Friday, February 24, 2006

Gethsemane

is being alone with your thoughts, sharing them only with your God!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dawn or realisation?

I boarded that train at some provincial stop, and at some unearthly hour. This is my job, I told myself and sank into seat.

As night gave way to dawn, to light, to landscapes, to skies, what did I see? People? No, this land is empty of them, but full of fields and folds, copses and ponds, lanes and tracks which all deserted looks so natural. Only the canals and bridges look man-made. Man’s influence seems almost sympathetic as hamlets, farmhouses, barns and stacks pass by. What I cannot see is the track on which we ride, this iron road rebuilt on white and soon to be grey stone, fenced in with railings which in time will rust. And as they do, will they blend in and be consumed by this rural scene? Will earth’s colours again assume their dominance? Can cuttings and embankments, straight and fine, ever stand out against nature, or will they mellow, soften, and be weathered by wind and rain and sun?

This arrow, this sharp and silver shape, cuts through our land at speeds we cannot comprehend. London in two hours they say, when once it took a week! But trains are urban, not rural, filled with the urges and noises of those who work and chatter and shout orders down their phones. Why can they not stop for a moment and take in what they do not see. Obsessed by work, efficiency and outcomes, they take their worries and concerns, their intensity and commitment, to transform this world they say … for the better, and without even a glance at these passing sights, this ancient world which will see us out. A world of quiet, of birds, of rats and shrews we never see, of quiet cattle, of sheep, of those who mind their own affairs, those who relax, take the longer view, and take life as it comes.

So town and city dwellers just halt your race into oblivion. The train speeds not to London, but to eternity. One gets on, but will it ever stop? Like some great wheel, the train speeds on, in relentless chasing of a perfect world.

Think on, my friend; this is not heaven but hell, a denial of our humanity, a false faith in our dominion when what we need is quiet and humble eyes for the marvels we have missed.

Sleep on my friend, and when you wake, the world will not have changed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Os pensamentos num trem

I woke to the sound of overwhelming, utter exhaustion. The mobile was ringing, waking me from a sleep induced by the monotony of the rhythm of the train. All day I had discussed, debated, analysed, and to what purpose? Putting the world to rights, condemning injustice, Opposing anarchy? No, none of these; just reflecting on the differences between the meanings of monitoring, evaluation and review!

If only we spent our time productively. We protest out commitment to efficient service delivery, and what do we do? Use our tongues rather than our hands, our mouths rather than our heads!

Is this like the difference between Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky? Who proved to be the most effective? Was it the thinker and planner, or the one who acted decisively? One left us a political philosophy, another a corrupt and inhuman empire; the third was exterminated because of the threat he posed.

The parallel for today might be the interactions between militant Islam and the secular West. The former protests at the cartoon sacrilege upon their prophet (peace be upon him), oppressed both by Western domination of oil and the vestiges of a thousand years of clerical rule. Meanwhile, in the name of freedom, our governments and peoples rape the resources of our world, threaten the future of the planet and of humanity, jeopardise the quality of the very air we breathe, and are never brought to account for these crimes. Our world is in our trust, not our ownership or dominion!

Meanwhile, in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, and in so many of the West’s urban centres, people suffer and starve in the names of capitalism, secularism and religion. When did religion last protest on behalf of the poor? Nearly always it is tied into a political regime. While our prophets prophecy in truth and in justice, Christians at least have both oppressed and been oppressed in the name of Jesus. Of other prophets, I cannot speak.

Maybe I should take refuge in sleep, undisturbed by worry, concern, pain and violence, or the threat of these.

Back to sleep on my train. Boa noite meu amigo!