We all know what it is to be disappointed, when ‘ah’ turns to ‘oh’ on a downward note, and a brave smile replaces a bright one. I was fascinated to learn that the word originally meant precisely what it says: to remove from office. Perhaps an element in disappointment, then, is the feeling that one has been deprived of something that is one’s due. It isn’t merely an unfulfilled hope that is being dashed but a (more or less) legitimate expectation.

All very well, but how do we deal with it? I daresay at Christmas there will be many a person saying, ‘It’s the thought that counts,’ as they open a gift they don’t much care for, not realising how those words can numb the heart of the well-intentioned giver. We can ignore; feign; insist on acting as though nothing had happened. Very few of us have the ability to accept with perfect equanimity that things haven’t turned out quite as we had hoped. The tacite conscientia of the Fourth Degree of Humility is beyond most of us — except by grace. When it is a question of something more than present-giving, how we deal with disappointment can have effects that go far beyond anything we intended. Some of the horrors of the Second World War surely grew out of the disappointments of the First and the determination of Clémenceau and others to make Germany pay. Disappointment and humiliation are evil bedfellows.

In recent weeks we have had a number of disappointments here at the monastery, so this post is being written very much in via rather than safely on the other side of disappointment surmounted. My most recent PET scan revealed that the secondaries in my lungs and liver are growing merrily and have now invaded my right hip (bone) and, indignity of indignities, even my sit-upon! Fortunately, the pain is bearable at present, and beginning to walk like a drunken sailor is just one more eccentricity to cultivate. Of course I am disappointed. Of course it is difficult. But somewhere in that disappointment we as a community, no less than I personally, have to find meaning and grace. I am sure it is possible, but it may take a while to figure out how.

Note: we have a server problem which means all emails addressed to @benedictinenuns.org.uk addresses are currently being rejected. Prayer requests made via our online contact form are still getting through. We hope to get it fixed as soon as possible.


31 thoughts on “Disappointment”

  1. Disappointment is truly a huge challenge to deal with while trying to keep a sense of balance. It highlights our frailty and vulnerability – both truths that I have to admit I struggle with. It is heartbreaking to hear your news. I thank you for allowing us to share something of your journey. Your sense of humour is such a great blessing from God. I believe being able to see the humour in even scarey things is like being given a “spirit level” from God to help us to keep our balance! X

  2. Such terrible news I think I’d have entitled your blog, devastation or gutted. I only wish I had a fraction of your faith and acceptance. I will pray for you at Mass. On a lighter note, you can now honestly say you have a pain in the a$$.

  3. I’m so sorry to read your news. I pray that you will find lots of comfort in frrquent small daily blessings to help you through your days. Thank you for your posts; they are a blessing.

  4. You are a truly brave woman. I am so sorry that you have had such gut wrenching news….my prayers are with you every day..and please don’t be too brave….take any pain killing medication offered to you…

  5. Please don’t forget your ‘taxi driver’ if she can help ….just a phone call or email away! I send loving thoughts and keep all three 0f you in my prayers, as does the community at All Saints……grace and peace be yours.

  6. I continue to pray for you, Sister Catherine, as you all handle disappointment together. I’m not handling my own, similar, disappointment very well and, as always, find myself upheld & encouraged by the prayers of the network and extended family/community in which I find I am happily enmeshed.
    God bless you.

  7. I was so sorry to hear your news and have been thinking about you a lot. I enjoy your tweets and your @ourcofe week was a joy to behold. I learnt so much and love your sense of humour. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Dear Sister Catherine,
    Thank you for sharing the disappointing and difficult news you received. Thank you for all you bring to so many. The true blue friendship and support you give to others in person and in your on line outreach is so meaningful and life changing. I know my life has been changed for the better because of it. Thank you so much for who you are and for all you do.
    Thoughts, prayers and much love to you and Sister Lucy and Brother Duncan.
    Meg, Lily and Lucy

  9. Thank you all for your kind comments and, above all, your prayers. Yes, it is a blow; but it does not in itself change anything. I am still here, still, at the moment, on the pilgrim way we share, falling down and getting up again. Please don’t be in too much of a hurry to write my obituary. I still have a few fruit trees to plant. 🙂

  10. I can only echo the words that other have already written. You really do so much for all of us – your talents have definitely not been buried like one of the people in todays gospel. Thank you for everything and I too will remember you in my prayers

  11. What amazing lessons you present. I don’t think I will ever view disappointment quite the same. Truly blessed to have found your site and loving thoughtful words. Keep on planting!

  12. Still praying for you and your community, and no plans to stop. I am so sad to read of your difficult news – but mustn’t keep you reading when those fruit trees are waiting for you! 🙂

  13. Sister, I used to follow you on Twitter, though I wasn’t on the site that long. I looked in on your blog just now and read your news and I am so sorry this is happening to you. You’re dealing with it with such grace and faith. And you have brought so many people together and given them hope, and inspiration, often in ways that those of us on FB or Twitter won’t know about. Thank you for that. And of course I will add you to the list of people in my prayers.

  14. Please do keep us informed. I know your blog is very important but we do think of you as well. Nothing I can do but pray for you Sister. God bless.

  15. Sister, as a fellow Herefordian I follow your postings regularly
    find much there to encourage me. I often drive past your monastery and say a brief prayer for you all. I am so sorry to hear your news and will pray for you this week as I go on retreat.
    Peace and Blessings

  16. Sister, You have our Mass intention at our next Adelaide Ordinariate Mass in Adelaide. I also ask Our Lady Help of Christians (our Australian Ordinariate patron) to pray for you and all of us. Also the angels and other saints to assist us, particularly in times of great need.
    Ian Wilson
    Ordinariate Moderator for South Australia

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