Once again I approached the weekend exhausted from the challenges of an hectic week. On Friday, unusually, I had woken in a foul temper and found it hard to shake. Please God I did not allow my odd mood be seen by too many. Journeying home I began to look forward to a weekend with family and friends. I knew we would all be sleepy. The busy-ness in my life is not unique!
Gemma and Tracey arrived in good time for the three of us to catch the bus to the Ashmolean and meet my flatmate. There was an evening event to promote their new Chinese exhibition. At the heart of the museum a huge crowd gathered around the atrium and new staircase. There was to be a live re-enactment of The Scream by Edward Munch. Without warning a young artist standing in the midst of a buzzing huddle of curious by-standers began to scream. He was joined by his secret colleagues. It was an unsettling experience, and sent shivers down the spine. Screaming is an alarm call, we only use it in emergencies - it means something must be done, urgently. Screaming demands that action should be taken. I began to laugh. What action should be taken? The artist began to conduct. He wanted us all to scream. 'Why do we have to scream?', I asked.
I have since found my answer. There was an urgent action that needed to be taken. After a wonderful evening out Gemma and I brought our friend out to the country to meet with my parents at their home. We had a wonderful shared lunch prepared by my Ma, and sat and gently chatted about many things before we headed out for a walk in the woods. My Ma said we all had to hug a tree. 'Why do we have to do that?', I asked. But I did it. It took 5 of us to stretch around the trunk. I laughed, and was a little embarrassed. 'Ma! There are other people coming!'. I get my complete love of trees from my Ma. I love the way they feel, the way they smell, the dappled light they cast on the woodland ground.
Then, in the Gospel this morning, the urgency of 'The Scream' returned. Jesus' farewell discourse, his last words before his death. We take notice of the last words people utter, and rightly so. 'Love one another', Jesus says, 'By this love others will know that you are my disciples.' Christian love is demanding, of course, Jesus gives his life out of love and, if we are to love as he loved, we will give our lives too. All of a sudden I knew what the scream was about. Love one another. No one ever gave their life to their loved ones by being so sleep they 'couldn't be bothered'. No one ever gave their life to their loved ones by getting so stressed they 'didn't have time'. We give our love and our lives to others by being there, by sharing our energy, laughter, stories, tears, hugs, sorrows, joys. I was screaming at 'The Scream' because sometimes the world of work must stop, we need to step off the treadmill and give our everything to the people that matter. Nothing else in the world matters so much. And, if that is not happening having a good scream and taking urgent action to remedy matters is vital. With that in mind I spent my Sunday appropriately and looked back over the weekend grateful for family, friends and all the people I love.