Strange to think that, though an infinite qualitative difference and separation lies between Creator and Creation, as between artist and art, yet God’s presence runs through creation, as radio waves do a hand or a head. Which means that the turmoil and terror, the devastation and cataclysm of peoples and nations, of cities and homes, and the wrenching and twisting of the tortured creation in Jesus’ apocalyptic speech shudders through the being of God. This shuddering is the eternal presence of the Cross that unites heaven and earth, the eternally burning bridge by which salvation is wrought. It is the nature of Love to bear the pain that leads to healing and balm.
Which is what is going on in the Anglo-Saxon understanding of illness and disease. We may try and smugly say they had no other choice but to find an explanation to help them accept suffering and make sense of a God of love, but we have medicine and opiates now, so we can, generally, either heal the disease or ease the pain; we don’t need those sorts of explanations any more. Yet look beyond, and we will see the penetrating logic of their understanding – the whole of creation is one. Cuthbert, in his pathetic weakness, is still imbued with the Spirit of wholeness, health, and healing. Jesus’s words were just as true for Cuthbert as for us, ‘Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.’