On the pigrim way: The pros and cons of forgetfulness
Like many people my age (mid-70s) I am forgetting names and, increasingly, words. It is so frustrating – and sometimes frightening – not to be able to find a word I know perfectly well. However, some hours later, perhaps next day, when I am not looking for it, suddenly it surfaces from the recesses of my brain. I am beginning to wonder whether my communication with God works this way too – with a delayed response when I am not anxiously searching for it.
Over the Christmas period I had a burdensome matter to begin to attend to and it involved reading quite a fat file of papers. I printed them off, put them in date order and decided I would read them once we had peace and quiet on holiday on the Suffolk coast. I forgot the file! At first, I was dismayed and anxious. However, watching the dawn come over the sea from our flat on the front, walking across the marshes, lots of sleep and books and good food, and I was able to let the whole matter lie. But I think something was growing in the dark of my forgetfulness – a new calmness, a proper detachment as I began to read the file.
In the light of that experience I am trying to more consciously make space for God’s input into the plans, issues and concerns of my current life. We are trying to decide whether or not to attend a wedding in Zimbabwe. The advice of St Ignatius (16th Century but so what?) is to weigh up the pros and cons as honestly as we can, take a decision and then live with it for some days and see if we feel at peace with it. God is, of course, in the weighing up – and especially in the honesty – but those days of waiting to see if seeds of peace germinate in the darkness of our hearts and minds seem especially God’s time.
Another way in which I am trying to make space for God is doing my embroidery for the last half hour before bed: no more emails or TV to feed disturbing material into my dreams – they are fantastic enough as it is!
And when bright ideas and good solutions, helpful words and surprisingly forgiving thoughts suddenly emerge from somewhere in the depths of my mind or heart I try hard to thank God for them rather than congratulating myself.
I say to the Lord:“You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you … you show me the path of life.” Psalm 16.
This article was published in the March 2013 edition of Reform.