Saturday, June 25, 2016

BECOMING QUESTIONS Number 9 - The answers - Jo Cox

The answers.

I asked a question to the world.
AND these beautiful humans below have reflected, excavated their souls and shared here for the world to view.
Thank you.
I ask a question every week - for your Becoming
My becoming.

The question this past week was about the murder of Jo Cox here in the UK.
Because it impacted me deeply - I asked the world would they share their personal experience of this ongoing event - there has yet to be her funeral and a court case in the future ……
My own reflection is posted again at the end of this stream.


I first heard about the attack on Jo Cox and felt emotionally numb. Maybe because I used to work in volatile situations, maybe because at those times my own immediate emotions had to go 'on hold' to be processed at a later date, alongside others? Maybe. 
It took a good few days to be able to unpick what it was that i was actually feeling, which was (and still is) mostly layers of sadness that this situation had ever come about in the first place. I think about all the people whose lives have now been completely altered through being caught up in the manner of Jo's death. But as well, my feelings include those who knew, loved and had worked with the person who committed that appalling act. 
tbh I was distinctly apprehensive about Sunday and attending a public act of worship. Would Jo's murder be addressed in any way? Would people far removed from Jo's life have a chance to mark this occasion? What about it being Father's Day too? How on earth is any mere mortal going to make liturgical sense of this? My feelings seemed to be too big for attending a church service to ever be a good idea, but i went anyway. Right from the very start everything was acknowledged, addressed and we were invited to observe a minutes silence. It felt like we were sort of scooping up the fragmented thoughts and prayers of everyone in that place and then tipping them out into God's general direction.
The whole thing is an unutterable mess. I remain saddened but grateful for words like "kind" and "gentle" being uttered by our politicians.

I did not hear (read) about Jo Cox’s until Friday lunch time.  (I had been out all afternoon/evening drinking the previous day with a former colleague visiting from the US, and a group of old friends.)
I was in the canteen at work and opened the Independent on my phone started reading and then had that immediate impact in my guts when you know something is very badly wrong.
The picture of the family on the inflatable rib made me well up, attempting to hold back a tear….those beautiful children have lost their mum.
Why do so many good people die so young?  I have seen so many tragedies in my small circle of friends, why does it seem that it is always the very best who are taken?
Saw a brief initial background summary of the man who had killed her…. apparently he had  lived alone for years….letting the seeds of hate grow?  Thinking of my son’s mental health traumas and how it is never good to be alone.
The tweet about camping with the children moved me the next morning… camping has played a big part in my life….do we feel more pain when people seem more like us?  
Why am I not feeling like this every day as another family is ripped apart somewhere in our battered but still beautiful world?    
It is Saturday morning, I was trying to put the Intercessions together for our parish church, but had a spinning head, trying to process everything….a feeling of despair, encroaching darkness, and living in very dangerous times.
Where is Hope?......
…had to find some relief through music….
Then read about the man vowing to stand in her constituency on a racist ticket….
…sadness and fear now turns to anger and rage at the real villains that have led us to this precipice (but that is opinion)….
So type the stuttering words
“We pray against racism, religious hatred, idolatry of weaponry, violence and oppression.  We pray for those who suffer: the families and communities.”
You said there would be more difficult ones to come….!!!
Honestly.......first thoughts, how sad and tragic, she was the same age as me....second thought, disgust as I starting seeing people debating her death when their thoughts should have been with her family. Jo's death bought to light the nasty vile side of UK politics that the referendum seems to have made worse. 

I was in a conference about how God and tech collide, when during a lecture a group member posted on our digital message board to pray for Jo Cox, an MP from Leeds who'd been attacked.
Later that day, we were using that same medium to pray together when the same person posted that she had died. In our silence and our prayers we each held a woman we had never met, and family whose pain we can never truly know in our hearts. We prayed also without words because our words had failed, for the attacker and his own painful journey.
As days went on and reports of a beautiful and  hardworking advocate for justice and dare I say it for God's Kingdom maintained the picture of sadness for Jo's family, and pain for an ill man who's actions had caused such great pain and distress. I'm saddened by the culture of a country which can enable such pain and challenge to lead to hostility and violence, and by the outworking of such bitterness which seems only to lead to further pain and hurt.
I'm heartened by the way much of the country seems to have got behind Jo's commitment to compassion in the wake of her death, but deeply saddened that it takes such an horrific event to bring people to that unity.
In truth, I'm still not quite sure how it all makes me feel, so I can only resort to sadness for the husband and children she leaves behind, and for the man so broken and damaged by illness and the culture he immersed himself in to have led to the actions he took. - peace and blessings pip, you truly are a blessing to so many.

