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It is September 30th, it is Autumn, and I have been burying corms in the earth around my small garden in the hope of a general resurrection. As you will see from the photographs above (from a well-known former location!) they are snowdrop, crocus and that special delight, and difficult to naturalize, aconite. As my unfenced garden stretches across the frontage of my three neighbours opposite in this compact close, everyone will benefit. It is surely the details that matter today in this busy world. Of course I have time, unlike my neighbours who are restricted. But still there is the debate as to what to do with 'time'. (This is turning into a short, autobiographical snapshot!)

One of our long time friends who used to work a 12 hour day, between leaving and returning home, in the centre of London, has retired to a flat in the country. There, 'with the cooking and cleaning, one has time to think', he writes - as with George Herbert,

'Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws, makes that and the action fine.'

- and more, according to our friend. 'Thought' is energy consuming in part and in other ways a relaxation from the pressures of the moment. It is not, as the Easterners might say, simply an intuitive, mystical experience. We are creatures of our culture and this makes new thoughts quite an effort, sometimes going with the 'tide' and at other times concerned to swim against it.

George Herbert's brother, Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1582-1648), a philosopher in his own right, describes as 'mean, base, and unworthy of God, any doctrine that condemns the far greater part of humanity to eternal perdition because it is outside the scope of Christ's redemptive death.' So atonement can only mean that a benevolent God must be such as will provide 'salvation' for all. These thoughts were radical in the early 17th century in England.

Religion, including Christianity, has for a large part of history, offered 'certainties' to its adherents. But when we are able to think for ourselves it seems that there are other possibilities, in fact personal, 'multiple hopes', in what we have previously thought of as fixed and unalterable traditions.

© Aelred Arnesen

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