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Thought for the weekend

By Allen Sleith, Hillsborough Presbyterian Church

They say that 'necessity is the mother of invention' a proverb proven innumerable times in the unfolding drama of life.

Observe how nature in a local habitat adapts to survive and even thrive in the wake of a hurricane, fire or flood.

Or note how someone suffers terribly from an illness, accident or violent incident and yet, despite their trauma and injuries learns to turn their crisis into an opportunity, not so much disabled but differently-abled, and often in ways that put others to shame or greatly inspires.

Or, turning from the personal to the political, consider those who are not prepared to keep their head down, walk quietly away or otherwise 'tow the line' when their governments act oppressively in an unjust heavy-handed manner.

In the late 1970s when the then Czechoslovakia was suffering under the Communist regime, a loosely organised dissent movement called Charter 77 was formed with the aim of creating a civic space for free conversation to happen beyond the pervasive and often petty control-freakery of the state authorities.

It's best known leader was the writer Vaclav Havel who, after the collapse of Communism was made President of the newly liberated Czech Republic to popular acclaim.

But the movement also had another great leader with an equally fine mind - the philosopher Jan Patocka, and it was he who coined an evocative phrase that others have used since - "the solidarity of the shaken".

When circumstances challenge us to the point of being all but overwhelmed in body, mind and spirit and we find ourselves questioning almost everything we'd previously taken for granted, there and then is the potential for the solidarity of the shaken.

There are no infallible guarantees, of course, but often those are the very times when we change and grow because somehow we have to; the alternative is a return to a past now exposed in all its limitations and illusions.

Likewise, when the psalmists and prophets wrote amidst the trials and tribulations of Israel's life, or when the apostles and evangelists bore witness to Jesus as the inaugurator of God's new creation, they were each in their own way indicating something profound about the Spirit at work in the irrepressibility of the solidarity of the shaken.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph