John Newton: Amazing Grace, the Power To Change
John Newton (1725-1807) was an English Anglican cleric, a captain of slave ships who later became an abolitionist and wrote the iconic hymn, Amazing Grace.*
Ann: Reverend Newton?
Reverend Newton: Ann, please. I was hardly deserving of the title given the utter darkness that surrounded me for so much of my life. I was, as you know, a slave trader finally turned abolitionist so who better to talk about change.
I was no saint. I simply made an about face in my life because of my experiences over time of what we used to call conversion. I looked into the eyes of my fellow human beings, one after the other, beings I thought were mere animals useful to an enlightened society for labour and trade and, with God’s grace, finally saw myself for the sinner I was. It did not happen quickly, but a radical shift took place in my understanding.
Your great president Abraham Lincoln has come here recently to say that we are all the same. (See previous post.) Many of us pay lip service to that concept but might be horrified to see it played out in real life. But if we see this holy truth in the eyes of another, a person no different in the quality of his soul from yourself, the enormity of the sin of pride comes over us, and inspiration never ending pushes us on to right as much of this wrong as possible.
What does this have to do with the present day and the polarization in your society that once again pits black against white? It is apropos because its roots are the same, the objectification of the other.
Ignorance and careless bloodshed are only excusable to us when the object is “other”. Once said object becomes personified, identifiable in almost all respects with us as observer, then real change can take place.
Yes, some may cavil and say that there are exceptions, that the general rule of bestiality still holds true for the "real" other, but once the door has been cracked, the room housed in the soul of the observer is no longer composed of unrelieved darkness. Think, please, but for a moment of what a crack of light does to a blackened room. There is immense change, and, even though much remains in shadow, irreversible change has taken place.
So whether you are the observer, the perpetrator, the victim, or the sympathizer, the course of your life will be changed if the door to your soul can be opened even a tiny crack. Ask the angles to show you where your dark fortress is vulnerable. Just a shadow of weakness along the perimeter is all it takes for a tiny pinpoint of light to show you what you need to see, and soon enough that room will radiate with heavenly host.
Once your vision is restored, the brilliance of heavenly joy will propel you into action. Perhaps you may change the course of your life in such a way that is hardly perceptible to the outsider but profound nevertheless. Perhaps your about turn will be out front for everyone to see. Either way, you have begun the journey home.
If your goal is the awakening in others to the light that has been shown to you, find the tiny crack, the door with air slipping in under the sill. Offer a tiny glimpse into a world that has been closed off and see what happens.
It is of course possible that such tiny openings will be plugged up so as to resist further forays of inspiration, but there is always a chance that the light coming through that crack will illumine the precious thread of creation that connects us all.
It is never too late to change.
July 25, 2021
*Two of my favorite versions of Amazing Grace are from Randy Travis. The first is in the heyday of his career when he was healthy and strong. The second is from his induction ceremony into The Country Music Hall of Fame three years after a massive stroke took his speech and his ability to walk.
Randy Travis - Amazing Grace (Official Music Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKir-2TiXTI
Randy Travis Sings at Hall of Fame Induction https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/randy-travis-stuns-at-hall-of-fame-with-first-performance-since-stroke-105015/
All blog entries are works of the imagination and are for spiritual and entertainment purposes only.