Circles and Roots

One of my Christmas gifts was a book called “The Perfect Golden Circle by
Benjamin Myers” an author whose beautiful prose I am familiar with. The book
tells the story of two men who over the course of a burning hot summer in 1989
under the cover of darkness form crop circles in elaborate and mysterious
patterns in the English countryside. This captivating novel reflects on the futility
of war, the destruction of our countryside and the power of beauty to heal trauma
and fight power.
At the beginning of a New Year I am conscious of how much of our lives revolves
around circles. The circle of life. The circle of time. The circle of faith. In “The
Perfect Golden Circle” the main characters (Calvert and Redbone) in creating
their circles, must in some sense, deconstruct the field in which they will create
their works of art. By treading across the fields with rope, planks, and feet, they
flatten the crops (though not permanently damaging them) to create scenes like
the one above. In deconstructing they construct. As I survey the landscape around
me in our brave new world of 2023 it feels to me as though there is a lot of
deconstruction going on just now. Economic and financial pressures, food and
energy poverty, continuing violence and war in Ukraine, workers in the UK asserting
their European right to strike. So much deconstruction. And so I find myself
searching for evidence of construction and growth. Where is God at work in all of
this uncertainty?

Perhaps we need to let the wild things grow. We let go of a faith that is neat rows
of wheat, a faith that keeps us in a tidy loop. Maybe then we can see life growing
under the concrete we’ve so carefully poured. We can see faith in the questions as
much as in the answers, and we might begin to map and trace a different circle of
roots to a different tree – a different space of joy that grows beyond the fences
and barriers we erect and doesn’t ask us to cut off our doubt or fear, or someone
else’s picture of God.
Under every crack there is something that’s growing, something that’s been
planted in us. Once cracks are there, the old will fall away, the scales will peel
away. But maybe we will discover that something is growing even in these uncertain
times. Something is growing – a latticework of roots, of histories, of communities
of faith believing that God is here and is more than what my words or your
imagination can capture.
The promise of God as proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah (42:1-4) reminds us,
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.”
So in this New Year I urge to hold fast in faith and remember that God is with us.