Remembering the Volcanic eruption during Holy Week!
This paper hits the street today, Holy Thursday, the last working day of the week. Tomorrow is ‘Good Friday’ the day on which Jesus was crucified and buried. I am not sure if any of this has any real meaning for us today. Some of us consider it a rite which we who describe ourselves as Christians have to partake. So, for many Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the only days we set foot in a church, except for funerals and weddings. The occasional reminder of a church service is normally drowned out by the booming sounds heralding us to another beach picnic or boat ride. At one time we used to be warned not to go sea bathing on Good Friday. Mackerel, Smoked herring, and hot cross buns were the delicacies for the occasion. Good Friday is no longer that soulful day on which calypsos should not be played. It was really religion clothed in a cultural sack.
Paul Johnson in his book, Jesus: A Biography from a Believer, wrote about the life of Jesus. He “lived in a cruel, unthinking world, and his life and death formed an eloquent protest against it. He offered an alternative: not an outward life of revolution and reform but an inner life of humility and love, of generosity and mercy, of forgiveness and hope. We live in a cruel world, too, one just as unthinking, though teeming with knowledge, universities, communications, expertise . . . if Jesus were to appear again today, we can be sure not only that he would find countless followers but equally that he would be persecuted and killed.”
What is new? What has our knowledge, expertise, communications, and universities brought to the table. Quite often someone appears out of the blue proclaiming to preach the word of the gospel and captivating the attention of his/her congregation, getting them to act outside their behavioural norms.
They consider themselves helpless as they encounter our ‘cruel world’ and simply await a deliverer to rid them of the evils. Politicians too, get into the act and claim to be sent by God as their deliverers. Does the life of Jesus have any meaning for us, in so far as we have an understanding of what his life was about? Too often those who seem to have gone against the teachings of Jesus are the ones who appear to be succeeding. How do we respond to this? What do those who appear to be mediating in this process have to say? Is it that they fear those wielding power on the ground? There are many questions we should be asking those who preach their weekly sermons/messages to us. Are we given an opportunity to ask those questions?
Holy Week 2022 comes with a difference! A year ago, many persons, particularly from what we labelled the Red Zone would have found themselves sheltering in so-called safe zones from the blasts of the volcano that vomited up ash, lava and whatever else it had in its bowels. Many of us who were further away would remember the mushroom clouds that hung over us before belching out the ash which got into our homes, creating difficulties for us. Even Barbados got a taste but would have benefited from the richness it brought to their soil. The volcano, after creating weeks of panic has gone to rest but in SVG we are still trying to cope with the fallout, with damage to homes, agriculture, and infrastructure. Our people in the Diaspora and the global community had responded positively to our pleas for help in addressing the disruptions. But life has to go on and the people have to become involved in the movement forward. They have skills which could be utilised in the rebuilding. Rebuilding is most importantly about lifting people, and giving them the confidence, skills, and power to move on and take control. Disasters like a volcanic eruption, also create opportunities. We have to take advantage of them and move on!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian