Recently a friend remarked that Hereford is not as far from Oxford as he had thought. Like many people, I suppose, he had imagined a rural scene, all apples and mangle-wurzels, far removed from the intellectual and artistic intensity of his university city. It didn’t really matter how many miles separated us, nor how long it took to drive them. Hereford and Oxford occupy different spheres. They are a world away from each other in space and time. I don’t agree, but I understand how they can be perceived to be so because emotional distance is really the only true measure of distance there is.

The longest journey we ever make is the first one, away from our childhood home; and it really doesn’t matter whether we move a few streets or a few thousand miles. A long journey, gladly made, seems short; an unwelcome one can seem long and tedious, even if it covers just a few miles. Our personal world-map, the one we carry inside ourselves, has distances marked out in scales of love and desire, youth and age, happiness and dread. For a Catholic, Rome is only a whisker away, even if it is on the other side of the world; the holy cities of other religions can seem further away even when they are geographically closer. How we relate to them is determined in large part by our feelings about them and often complicated by present experience. Places where we have been happy are near or far, depending on the mood of the moment. So what of heaven, our ‘ultimate destination’, the ‘place’ of perfect happiness and peace? How distant does heaven seem to you today? Your answer may tell you more  about yourself than you care to know.


4 thoughts on “Distance”

  1. My first move away from home in London was to Catterick for Army training. Subsequent moves took me all over the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Not many of them voluntary.

    I’ve lived in primitive conditions in some places and relative luxury (considering others poverty) in others. But, to me, home is where the heart is. And that’s with my spouse and close to our grandchildren.

    We want to move towards Canterbury, that City and the surrounding villages hold our heart. The Cathedral and our Parish close by are very much the Centre for an Anglican and my wife is Anglican to the Core. Born and Bred, while I’m a relatively late starter.

    But, surely God places us where he wants us to be, to work, to live, to serve the community – and we are called to be there. Our hope is to relocate next year to where our hearts long to be.

  2. How distant does heaven seem to me today? Very close, just the other side of the breeze blowing gently through my window.

    We are making our way through the Easter season daily mass readings, Easter being the anniversary of our family’s reception into the Catholic Church decades ago, a new beginning, or as Scott Hahn entitled his story on conversion “Rome Sweet Home”. No matter what type of move I’ve made, short or long distances, no matter how different the culture of the place I’ve moved to, I’ve felt at home in whatever Catholic Church I’ve been part of, a bit of heaven on earth.

    • I’d never heard of this flower, Patricia, had to look it up – also called Leper Bell and Lazarus Flower. I will never see one of these flowers in person as I live at an altitude of 3,500 ft. Beautiful little plant!

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