…when you say nothing at all. According to Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz at any rate. Ronan Keating sang the version you probably know. So, Margaret Thatcher has died, and the Church of England has reiterated its position on Marriage, in the form of a document “commended for study”. Two events which may awake various reactions, thoughts and emotions in various people, but shouldn’t really be any surprise to anyone.
Well, the news went mad, and the twitterverse wasn’t exactly peaceful, and my Facebook timeline got swamped with much stuff, a great deal of it less thought through than I would have liked. Through it all, I decided that saying nothing was the best thing. On the Margaret Thatcher front, a couple of people posted some rather well thought through comments: David Cloake made sense over at Big Bible, and Robb also said truthful things at Changing Worship.
I shared a link on facebook to a liturgy written by Archdruid Eileen for the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley, adding that I wan’t saying anything. I got back one comment which has given me huge pause for thought.
Ostriches. Ostriches bury their heads in the sand if they are threatened. Well actually, they tend to run away, the burying head in sand thing is a myth, but it’s a myth we know, it expresses a truth we understand, that sometimes we ignore the unpleasant, the unpalatable, the downright dangerous. We humans are good at ‘editing’ what we see and perceive. We aren’t always as good at editing our reactions – even poker players usually have a ‘tell’ that can be read. But saying nothing is in itself a reaction.
I can’t find words that will add to the sum of knowledge on either the life and death of an elderly woman or on the marriage debate. More importantly, I can’t find words that will heal the hurt, or soothe the pain. I see frail human beings acting in ways they think and believe are right, and it’s so easy to know that “I am right” and “they are wrong”, it’s so easy and seductive. But I keep coming back to one of Jesus’ sayings this week. Matthew 7:3-5.
Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, “Let me take the speck out of your eye”, while the log is in your own eye?
This saying has struck me on several occasions this week and last – all of them to do with boundaries and barriers and who is on which side. Who is in and who is out? Who is right, who is wrong? We all think we know. Sometimes we’re positive we know. But sometimes, a bit of thought, reflection and distance doesn’t hurt. Sometimes leaving the words to those in the thick of the maelstrom is the right thing. Alternatively, there is an ostrich in my eye.