I don’t know if I have any wisdom, pearly or otherwise, to offer you. I am still in slow recovery from my encounter with a Frenchman’s Audi on June 13th. I have a shattered talus bone (that’s the one between your tibia or leg bone and the heel bone) not a bone you want to break. I face six to eight months attending CUH and possible further surgery and I have only know begining to put weight on the foot. I have pictures up on Facebook if anyone is interested! I was looking forward to the challenge of Ards after UCC but God seems to want to pin me hear in Cork for a while. I have certainly felt confined. Whatever plans we may make God has His own and they take priority. It is amazing that in what amounted to a head-on collision mine was the only injury. I could’ve been more seriously injured or even dead but someone was praying for me. Thank God Ford built that car.
On that day I got a lesson in the goodness of others. I had a nurse and at least two doctors with me before the emergency services showed up. They were very kind to me. Looking back I can see their professionalism, charity and their generosity to me. Thank God for Nitrous Oxide and morphine too! The guardian and community here have been a great support to me and very patient and kind. They have truly mothered me.
I am also conscious of all those friars who have suffered far more than me. At least I have the hope of a total recovery. Thinking of my brothers I realised how many are sick or invalided in some way and could teach me much about the meaning and value of suffering.
I have learned that if you’re going to break a bone break the weaker one but if you break the stronger bone then you will have to strengthen the weaker. So for me while I have lost my ministry I have time to work on my prayer. I have for a long time, on and off, used a single volume english translation of the 1962 breviary just for the psalms. I use it as a devotional and a supplement to the breviary after all what else have I to do? It’s not easy to pray but I have the time, especially at night since my sleep patterns are shot to hell since the crash. The psalms are like a conversation between God and His people. All human joys and sorrows are in there. After all weren’t they the prayers Jesus Himself used day in, day out. Without an interior life our life is not lived. If Christ is not at the centre of our life we are not Christians let alone Franciscans. As getting to the choir has beyond my reach until now - steps were not an option - I only see the Lord in the Eucharist at Mass. I offer Mass in my room on a folding table - such a come down from the Honan! That daily visit from the Lord means a lot to me. I ask Him to fix my ankle so I can get back to work. I ask that His will be done. After all the Father’s will was all He cared about - ought not the same be true for me?
I had boxed most of my books before the crash. To be honest I did that soon after I was given the news of my move to Ards. Now that I have time to read it is really hard to get at my books - God has a sense of humour and it has both an edge and a point to it.
Not that I spend all day praying. The hours of the old psalter break up the day and often I have to struggle to make myself pray and to keep my focus while I am praying. Outside those times I read or use my computer. Thank God for Youtube and Netflix. I can watch old and new films, documentaries etc. Sleeping so poorly means I don’t have much energy for anything demanding.
One doesn’t know what’s around the corner. One can control how one moves through life but sometimes it’s the other idiot who does the damage. No matter what there are too many unknowns. As I heard in a talk online given by a layman: strive to be in a state of grace and do your best to do your duty - this is the way to heaven. All that you or I can do is our best to do our duty and then trust in the Lord. God rarely gives answers. Instead He asks us to grow in faith. Many is the night I have wanted to take a hammer to that Frenchman’s ankle. I was furious, frustrated and mad as hell. I got no answers. I got here instead. God is patience, compassion, gentleness beyond our comprehension. Later I heard that the Frenchman’s car was a right-off too. God forgive me but I was delighted that he didn’t go home with only a €200 fine.
We are utterly dependant on God’s Providence. God has a plan and no you don’t get to see it. We must let go and let God be God. Many years ago Fr Gobbi preached in Dublin. He and seen a sign on the bus: “Let the driver drive the bus”. Abandon oneself to God.
My novice master taught his novices that ‘he who perseveres perseveres’. Although a tautology it is still true - anything to do with our character, any virtue grows like muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets. Likewise for vice.
My biggest enemy is myself. It is the passions within, the will to be in God’s place, the drive to be at the centre that leads me to go off the rails. This is the heart of evil, of sin: putting myself in the centre where only God belongs. We are to orbit about Him not the other way around. I am made to love, love God and then my neighbour - only in this self-gift do I truly draw close to Christ. Therein lies the cross; the path I need to follow is the path I draw back from.