Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day already

Christmas Day in all its manifestations was for me a non-event, just a matter of lying there and enduring, letting my body fight the battle against the virus, rather than my ego. I just had to accept that if I'm too sick to walk without stumbling, with my voice reduced to a feeble croak, there was nothing to do but accept the situation and trust the St John's community to deal with a 'no-priest' crisis on one of the year's holiest nights and days. Too late to call upon clerical reserves - what reserves? We're in the middle of 'down-sizing'. It will only get worse. Only churches which understand the priestly nature of their faith-community - being a people who hold themselves before God in prayer for and with others. They just know what to do at the right time. So, I'm confident the remaining services all went off well, and look forward to the detailed reports. I'm reminded of the RC liturgical folk hymn of the '70s which starts

'In this sacred mystery, we praise the Lord of history
in the Eucharistic feast, we all are priests'

Being too woozy of brain to read the Divine Offices of the day since Tuesday (a feast of lovely poetic texts at this time of year), I found that not too many other words of prayer came to mind as a substitute. But, I had plenty of silence and solitude in my quarantine, and the consolation of wan sunlight bathing the peaceful Square outside with bright patches and long tree trunk shadows. All I could do was continue to entrust myself to the Divine Life at work as ever and be patient.

Just writing this reminds me of Celandine, my lovely godmother, whose anniversary falls just now. One of the treasures she shared with me in her last year was the poem which St Teresa of Avila had inscribed in her breviary. Celandine had found it on a bookmark and treasured these words, occasionally writing them on the back of a Christmas card to encourage me when she sensed from my Christmas missive that I was finding things a bit tough. Longfellow's translation from the Spanish runs

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

It doesn't take much to point people back to God. It's amazing how few get around to it, even those with faith. I was most privileged to have her to remember, on this day when we say 'heaven and earth are one in rejoicing'.

Enough. Time to rest.

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