Wednesday. Today. ‘Hottest day of the year!’ the papers screamed in advance. Some went even further. ‘Wednesday will be the hottest day ever!’ Many newspapers offered advice on how to ‘survive’ and how to ‘stay alive’.
And today? It’s about 19C (65F) in my garden. It’s cold, cloudy. And raining.
So what’s my point? Well, weather forecasting is a lot like politics, and a lot like a spiritual path. If we allow others to work us up into a frenzy (either of despair or expectation), and it doesn’t work out, what then?
The funny thing is that we can prove how dodgy politicians and weather forecasting can be. Time and again something is promised, only to be false. Maybe it was said in good faith, maybe it wasn’t. There are many reasons why people might want to frighten us with horror stories about upcoming storms, heatwaves, financial crashes or recoveries etc. Firstly it takes our mind off things. It’s a form of misdirection. And we should be wary of it, and looking out for the real stuff demanding our attention, but unfortunately very few people ever do.
It’s much the same thing with spirituality. Religious leaders obsessing about sin, about angels dancing on a pin head and all that, while the real problems are being ignored. As a spiritual seeker, no matter what our path happens to be, we have to keep looking and stop listening to these self promoting ‘leaders.’ Spiritual leadership only works by example, so should politics. Millionaires who say that the poor don’t know how to cook their porridge while they themselves employ a small army of domestic staff. High ranking clergy and preachers who preach about sin while their own life would not stand much scrutiny. We cannot – we should not – blindly follow people who insist that we do as they say, and not as they do.
Yet, this does not mean I think all leaders, religious and otherwise, should be squeaky clean. Life is life, and people do all sorts of things as they go along. It’s the pretence that gets to me though. Pretending to be upstanding, moral and all the rest of it when in fact one’s private life is a mess, is wrong. It might be better to be honest as say, ‘Look, I know what a mess I’ve made of my own life, but this is how I know XYZ.’ I may not agree, but I would then respect where that person is coming from.
The same goes for weather forecasting really. When weather forecasters get it spectacularly wrong (and of course they do – it’s not a fine science by any means) – some of you may remember the Great Storm of 1987 when we were told not to worry, it would just be a bit breezy.
The problem is not with those who get it wrong, whether it is deliberate or accidental. It is with us, for repeatedly listening and believing.
And that is an important part of the spiritual path. We have to stop putting our trust in people who should not be trusted so implicitly. They don’t always know. So we should not always believe.
That said, this week, I did believe it would be hot today. Well, more fool me. My line of washing is soaking wet now…