NOBODY knows why Elvis threw it all away
Nobody knows what Ruby had to hide
Nobody knows why some of us get broken hearts
And some of us find a world that’s clear and bright...
No use in asking, the answer is nobody knows (Paul Brady, 1991)
I was talking about not knowing to a friend yesterday.
Why do some of us get cancer young, while others seem to have fairly easy lives?
Paul Brady is right, we don’t know.
In many ways, life is a mystery from start to finish.
As I write, and even when you read this, we are also still living with the unknown outcome of Brexit.
Again, ‘no use in asking, the answer is nobody knows’.
The same is true of the outcome of two of my favourite, unfinished, Netflix programmes, The Good Place and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Will they get to the good place in the end?
Will Rebecca find happiness with a loving partner? (Don’t tell me - I’m only on Series 2. Oh, that’s okay, you don’t know either!)
It is painful to live with the unknown, especially when it concerns things we care deeply about: life, love, peace, happiness.
Is there anything we can do while we live with this?
The answer is always: love one another, but of course this also raises more questions.
And then there’s Tina Turner asking, ‘What’s love got to do with it?’
Sometimes if we can’t manage love, there are things we can do that are at least a step in that direction.
So, when we can’t love one another, we can at least try to be kind.
Or if we can’t be faithful to one another, we can at least try to be honest about our unfaithfulness. That sort of thing. Yes, it does sound a bit like Love, Actually.
But sometimes ‘Christmassy’ things are true.
Because of this, I hope that we won’t resist or ignore the Christmas magic which lights up our lives at this time of year.
I know that it is mainly a Christian festival and that Manchester is a city of many faiths, both religious and secular.
But, as winter settles in around us, it is special to be surrounded by lights, colours, music and people buying gifts for other people.
It’s as if the season itself speaks to us, saying: Winter can be as beautiful as summer, people are often kind and honest, the darkness and cold can be cosy and restful.
And, if we listen, we may hear angels singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace and goodwill to all’.
As Paul Brady might have sung, ‘Who can see heaven, and not want to stay?’
● A floodlit Manchester Cathedral