Many of you will know that I am a parishioner of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. I went there as a teenager, and now I find myself back there as a senior citizen (more accurately, an old crock, since the arrival of my arthritis. I know that Rumi would want me to open the door, and invite my guest, Arthritis, in for tea–not always easy!).
Each week, the cathedral sends out an email to its members. The one I received on November 8 had two marvellous elements, both of which I want to share with you. The first was a reflection on the uncertainty that afflicts our pressured urban lives in a time filled with economic, political, social and ecological uncertainties if not threats. It was written by Mark Munn, the cathedral development officer and a seminarian at Vancouver School of Theology. (You can read it on the attachment.)
The second was a little video (1’39”) of Sophie Walton, aged 6 1/2 (!), playing a Bach postlude. Do your soul a favour and take time to watch it (link below). The response to her playing was ecstatic, as you will see if you do.
I place these two items side by side, because of a perception that came to me some decades ago about Bach. His music travels in many directions, but each of his compositions comes to resolution, to musical certainty. His consistent message is the same as that of Julian of Norwich (English mystic, 14th-15th c.): “All shall be well.”
So there we are: uncertainty and certainty. We err if we focus on one only to the exclusion of the other. In the ongoing flow of things, yes, there is uncertainty, and with it, often, anxiety and fear, and we need to keep our wits about us. And (not “but,” “and”) there is beneath and beyond this a certainty at the heart of things, there for us if we will listen and watch for it. It is in fact the certainty of love, the complete (I resist the translation “perfect”) love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18).