Thursday, December 28, 2006

Simple pleasures

Rome continues to have its simple pleasures.

Going to the Vatican Post Office this morning was reasonably uneventful, if I discount battling my way through the crowds travelling to St. Peter’s as I tried to make my way through St. Anne’s Gate. I’m not looking for power and position, but I still enjoy the novelty of waving my Vatican Radio ID and receiving a salute from the Swiss Guard: it reminds me of the time when I was based in the retreat centre that my Congregation used to have in Bramley in the south of England. My cousin Angela came to visit me and, seeing the size of the centre and having known me from the time I was born, she looked at the ‘stately home’, looked at me, and the two of us doubled up with laughter!

But, back to the Swiss Guard at St. Anne’s Gate. They were wearing their winter uniforms, complete with a navy-blue cloak, unlike their comrades at the Bronze Door of St. Peter’s and at the entrances of the Papal Household, who were in their famous multicoloured (and impractical) uniforms. They are always so helpful and courteous, but I look back in pleasure at one of their number who, a few weeks ago, was entertaining a girl of about 8 years old, possibly his daughter or a young relative. He was pretending to march, but with her standing on his feet and holding his hands, her blonde hair cascading from side to side down her back as she shook with laughter.

It doesn’t matter who we are or what we do, we need laughter. Nobody is so important that they can live without a smile and a few moments of regular fun. If we put ourselves on pedestals, we deserve to have someone come along and knock us down from our dizzy heights. We all need the humility which will enable us to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.

This fact was brought home to me a couple of months ago, when I took a visiting Jesuit for an ice cream at my favourite gelateria on the Piazza Navona. As we stood enjoying our ices, my companion looked more closely at the shop. “I’m sure that this is the place that Karl Rahner used to visit. He was a real ice cream freak!” If one of the world’s greatest theologians could take a break from his theologising by deciding which three of twenty or so flavours of ice creams he was about to enjoy, isn’t that a good example for all of us?

God bless,

Sr. Janet