“We live on a beautiful planet, but in an ugly world.” I read this recently and it’s true, Bee. All around me I see nature, from the majesty of ancient trees to the intricacy of flower petals, and my heart is thrilled by its beauty. I see a glimpse of a Creator and His kingdom in witnessing something huge and life-affirming coming out of the minutest acorn.
But this week has been a week of ugliness – and all that comes from us humans. I hate to say it but we are all that is wrong with the world ( I say we to mean the billions of people who make up the human race, of course. Not just you and me, Bee). This week, we’ve not just seen ugliness in its basest form: violence, selfishness and hatred. There has been other kinds of ugliness too: prejudice, judgmentalism, intolerance, over-protectiveness.
But then, even in the midst of that, there is hope.
I had a conversation with a 12 year old boy this week, and he said something that made me think.
I was at school, where I work. I was manning a prayer space, set up to help students (like you, Bee) discover what prayer is all about and enjoy the peace and stillness created by a time of reflection. Because of the events of this week, I had set up a specific prayer station to pray for Manchester, with a paper chain of prayers and thoughts that students wrote in response to what happened on Monday night. When one year 7 boy saw the station, he asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks, “Miss, I know it’s important to pray for Manchester and pray for Paris, and other places where these terrorist attacks happen. But…what about, like when America bombs places like Syria, what about praying for those places, because people are being killed there too? It doesn’t seem right that we should pray for Manchester and not for those other places.”
And all I could do was agree with him. Yes, I said, we should pray for those places too, and I encouraged him to join his prayer for Syria onto the paper chain of other prayers.
This gave me hope, Bee. In amongst the outpouring of grief, hurt, anger and confusion that the UK has experienced this week, this gave me hope. Why? Because it showed me that young people, like you Bee, can see beyond the immediate here-and-now, can look beyond the rhetoric and spin, and get to the truth of the matter. And most importantly, can ask the questions and make the comments that set the rest of the (adult) world thinking and seeing a different, better perspective. As we do that Bee – as you do that – the ugliness of the world is challenged and beauty has a chance.
Because, actually, I don’t agree with the comment at the top of this page. Yes, the world is ugly at times because of what we humans do. But, it can also be beautiful because of what we do. When words are said and actions are taken which help, bless, give, affirm, create, encourage and heal, beauty is given a chance to shine.
So, Bee, keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep loving. And most importantly, keep asking those questions that make people stop, think and reconsider. You may think it’s the quietest question or the smallest action, but it might just be the acorn out of which comes the biggest, most life-affirming oak tree.