MY FATHER was an amputee. I know some things about what it is like to try and struggle through life with a less than perfect body, to try and cope decently, from day to day when an integral part of the whole is suddenly missing. I know the fears such a horror can engender; I know the demons that lurk, beckoning either to failure or to an anger that defeats and denies the hope of survival after the catastrophic loss of a limb. I know the sadness of it that flows like the encroaching hours of dusk to cover all of those near the person who has suffered the loss. I know the temptation to despair, to give in, to give up and I know the importance of not doing so. I know the difficulties of reconciling oneself in a practical way to reduced possibilities; I know the challenges and heartaches inherent in the giving up of part of one’s life that comes with the loss of part of one’s body.
I know that wounds that appear healed can still hurt decades later; I know that the ghost of a severed limb can haunt until one dies.
I also know courage and the raw, indomitable instincts that can push a wounded body and a wounded soul forward, sometimes, not only forward but actually beyond what might have been achieved had the loss not occurred. I know the value of belief in oneself and the deadly dangers that surface when such a belief flags.
I know the strength of faith in this imperfect world. I know the solace born of the ability to trust in God and I know the wisdom of the Christian mantra? “Your will, God, not mine.” I know the integral part of survival that the support of those nearby represents.
It was a summer of heartbreak for General Synod staff. Weeks and months of uncertainties, leading ultimately to something not at all unlike the amputation of a limb. We have lost colleagues whom we loved and respected and laughed with. We have lost aspects of our work, which, until they were taken away, we always felt were essential to our definition of who we are. These things are not easy. They are very much like a series of amputations.
And now it is done. Now we go on.
All these people, all this work, is worth grieving, and we who remain at Church House do grieve for them, profoundly, sincerely, sadly. We know better now, the pain of severed limbs. We at Church House see the loss of the work through the lenses that are the people and so we grieve twice, once for the diminished capacity to carry on our ministry and again for the loss of colleagues and friends.
That there will be ripples as yet undreamed of, especially in the work of the church in the North and in the support we have hereto forth provided for the work of overseas partners is undeniable and unbearably sad. We know all too well whom and what has been lost to General Synod. What will be lost in Sudan, in Kenya, in Madagascar, in Brazil, in Myanmar, in Iqaluit and countless other places our partnerships embrace remains to be seen.
It is vitally important that we do not also sink into a morass of grief over things that have not been lost. There are things for which we simply cannot allow ourselves the palliative of grief. In this context, this is worth saying and saying loudly. Let this newspaper not be a source of grief over losses that have not occurred. This newspaper, though with diminished resources, continues as ever with the same pride and the same dedication, its mandate intact, its independence untarnished. We chart a course, as we always have, that roughly parallels the course of the church, sometimes diverging, sometimes converging, ever conscious of our canonical charge to report on what is, to tell the common stories, to provide a prophetic voice for what ought to be. In these pivotal times, it is more important than ever that we be true to this task, true to our mandate and effective in carrying it out with those resources that remain.
We go on.