I had a wobble this week. And like most people when they have a wobble I retreated to somewhere safe, somewhere that made me feel better.
I had had enough of being in charge of stuff and of doing hard things. If I could have teleported I would have headed to a beach in the Outer Hebrides. If I could have found a wormhole, I would have headed back to childhood. Quantum loop gravity having not advanced that far, and being aware of the many reasons I couldn’t just run away, I did the next best thing and was drawn to pick up some decent theology.
Another escape? Well perhaps a little - my three years studying theology at college with meals provided and a common room with a well stocked bar was brilliant. But this was more than a flight from reality.
Theology is not just a technical discipline to be practiced in ivory towers and lofty pulpits. It is a way of engaging with the world, with the wisdom handed down to us, and an activity that should, at its best, help us make sense of who we are with respect to God, and to all the stuff and hard things that we are hit with.
It a recent blog post written in tribute to Jarrid Wilson who died by suicide this week, the Revd. Will van der Hart draws attention to the devastating effect of adopting to binary view of wellbeing writing:
“Life has been reduced to well or ill, happy or sad, in or out, privileged or deprived. Our binary judgements have become a curse to empathy. They leave people imprisoned in the mismatch between their visible circumstances and their invisible pain.”
It is into this vacuum created by such binary living that theology can be of greatest use to those of faith. Good theology draws God into the ambiguity of experience, invites the Crucified into our feeling of hopelessness, sucks into our aching heart a foundation that can be healing.
But it is not to see theology as a great big sticking plaster. There are no easy answers, and often the pain and suffering do not simply evaporate. But it does offer into the vacuum a true hope, that we are never alone: the love of God is absolute, despite what we might see outside, read in the newspaper or feel in our hearts. Sometimes the pain is simply too much. But at it’s best theology does help.
God bless theologians, and other healthcare professionals.