“Peace like a River”

The Dalek's woodsy walk was rudely interrupted when he met the Giant Owl of Leeds

The Dalek’s woodsy walk was rudely interrupted when he met the Giant Owl of Leeds

Faith is not for dealing with God’s grandeur – the sunset, the candle flame – the child’s face … Faith is rather for the hours of God’s absence, when we are most alone, betrayed, in pain, afraid.”- Thomas Lynch, “Booking Passage: We Irish and Americans”.

Can you feel nostalgia for a faith that you haven’t truly felt for over 40 years? Can the God of childhood tug at you still, when that singular, often seemingly distant and bad-tempered God singular has been replaced by the distant, even more remote gods plural of Nature?


As I write this, consider my words, I’m listening to Simon and Garfunckle’s 1981 Concert in Central Park. Paul and Artie just sang:

“… Michigan seems like a dream to me now …”

This is not a line I expected to resonate with me, when I was growing up in a Downriver suburb of Detroit, all those years ago.

I tried writing another blog, a few days ago, about the things on my desk, only to catch sight of this photo:

Mom, photographed at a carnival near smalitownville, Tenn: VJ Day, 1945

Mom, at a carnival: VJ Day, 1945

…. and promptly burst into tears.

Does grief, like our childhood faith, never really leave us? Are there things in our lives which, no matter how much we believe – or unbelieve – we are better off accepting? Taken as permanent givens in our aging – sometimes, raging – lives?

When I started working in mental health, I thought the best, the most useful thing, I could bring to my job was my experience of being bipolar. Of having been in and out of mental services for five – now coming up to over 10 – years. Of having been miserable, and bored, in so called psychiatric “care” three – now, four – times.

Of knowing what it’s like to experience what Tom Lynch calls “the hours of God’s absence“: often, but by no means always, those dreadful hours of around 2 to five in the morning.

I started this blog with a desire to talk to you, and myself, about my desire for “peace like a river”. The older I get, the more I crave what the churches and preachers of my childhood called “reconciliation”. Whilst they were concerned with the reconciling of God and (wo)Man, I would be more than happy to see more reconciling of human and human; mankind, and Nature.




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