Week 1: Pray

February 28, 2017 in Lent 2017: Week 1

Broadcasting, which has been my job of work in a radio station for the past thirty years, understands itself, almost literally, as a form of sowing. In the last little while, however, there’s been a cost-benefit fashion for a more planned and productive ‘narrowcasting’, or for what media human resources now call niche programming. The parable of the sower and the seed is, it transpires, a very bad business model. These days we want absolutely everything we transmit to be thought through, to be targeted, to hit home, to boost a bumper harvest, to capitalise its full potential. But that has nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven. That is about the economics of efficiency and the measurable return on specific insemination.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be grateful for everything, even my regrets. I think I may have imagined this was a form of grace, of tolerant inclusiveness, but I wonder now whether it wasn’t a possessive and obsessive stratagem. Wherever my seed has fallen, I want a dividend on my investment. I want a hundredfold from my failure, from my tedium, from my wastefulness, from my inertia and sterility, from the thorns and the stones, as much as from the good ground that astonished me, here and there, now and again, once in a while, by its unforeseen exfoliation. I want everything that is lost and lamented in my life, the many diaries without a single entry, the quarantine of my fourth sorrowful decade in corridors and closed wards, when I would learn for the first time of Chernobyl and Lockerbie and the fall of the Berlin Wall only years after they had faded from the front page of the tabloids, to condense into meaning; and, above all else and before all else, to mean me.