Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Who am I?

What a day of travelling! Today I was hit three times by people's bags and nearly run over by a wheeled suitcase; I had to leap aside to avoid colliding with a man texting on his phone; to crown it all I was trapped in the automatic barriers at the station, resulting in a squashed bag (contents thankfully unscathed) and a bashed elbow. The employee of the railway company (as Alan Bennett put it in his famous sermon) simply gazed impassively and I'm afraid my request "can you open it, please?" was issued rather more curtly than it might have been. A fellow passenger enunciated a four-letter word close to my ear and, while I'm not quite so paranoid as to think it was addressed directly to me, it didn't help foster an atmosphere of calm.

Once in the summer when I was wearing sandals someone stood on the heel of one of them in the crush to board a train and broke the strap, meaning that the sandal would no longer stay on my foot for even one step.  I didn't have time to do anything about it and had to hobble home on one bare foot. I'm ashamed to say on that occasion I think it was I who uttered a word, and was filled with remorse when the man said humbly "I didn't do it on purpose!"

People don't believe me when I say I get trapped in station barriers on a regular basis. But it's true. Maybe there's something about me that makes me invisible to the sensors. Who am I, if even station barriers ignore me?

Happily, I find solace in a prayer I've just been sharing with a group. It's a good prayer to pray slowly in this dark, reflective time of the year. Who am I? God knows, and is gently, gradually telling me.

Give me a candle of the spirit, O God, 
as I go down into the deep of my own being. 
Show me the hidden things. 
Take me down to the spring of my life, 
and tell me my nature and my name. 
Give me freedom to grow so that I may become my true self – 
the fulfillment of the seed which you planted in me at my making. 
Out of the deep I cry unto thee, O God. 
(George Appleton)

Here's a challenging one-liner I've been sharing too:
The only sin you ever committed was forgetting who you are....the only redemption asked of you is to remember. (Gene Pascucci)

And I know I've quoted these verses here very recently, but I'd like to hear them again:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2)


  1. Dear Antonia what an evocative post and in these situations I feel a mounting panic coming over me, a sense of desperation at being hemmed in and a desire to be somewhere else. How do we recapture that sense of humanity in this time of forgetting. A prayer by George Appleton reminds me of an early morning Eucharist at St George's Cathedral in Perth western Australia in this small underground cave like chapel. It was a place of gratefully remembering this writer and spiritual guide.

    1. Hello, Nicholas. Good to see you here again! Yes, it's easy to forget humanity in the rush hour - both my own and that of my fellow-travellers. And as Pascucci provocatively suggests, that forgetting is "sin", turning away from the face of God and missing God's image in and around us. I welcome anything that helps me "re-member".

  2. Mounting panic exactly described my feelings as I dithered around holding up the other passengers at the Eurostar security check in Brussels this afternoon. Well, how was I to know that the little trays that carry your personal effects through the x ray machine were neatly stacked by the side of the conveyor belt? There's usually an official there to help you. Please don't get started on ticket barriers, either. Oyster cards and yours truly simply don't get on!

    And that George Appleton prayer...oh dear...gets me every time.

    1. You're right, international travel is even more fraught... I always set the metal detectors off at the airport even when I've taken great care not to wear anything metallic and get frisked every time!


I'd love to read your comments, and I'll try to reply to each one.