Lunchtime in sunny Derbyshire, and I plunge into a book I discovered on a bookshelf in Aberdeen last year (thanks David Anderson) – ‘Other’ by Kester Brewin (Hodder, 2010 for those who like the full details). Has a good subtitle – ‘Loving Self, God and Neighbour in a World of Fractures’. (Check out http://www.kesterbrewin.com/) Beginning with an illustration from both the streets of Bethelehem, Palestine – and also the streets of home, Kester asks a question about the ‘Other’, and how we address the ‘other’ and ‘others’ in our lives. So here’s a few quotes from early on that have struck me, starting with The Bible:
Didn’t the same God who made me, make them? Job 31: 15 The Message
It is easy to love what is lovely, but we are called to love what is other. It is easy to love what is familiar, but we are called to love what is strange. It is easy to love what is comforting, but we are called to love what is disturbing to us.
Who then is this ‘other’? It is the other within myself, the parts of me that I hide in the dark, the half-fictional parts I parade and boast. What would it mean to truly love this self of mine? It is the other within God, the divinity I cannot fully know or understand who does not answer my prayers and does not provide comfort; the incarnate and yet ever-hidden who infects my dreams and won’t let me go. What would it mean to love this God with all of my self? And it is the other within the world I inhabit, the neighbours who are nosiy, the street people who are smelly, the immigrants who are strange.
Love is complicated, interconnected, emergent and evolving. It is also a love that must be lived.
‘Lord lead me’, as Paul Tillich prayed, ‘from a life divided, to a life united’.
Already on page 51, I think I am going to like this book……