Sunday, June 18, 2006

Live and let live?

A Saturday morning is not the time to be in a hurry anywhere in the vicinity of St. Peter's! The roads leading to the basilica are crowded with people of every shape, size and colour, most of whom have all the time in the world and who are not trying to return to work. They block every possible access point, spreading across roads in cheerful, colourful groups, determined to make the most of every minute of their stay in Rome.

My problem was that, unlike everybody else, I was in a hurry. I had slipped out of the office, as I thought, for a few minutes, on behalf of someone else. Instead, it took a full hour to obtain a signature that should have taken a few seconds to write, had it not been for the combined effects of Italian and Vatican bureacracy plus about thirty others who also wanted documents to be signed. I was about the twentieth in line.

Being English, I was born knowing how to queue. Not so some of the others who appeared late and jumped to the number one position. A Korean Sister ahead of me was concerned when an Irish monk came, saw that he had lost his place whilst absent for a cup of coffee and said he'd come back on another occasion. She tried to call him back. "But it was his own fault!" I exclaimed, looking at my watch. A Polish priest frowned at my lack of sympathy for the coffee-drinking monk ... but then, I could see the mountain of work on my desk, waiting for my return from a job that had already taken far longer than I had calculated.

At last it was my turn. With enormous courtesy, the paper was signed and I was directed to the next line of people looking for documents to be signed and stamped.

As the saying goes, "Man proposes but God disposes". Even in the best-ordered societies, with the most meticulous planning, things don't always go as I would like. If all my projects were to go as I had planned them, would I leave space for other people? Do I make room for others, or does my efficiency trample on them, perhaps crushing something beautiful? Do I 'live and let live'?

God bless,
Sr. Janet