Stay with Peter, you said
Peter in chains
Between two soldiers
Like Jesus in the boat
Jesus in the tempest
Quiet, calm, trustful
Peter, rock solid
Eyes fixed on the Lord
Looking toward Him
Radiant in the seeing
Stay with Peter, you said
Peter in his deliverance
The full length of the street
Stay with Peter, you say
Peter in our time
I no longer hear accents. Only voices. I do not see colour. Only faces. The latter happened to me in Tanzania where I was initially very conscious of my own whiteness. There were so few of us in a black country. Tiny toddlers ran screaming at the sight of me, a little older they sought to insult me by calling out “Mzungu” and when they got used to me, they would take hold of my arm, rubbing it to see if the colour came off. Then when I eased down into the pool of our common life and blended, we were simply people making good with what life presented to us.
One of my favourite singers of the early 1970’s was Madeleine Bell of ‘Blue Mink’ who had a hit called “Melting Pot”, a possibly naïve thought and hope but one that resonated with fifteen-year-old me and still sings itself in me from time to time. What we need is a great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all it’s got! The blending of every colour.
Not hearing accents has happened here in England. So much does God love me that He put me in a place that would make me fall in love with England. In the beginning I was naturally very aware of the English accent in the way that one is aware of the sound of seagulls. But then, as in Tanzania, I have eased down into the pool of our common life so that I only hear voices now and not accents. Most of the time anyway. Of course, I hear and see who people are but accent and colour are not what occupy my ears and eyes.
The day plays with me. Teasing, messing with me! As soon as I sit down to eat my dinner the doorbell rings. When I make a mug of tea the phone rings. Toast goes cold and ice-cream melts in the tub. I go out the back to sit in the warmth of the sun that has been shining all morning and immediately it ducks in behind the clouds!
I remain in the sacrament of the present moment. God and all of life in the moment, the present reality. When you stop to take notice, the noise is astonishing - the amount of noise going on every single minute, noise that we usually move in, that we are part of – until we step back from it.
All the cars driving up and down, an unbelievable number of motorbikes that render all other sounds mute. In the briefest gap in the traffic someone’s hammer echoes, a rasping drill, the cry of a single seagull on the church roof, the chorus of a hundred more bouncing off the houses, the flapping of pigeon wings. Hidden beneath and emerging now and then the sweet and delicate sound of birdsong.
Surrounded by all of these sounds there is silence within and peace. And even the sun emerges again hot on my skin, a therapeutic treatment. I put my head back and close my eyes. Let my thoughts surface and float.
Life is on my mind. Human life. The beauty of it and the trauma of it. The trauma sweeping the world recently, a violent reminder that Black Lives Matter. It shouldn’t have to be said, we shouldn’t need to be reminded but we become indifferent to the violence visited on lives that we do not see. Black Lives are created in the image and likeness of God. I say this too that Every Life Matters because, Every Human Life is created in the image and likeness of God. This is a forgotten truth in our time. Every vulnerable life matters and is worthy to have us kneel in its presence at all times.