Saturday, 18 October 2014

St Luke: love, loss and healing


Today the Church remembers St Luke, writer of the gospel of that name, and of the book of Acts. 

Luke the Physician, healer of bodies, whose subject was Jesus the healer-Saviour.

As a boy's name I hadn't come across Luke much before 1989. That year I taught one in my class. Small, freckled, fair. Quiet, but sharp as a pin. Any teacher will tell you, a name can become loved or loathed, depending on the child. I was probably unconsciously storing them all up for when I might have my own children. There were six Daniels in my first class so that was never a front runner. Robert, Roy and Jason: absolutely no. 

But Luke, yes. Lovely name. 

Luke was one of four. Seven years of age. One day I arrived at the school to be met by a distraught Deputy Head running dangerously fast downstairs from the staff room to tell me, class teacher, that Luke's dad, a part time DJ, had driven at high speed into a tree on the way back from a local disco the night before. He was killed outright. 

Needless to say Luke didn't appear in school for many days. When he did, he was even quieter.

When I finally did have my own boys to name, he was still in my unconscious. We lost a son in stillbirth and when we had another, we gave him Luke as a middle name, after the gospel of Luke, who especially portrays the Healer-Saviour. Because grief can be healed, though it takes a long time. 

The Jesus of Luke has a special place for the sad, the bereaved, and for women. As a famous singer* once sang: 

'Magdalene is trembling,
Like washing on a line,
Trembling and gleaming.
Never before was a man so kind,
Never so redeeming.'

The gospel according to St Luke: Jesus as real, human, vulnerable, not impervious to loss.

I'd love to know what happened to Luke. I hope he grew up to know that he was loved, that this knowledge gave him strength to be everything he could be. He'd be 32 now. Maybe even with his own son. I hope that eventually healing came to lodge there, right in the centre of his life, like a middle name.

*Joni Mitchell, from the album Passion Play.

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