I’ve been thinking about my great grandfather Arthur Smith a lot recently. He was military man, whose career straddled the First World War, service for the Coldstream Guards in London (when half of his desk was in St Martin’s parish), stints in Egypt, Persia and Iraq during the Second World War and finally a period in India from 1945-7. He was also a devout Christian.
With the anniversary of Partition and the birth of Pakistan this summer, I’ve been wondering what my great grandfather would say if I could ask him about his time in India during this time of violence, terrible atrocities on all sides and a refugee crisis involving millions of people? Did he believe at the time that all had been done with the best of intentions? Or were there times when he had doubts? Above all, I’d like to ask him if he ever felt he was losing his faith, in the capacity for good in human beings or even in the presence of God?
From what I know of him, I think his responses would have been robust. I think he would have also pointed to the need to focus on that which we can change ourselves and acknowledge that there are some things we have to leave to God.
As we face new and persistent horrors every day in our world, this is what I’m trying to cling on to.