I read today of the success of a first time author from Cardiff, Nia Wyn by name, who has written a book that I will buy and read. Blue Sky July is a book by a mother of a nine year old boy with cerebral palsy telling of their life together. It began as a diary of jottings that she made when she had to attend to Joe at night, and where she simply and lyrically expressed her thoughts and feelings. As I read the story on the BBC News website I was moved by some of the things she says but one thing sprang out. 'Tragedy,' she said, 'often has a way of connecting you more deeply with the world.'
We all have our fair shares of tragedy, some more severe than others, and sometimes it takes the tale of another's tragedy to put our own into perspective. But even if we don't have tragic personal circumstances, and life is great and problem free, we are still surrounded by the reality of suffering and sadness in the world, of situations that stagger or astound us or leave us feeling fed up or down hearted. Nia has shown how her 'traumatic journey' has also been full of hope and happiness, and now her personal reflections inspire others who are given a peek into her life with Joe, and hopefully help us connect more deeply with the world.
I have said, time and time again in sermons and homilies (and sorry for those who have had to listen to the same things time and time again!) that hardship and pain and tragedy can make us into two very different kinds of people. It can either make us into very bitter people: hard and sad and cynical. Or it can make us into beautiful people, compassionate and warm and loving. It comes at a price, of course. It comes with tears and pain and broken hearts but it does, as Nia puts it, connect us more deeply with the world. These kinds of experiences can leave us doubting or ready to desert a God we claim to be full of love. But somewhere, between the cracks of our lives, within the utter confusion and devastating, deranged and demoralising situations, we discover something that is beautiful and connects us more deeply with the world.