Friday 9 October 2020
It is amazing to consider that I have walked over 500k so far on this pilgrimage and on Tuesday last (6 October) crossed the half-way point of the walk! The weather has been a bit up and down in the last week – some very soggy and cold mornings balanced by some beautifully crisp spring mornings, including lovely views of the full moon.
Here also is a shot of my last week’s walking just to keep everything above board:
I have a while to go to get to Sale for the next Cathedral welcome, so it’s just my ponderings and reflections as I walk the well-known (by me at least by now) streets of Box Hill south each and every day. I have mentioned that for prayer in the mornings I have been reading ‘Holy women, Holy men – celebrating the saints’ – a day-by-day outline of those saints who have gone before us. It has been a delight to read about people I previously knew nothing about, for example, Richard Theodore Ely, an American economist, who lived from 1854 to 1943. We remembered his life yesterday, Thursday 8 October. Let me quote from the book –
In 1894, Ely was accused of teaching socialist principles and effort was made to remove him from his professorship at the University of Wisconsin. Ely, who rejected the extremes of both capitalism and socialism, stated in his defence, “I condemn alike that individualism that would allow the state no room for industrial activity, and that socialism which would absorb in the state the functions of the individual.” What was needed instead, he argued, was a proper and healthy balance between public and private enterprise. Ely favoured competition with regulation that would raise the moral and ethical level of economic practice.
Ely claimed that the Gospel was social rather than individualistic in nature, and he consistently called the Episcopal Church to work towards the reform of capitalism for the sake of the rights and dignity of the American worker.
O for such economists now stirring the Church in all Western nations to advocate for compassion and justice in our capitalist systems.
I have also as part of my morning prayer been reflecting upon Joan Chittister’s book: The Rule of Benedict – a spirituality for the 21st century. The last ten days have been a reflection upon some the 12 steps of humility outlined by Benedict’s rule (chapter 7) Step 4 is to endure suffering and Joan writes the following which I continue to find unsettling:
To bear bad things, evil things, well is for Benedict a mark of humility, a mark of Christian maturity. It is a dour and difficult notion for the modern Christian to accept. The goal of the twenty-first century is to cure all diseases, order all inefficiency, topple all obstacles, end all stress, and prescribe immediate panaceas. We wait for nothing and put up with little and abide less and react with fury at irritations. We are a people without patience. We do not tolerate process. We cannot stomach delay. Persist. Persevere. Endure, Benedict says. It is good for the soul to temper it. God does not come on hoofbeats of mercury through streets of gold. God is in the dregs of our lives. That’s why it takes humility to find God where God is not expected to be.
Much to ponder as I continue to walk.