You say it best…

…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.

7 responses to “You say it best…

  1. thank you Claire. I agree – it can be so difficult to now when or what to say in the face of some of the enormous issues facing both society and the church. And silence is often best, and often requires great courage.

  2. This week, one of the most noticeable voices has been that of Arthur Scargill who has refused to speak publically. If only silences were as loud as noise…

  3. There is a great weight that comes with the collar. There is not just “what can I say” but “what should I say”. I’m not sure I always get it right but I try to know how to keep the unhelpful things inside my head.

    Thanks for the link.

  4. I’m not sure I’m with you and Ronan on this one. it doesn’t matter too much about Thatcher’s death because there’s not much you can change there. I’m presuming the other issue is about marriage equality in the church. I think if you have a view about a change in your society or the organisation you’re a part of then why not say something? so you might disagree with a few people but that’s how society develops

    • That’s the nub of the matter really Claire, am I a thinking woman or an ostrich? I would claim to be a thinking woman, others may think silence makes me an ostrich. The truth is probably somewhere between the two. But if I add anything, it needs to be constructive, and as I said, I’m not going to add to the body of knowledge and I certainly don’t have he right words right now to soothe the pain or heal the divide.

  5. I think in an age of apathy it is commendable to hold an opinion.
    But often today’s ‘wrong’ is tomorrow’s ‘right.’

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