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jiust say no
on 29 August 2013
My only encounter with the author is at a lecture in a Russell Group university when she threw several teddy bears among the audience.
She is somewhat eccentric and she no longer goes to mass but she is a confessor for the faith and has been through things which I haven't so I have no right to judge.
My abiding memory from this book is the supposed objectivity of the doctors who hide behind their white coats and the way in which she depicts a meditation in which she and her patients are naked and vulnerable to each others' pain. The Sacred Heart is not merely some ultramontane feast; it is about the empathy of Christ's wounds for those of others.
She has a good prayer for those in the caring professions who are likely to experience burnout: Help us, O God, To bear the pain of those who seek our help. Give us strength to carry your cross and the wisdom to set it down. (that to care successfully for others you have also to care for yourself and be aware enough to make changes if you start to feel burnt out.)
The most important message of this book for me is that when people talk about lent as a time for `giving up' then it is a time for saying `No'. No to the demands of other people that take me away from spending time with myself and with God. No to the demands which give me a sense of pride in being needed by others. No to colluding with the expectations of other that I can sort things out for them when they need the spur to do that for themselves and become adults free of dependent relationships.
I am grateful that she introduced me to two poems I hadn't encountered before, one by Edith Sitwell, the other by Evelyn Underhill.
In the light of ATOS `medical' assessments resulting in disabled people losing their independence, she was somewhat optimistic when she wrote: Now that the London Olympics of 2012 have drawn to a close, the test of the wounded will soon begin. There will be races for men and women who have lost an arm or a leg or both. The wheelchair Olympians will pit their salvaged strength against each other and will be supremely grateful that they are able to do so. These men and women illustrate the power of hope to triumph over disaster and we entire beings can only applaud and marvel at their courage.
Some say that Jesus only had to suffer three hours on the cross. Many human beings suffer more than that. She points out: In some ways, it is easier to empathise, to enter Jesus' world here than it is later on when the drama of his passion is being enacted. Many of us have endured moments of extreme anguish, of fear or torment. It envelops us after receiving a diagnosis of cancer or upon hearing of the death of someone we love. When a child goes missing, or a soldier is wounded, the mountains of the mind, the cliffs of fall frightful loom all around us. So, though Jesus' anguish was peculiar to his situation he was also joining in the pain of the world, before and since.
A niggle - Veronica, as featured in the Stations of the Cross, is in no way mentioned in the gospel accounts.
Another - why does she spell out the Divine Name, which is offensive to Jews and forbidden in the Jerusalem Bible from which she quotes?
The acrostic L is for LOVE
E is for EMPATHY
N is quite simply for: NO! and
T is for THANKYOU, GOD
is a bit twee.