Wednesday, 12 June 2013


I’ve probably written it here before – excuse me if I’m getting old and tedious – but it captured my imagination when, twenty years or so back, our ordination college principal (the dear and beloved Martin Baddeley) said of the encounter between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman:

"Jesus walked, and He stopped. 
What is the speed of love?"

Holed up in my room editing, the sound of a child wailing dismally carries in from the street.  And I think, ‘Stop.  Just stop.  Why don’t you stop and find out what the matter is?  Why not stop walking, bend down to hear what the trouble is, do what you can to sort it out?’

About a week ago I was very bad-tempered with my husband – unreasonably difficult.  What in Hastings we call ‘arsey’.  I upset him.   Afterwards, I explained to him that completely unrelated issues had been stressing me, to the point where I felt locked in, felt like an animal at bay, pursued high onto a crag with no way of escape, and I’d turned round snarling at the first human being who came near me.  I gave him a pass-key.  I said, if I behave like that again you can ask me, ‘Are you locked in?  Are you stuck on a crag?’ – and I will hear you and be able to say, ‘Yes,’ and you’ll know it’s not really you I’m snarling at.  A pass-key that will unlock the situation, allow what is escalating into something nasty to stop.

Sometimes if I am about to say something unkind or unhelpful, about to pass on some information about a person that will set others against them, create dislike, I might choose instead to just STOP.

Then there is the Quaker STOP – so valuable – the ‘Uh-oh!’ breathed by the still small voice, counselling caution, applying the brakes.

Going too fast causes many situations to get out of hand. 

Jesus walked, and He stopped.  What is the speed of love?

Before you cross over, in any human encounter: 



Julie B. said...

My daughter and I were having a conversation last night about stopping. Stopping the impulse to give an impatient look to a driver who cuts in front of you, stopping the temptation to give advice to a hurting soul instead of just some comfort and a listening ear, stopping the mean, icky tapes that play lies in one's mind, etc. Lots of stopping. Lots of stopping would bring a lot of wonder and peace I think. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes, and peace.
When I was a child, Some summer's days we went on a punt along the river Cam (flows through Cambridge). We'd take a picnic, and stop for a while to eat it under the willow trees.
I think stopping from all the meanness and hassle and noise in our minds could be like that - an extended life tea-break in the sunshine, from which we might one day just forget ever to go back . . .

BLD in MT said...

Oh man....I need advice like this. I can be too quick to be fiery when I feel others are mistreating me or our planet or those I love. But, my mistreating them in return doesn't make the situation better. I should stop, pause to reflect. And find another way.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Beth - waving! x