Hope, Faith and holding a Vision - by SC Skillman

Recently I've been thinking about the subject of  'hope against hope', in view of recent events in this world. Conflict is an inevitable part of human life, as writers know only too well. There is no story without conflict: and it does seem that violence is written into the DNA of the human race. We live in a world where many different people hold profoundly different opinions and ideologies, and where we are called upon to find some way of handling our emotions, as we progress through life. And in many cases, that becomes an impossible task; and we see violence breaking out. Jesus himself was only too well aware of this, and conscious of it all around him, in the political situation he broke into. He gave us a vision, of a different way of being: yet he also asked us to equip ourselves in a spiritual battleground.

We cannot fail to recognise that this world is a battle between forces of good and evil. In fact, I consider that the current situation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was allowed to come about because of the failure of many politicians to take evil seriously, and act upon that with courage and vision.  As St Paul said in Ephesians 6:12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms".

The 'journey of a hero' classic story structure is something that we respond to on an archetypal level. It teaches us that the main protagonist of a story may only overcome that conflict through his/her own personal resources and character, through inspiring loyalty in others, in gathering allies and through, in many cases, holding 'hope against hope'. There is always the black moment, when all seems lost: and over this, in totally unexpected ways, the hero must triumph. I love those words in the book of Daniel:

 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it.... But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I am fascinated by the battle between good and evil, and it is a strong theme in my writing. My novel A Passionate Spirit tells the story of a young woman who defies a sinister spiritual healer. In this story, I explore the idea of charm and charisma used to mask malevolent spiritual power. As it happens, the story also deals with the subject of healing.

Among those who inspired me during my research for this novel, I may number the Rev Russ Parker, prolific writer and poet, who has worked in such areas as international listening and reconciliation, and healing wounded histories, both of individuals and communities.  I first heard him speak at a local Warwickshire retreat centre several years ago and he made a strong impact on me then. Since then I've heard him speak a number of times, attended a weekend retreat led by him, and read several of his books. Foremost among those which most impressed me are:  Healing Dreams, Requiem Healing, Healing Death's Wounds, and Wild Spirit of the Living God.

Of all Russ's work, I feel the most relevant here is his work on healing wounded group histories, and that seems to apply to the current crisis in Europe.  So let us hold onto our vision of a different way of being, continue praying for all those who have the power to change this situation, and hope against hope that peace with justice will ultimately prevail. 

SC Skillman is the author of psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. Her two published novels are Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit. She has also written a short self-help writers' guide, Perilous Path. Her latest book Paranormal Warwickshire was published by Amberley in November 2020 and the same publisher will release her next book, Illustrated Tales of Warwickshire on 15th April 2022. She is currently working on the second novel in a new mystery series, Standing Ovation. The first in the series, Director's Cut, is out with publishers and agents. She also blogs weekly at www.scskillman.com on books, art, history, faith, spirituality and people and places of inspiration.

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