Friday, 23 October 2009


"The way I tell the difference between you and your brother is that one of you knows how to end his sermons...!"

With those remarks a young lady tried to make conversation with Peter, soon after we'd arrived in Grenada. But then she stopped and beat a hasty retreat as she realised she was digging a hole for herself by implying that that the other of us didn't know how to conclude his sermons. To this day, over fifty years later, neither of us knows to whom she was referring. Each of us is convinced it was his brother!

That's just one of many examples of the confusion we identical twins can cause. Then there was the occasion when I returned to Grenada after an absence of twenty five years. As we stood in the market place someone came up to us, took a hard look at me, and exclaimed, "What the hell is that!" "THAT" turned out to be me. I was also known as, "Peter again" and even, "Peter squared." Today, "Rounded" would be more accurate.

Then there was the time when Peter was examined twice for acceptance into the Dominican noviciate, and I nearly missed being interviewed. If we hadn't pointed out the mistake what would have happened if in one interview Peter had been accepted and the other rejected? And what would have happened to me? We're still wondering.

Sometimes we can use the confusion we twins create to our advantage. Such was the case when, as Dominican students, we played for the priory cricket team. Peter, who was right handed, would bowl off-breaks from one end, while I, who was left handed, would bowl leg-breaks from the other end. The poor batsmen were not only confused by the different directions in which the ball moved, but also by the similarity of the bowlers.

But there can be disadvantages in identical twins being confused. If, as happened for a short while in Grenada, we were working in the same parish I wouldn't recognise some of his friends, and he would sometimes fail to greet some of mine. Naturally they were hurt by our ignoring them.

And there's the constant danger of twins being lumped together and of each of us having to struggle to assert his individuality. Although we have so much in common, especially our Dominican vocation, we do sometimes disagree -hopefully constructively. That means we are able to work together on joint projects, such as this blog, and bounce ideas off each other. We've found the speed of emails enables us to offer instant suggestions and criticisms. We can, and have been, pretty ruthless with each other!

Being separated by the Atlantic for nearly fifty years has enabled each of us to develop his own separate identity. That has been good for us, even though we do miss each other, and it's great when every few years we are able to see each other for a short while. For us it's not true to say that twins are inseparable.

Being a twin, who is sometimes confused with his brother, made me grateful that God is able to tell us apart. Jesus has told us that he knows each of his sheep by name. Not one of them loses its identity or individuality in the vastness of the human flock. Hopefully, in different ways, each of us responds to his master's voice and follows him. So, in a special way, we identical twins reflect unity in diversity. We rejoice in what we have in common, as well as what distinguishes us.

But what is most important is that God welcomes us for what we are -identical twins, each of us being unique. I thank God I'm able to meet him in being myself, not Peter. And he must meet God in being himself, not a replica of me. That's the way God welcomes each of us. And God loves each of you as an individual, who is not confused with anyone else. You, too, must seek and find God in being yourselves, not a clone of anyone else -even the greatest of saints.

As you may have gathered from earlier postings Peter works in the West Indies, while I now work in England. Since we live thousands of miles apart there's a time difference of four hours. That means that although Peter was born three hours before me I reach each of my birthdays four hours before he does. For a little while I'm older than him. Sadly I haven't yet found a way of taking advantage of my short-term seniority.

This time difference also means that as I meet God in one way while I'm tucked up in bed, Peter meets him in another way while he's still up and about. You never know, one of us may develop this approach to meeting God. Watch this space!

Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God in the Sound of Music

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