Down But Not Completely Out

The past few days have been a bit difficult. The twelfth in the present series of chemotherapy treatments seems to have knocked me out well and truly (and some of the earlier ones were no pic-nic, I must confess). However, while I wallow in self-pity, life goes on; but I see it through a slight haze, as though at one remove. It isn’t only illness that gives one such a perspective. The elderly sometimes say that they feel ‘out’ of things; those who are struggling financially often make the same observation; and those who have suffered a bereavement know only too well how the loss of someone dear changes everything, at least for a while.

Time was when I thought of this distancing from the life around me as something to be regretted, fought against, but I am beginning to see it in a more positive light. Just occasionally, being slightly out of things can be helpful. It enables one to ask questions one would otherwise have no time for. In my own case, during the down times, when even the most trifling matters require huge effort, I find myself reassessing my priorities, and the priorities of the community as a whole. It is a case of being down but not completely out, engaged but not immersed.

Today’s feast of SS Philip and James has as its introit one of the most beautiful pieces of plainchant ever composed, Tanto tempore.  ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him, ‘and you still do not know me?’ Even an apostle can fail to see what is right under his nose, until he is startled into doing so. Sometimes those periods of being a little out of things can give us a glimpse of what lies at the heart of things. Let us treasure them.


16 thoughts on “Down But Not Completely Out”

  1. How true ! Your reflection reminds us all we need to recognise, being out of things is where we can BE with & know Jesus. Thank you.

  2. I have been wondering about you since Sunday, I sensed something was not quite right. You are in my prayers. You are a inspiration to me, I am a carer to my daughter who has Angelmans syndrome and have been for nearly 35 years, as I get older life at times is an effort and I often look back over my day and see it as in a haze, people ask how I find the strength to look after her ( Charlotte is very easy going and very pleasant, so I’m lucky, also goes to a Christian based day centre every day,but I’m always on ‘duty’) if I hadn’t got my faith I know life would be harder. Having the Lord by my side gets me through the difficult and good days.

  3. You are so much in our thoughts and prayers. Enduring 12 doses of chemotherapy is no mean feat. I pray it is doing what it’s supposed to! Thank you for putting finger to keyboard and finding the strength to think of others. Deep respect… and more than a modicum of long-distance affection.

  4. God Bless you and may you grow ever closer to the Lord in these moments. Praying for you as you continue your treatments for the grace to withstand all that you are going through.

  5. Dear Sister Catherine my thoughts and prayers are with you!What you have written is very relevant to me, just having come through a dysentery virus picked up on a plane coming back from a trip to India. Being removed from everyday life, in my case having to alternate between bed and bathroom, really does strip out everyday concerns. We have to focus on our core and re-assess what we are doing and why. “When I am better” became my mantra and gave me a clarity I had lost though being well and busy.I also had time (and in a way no choice but to) meditate and pray.
    I’m grateful for this virus, even more grateful that it has gone and hopeful that I have been given an opportunity to go n different directions with renewed hope.
    I hope and pray you soon come through your treatment. Your posts and prayers give us wisdom and hope.

  6. Thank you for all you have shared, and for your kind comments and prayers. As you may have gathered, I couldn’t have written this yesterday; so things ARE improving. However, I think it’s worth trying to use our own experience to encourage others who are going through different, but just as trying, experiences. I am very blessed to be supported by so many. There are others who have a much lonelier path to tread. Let us pray for them.

  7. Wonderful to hear from you, Sister Catherine. Thank you for putting in the effort to do so with your always honest and clear writing. Love to you and your community. Take good care.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts, Sr Catherine, on the Feast of SS Philip and James, when you are struggling. Despite improved health these days, I do share your observations. While it’s true that stress and bereavement, advancing years and illness, do produce the sensation you describe, I suspect it’s not so unusual these days among those who wrestle with the truth of things and what is perceived as common reality.

    The Lord is telling you to rest in Him. Much love and constant prayer for you and Dame Lucy. R. xx

  9. Dear Sister Catherine,

    Prayers for your recovery. Thank you for sharing your faith, hope and love with us. Thank you to Sister Lucy for her quiet constancy and care-giving.

  10. The theological reflections that you write, even when you are down and not quite out are perhaps an insight for through the lens of suffering, born with dignity, but not without humour, but with a profound depth of faith that we can only hope for.

    I think that you know you are prayed for daily in our parish and in the private and family prayers in this house. I continue to be inspired by your frankness and hope that some respite will be coming for you soon.

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