By Stuart Mann
The indefatigable and somewhat unlucky Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton said somewhere that he was always amazed at how quickly a bad situation can turn into a good one. (I’m a fan of Sir Ernest but I have not been able to find the quote. My apologies to those who know the exact wording.)
I may not have had to navigate through a shifting ice pack or sail a small boat across the South Atlantic, but I do know something of the trials that we humans face in this modern age of ours, and I would have to agree with Sir Ernest – just when you think things are at their most dire and hopeless, they can quickly turn into something beautiful and even transformational.
As a Christian, I put these moments down to Jesus Christ. I have no doubt that he is present in my life and somehow, beyond my understanding, guiding it.
These moments often happen when I encounter other followers of Jesus or take part in the sacraments. On a recent Sunday morning, for example, I felt a profound sense of joy and peace while receiving and giving the bread and wine. During that moment and for some time afterwards, I had no worries at all – no cares or concerns. Just a deep gratitude to God for being one of his children and for the sacrifice of his son who went to the cross for us.
There have been other less solemn moments as well, such as receiving a phone call from an old friend who wanted to know how things were going. I hadn’t spoken to her in years. She had moved out of the diocese a long time ago. Her call came exactly at the right time, just as I was grappling with a severe case of writer’s block.
“I haven’t seen your column in while,” she said.
“I’ve been really busy,” I said, which was a lie. The fact was, I could barely string two sentences together, so bad was the blockage. We talked a bit more, and in the days afterwards the words started to come back to me.
Another moment happened the other night on my way home from work. You’ll recall that I used to know a man who lived under the bridge at the end of our street. Well, he has gone on to find housing in a nearby apartment, but another man, a younger one, has taken his place under the bridge. We nodded to each other on the sidewalk as he waited for me to pass by so he could hop over the railing. At breakfast the next morning I told my family about it. My daughter said, “Let’s get him a Tim’s card so he can buy breakfast. That’s a start.”
These are resurrection moments, and for me they are proof, if one needs it, that Christ is alive. We often look back on the post-resurrection stories from scripture – the encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus or the breakfast of fish on the seashore – and think, “If only I could have been there, then I would truly believe.” But I can tell you that those moments happen today. They’re real. We don’t need to go looking for them in scripture. Lives are being changed. Hope is being restored. New courses are being set.
As The Anglican takes a break from publishing in July and August, I wish you a peaceful and happy summer. And if you have one of these resurrection moments – well, thanks be to God.