By the Rev’d Preb Julian Ould
Every now and then someone will say to me, “I would believe in God if I could see him”, and my response is always the same, “look, for he is there in front of you, in everything you see.” Not surprisingly, I have had a lot of strange looks and my answer is dismissed with a shrug, but nevertheless it is true. God is very much in his creation, which includes not just the wonder of the world but us, each and every one of us.
In the first lockdown of the pandemic, along with many, I started doing jigsaws. There is a part of me that feels guilty to admit this, not least of all because I am still doing them. I feel guilty because it appears a dreadful timewaster when I could be doing something more important. Jigsaws were something in my childhood which we did when on holiday. When not enjoying the beach or the outdoor activities, the jigsaw was a family activity, especially when it was wet. In the lockdown I didn’t feel guilty, because once we had done the garden and every imaginable DIY thing in the house that had been shelved because I was too busy, I then had time on my hands, and so, why not do a jigsaw.
Once my guilty secret was out, it gave my daughters ideas for Christmas presents, Dad always being a difficult person to buy for. This Christmas I received a very special jigsaw. A personalised puzzle of photographs of the whole family which I was thrilled with. However, there was a problem in that the edge pieces were all completely white. Which corner went where was a complete mystery and so rather than starting on the outside and working in I had to put the pictures together first and then work out where the edges fitted. I am pleased to say I rose to the challenge and completed the puzzle, but it really was a challenge.
Whilst doing this jigsaw I reflected on a story that I came across many years ago when looking for something to do as a school assembly, now called ‘collective worship’. The story set out to illustrate how if we could get Jesus and his teaching right that everything would be well. The story is of a family who loved doing jigsaws and as a result were very good at them and looked for every more difficult puzzles. On one occasion the father noticed a large world map on his office wall and decided this would make the perfect challenge as a puzzle. Painstakingly he cut the map into thousands of pieces and presented his family with the ultimate challenge. The children got started and within the hours presented the complete map to the father. He was flabbergasted! How on earth had they managed to do this with such vast areas of the same colour. The children responded with a smile and pointed out that on the back of the map was a picture of a man. Put the man together and the world fell into place. And it is true, if we could get Jesus and his teaching right in our lives the world will fall into place.
In our Cathedral we are admiring the beauty and tranquillity of Gaia, which is a joy, but currently our news headlines are centring on the horrors of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria with thousands dead. In many respects this speaks of the fragility of humankind in the face of our evolving creation, but more importantly is the world response to the plight of so many. Jesus taught us to love one another as he did and does love us and pleasingly there is much evidence of this. Sadly, it only comes to the fore when faced with such disasters, but this is because most of the time good deeds are not newsworthy. However, it is a fact that there is always more good going on in the world, than bad, and this we should build on. So often we grumble about the mess our world seems to be in and yet the goodness is there. We need to see the God, the Jesus in our world, in one another and once we respond and get this right, so the world will fall into place.