor should it be viewed by anyone as a solid expectation. We don’t have to look far to see people around us who struggle to hold together those expectations which are drummed into us.

Certainly children have to depend on family ties in order to learn the social skills required in later life. It goes without saying that a child’s innocence is dependent on the actions of the adults around them, not only on a protective and nurturing level but also such things as conversations, arguments, tolerances and other everyday behaviours which lay the ground for how they will interact with others in adulthood. Once the child becomes an adult the learning process doesn’t stop, it begins to broaden as our lessons acquire more teachers and we begin to make our own decisions on which teacher provides the best information. Making those adult decisions can sometimes mean that the values taught to us as children are not the values we want to take forward. Obviously the case with the Miliband brothers or they wouldn’t have turned out so opposite in political viewpoints.

It’s at the stage of making our own decisions that, if we still lived as part of the greater animal kingdom, we would wave goodbye to our family and face the world as individuals. None of this ‘family ties’ business exists with our animal friends.

Having a close family must be wonderful and surely the envy of all who are not part of such a strong unit but the reality is that to remain within the strong childhood bonds is rare and that the urge to drift away is with more of us than we dare to admit, and stands against all that we’re taught.

Whatever the relationship away from the cameras of the Miliband brothers, we should view their struggle to ‘smile for the cameras’ as a failing on the part of our race to accept our natural desire to move on and be who we are.

Cherish all your relationships but never force a feeling that isn’t there. Be true to yourself.
GBWY (or whatever spirit rocks your boat)