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Thought for the Day - 09/01/2014 - Rev Joel Edwards

Thought for the Day

I have a friend who hates January. In her view, it’s bleak unpredictability and teatime twilight seeps into the soul, destroying whatever is left of the spirit of Christmas.

But there will be many people who hate January for another reason.

Last Monday, the first working day of the New Year, was “Divorce Day” - so called, because it produces a surge of inquiries about divorce. In January our legal system prepares to catch the first wave of people emerging from the Christmas celebrations, seeking freedom from the person they once loved.

In England and Wales 120,000 couples separate every year.

In order to avoid the acrimony of disputes over property, material goods and access to children, the government has provided £25 million for mediation. The average cost of mediation is £500; the average costs of cases contested in the courts is £4,000.

But in a recent survey, only half of those eligible would opt for an out of court settlement.

Sadly, in the madness of love gone wrong, logic goes out the window. And I imagine that in many cases the pain of betrayal is still far too fresh when the initial angry enquiry is made. When our pain has become our best ally, no one wants it diminished by discussions.

Reasoning becomes unreasonable when your world has been shattered.

And from time to time worlds do shatter.
So I’m drawn to the Old Testament story of mediation which took place between two family members. Admittedly, not husband and wife, but between Abram and his nephew, Lot.

When a vicious argument about property erupted, it was clear that their vast homestead had become too small. No easy ending here: there would be a parting of ways. Abram chose mediation. “Let’s not argue,” he said, “we’re close relatives. If you go west, I’ll go east.”

Jewish history vindicated Abram’s attitude: he became even wealthier and is known as the spiritual Father of many nations.

Mediation is really challenging: for it asks, not who’s to blame, but what is to be done.

For those who are able to put the past in perspective, mediation is a demanding appeal for progress - not just for the people concerned, but also for everyone else involved.

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3 minutes