Monday, May 9, 2011

Home from Rome 4: Personal Reflections Part 2 - "Finding my way Home"

"Finding my way home"
After returning here last Wednesday I had a long phone conversation with a dear priest friend in London. I thank Fr SY for this because it helped to clarify my thoughts before writing this post. We spoke of the way in which the word 'time' loses it commonly accepted meaning in Rome. Not for nothing is it known as the Eternal City. If you are an open channel, earthly time shows itself as meaning nothing there. At times it can simply disappear altogether, and heavenly time takes over, simply because Rome is, apart from Jerusalem, the nearest earthly place to eternal 'time'. The veil between human understanding of time and God's omniscient and 'Other' knowledge, is at its thinnest in these places. Rome showed herself to me like this on more than one occasion, but my experience of being lost in her streets on Sunday afternoon was a first demonstration of this her most special nature. I will try to describe it although words will
 Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still."
(T.S. Eliot - from 'Burnt Norton')

When I realised the helplessness of my situation, although I continued determinedly to put one foot in front of the other, I had no idea where their steps were leading me. I did not panic but  felt time suspending itself and began to experiece a totally different consciousness. (It was not hallucinatory; I experienced no vision', unless it is possible to have an unseen 'vision'!) I knew with an absolutely calm certainty that I, a lost sheep in both the physical and spiritual senses, would be found and carried home in the arms of our most beloved Good Shepherd and Redeemer. It truly ceased to matter whether 'home' would mean the end of my earthly existence.
"Not darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy........................"
(T.S. Eliot op. cit.)
If conscious when I come to die, I will remember the true reality of the experience and know it will help me to die ' a good and holy death'. Incidentally, amongst other things, largely overlooked this year, Sunday was the first day of Our Lady's month and one of St Joseph's feasts. I have been asking them both over a considerable time for their protection and intercession  as regards death. 

I do not know how long I wandered in this state because finally arrived safely at the hotel, I didn't look at my watch.
Back in my room I lay down to rest and to pray about what had just happened to me..............

I was woken by my mobile. To my delight and relief, it was the seminarian in Rome, with whom Father Mark Kirby had put me in touch just before I left France the previous day. He made an arrangement to pick me up at the hotel on the Tuesday and spend the afternoon with me. It began to look as if it would after all be impossible for me to attend the 'other' Blogmeet at the Scholar's Lounge, but really there was no choice for me between that and meeting S., particularly not, in my capacity as Spiritual Mother of priests and seminarians. (I remembered and prayed particularly for Ros (Shadowlands) at that point of immediate decision.) To protect his identity, he will simply be referred to as S. in the rest of these posts about Rome. Looking at my watch after his call, I was amazed to see that it was only 5.30. The whole of the afternoon's experience had taken less than two and a half earthly hours. Time truly did appear to have stopped during it.

Early to bed that night. I was still anxious  not to have had confirmation from my Paix Liturgique contact, who had promised by email to meet me at the hotel and go with me to the Vatican Meeting the next day. (It has since become apparent that the hotel failed to pass on emails or faxed messages to me. At least I received none whilst I was there.) Nevertheless, I fell into an immediate and deep slumber, healing to body and refreshing to spirit.

Next post, DV tomorrow: Onday May 2: Obama, Osama, Paix Liturgique and more reflections on the Vatican meeting. In the meantime as always, God bless all here!

In Christo pro Papa

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