Shakespeare had it as the Wheel of Fortune, a tragic cycle that was destined to fulfil its revolution until the world was right again.
Something is now rotten in the world. Can’t you smell it?
Perhaps our senses modify themselves when the odour gets too strong. Our eyes adjust to the new darkness and block out anything that may trouble the seer. Our ears fall deaf to the mounting clamour of the wave that is gathering. If we do not smell, if we do not see, and if we do not hear, perhaps it will be okay; the dark is not coming for us today.
This morning’s reading was taking in an article concerning a warning for Jews in some parts of Germany not to wear skullcaps. This could leave them open to attacks. Anti-semitic offences are on the rise and are accompanied by attacks against foreigners. In Britain, the rise in hate related offences against people of different faiths, races, or gender orientation, have similarly risen since that fateful day that will ever be known as Brexit. The so called ‘voice of the people’ is beginning to mount and it is not a melifluous one.
When the tsunami of 2004 struck on Boxing Day, few people suspected such a natural catastrophe could happen. They had happened before, they happened all the time, they happened in that part of the world because of the meeting of tectonic plates and undersea eruptions. Still, nobody expected it to happen. The sun was out, Christ was on high, rich people were enjoying their holidays. To cap it all, the sea wasn’t just unusually calm, it was receding.
As the ocean was falling further and further back, the world beneath it was being unveiled. Without the need for snorkels or sub-aqua apparatus, the more adventurous tourists could dip their toes in a once in a lifetime experience; they could walk where things had previously only swum. And all of this as a post-festive treat.
Far be it for anyone to kill the joy of the moment, far be it for any Jermiah to sound a warning, and far be it for any child to cry wolf. Fortunately, the wolves did not come, but the waves did.
There was a story of one young boy who had strangely paid attention during a Geography lesson. Instead of sleeping or talking, he had listened to his teacher and digested the lesson on the movement of the earth’s plates. The causes, the symptoms, and the effects had all registered with this boy and, even though he would never need them beyond his GCSE examination, he remembered it all.
The Christmas holidays had arrived and he was lucky that his parents were wealthy enough for the family to take a luxury break in an exotic country: blue skies, palm trees and even blue seas. Christmas day had come and gone, so now only fun was to be had.
It could have been the calm, the change in the air-pressure, or the swooping lines of birds flying inland. Something, he thought, was not right.
He stood on the coastal road next to his family and watched the unbelievable become real. The sea was being sucked out of the bay and a number of delighted tourists were being sucked into the spaces it had left. For a moment, this appeared to be fun. Great fish were stranded and flapping in the morning sun. What treasures would the ocean unfold? What a tale he could tell his classmates.
Whatever made him remember the lesson on tectonic plates when he was so far from school remains a mystery. His father and mother had probably done the same lesson too and had forgotten it. Its importance not stretching beyond the final assessment. They could have followed the others into the new world, but he hesitated.
“Run,” he muttered. “Run,” he screamed.
He a may have had to repeat it. He may have had to pull at them. He may have had to remind them of what they had learnt at school.
Finally, they acted. The words of their child reminded them of the truths of the world. They fled and some others fled with them. They ran and climbed, strained to reach higher ground, and heard the roar of history raging up behind them.
Far be it for this writer to become another Jeremiah, but there is a rumbling and it is getting louder.
If we could travel in time, see the signs, read the subtext, then we could avoid the tragic conclusion that is the wheel of fortune.
Wake up, Donnie. Wake up!