I've now been married for 25 years. As I jokingly told my husband, he'd have served less for murder. Unfortunately, at the same time as this happy celebration, I'm balancing the sad loss of my friend Pat. Life goes on and she'd be the first one to tell me so. Sadly, I can't attend the funeral, which will be humanist and ecological: buried in a decorated cardboard coffin, she'll rest under an elder tree on the West Pennine Moors; I can't think of a better place. On holiday in North Yorkshire, I plan to cast a white stone into the sea. The stone is smooth but not rounded, having several sides to it. Unpolished, it sparkles slightly when I hold it to the light. It feels comforting in the palm of my hand. If I can find some handmade paper - plain white otherwise - I will write a message for my wise and feisty friend and, with a prayer of thanks for her life, wrap it around the stone and cast it into the North Sea. Does that make me a pagan? A little perhaps...but there's something about the spirit of the elements that Christianity forgets to uphold.
Meanwhile, riots have taken place in which four people have died .... how have we got to this place? Anger, frustration a sense of unfulfilled entitlement? Gang culture? Shit politics? There's a sickness at the heart of it all that we cannot undo. At least not on our own. I prayed about it.
Lots of my friends find it hard to believe that I have religious beliefs. Surely you're intelligent enough to realise the presence of a God is scientifically impossible and, anyway, what about all the bad things that happen, they ask. I can understand this. This world is full of horrendous things: hatred, war, murder, sex trafficking, abuse. How is it possible human beings can do these things? Maybe, as human beings, we have to accept we don't have all the answers and, without abdicating responsibility, search for answers outside the parameters of the 'material world'? Ever since I decided to trust the possibility of God, my life has been subtly transformed. I understand why to many people belief in God seems illogical but for me God is beyond logic. When I was a student, I stumbled across Keirkegaard, who wrote about taking a step beyond objective logic; it's a step I'm glad I made.