I was listening to the England game whilst working, when Alan Green, the Five Live presenter suddenly interrupted his flow to announce that Jo had been shot. At that point it was all conjecture about her state. I had already had an emotional day, which is quite unusual for me. The news about Cliff facing no charges, after almost two years of agony, made me cry with relief for him. The injustice was finally over. The paralysis that he must have felt was finally lifted. Then there was the joy of an English comeback at stupid o'clock against the Welsh, with a Welshman sat next to me. Jo Cox's murder was a shock after the elation. I spent most of the evening following the unfolding of the news, being impacted emotionally. It felt reminiscent of the events that accompany a dubious assassination, until I realised that the man had serious mental health issues. Her death seemed to lift something oppressive from over me - the atmosphere of the previous weeks Referendum discussions which had grown more and more ugly and which had affected my underlying mood. It felt like she had been sacrificed for the sake of the nation. Like a lamb to the slaughter. It still does.

I did not find out about the death until much later, and due to my lack of political knowledge, when I found out, it was not really clear to me who she was and what she stood for. However, I do know that  she was a mother and a wife. And the pain caused to any child or husband would almost always be hurtful. My sincere condolences to those affected; death is inevitable - it's our responsibility to live on in love and in memory of those who have passed away and continue to share love with those living. Death is a sensitive topic however with support from loved ones the pain can begin to heal. 

My twitter feed spilled the news........of a bright light young woman......a female politician in the UK.......killed in broad daylight on the streets where she felt active member of her community.  I had only stopped for a moment to check Twitter but the reality of her murder stopped me in my tracks.  
The news of Jo took my breath away as I frantically sought out more information about this woman......who she was......her family, her life, her politics..........
As I read the violent details along with the description of her personal life, her young children, her husband.......of her values and passions, my thoughts kept swirling around the words like this........"Her life is unfinished.......her passions and the political issues that were fed by those passions were just coming to fruition....."
So many many disturbed people, some of whom are running for the President of the United States...... I feel overwhelmed by these hate filled events, stories, and well as saturated by being a Counsellor, a receptor of stories about abuse, addictions, mental illness for 30+ years that quite honestly?  I only want to watch movies and TV shows that invite me to escape, to laugh, to think about beauty.  Only beauty........
Killed in daylight in a place she felt empowered and safe. I guess safety is a facade. 

I heard about her death on social media. I felt the same way as I do when I hear about another innocent soul that is killed; sadness and pessimism for the future of humanity. I was also angered that it was not instantly called an act of terror by the media, yet when a (so-called) Muslim does something it would be called that straight away.
I am worried that killing is so common nowadays that we are becoming desensitised to it. 

I first became aware of the 'incident' as it was at that stage via one of the 'dayglo defenders' from Greenbelt who it turns out works nearby - or certainly near enough, that he was aware of a lot of police vehicles converging on the area and helicopters as well. Then the news broke online and via facebook. Initial feelings, numbness and disbelief that someone had killed an MP, it still feels a little bit like an attack on democracy. You have, I think, seen my comments on my facebook page.
While I don't believe I'd ever met her (though there is a certain familarity about her in the pictures though which makes me not want to totally rule that out) hers was a name I recognised and had heard before, and everything I'd ever heard praised her, so while some of it is maybe the normal no-one speaks ill of the dead she was highly respected - indeed privately someone from another party commented that we've just lost one of the best future foreign secrataries we could have had.
Seeing it on tv made it realer (if that's allowed as a word) - especially seeing someone I've met a couple of times talking about "losing a mate" - and wondering what it must feel like for her, as another MP, who has had her own fair share of threats and aggression, including threats of being raped that no woman should have to deal with. I despair how we've become a country where someone can believe that threatening to rape an MP is even remotely approaching a legitimate political dialogue.
In an age where we, perhaps rightly, question the motives of most MP's she seems to have been the real deal and passionate about making the world a better place than she left it, even if sadly she was to leave it far to soon :-(
We're in the sticks (Soham, nr Ely) and at the moment are in an interregnum so I and a couple of others are doing a quiet service on the evening of every 3rd Sunday. While not directly mentioning Jo there was no question of us not modifying the service in subtle ways to reflect on the last few days.
The world is sadly diminished by her loss - and it is a measure of her character that so many of us who never knew her directly feel that loss :-(
No Name

I heard about the death of Jo Cox on my way home from work last week. I was shocked and immensely saddened by it.
It has definitely challenged my thoughts about respecting those in authority, the call to pray for and protect those who serve us and made me anxious about the future of free speech and religious freedom. 

