Ah! September 1st is here and I can begin all over again. Three times a year we are all given the chance to pray, “Listen, my son, my daughter, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart”, and to really let the words sink into our hearts and minds.
It is a new beginning with all that has gone before brought to a conclusion and all that is coming completely unknown leaving space in between for a new, fresh start without any ‘rollover’. The popularity of the word ‘rollover’ may have originated with the Lottery or some such but the effect of ‘rollover’ we have known all our lives. How often do we carry the thoughts and emotions of our present activity into the very next one – maybe an anxiety or fear even though there is no connection whatsoever between the two activities. Whatever is disturbing us just rolls over into whatever we are doing like a cloudy precipitation of thoughts and feelings bringing with it a dullness, a lack of clarity and a very heavy sense of ‘I’. “And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it”.
Sometimes we are forced through circumstances to make a fresh start, face a new opportunity, and this month is just such an occasion for me. Just a few months ago I was fit, walking and driving, planning a pilgrimage to the birthplace of St Nicholas de Cusa and today I am barely lifting one leg after the other even with the help of a zimmer frame. A hip has decided that it has long past its three score years and ten and it has no business even trying to do anything. I creak like an old floorboard and grab any rail within sight in order to stand even nowhere near upright. Replacement is not suitable for the moment and the future is unknown. I can pray with Thomas Merton, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end”. I certainly cannot roll over any of my ‘fit’ life with anything that is happening now as I have to sort out all the problems of how to physically deal with the situation. It is entirely new. But with it come new insights. I have discovered that one of the antidotes to pain is ‘beauty’. Beauty is in the eye/ear of the beholder so it is personal. Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater sung by a counter tenor with a soprano, or Kedrov’s Orthodox Our Father have been my recent ‘pain-pills’ and I am discovering more every day. Thank you Youtube.
I cannot get to Mass even just across the road or attend the next Oblate meeting but I know that in my heart I am still a Benedictine Oblate and will always be grateful to belong to such a community. It reminds me of a happening many years ago.
When our children were small and had many friends often playing in the house especially at weekends when there was no school, I always tried to spend a little time each day in prayer and meditation. This was usually best after breakfast when the children were absorbed in their latest game of cops and robbers. I would sit in the bedroom with the door ajar, not that this was necessary for me to keep an eye on them, but it was for them to keep an eye on me – which they often did. I could sense them pausing at the door to peer in or sometimes they would come up to me and stroke my face to see if I would open my eyes, which I often did as I could not resist laughing. One day they were playing good and bad bandits and the boss-child was handing out scarves so that they could tie them round their faces. Suddenly one of them burst out crying, “where is my scarf – I want a scarf – I can’t be a bandit without a scarf”. The boss-child said that there were no more scarves but that it did not matter, “just sit down and shut your eyes and you can be a bandit meditating”. All was quiet.
What good advice to all of us Oblates on zimmers, crutches, in hospital, nursing broken limbs, on dialysis, far away from our community or whatever. Oblation is of the heart and mind, we do not need a scarf.
Oblate of Ealing