Friday, July 14, 2006

Time moves on

Time does strange things. I return to the village where my family moved when I was 11 years old, exactly halfway between Liverpool and Preston and see that some things are unchanged since my childhood. Other features are altered beyond recognition, yet the one thing that hasn't been affected is the warmth and friendliness of the locals.

Life moves on. Nothing really stays the same. Every day brings its own lessons for the learning, its own richness to encounter. A tree might now stand stark and leafless, but rather than regret its passing, isn't it more positive to thank God for the many years when it gave its strength, beuty, shade and freshness to its surroundings? Isn't there still a beauty in its branches as they reach up, leafless, to the sky?

Thank God for all that is past and for all that is present!

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The little things

The little things in life are the most important.

Yesterday I had the joy of going for a cup of coffee with my sister and sharing the orange juice that my 4 year-old niece didn't want as we sat in a little coffee shop and saw the world go by at the leisurely pace of the small market town of Ormskirk.

Today's pleasures included watching a rabbit unconcernedly sitting on the grass as the rest of the world continued its frenetic activities.

Why do we make ourselves so busy?

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

For all the beauties of the earth...

Many Italians don't appreciate the wonders of Rome and wonder why on earth so many foreigners make the effort to visit the city.

I might add that there are many living in England who don't value the beauty of their own countryside. perhaps it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt. Still, this morning, as I walked along the road and admired the brilliant yellow of the ragwort, the purple thistles, pink honeysuckle, developing blackberries and the brilliant greenness of my surroundings, it was good to be alive. Strolling along the edges of fields filled with ripening wheat and oats, I thanked God for the fruitfulness of the thick black soils of Lancashire.

It's very easy to become so used to the richness of our surroundings that we take them for granted. Sometimes it's only absence that makes the heart grow fonder and opens our eyes to the blessings of ordinary daily life. We're surrounded by treasures if only we'd open our eyes and hearts to the beauty of the world around us.

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Monday, July 10, 2006

Home again!

There's something special about coming home.

Yesterday afternoon I accompanied my youngest sister and her three children to the village for the Burscough Festival. Typically English, there was torrential rain and a cold wind as the parade set off, the schoolchildren in their fancy dress looking beautiful...but cold! I thought of all the parents who had spent hours organising costumes that would quickly become bedraggled and not quite as splendid as they had hoped.

But then came the parade of the Morris Dancers...and I felt my eyes fill with tears. Somehow the Morris Dancers symbolise England for me and have done for many years. Seeing them so soon after my arrival back in the country made me realise I am home again.

We all need a place that is home, that is uniquely ours, to where we can return and fit in, no matter how long we have been away. 'Home is where the heart is'.

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Saturday, July 08, 2006

In God's hands

In just over one hour I'll be in the car, heading towards the airport. By early afternoon, I'll be at home in England and my holiday will have begun. There are still many things to do before I'm ready to leave, but, at some stage, I'll drop them all and decide that 'enough is enough'. In the space of one hour, I can't perform miracles, much as I'd like to do so. I'm only human. There's only one of me and I have but two hands,

There are so many times in life when it would be wonderful to do several things at a time, to more than any single human being could possibly ever achieve. Woman are born multi-taskers, and I'm a good example, yet still, there is a limit. At this stage, everything that remains undone is in God's hands. There is nobody who cares more for my happiness and well'being. Wherever I go, he is already there. Whether I'm at work or at rest, God is there.

In God's hands, there is no need for concern. All I need to do is to make myself comfortable!

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Water, water!

There's nothing like a heatwave in order to demonstrate some of the important things in life!

It's been interesting to see the number of tourists and pilgrims who have come to Rome during the past two weeks and have joined the small groups around the city, huddling around the drinking fountains.

Fortunately these little gems are everywhere, sparkling cold and clear after some of them have had a chance of several hundred years in which to run cold! The water is beautiful and, the interesting thing is that because several sources were used in order to supply the city, it's an interesting way of discovering just how different water can taste and still be delicious.

I happen to have four favourite locations: the Coliseum, San Clemente, St. Paul's basilica and inside St. Peter's Square. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the water from other places: it's just that I like the taste best in these four.

It's intriguing to think that so many people have spent a great deal of money in travelling to Rome from all over the world, but the things that are most appreciated are available at home: water to drink, water for washing and a supply of soap. There's a special sense of luxurious self-indulgence at the end of the day when those sandals can be removed and over-warm feet can be immersed in cool water... which reminds me that even Jesus commented on the occasion when he visited Simon and was not given the opportunity to wash his feet. Believe me, if you have lived anywhere that is hot... or even during a heatwave... nothing can be compared to clean, comfortable feet!

Really, there is no need for human beings to become complicated. there's very little that is needed in order to make a big difference to our happiness and comfort. No wonder St. Francis, in his 'Canticle of the creatures' thanked God for Sister Water!

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The dream of Camelot

The musical 'Camelot' has been my favourite since the day it first hit the cinema screens.

I recently rediscovered a copy I had made of the music from the film and had forgotten about. I soon found that I remember a large proportion of the worrds of all the songs, so I feel a little sorry for anybody who has had the misfortune to hear me singing or humming them to myself during the last few days.

Enjoying the music, it occurred to me for the millionth time that we all need a Camelot. The Arthurian legend is something that is rooted so deeply in our hearts and souls that it cannot be extricated even if we know absolutely nothing about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. We don't need to know about Arthur, Guenevere, Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain, Tristram, Bedevere and their companions. We don't need to have met Merlin in order to need him.

For a start, the purpose of Camelot was to establish a kingdom where "right is might", to which, like Lancelot du Lac, I am prepared to travel long distances to reach. I need the idealism of Arthur, the Holy Grail of Galahad and the knights' enthusiasm for all that was good that bound them together as they gathered at the Round Table. I need the perception of Merlin's ability to enter the minds of others in order to see how they think and to understand their actions and reactions. The sword Excalibur was only to be drawn in the defence of the good, the true and the beautiful, never to shed blood except in the cause of all that was right.

The real Camelot might have existed largely in the imagination, coming to birth in folklore...but isn't its symbolism something that is a precious part of our existence today? When I look at the television and hear the radio, there is so much war and unnecessary bloodshed.

"Don't let it be forgot
that once there was a spot,
for one brief, shining moment,
that was known as Camelot."

God bless,
Sr. Janet

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Words of friendship

We don't always fully appreciate the wonderful gift we have in a friend.

This was my conclusion on Friday after I'd had the opportunity to interview a friend for Vatican Radio and finished feeling immensely proud of his knowledge, depth of understanding and insight. It occurred to me that, very often, as friends, conversation is on a massive range of topics, but often, not on the friend's own area of expertise. There is no particular reason for this. More often than not it's only because a get-together is not for business but for relaxation and so there is no effort made to 'talk shop'.

Yet, on Friday, I had an opportunity to do just that: 'talk shop' and I came away the richer. In fact, not only did I enjoy the interview, I valued it so much that I copied it onto CD and listened to it in the privacy of my room.

Isn't it wonderful when the words of a friend lead to prayer? Isn't that what friendship is about?

God bless,
Sr. Janet