I first heard about Jo Cox whilst driving for work, that there had been an attack, on my radio. I was shocked to hear this, but not expecting the next radio update to be that she had died.
I felt sadness that this had happened in my own country, and appalled when I heard she also had two young children, and this made me feel upset on their behalf, how will they cope without their mum, and to know she died in such violent, tragic circumstances?
I was further saddened when reports came out of the stands she took in this world and the positive things she had done, but with this sadness I felt some anger. Why were these things not spoken more of when she was alive? So many politicians and others speaking out of these wonderful qualities, yet to me I had never heard this before? Why was this not celebrated when she was alive? Does it have to take death before we can celebrate the good someone is doing/has done?
My sadness was deepened further, as the 49 LGBT+ angels killed just days before in Orlando were seemingly cast as a memory. Maybe they were too far away geographically that some could not feel the pain of this, but closer to home may have felt more real? Maybe there was too much tragedy all in one week for people to manage to feel for everyone, I just don’t know.
I am saddened and worry for the world, filled with hate and division. The person who is different is seen as the enemy, evident in both tragedies. I worry for what the next tragedy will be, and I am saddened that I can think this way. I worry that the exposure to all these heartbreaking events will start to harden our hearts to the experience of others, as we seek to protect ourselves, I worry that we lose our humanity.

My initial feelings were I am ashamed to say were numbness and I was desensitised to it, however on digging a little deeper there was shock,sadness and disbelief, I was dismayed yet again at the level of insanity in the world that we keep seeing over and over again that leads to sense of hopelessness and despair.I obviously work to overcome these feelings but I think sometimes we can sugarcoat these by looking for false positives. I feel for her family 
No name 

When I first heard of Jo Cox’s murder I felt physically sick. I could picture it - I know Batley, I know its people, and the thought of something like that occurring in such an everyday place and time caused that reaction in me.
When I almost immediately afterwards saw a picture of Jo Cox I was hit by a deeper horror - because I have female friends of a similar age who are Labour politicians (city councillors) and I thought of them in that same sort of everyday situation, or out canvassing as I know they are at the moment, on the referendum, and I thought of Jo as one of them, one with them, it was as though what had happened to Jo, who I don’t know, had happened to one of these friends. 
And then just an increased sadness at the brutality of our society - feeling sad about the way we talk about each other, treat those with different views or ways of life, there’s so much hardness around, an increasing hardening of attitudes and actions - Jo’s death seemed to me to be an outward effect of all this bitterness, all this splintering of society. 
Over the following days I was tasked - as usual - to preach; and the reading for the week was the story of Jesus casting out demons from a man expelled from the town of Gadara but whose demons caused him only to self-harm and run further into the wilderness. Struck by this story’s relevance to the theme of ‘madness’ in our society, in Omar Mateen, the Orlando gunman, and in Thomas Mair, Jo Cox's murderer, I preached on the way our society puts its madness into people (“After Mateen and Mair: Overcoming Legion in our village”, 
The day that I heard of Jo Cox’s death I also heard of the death of Bob Holman, someone who has been an inspiration to me; and I couldn’t help making connections between them. I read Bob quoted as once saying, “I can’t do much in politics... I want to concentrate on local individuals. We cannot take them out of poverty but we can provide people with some togetherness and show that we respect, not blame them.” And I heard Jo Cox’s maiden Parliamentary speech about celebrating what we have in common which is far more than that which divides us. And then I read a quote from my old Mission lecturer Graham Kings, now a bishop: "When Janani Luwum, Archbishop of Uganda, was assassinated by General Amin's soldiers, a young John Sentamu vowed, 'You kill my friend. I take his place.' Let us pray that a long-lasting memorial to Jo Cox MP may be the raising of vocations for authentic, integrated, young people to serve as Members of Parliament. “ And I found myself recommitting in my heart to the pursuit of all these good things.
But what most moved and encouraged me - and perhaps brought all my emotions and thoughts together - was this, a Facebook entry from an associate from my theological college days, Ally Barrett, posted at 01:23 on the morning after Jo Cox’s death (
I couldn't sleep. Too many fears and tears for such a broken world. 
So I wrote this as a prayer, to the tune Kings Lynn (aka O God of earth and altar):
O God of all salvation
In this, our darkest hour,
Look down at your creation
With pity and with power.
In all the pain we're seeing,
For parent, partner, friend,
We'll cling with all our being 
To love that cannot end.

O God, your loving passion
Is deeper than our pain,
Look down, and in compassion
Bring us to life again.
When we are found despairing,
When all seems lost to sin,
We'll hear your voice declaring
That love alone will win.

