Last Saturday, I went to the British Museum to see the exhibition on Stonehenge.
It focussed on the wider contextual influences, which gave rise to the structure. Mainly the spiritual, anthropological climate. The BM presented artefacts from 2,500 BC and beyond. How things so old have survived intact is mind-boggling, but even more so when we consider that the hands that made the farming trident I was staring at were not unlike yours or mine. They, too, stewarded vivid hopes and dreams for their futures.
They laughed, they cried, they married, and they died.
How quickly our little spaces on this earth are taken up by others. Life seems to be a global game of pass the parcel. Existential threat is woven into the fabric of our frail humanity. Who will remember us when we are gone? Might this typewriter one day appear in a similar exhibition as a vintage artefact, a hangover from a time long ago? Will someone else, one day, put their fingers on that same imaginative thread and draw the line between the hands—my hands—on this typewriter and their very own?
And yet, with memento mori piling up around us like the carcasses of the defeated in Eastern Europe, it is good to be alive. It is good to live—right now. What else could they possibly be fighting for?
I sat in Regent's Square Park with a cup of tea and company as the afternoon light drenched the daffodils in honeyed, liquid amber, and rising in this heart of mine was a vision of life, of love. Gandalf's words from the film adaption of The Hobbit have been humming in my ears:
"Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
And, perhaps, more than this, this creeping, trailing darkness has strengthened me to recognise that love is a form of resistance only secondarily. Its purpose is not to resist, but to embrace—to love. Love is the greatest gift. It is worth loving in and through these cloudy days. It is a gift to have something so valuable to live (and to die) for.
May my life and my words be a witness to this. Would that I love greatly, deeply, generously, sacrificially. Would love be kindled to shine like a beacon on a hill, embracing strangers, expelling darkness, and warning enemies that here is something that cannot be shaken. The source of its light extends even—and most especially—to them.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to do decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - The Fellowship of the Ring.