Letters - 8 February 2019

From abiding hope to peace in Europe

Abiding hope

When challenged by the question ‘What is your hope?’ Friends naturally incline to answer in terms of bringing hope to others – by working to create a fairer, more peaceful world, and comforting and caring for people in need and distress. This is, of course, our testimony. Our lives should reveal the patterns and examples of the nature of our religious experience.

But there is another approach, which early Friends certainly did not ignore. What is the nature of ‘hope’ as applied directly to us, whether as individuals or as a religious community?

What have we found that is special and transformative? Who or what ‘speaks to our condition’, nourishes and sustains us?

Friends claim to be rooted in worship, so what is the nature of what we encounter in our worship, whether individually or as a group, and do we cultivate a continuing relationship with it in our daily lives – this underlying sense of Presence, as Thomas Kelly describes it in A Testament of Devotion?

And do we trust – and pray – that this same Presence will comfort and sustain us when life becomes problematic, or even more challengingly, if like early Friends or Dietrich Bonhoeffer in more recent times, we were locked away between four walls facing severe cruelty and death?

‘O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come’ surely retains some meaning for us! Was it not a sense of this abiding hope that sustained Friends in their service and witness over the years?

Peter D Leeming

Assisted dying

Like Valerie Coast (18 January) I support assisted dying, with appropriate safeguards. However, there is one simple thing we can do to help to ensure that we are not one of those rushed to A&E when we would prefer to die peacefully at home. My GP has given me a yellow form, issued by the local NHS, on the subjects of ‘Allow a Natural Death (AND)’ and ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR)’.

As Joan Bakewell’s recent BBC Radio Four series, We Need to Talk About Death, showed, without such a document paramedics have to attempt resuscitation and other costly and invasive treatments.

I carry one copy of this form in my handbag and another is stuck to my fridge. I hope this will mean that I am not one of those whose life is needlessly and futilely prolonged in hospital.

I am also impressed that some in the medical profession now accept that death can be ‘natural’, rather than seen as some sort of failure on their part.

Mary Brown

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.