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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

4th February 2009: Rev'd Rob Dewing, St Mary Magdalen, Sheet

The Fragility of our Lives

I recently read the book ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by the Nigerian novelist Chimonda Ngozi Adichie. It was the winner of the Orange Prize in 2007 and I recommend it to you. It’s a powerful and challenging novel about the civil war in Nigeria in the 1960’s. This was a conflict about which I knew nothing and there was something of a lesson in history about reading this book. However, Adichie’s real skill for me was in her ability to describe the fragility of human existence. The story centres around the lives of a small group of prosperous Nigerian intellectuals and writers initially living in comfortable and secure surroundings. As the book and the war progress we see them descending into extreme poverty and daily threats to their own lives and the lives of those they love. They learn about the fragility of life.

In this country, particularly in a town like Petersfield, it is perhaps possible to become used to a level of security and comfort that it is easy to take for granted. It is not good to live one’s life in fear, but complacency is not good either. Over the last few years many of us have overstretched ourselves financially, perhaps as a result of such complacency. In the last few months any complacency has largely evaporated. We realise that our relative prosperity is not a right it is a gift and a privilege.

In the Communion Service I often use a prayer, part of which goes as follows:

…everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you,
and of your own do we give you.

If the current economic crisis encourages us to learn that attitude then some good may be said to have come from a difficult situation.


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