Recently our parish has started up an S.V.P group. My teenage daughter and I are members, she is considering doing a Duke of Edinburgh award and would use her visits as hours spent volunteering as a service to her community. I have come to Love all things beginning and ending in prayer, from uni lectures, to S.V.P meetings, to quite days spent with the Canonesses, my waking and my turning in.
On the way to last nights meeting, I suddenly had a cynical wobble. Do I really want to be a part of something that has such a formal structure, that it drives the natural pleasure, the natural timing, and the ease out of my random visits to the elderly parishioners which I call on when I feel the Love or the need to do so. Do I want my natural visits to have to be arranged in pairs and recorded. I am not so sure I do. I am not so sure that is good for my soul.
But then I quickly come around. It’s not about me. It’s about them.
I know what it feels like to spend long weeks alone, my friends now work, I live outside of the children’s school community, my family live far away, and my church family are aging. Knowing that I have to be around for school holidays makes employment more difficult. And actually I like it being just me and Him in contemplation at times. Yes I like the odd cuppa at a friend’s house, but I don’t appear to want to spend endless hours with friends who are still doing coffee over baby talk. I want to be with Him more and more and more. In church, at home, in nature, in my daily dalliances. I want to share Him within my relationships but that is not possible in some, my mother, brother and sisters, and the man I am married to don’t do God, in fact he would rather I did less church, less God and more outside of.
And thats a problem for me, nothing in this world holds the same sheen for me any more since coming to faith. I want to immerse myself in my new world.
I have a dearest friend who has joined S.V.P with me, she is 13 months younger than me, we laugh a lot. She is very wise and continental and has a down to earth, farmhousey spirituality, I Love her very much. She has incurable bone cancer and I am unsure how long I will have her for. She has 3 children the same age as mine, and a husband of faith who is worried sick. We laugh much, she is tonic for my soul. We share wisdom and frustration and enthusiasm and turn our frustrations into more wisdom, and I Love her and we laugh muchly. She is full of Sophia wisdom and yet is the most grace filled and Mary like person I know. She is all faith no fluff and I Love her to bits.
She rescues me frequently with her patient practical creativity, from christmas tree fayres to minor crisis’ and family foibles, we laugh about the hellish things and blow them in to the ether with our laughter. I cry, she laughs. If she cries, I cry and we laugh and hug each other better. I am scared when it comes to the time that we both cry and can not repair it with laughter. The thought of that makes me feel lonely as hell. I am scared of loosing such a dear friend.
What makes this friendship so special is that we share it in Him. He makes it Golden. And yet there are other friendships in my parish where we have God in common but which feel only ever polite, and not friendships of deep honesty, revelation or openness, or of any great depth. They are stunted by politeness and fall short of sharing the fullness of God in each other. They are smoothed over with no knocks or chaffs or blemishes to sculpt them to a homely God blessed perfection. It is in sharing and in baring our soul and dying to our ego, before our physical death, that unites us and resurrects us in Love. Love that lives on long after we all depart this world.
I am now looking forward to my first S.V.P visit. I trust in Him that any sorrow in our St Vincent de Paul visits may be diminished with Love and kindness and maybe even filled with a little laughter. I think it is wonderful that there are a team of dedicated people who will call upon the poorly regardless of their beliefs, and I pray that those poorly in spirit may be lifted up in Love.
St Vincent de Paul, Pray for us †
(The SVP is an international Christian voluntary organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing direct practical assistance to anyone in need.)