Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Highs and lows

It’s a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to interview someone about the things that mean most to them. It’s lovely to hear the change in their voices and to hear the words that, in one way, will never be able to adequately express the content that they are trying to convey because they are vehicles for something that is too deeply held, too cherished, to be put into words. There’s a sincerity warmth and urgency that makes it a privilege to be present. The microphone is virtually invisible because the interview becomes a conversation, held in tones that are reverential. It’s almost like being in a church.

The difficulty comes later, when the editing begins. How can I frame something I’ve just shared into a thing of beauty that will do justice to its loveliness in the eyes and heart of the one to whom I’ve been speaking?

Recently I’ve been making several series that I found deeply enriching. I ‘did’ Ignatius, Xavier and Jesuit spirituality with some Jesuits, a series on the Mass with an Archbishop and two Jesuit priests, the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a priest who has spent 53 years in the confessional, Benedictine and Cistercian monasticism with a Benedictine abbot and some Cistercians. I loved every moment of the interviews.

Now I’m in the middle of creating a series on Sts. Francis and Clare after speaking with three friars and a Poor Clare Collettine. Oh boy! I freely admit that I hung on to every word that they said and added a few of my own during the course of the interviews, but whilst it’s a sheer joy to be working on them, it is also very difficult. I’d like the programmes to be perfect. They won’t be. They’ll be the very best that I can do, but that tends to be some distance short of perfection!

Whilst doing the interviews, I felt so privileged that I thought of the words of Peter on the mountain of the Transfiguration, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!” But Peter, James and John had to return to the grassy and perhaps, rocky, slopes of the mountain. Perhaps, after seeing Jesus transfigured, they stubbed a toe or picked up a thorn on the way back. They were probably tired and hungry at the end of the day, even if they had a special memory to sustain them for the rest of their lives.

Life consists of both the transfiguration and the mundane. We need both in order to survive. We need those moments that lift our eyes above the ordinary and unspectacular, but it would be impossible to stay there. Perhaps if we did live in the extraordinary and spectacular, it would become boring. People with “their feet firmly planted in mid air” are a nuisance precisely because we are meant to be grounded.

Many years ago, a blind, deaf friar by the name of Fr. Terence remarked, “Isn’t it wonderful that an apple tree always grows apples and never grows a rice pudding?”

He had a point!

God didn’t mean us to reach perfection: he only told us to try. There’s a difference!

God bless,
Sr. Janet