In 1974 Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (accompanied by his wife Queen Elizabeth) visited Vanuatu a small archipelago in the Pacific Islands. Newspaper headlines this week report that since his visit forty years ago many of the people of Vanuatu have given Prince Philip the status of a God and now await his divine return.
Now there’s a story I can’t let pass without a comment. To be honest, I have never thought of the duke as divine. At times I have appreciated his border-line sense of humour and admired his commitment to the ship through almost 70 years of thick and thin, but divine? Maybe not.
Humans are designed to live with one focus, and only one focus. Put simply, we are made for God, and our happiness is found when we live every moment conscience of this reality. This does not mean that other things are not important, but rather that only one thing is important enough to take the place designed for the ONE.
Unfortunately humans allow many things to slip into the space built into us for the one thing. I try to juggle work, family, friends, leisure seeing all these things as important – but inevitably one of these things slips into number one place in any moment. How many of our problems arise when we stay focussed on work while at home, or on work while at leisure?
If we do not intentionally and deliberately choose ONE thing to be at the centre of our lives, and regularly remind ourselves of this priority, other things will take this one place for a minute or a month and life will become an exhausting burden.
I was reading this earlier in the week:
“For by the very fact that a human person lives five minutes, they affirm the existence of a “something” which deep down makes living those five minutes worthwhile. In other words, if God is not the reference for his whole life, excluding nothing, some other specific thing will occupy God’s place because it is a place that will never be empty in the human heart.” Luigi Giussani, Why the Church, p.36
I’m thinking of an image: a bike wheel that is well designed has a central hub, with spokes of the same length attached to a rim and tyre. Such a precisely designed wheel will work well. Until the wheels have a central hub the bike is not able to make any progress.
Perhaps the Vanuatu situation highlights the desperate need that healthy people have for a centre for their lives. While I might laugh at the idea of Prince Philip as a God, I need to make sure that I am not making the same mistake by elevating the people, possessions and projects of my life to the central place in my own life.
If you are not convinced of this, try living for a few days with a vibrant awareness that you are created by God and for God, and with God as the loving and life-giving centre of your life. I guarantee that you will be delighted at the positive difference you notice in your life.