You can be in a good place. Despite all that is wrong in the world and all that you may regret having done or not done, you can live in peace, and enjoy life and love. This is true for everyone, not just the religious of whatever persuasion. This is not limited to old or young, men or women. There are lots of people who inspire and show how a good life can be lived. Work together to make life good for everyone.
This is my twenty-first century take on the Good News offered by Paul to the Christians in Rome. It is the result of participating in a Bible Study last Friday with Friends in Milton Keynes. We were looking together at Romans, chapters one and sixteen. There were several theories about why Paul wrote the letter and in what circumstances. It was the challenge to make sense of what Paul offered as ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ that made me think hard.
This idea of a ‘good place’ to be in is not about a geographical location, though I am at present at the seaside in the sunshine! A short holiday break after a long week of hard work weeding on the allotment certainly feels good. Psychologically and spiritually being in a good place is being at peace with yourself and with the world, and with ‘God’ (or whatever you choose to name the ultimate). None of these are easy to achieve and may be only temporary. I cannot imagine being completely ‘at peace’ until we are all enjoying the experience of being valued as full human beings, and living in harmony with one another. That is not about to happen anytime soon. But neither can we live by guilt and remorse.
The glimpses of peace, the fleeting experiences of joy, and the wonder of being loved are what make possible being in ‘a good place’. These ‘small beginnings’ point to what can be possible in the world to come. I was reminded of this insight on Sunday when I heard a good friend preach. The context was not conducive to my comfort: too many words that I find unhelpful and musical accompaniment that pained the ears. But the thoughtful exploration of the parables of
Jesus revealed that there is hope for goodness to grow and love to flourish.
I also found encouragement in an otherwise routine meeting of Churches Together. There is so much in organised religious life that is deadly dull, but there are also signs of vitality and virtue in the practical concerns that people of faith engage in. Just a few examples make the point: supporting reading in schools through the ‘Books for Schools’ programme, which provides books to each school in the area in turn; environmental concern through the ecology group which recently hosted a session on transport issues and awareness and action to meet the needs of the homeless.
The need for a place to recover and be refreshed has long been recognised in spiritual journeys. Sometimes a physical space helps to make a break from the routine into an experience of peace. But we can make a place of renewal anywhere, not just in a religious building, nor on the romantic ‘hilltop’, but in the everyday. Knowing forgiveness and the possibility of a new start; trusting that good will come, often in the unexpected, and being affirmed in love all of these make for a ‘good place’.
I hope that you find such a place too.