things that are making me think this week

I sometimes have themes that reverberate throughout my work and life; this month’s is ‘imagination’ – not to do with creativity, but to do with imagining another person’s story, and entering into its difference before we ever dare try to understand it, let alone comment on it. Whether it’s people analysing the motives of those in London who are rioting, when they have quite possibly never spoken to a young person from Tottenham in their life; whether it’s generalised ‘solutions’ to people seeking asylum and arriving by boat in australia, or the possibility of the state government here introducing mandatory sentencing, there’s something insidious about a society that doesn’t try to understand the people behind all our stories. If we haven’t listened, we will always, always be wrong.

People are writing some lovely things at the moment. Of course, I mostly think they’re lovely because they say just what i’d want to say, but better than i ever could.

I have been thinking a lot about this article from Mark Vernon, particularly the idea of side-stepping in place of forgiving. Instead of putting all energy into forgiving, perhaps we simply need to learn to live again in spite of, and because of, what’s happened to us… I love the description of the prodigal son at the end.

And this piece from Kyle Cupp. I loved these paragraphs:

Largely because of that ancient head-screw called philosophy, a new crisis of faith whirls like a storm in my unstill soul. While I still strive for faith, hope, and love, I’ve ceased grasping for certainty. While in my younger years I could have professed my belief in unequivocal terms, I can no longer speak of my faith as a sure thing. It’s not that I disbelieve, exactly. Rather, I’m not sure that what I think is my religious belief really is genuine, Vatican-stamped faith. I ask myself questions I cannot answer. Am I really responding to a God who reveals? Or am I rather (or also) engaged in group-think or the comforts of a shared mythology? Perhaps my faith is only an opiate. Perhaps it’s my unconscious way of dealing with neurosis. At most, I hope that I have faith and that my faith teaches me to love as fully as one can. That is my hope as I walk in darkness, not really sure but with an inkling that I may have seen a great light…

Am I, because of my faith, better at love than those with no faith? Difficult to say, but I’m going to guess the answer is “No.” Am I, because of my faith, better at love than I would be without my faith? Also difficult to say. I hope the answer is “Yes,” but then I cannot answer with certainty. At the end of the day, I walk in darkness like everyone else, and I hope that this sacred story, the story of my life, and the stories all around me in what I see and hear are all one in the same, even while they are many and different.

I’m navigating new ground at the moment, less to do with my faith or its absence, more to do with friendships in the light of that. I wish i believed differently too, but the wanting does not make reality. I’m happy to search for wisdom with you. I’m not happy only to be given yours.


  1. Thanks for this Cheryl. I’ve been thinking about imagination this week also, but in an entirely different context – I’ve been thinking about the place of imagination in my inner life. Blowing my mind to add that to imagining the story of others. How to live with both without dissolving any single aspect – what exactly is the connection between my inner world and my interaction with others?

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