It is an old theme- what makes for a good life? What motivates, inspires? For where your treasure is- there is your heart also (Matt 6:21.)
Over the last few days a series of cruise liners have been into the Ocean Terminal in Greenock. I am never sure why they come in here- presumably to pick up fuel, stores and possibly passengers. Last week the Queen Mary came along the Clyde– the fastest and most luxurious liner on the planet.
Greenock- a town splintered by the effect of economic change- the death of industry, the end of empire, famous now for broken people who use drugs and alcohol to make sense of life.
What do the tourists think of us all? There seems to be no shortage of people willing to pay large sums of money to make their fake voyages with everything thrown in. Voyages that are not journeys, but capsules of disconnection that arrive nowhere.
But I should not cast stones- I live in a glass house after all.
Changes are afoot. Politically, economically, environmentally. History tells us that at times of economic downturn some people prosper. They take cruises. Other people are broken. They become the scapegoats.
History also warns us of the rise of hate politics – the lurch to the right, and the polarising embattlement of the left. In England we already see the rise of the UK Independence Party– whose politics seem to have been created by a tabloid reading taxi driver. It is all the fault of the immigrants, the benefits scroungers, the gay marriages- and those bloody Europeans of course.
Except it is not. It is all our fault- and what we (and our children) become will be determined by the choices we make. Do we scrabble for the kind of me-first security of the rich on a sinking ship?
Or do we really seek to live differently? This is really nothing to do with whether we take cruises or not, but rather whether the journeys we make are more than just empty circles back to ourselves.
I pray for journeys that seek connection, openness, understanding. Journeys that are not about me as much as they are about you. Journeys that are not celebrations of what I have, what I can afford, but rather become something called pilgrimage.
And lest I continue to sound too earnest, too smug- we all have the same challenges. Stuff always gets in the way…