I’m a grumpy old man, especially early in the morning. I can think of a number of people who would agree with that – most surely my twin brother, Isidore. By the time you’ve finished reading this blog you’ll probably think the same. And you wouldn’t be far wrong. I suffer from ‘crack-of-dawn’ peevishness. And no wonder! In The Prayer of the Church we’re required to chant a hymn that goes like this,
‘We sing for you a morning hymn to end the silence of the night.
When early cock begins to crow and everything from sleeps awakes,’….!
When early cock begins to crow and everything from sleeps awakes,’….! For weeks now there’s been an insolent cockerel that took up residence in the presbytery and the parish church grounds. I wonder which was the worst of its many sins – leaving a tacky, slippery mess in the very areas people most frequently had to walk? Or at about 2.30 each morning ‘blowings its top’ with a strident shrillness that jarred my nerves and inspired uncharitable thoughts?
The words choked in my throat when I’ve been required to sing about crowing cocks awakening deeply sleeping me? If this was the best it could do for a mating call it must have been a hard-up hen that would have fancied him! You notice I refer to this bird THAT WAS, not the one THAT IS? For the past few blissful days this groan-leading, not cheer-leading, bird has not been around…And now we have a blessed hush and a clean yard to greet each new day.
From early childhood all of us must have learnt,
‘All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.’
But, ever complaining me asks, ‘What about those insects that sting and bite -that cause inflammation or infection? What about the sly mongoose or foxes that steal our chickens? And what about the bad rainy weather that washes out a cricket match; and the bad dry weather that shrivels the plants in my garden? God made all these as well as the storms, the floods, the droughts, the earthquakes, the famines and diseases that make life insecure for so many people. In God’s good creation I find so much more to grumble about …things that bring so much misery to so many people….things that are inconvenient to me personally.
And yet, who am I to complain to God about anything that He has made? How dare I presume I could have made a better job of creation than had Almighty God Himself? So I have problems – not with God, but with my understanding God; in my coming to terms with some of the things going on in the world that He has made, the world He sees to be so good. While I’m still in this sour mood I ponder upon the awful woes that human beings inflict on one another. No need to name them. They advertize themselves on every newscast.
Siblings to one another within the one human family, each made in the image and likeness of God, inflict misery on one another in the home, in the neighbourhood, in the war-zone. And yet every single one of us is ignited with a spark of the divine, with the brightness of God Himself who is love, who is just, who is kind who is holy. As for myself I must confess I do have immense difficulty in coming to terms with some of those ‘made in God’s image and likeness!’ I would be a conceited fool if I ever thought for a moment that everyone found it easy to get on with me. I’m still disturbed that all of us beloved children of God find it difficult to be beloved to one another. Worse still, sometimes this is the last thing we want!
I ask my God, my loving, wise Heavenly Father, ‘How can all this be?’ As for my own personal grouses and grievances, I’m coming round to admitting that my big mistake is to believe that everything in God’s creation is designed for my convenience and contentment, a world that in its entirety is at my service. And so I complain whenever anything or and anyone fails to come up to my expectations, causes me inconvenience or annoys me. And this is the height of individualism, of selfishness. This is a form of idolatry – making myself a god unto myself, as well as creating for myself a mean and cramped existence. How many of us do this to ourselves?
It is so easy for us not to recognize that each and every thing in God’s creation has its individual destiny. That includes each one of us. These particular destinies are woven into a spectacular fabric – a grand design –so vast that only the Creator can understand and appreciate it. Each item, each person, that God has made has its own identity and integrity – from mini mouse to mighty mountain. Each in its own way and all in their togetherness and interaction proclaim God’s glory.
But wait a moment, we human beings – you and I and billions like us – are free to proclaim the glory of God with the totality of our lives…or not to do so. Sadly the sinful shabbiness in our lives does nothing to honour God.
I suspect that I need to come to terms with the fact that God has His own reasons for creating rowdy roosters. I must humbly accept that they may have nothing to do with me. Perhaps I need to look at God's bigger picture. He has made the cock with the need to make an early start to the day, a need to proclaim he's up and about, a force to be reckoned with! I insist I don't have that particular need to be on the rampage even before the sun has thought of showing its face. For reasons of His own God obviously thinks otherwise.
Once I’ve come to terms with this I’ll have a glimmering of understanding of what is going on in God’s creation.
In a rooster! Through a rooster! For heaven’s sake!
Peter Clarke O.P.