“Immortal God what a splendid world I see. Why can I not grow young again?”
Erasmus of Rotterdam 1517
The painting in Tate Britain by Jack Smith is of a mother bathing her baby in a sink in a bare corner of her kitchen. It is painted in colours of fawn, grey and white, yet there is a kind of luminosity about it. “I wanted,” said Smith, “to make the ordinary miraculous.”
The power and energy we can give to the mundane and ordinary pushes back the walls of our lives, and brings a freedom. The sports psychologist works on the athlete and competitive sportswoman to develop this freedom and self- relief. The talent is there already but can be so easily diminished from within. The good coach, like the good teacher, has the opportunity to release ability and focus on the determined hope of success.
The eye and brain in wonderful co-ordination knows no limits, the exceptional becomes within grasp, confidence feeds on confidence. The actor grows into the role, the child becomes Head Girl, the world offers endless possibilities. This confidence needs cherishing and holding; it is precious and fragile, therefore vulnerable.
I have a friend, we played golf together, he was a good steady player but prone to inner doubts as are most amateur golfers, which could be triggered by suggestion. I think this is what the football managers mean when they speak of ‘mind games’. Looking carefully out towards the fairway at our next hole, gently pointing out the need to avoid the bushes on the left this distracted his mind and ruined the drive.
Hope is the redeeming quality in human life that ascends despair and in so doing brings warmth and trust into our lives. This warmth and trust is infectious and recognisable whomever we meet with, the attitude we carry reciprocates and carries us. Never must we underestimate this quality; it has creative power but can also destroy.
The calmness of Our Lord in moments of trial gave others strength. His non-judgemental acceptance as He went about His short ministry gifted a breathing space to men and women. The wonderful simplicity of the parables allowed the listener to change and, finding the solution to the story, to absorb it and be absorbed by it.
The so familiar phrases “he who casts the first Stone” and “who do you think was neighbour to him who fell among thieves” or “kill the fatted calf” all offer understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness not judgement and condemnation.
The healing actions in the Gospel parables frequently addressed the innermost fears we face, bringing peace into the anxious mind and renewing hope and trust in human kind. My very favourite text is taken from St John: “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly”.
The boy by the side of Joseph the carpenter in that mundane workplace and the Christ of history, become the inspiring teacher, the spirit and spring of precious Hope for all time.
Graham W Bettridge
16 June 2020