FATHER RICHARD’S LETTER
Good and effective preaching/teaching has been described as ‘communication through personality’, and I think the same applies to musicians in their performance of great music.
Sadly, these days, those who refuse to be labelled by other peoples’ expectations i.e., a person, not a cardboard cut-out, are often dismissed as ‘eccentric’ or ‘quaint’. I suppose persons who are not ‘shaped by a physiological pastry cutter like a gingerbread man/woman, cannot be ‘managed’ by those who have a sick desire to control and bully. So many people today in the caring professions complain of this tendency, nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, and unfortunately too, the clergy. ‘Ticking boxes’ syndrome seems to have affected so many walks of life – and society is the poorer for it.
If the phrase ‘made in the image of God’ has relevance to being a human being, (and I strongly believe it has), we have a solemn responsibility to protest when we see persons being trampled into ‘shape’ by those who seek to control other people for their own purposes.
Carl Gustav Jung was very insightful in saying ‘the monster is the crowd’. No wonder then that many people allow their ‘person-hood’ to be decaffeinated in order to ‘fit in’ in other words, become a non-person.
One of the sad, inevitable lessons of childhood is the need to blend in with other children in the playground in order to escape bullying for being ‘different’. Christ said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul.” I hope that I, as a priest let people feel that they can be their true selves with me. In other words, for people to be ‘allowed’ to be who they truly are.
Our Lord was at home with little children, and he has asked us who follow him to become as little children. He did not ask us to simulate some kind of ‘innocence’, rather to be open to others, the world, and the ‘unseen’ in the way children are. The term ‘grown up’ sometimes need challenging: we can so easily ‘grow out’ of that which we truly are, lose the image of a unique child of God. We are called to the integrity of mirroring that unique facet of God that only we can show.
I love the story of a little child in school who is asked by her teacher, “What are you drawing?”, the little one looks up and says, “God”. The teacher explains that God is not perceivable to the eye, that no-one knows what he looks like. “They will when I’ve finished the picture” replied the little girl.
God grant that when we come to die, and our own particular picture has at last been completed, others will sense that they have perceived in us a small part of Him who is infinite and invisible. Unseen, but not unknown.