Sometimes ‘On earth as it is in Heaven.’ feels a bloody long way off.
When I was at Heythrop a dear lady friend asked if I had read Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair ~ it apparently mentioned my town. I swiftly brought myself a copy and never read it, I couldn’t for some reason begin it. Study pressure maybe. I then picked it up a few weeks back as I grew tired of falling short of my courses suggested reading list, I needed to enjoy reading again.
After the first few chapters I couldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t put it down. Then frustratingly one night I went to read the next chapter and I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was gone ~ not meant to be. I looked everywhere, under the car seats, down the back of the bed, through all the book shelves, just in case maybe in my ‘on-automatic-pilot’ I put it back amongst all the many other books awaiting reading. In the end I gave up. I resented buying another copy, so didn’t. It just wasn’t meant to be ~ so I returned to another partially read book, which I knew hadn’t fully penetrated the first time around.
However a few days ago I deep cleaned my room. I pulled the bed right out as deep as itself again, and there awaiting me was the elusive unread novel. I must have fallen asleep with it in my bed, it must have fallen down the back, and when I pulled the bed out to look for it on the previous occasion, it must have got caught under the base, and been pulled deeper still along-under the bed, only to be found weeks later.
The days have been too taken up lately by hospitals and sadnesses, and distractions like my course, which give me the impression that I am moving forwards, when actually they are just passing time. However today for the first time in an age, I had a much-needed day, where time for once felt timeless again. I spent it in my garden ~ just me ~ no other human being ~ no other agenda ~ just me. I read all day long.
And I read and I read and I read.
What a book.
By the time I had got to the end of it, the mood I was left with infiltrated my own mood, as if they were strangely and intolerably glued together. The melancholy sat like mercury in my blood for the rest of the day and evening, and I thought about the passing of time.
There is a paragraph in Greene’s novel which makes reference to St Augustine on the passing of time
‘St Augustine asked where time came from. He said it came out of the future which didn’t exist yet, into the present that had no duration, and went into the past which had ceased to exist. I don’t know that we can understand time any better than a child.’
The courageous young man Stephen Sutton who recently moved the world with his astounding and beautiful outlook in the face of such a momentous journey says this about time
Stephen raised millions for cancer research ~ he died just last week, and appears to have transcended all time ~ unlike the sadness below;
Devastatingly within 6 weeks of each other, shockingly two young 40 something year-old mothers took their own lives in this little town. The shock waves filtered through the social network system, not in any undignified or exposing way, but in absolute grief that within a small community, such brokenness had not been found by the love that could bring salvation, that death alone appeared to bring these women.
Theres something so heartbreakingly sad about man needing to play a hand in controlling ‘time’. It’s as if the very thing that we insist on measuring, in turn measures us. I say let go of time. ~ Maybe they thought they were.
Mass has been offered up for these mothers in our little church, by a kindly parishioner who knew them both. I pray that these women might take with them, to God, all the pain from all the people that ever think death might be a less painful option than life ~ including my own pain. I don’t think what they did was selfish, as so many people think of suicide victims, for how does that equate. I feel the deepest sadness for humanity, failing in its very eschatological purpose of loving where love was needed ~ too late.
And still after such devastation, we can keep on turning towards the Love ~ forever we must.
The one quote of St Augustine’s that for whatever reason planted itself in my head years earlier, and won’t leave is ~ ‘I have learned to love you too late, beauty at once so ancient and so new’ ~ I can not decide where there is more hope ~ too late carries something of hopelessness ~ whilst to have never loved is still, maybe, to be so full of hope. Then I think to have loved too late, is to have hope momentarily fulfilling itself ~ and that never to have loved, is not to know of hope’s anchoring and aspiring extents.
In Orhan Pamuk’s The museum of Innocence it states ‘If we can learn to stop thinking of our lives as a line corresponding to Aristotle’s time, treasuring our time instead for its deeper moments, each in turn, then waiting no longer seems such a strange and laughable obsession’
Today in the garden, my innocent pure little 12 week old gentle lamb puppy, who plays, and cuddles, and loves unconditionally, ran up the path with a big young thrush in her mouth. She is quiet, and as quick as lightning. She had killed it in her instinct, in her game, in her innocence. And in my tummy I wanted to retch ~ and all I could do was hold it up in protection ~ and cry and cry and cry for its new life taken so prematurely ~ poor darling ~ and for my puppies pureness somehow tarnished. After holding its softest body up in the air for what felt like an age of not knowing quite how else to protect it, I laid the dead thrush high up in the greenery on the ancient wall and in sadness wept to God, who despite the horror which His creatures continually do, keeps on loving us anyway. And then I felt angry with Him, for He made His creatures this way. And then I thought how noble humans could be, the ones who could never hurt a soul. And then I remembered how we hurt others so easily with our ways all the while.
All we can do is keep on turning towards the Love.
Tonight in the sanctuary whilst reflecting, I had a vision of time in layers rather than linear, happy layers, sad layers, expectant layers, fruitful layers, hopeful and hopeless layers ~ layer upon layer upon layer ~ interleaved ~ and then like a dandelion seed-head I momentarily blew it all right away. All death ~ all life ~ all Heaven and all hell ~ all beginnings and all endings ~ all matter and all spirit ~ And for a split second ~ nothing was left ~ but Love.