I was thinking of telling a jolly story about Patrick and a ginger cat and then I read Paul’s well known letter to the Corinthians and I changed my mind - well I suppose Paul was always about changing minds.
“I appeal to you brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
So I rethought, reflecting on the past year and our various divisions and decided to save the jolly ginger cat for another day.
What Paul does not say is how easy it is to make divisions and revel in them. There is nothing easier than to decide to fall out with someone or these days often a group of people (by gender, by religion, by race, by wealth, by fondness for the Europeans or any other stereotype you can think of.) and then to needle away at it with or without purpose. Think of those separated or divorced who can find fault with past partners at the drop of a hat. My old friend Lisa for example discovered in the petition for divorce that she had never folded Alan’s shirts well enough. Oh it is easy to pick a quarrel with Apollos or Cephas and side with the other man; it is easy even in churches to point up differences: “they won’t accept women priests”, “they are very high”, “they have too many candles” , “their sermons are too long” and so on.
What is difficult in our modern culture which thrives on news of conflicting opinion (Europhile, Eurosceptic, for Harry and Meghan, against Harry and Meghan, ) - yes you see if on the Today programme you begin your answer with “I agree” then the next word from Sarah Montague will be “but” as she probes for a fissure into which she may poke her bodkin. What is difficult is to attune ourselves to what we have in common, what we share with the other. For example when walking from Overy hard to the beach we meet many people, we know nothing about some of them, are they day-trippers, longer term vacationers in holiday cottages, second home owners, common right holders, guests at the Hoste, residents we simply have not met before? None of these apparent classifications or demarcations matter, it does not matter whether we are for Apollos, Cephas or Paul it matters that we have in common walking on the bank, enjoying the features of the day, landscape, bird life, tides, marshland - this is the basis of our relationship.
I am afraid that in the coming months what is to come is a period of talked up divisions: the UK and Europe, Scotland and independence, trade deals, good and bad, and we may need the words of Paul to remind us that we are all to live together “in agreement, that there be no divisions among you, that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.”
Back to ginger cats though - another ginger not the one I had first in mind but Henry who lives in the rectory may have something to teach us. He lives with Nina and Rosie, they curl up together, sharing the carpet, the bed, the garden, biscuits they sometimes guard the entrance all three with shared purpose - well if a cat and dogs can do it ...................