Monday, 4 February 2013

King Richard III and you

The discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a car park in my home city of Leicester has made the news today. The historians were apparently acting on a hunch!
The identification of the remains involved a lot of investigation and crucially included DNA matching with DNA from Richard's sister. The amazing thing about this story is the scientific identification that can be so accurate after so long. The blue print of our lives is unique and yet it overlaps with so many others. The freedom we have to be ourselves is built upon a communal foundation written into the DNA of our lives.
In a culture that glorifies independent and solo heroes it is easy to overlook the interdepenedence that is built into our genes and our stories. When the individual dimension is over-stressed the sense of community is diminished and governments need to work harder at social cohesion and try to invent a "big society" where one no longer exists.
The truth is that DNA means that we are all spiral bound not only individually but also as a community. Our lives spiral through community to the point that we cannot say clearly where we end and another person begins. That is why, in the book of Genesis, Cain asks the question "am I my brothers keeper" in an attempt to cover up his brother's murder. Cain's punishment was to wander as a marked man and never enjoy community or prosperity in God's presence.

The DNA that binds us together is an image of the way that God's life weaves through our own making sense of each person's story and giving meaning to the shared journey we are making together. To plough our own furrow at the expense of others, to refuse to get engaged in the common good or to reach out in compassion is to share the mark of Cain.  To realise that we are all interconnected in God's love is to recognise that we are not so different from the bones of Richard dug up today in Leicester. At least that is my hunch!