As you grow, Sarah you will be challenged by the world. You will make mistakes and feel like a failure. You will feel sad and lonely. Have faith, my darling. Never give up. Trust in the Lord, but trust in yourself. You are enough. You have all that you need inside you. Remember that, above all.Jasmine’s letter to her daughter Sarah in The Light Keeper, Chapter Forty Nine
Life is strange here at the moment, down on the edge of things. We’ve been used to it being so quiet, but as the lockdown has begun to ease there have suddenly been a lot more people around. I get it, you can drive anywhere now and why wouldn’t you make a break for the seaside, to let your shoulders drop? Those of us who don’t want to be among the crowds have to keep out of the way at weekends, when cars are parked all along the verges like some kind of mad silent festival. We go walking in the early morning or the late evening. That’s okay though, it’s our privilege. Everyone is welcome here, the Downs belong to all and who doesn’t need a bit of space at the moment? The world is in flames. Well, it feels like that, doesn’t it?
Lately I have been thinking that It always has felt like that, for someone, somewhere. Only accidents of birth and privilege have kept many of us from famine, flooding, plague and war until now. Maybe we should have listened more when our neighbours said they were suffering. Maybe being better neighbours is what could save us. But that’s as far as I’m going with that thought, because one thing I have definitely learned over the last week of protests is that sometimes it is better to listen and learn. The Black Lives Matter network is here and I also admire the work of Sojourners in the States. Greenbelt is publishing some great resources. Blessed are those who resist.
While all this is going on, people do take refuge in or inspiration from stories. There’s a blog tour going on this week to celebrate the paperback publication of The Light Keeper, which means a different book blogger or reviewer features the story every day. I thought you might like the one where I answer questions from Els, who lives in Belgium. You’ll find out why I made Desmond Tutu shout at me, which was a very low point, let me tell you. On the upside, finding myself at a tiny church service with him in the West Bank town of Nablus in 1999 and taking communion from one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement and the new South Africa was incredibly moving. I will remember that always, and the message he brought that day, which was that if change could come to his country it could come anywhere. These are famous words of his.
‘Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us.’
You don’t need to share his faith to hope that he is right about the ultimate victory of love. We can choose to believe it and act as if it is true. So many brave people are doing that in these terrible times. I have used his words as a kind of prayer many times In the face of things that frighten or confuse me, and do so again now. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. May it be so. Love and strength to you and yours and all who need it right now.
- Support your local book seller. Much Ado Books in Alfriston, near the lighthouse, is one of the finest and I hear Cate and Nash hope to reopen on June 15. Back other independent sellers through Hive, which has the paperback.
- For those who can’t wait, it’s also on Kindle for under three quid.
- Outside the UK, get it with free delivery from Books Depository.
- More about the story at www.thelightkeeper.org.
- Please like, share or respond, I’d love to hear from you.