Monday, March 31, 2008


The silence was more frightening than the sounds of the street and the air raid sirens calling the ‘all clear’. One or two buildings had been badly damaged or destroyed. A battered pram remained exactly where a mother had placed it. Was the baby in the air raid shelter or not? Who knows? It was eerie even though I knew that the street scene was merely an exhibit in the Imperial War Museum and that the silence was the result of a failure in the sound system. However, because I knew what I should have been hearing, the silence was all the more poignant.

My mind flitted back to that street scene of the Blitz whilst listening to some songs sung by the incomparable Vera Lynn. At a time when Britain stood alone against Hitler, when people were spending their nights sleeping in air raid shelters and railway tunnels, people sang. It was amazing. Knowing that Hitler was poised to invade and that the Resistance (still a very well-kept secret) had been informed that they had a maximum life-expectancy of two weeks, still, people sang.

What is it about the human spirit that refuses to be beaten down by adversity? What is it that makes some people, in the midst of critical illness, smile and joke about the very disease that is eating its way through them?

Why is it that some people, when they apparently have every reason to feel defeated and perhaps almost annihilated by misfortune, manage to find some final spark of courage and determination, take that one extra step and find themselves on a long and sometimes painful journey that leads to daylight, sunshine and hope, if not for themselves, at least for others?

Today, as we celebrate the appearance of the angel to a young girl in Nazareth, we are talking about a mere child who was able to say ‘yes’ and face the fear and anxiety of having to explain her pregnancy to parents and a fiancé who had every reason to disbelieve her explanation. After all, how many of us would normally believe a girl who claimed that her unborn child was the result of a Divine intervention? Would we not be justified in some healthy scepticism?

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, but it is also a celebration of the courage and determination of so many others across the ages who have not been beaten by the difficulties that they have encountered.

May God bless them!

Sr. Janet