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A Grief Observed

Li Bai, having been banished from the Chinese capital in the 8th century, took up his pen and wrote:LiBai

Homeless, exiled, I climb Sin-Ping tower.
It is late on in the dying year,
The sun is declining in the sky
And the dark river runs gloomy and slow.

A cloud moves across the forests on the mountain;
Wild geese fly off down the river.
Up here I can see for ten thousand miles,
But I do not see the end of my sorrows.

It’s a brilliant work, dwelling on the sadness that he feels and how it pervades all his sense, before making its unexpected turn in the final line and twisting the knife in the reader’s heart. To be forever torn away from your home is a profound devastation.

As Christians, we too are away from our home, but our future is far more hopeful. Starting next week, we’re going to be digging deep into the radical alternative that the gospel provides - and how far from despair it takes us!

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