A new life


I’m back in England since November 3 after 23 years in Asia – Philippines and Indonesia. It’s my first contribution to this blog. I feel like one of those people in fairy tales who fell asleep for years and suddenly woke up again. I’m in Liverpool where I was a student 40 years ago. Like the students I am meeting in the Liverpool university catholic chaplaincy, I am wondering what the future holds for me and searching for my new life. I am 62 with a pension and fantastic free bus pass, yet feel young and new with so much to learn. I guess the human spirit is timeless anyway, like God – ever old, ever new. Although the cold is a big shock after never ever feeling cold in the tropics, it’s a delight to be home in the season of Advent and feel the buzz of Christmas down the town centre with the Christmas lights and the Christmas market.

I’m one of the lucky ones in life, having food, clothes, heating, companionship. I thank God for all those who also have these things, and hope to have eyes to see those who don’t, and not close my eyes to the Big Issue magazine sellers I’ve seen in Bold Street. Yesterday, at the Mass in Bellerive FCJ Catholic College – Our Lady’s feast day and the school feast day since 1844 – the priest told us he knows a few of these sellers who have come off drugs and are trying to get back to sanity. Yes, they are in the season of Advent: they have been into the dark and have caught a glimpse of the light. I am in Advent too, in what I hope is the pre-dawn darkness of my new life. If I start to walk with people searching for a meaning in life, how deeply dare I face into the darkness?

Before I came back to England I decided to read Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” because I’d heard atheism was getting more popular in the UK and I wanted to know what they were saying. (At the same time I read “The Case for God” by Karen Armstrong which was a great balancer to it.) I couldn’t go along with all his reasoning about the improbability of God, which in any case was rather undercut by his insistence on how many amazingly improbable things have actually happened, but I enjoyed his humour and appreciated his compassion and felt Jesus would cheer many of his criticisms – indeed Richard was restrained in his criticisms of religious people by comparison with Jesus: brood of vipers, whited sepulchres, wish they’d tie a millstone round their neck and hang themselves.

OK I’m not an atheist, but the whole God question is daunting. I trust deeply in God but can so much identify with people who don’t or can’t believe. Advent darkness is a good image for the journey of prayer, saying: “Do with me what You will; do with me what You can” and staying there in the faith and hope that God’s life is flowing deeply into me so that I’ll be ready to listen and respond in the day to day reality. I take heart from something Rowan Williams wrote: “The light is at the heart of the dark; the dawn breaks when we have entered fully into the night.” That’s my question – how fully dare I go?

One Response to “A new life”

  1. clarefcj Says:

    Thanks for your post Rachel…Let’s be brave enought to go into the dark….

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