Monday, January 21, 2008

A cold, wet, evening

It is a cold, wet, evening. The threatened rain is falling, running down the window in a steady trickle. It is not quite dark in spite of the heavy black clouds and the street lighting. In the distance, a tiny patch of almost-blue is trying, vainly, to stop the onset of night. The steady roar of traffic and the occasional sound of a plane or a police car rise above the pitter-patter of raindrops, whilst a slight wind nudges the branches of the tree outside, creating a waving silhouette against the buildings.

Across the road and on, into the distance, lights are appearing in windows as people return home from their various occupations. In the apartment opposite, someone has dumped a large black holdall, perhaps in relief after a long day? Is he or she planning a quiet evening at home, or is there something rather more active and exciting on the horizon? Whilst others hurry past, hidden underneath multi-coloured umbrellas, is someone else curled up with a hot drink and a book, luxuriating in a few moments of peace, quiet and solitude?

We really know so little of the lives of those around us. We pass in the street and perhaps offer a greeting, or perhaps we just walk by, oblivious of each other’s presence. Is that why one young man whom I saw this afternoon had chosen to have his face heavily tattooed? It wasn’t a cultural thing. Was it merely to attract attention and make a statement to the world? “I am here. I exist. Look at me and do not pass me by.”

Two little girls chattered on their way home from school. Afro-Caribbean, their curly hair lovingly plaited by their mothers, their giggles sounded above the adult murmurs of those they passed. What was the source of their merriment? How much do we really know of the things that bring happiness into the hearts and lives of others?

I sat in the Internet café in a fruitless effort to open my e-mails. The connection was so slow that, after several attempts, I gave up. Nothing would open. The content of my e-mails remains a mystery, but not so the cheerful helpfulness of the Muslim owners of the business. Were they Bangladeshis or Pakistanis? I do not know because I cannot tell the difference between their languages. How much do we understand of the words of others, even when they speak the same language? How often do we listen only on the surface, oblivious of the deeper thoughts and implications? How often do we see those who figure in our daily lives, or perhaps, on the news, and see human figures, but not human persons with hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, successes and failures?

It is a cold, wet, evening. Yet, in the darkness, there are people laughing and crying. There are people who are full of hope and who are full of fear. There are people who are simply ‘getting on with life’, whatever it might hold for them.

Lord, be with each and every one of us, whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever we are. Guide us. Bless us. Draw us closer to you.

God bless,
Sr. Janet