O God, when hate grows stronger,
With fear to pave its way,
The cry, 'Lord, how much longer?'
With broken hearts we pray.
In all that is dismaying
In humankind's freewill,
We'll join our voices, praying
That love will triumph still.

O God, whose love will never
Be silenced, stalled or stilled,
Set us to work wherever
There's bridges to rebuild.
We'll take our life's vocation
To make, like heav'n above,
In this and every nation
A kingdom built on love.
This wonderful prayer-hymn-poem goes well with lots of 76. 76. D tunes and so we sang it in many of our churches (I have six churches to look after!) on Sunday…… 

First heard shooting of a person. Then someone said it was a lady who was shot. Later it was a lady MP who was shot and stabbed. They spoke of her husband and children. I cried as usual. Just so needless, waste of a life, a mother, a wife and smart lady in politics fighting for justice for those in this country and abroad suffering neglect, starvation, medicine, and water. Then heard that it was a “deranged” man shouting racial abuse. A “nutter” and “depressive nutter”. Then we get his neighbours saying he was a “quiet” unassuming man. Later the inside of his house is seen as a monument to far right extremism. Press said he went to his doctor the day before asking for help and was sent away. Wonder how they are feeling now? Almost lost in the constant bombardment in the elderly man who intervened and tried to stop man who had gun and knife from continuing his slaughter. Then the most painful bit was the devastated husband talking about the reasons why Jo was murdered and the loss of a mother to his young children and his wife. I cried buckets at that point. I tried to think outside the box. Why did it happen? Did anyone manipulate this vulnerable man. What will happen to him? Does anyone really care? What will happen to this country of ours now the genie of hatred is out of the bottle. Bodies litter the streets from those who hate and despise differences of culture, colour of skin, languages, religion. Am I losing my marbles by wanting to embrace all these things? Nothing better than to hear West Indian music and mess of their food emanating from stores and houses; Having conversations with wonderful Muslims about God face to face and via email; different clothing, colours, language enriching my life. Am I seeing the world through rose tinted glasses or is my glass just fragmented coloured glass that cannot be fitted together anymore. I am sad still, very sad & distressed for children who have lost their mother and a husband destroyed by the needless loss of his beloved wife. I don’t know what the truth is but I will carry on embracing my neighbours and enjoying their culture, differences, languages, exploring their history, no matter what happens. 

AND my offering::

On the Wednesday I had been working at Kings College in London and had met my friend Oyvin from Norway who was coming to stay with us for a few days.
On the following day back home, on this tragic Thursday, I collected MrsBeautiful from the train following her weekly sleep-over with our Grandchildren.
"There has been a person stabbed and shot in a street in Yorkshire" she said as she arrived home, greeting Oyvin and unpacking. She had picked up some news online as she was travelling. We turned on the TV and watched, stilled, as the story unfolded.
The three of us watched and were caught up in the details of the attack. The news changed rapidly as the person attacked had died, and this murdered woman was in her early forties - and then she was a Mother of two young children and then a member of Parliament since last year. Oyvin was picking up the news on his iPhone from Norway. We tuned into CNN on TV and it hit us harder and deeper that this was being felt by people world wide. I became emotional as I am now as I type and feel again …..
I never knew her, never knew of her but as news of her life was disclosed, my feelings were touched deeper. She was a global citizen. Committed and passionate for human kind - in her own town, constituency and the whole world, including refugees.
Oyvin, himself with massive International experience with the Norwegian YWCA/YMCA and Ulsteinvik Folk High School, was deeply moved and I felt it through him too.
Jo Cox was a person with a big heart beyond the humans she knew and met. She was a passionate worker for justice worldwide and THAT and so many other aspects of her life ….. we could hold hands.
I could say much more but one last experience to share. Friday Oyvin and I went to Canterbury Cathedral. That very place where a person was murdered back in time, and as I sat quietly in this big bustling historic place of worship, surrounded by hundreds of tourists - and I felt deep sorrow for Jo Cox, this young Mum of two young children, murdered because of who she was. I wept again - and I Tweeted as I sat there::  
"Sat in #Canterbury #Cathedral *still tearful for #JoCox. *Sometimes the #tears are inside. *Sometimes the leak out. “ 

Thanking you all for your reflection - sharing a life experience.
I believe these experiences, good or bad, are beautiful - all helpful in our becoming ……..
Because we learn more from experiences than anything.

And if you have read these - please feel free to join in - it is never a closed group.
The wider the spectrum of participant - the better.

STAY beautiful - for each other - and yourself ……
I love a song called “Kiss the World Beautiful”