Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sour grapes or red, red wine?

I was strangely moved today while listening to Desert Island Discs with the Muslim academic and theologian Mona Siddiqui. Among her records, the one she chose to keep while the others were swept away by the hypothetical tidal wave was the song Red, Red Wine. She laughingly pointed out the irony of choosing that song as her favourite although, as a Muslim, she does not drink wine.
 It was the lightness of this that touched me. Something about being authentically faithful to living out one's beliefs yet finding enjoyment in others' joy in a different lifestyle. (Not very coherently put, but I hope it makes some sense!). When we join the family of a faith community it will inevitably involve some rules, some ways of "walking the talk" (I write this hesitantly, as a not-particularly-good Catholic!). It's easy to slide from embracing this willingly for oneself to becoming like whoever-it-was in Aesop's fables and claiming that the grapes we can't have ourselves are sour for everyone else. I know how seductively simple it is in everyday life to say "that's wrong" when I really mean "I don't believe it"; "that's bad" when I mean "I don't like it". Part of the same slippery slope!
Some of those big Ignatian words like discernment,  indifference and  detachment can sound hard and heavy. I need to remember their true lightness: they are all about growing into freedom, and when I discern for myself and for now (which is all I can ever do) I'll leave others free to discern for themselves what will bring them life and freedom.
As Margaret Silf puts it in Landmarks, am I a spider or a bee? Do I seek to snare and consume and tie up in knots - or do I take without harm what will nourish me, giving service in return and leaving all parties in the encounter gifted and enriched?

So here's my own red, red wine - and Bertie*, an early Hallowe'en present from HALO as therapy for my arachnophobia...

*In case the photo's not clear, Bertie is a spider-shaped tealight holder. Does that sound a bit Beaker?

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