Monday, 8 March 2010


Embarking on a plane, heading for a country unknown to me, where I did not speak the language, with no idea where I was meant to go once I had landed. All I had was the assurance that I would be a complete stranger. Walking in the dark?

Never before had I felt so uncertain, so insecure. Never before had I been so dependent on the unknown being so reliable, so trust-worthy. My trust in him had to be absolute. I had no control over my immediate future; nor of myself; nor of anyone else. Even now, after more than thirty years, I shudder at the memory. Of course, as I should have expected, all turned out well.

This was my 'Abraham Experience.' He was the man whom God called to leave a world familiar to him and to travel to a land -quite literally -God alone knew where! This land God promised to give him. He had no idea where it would be, how he would get there, nor would he be certain that he had arrived at the place that he was to make his home. Abraham, a man uncertain, insecure, nakedly exposed to the future. Being supremely a man of faith, Abraham put his trust in the unseen God and set forth. What faith! None of us has done better than that...even with all the so-called progress in the several thousand years since the time of Abraham. Again I exclaim, 'What faith, what blind trust in God!'

Even now I'm planning to come to England for a vacation. This very afternoon, before I began to type this posting, I discovered that I had lost my passport. What huge anxiety, as I feverishly searched and searched ...insecure at having lost control...fearful of the consequences if I did not find my passport, not knowing what tomorrow would bring. How would I cope? Would I be able to cope?
Uncertainty about the future is the pattern of our lives. Those who recently were financially rock-solid are now as wobbly as jellies. Youngsters, graduating from school or university face this uncertainty. The scaffolding of a structured life is abruptly pulled away from them. The same could be said of those reaching the age and stage of retirement.

Indeed, we all have our 'Abraham Moments' of being plunged into the unknown...seemingly drowning! Yes, we have our fears. We don't care to admit them to ourselves, still less to share them with others. How to re-define the future when the stability of the present has been snatched away? How to brave it out with trite mantras, such as 'Life must go on; a new start must be made?'

Something like Abraham's faith in God is called for..from all of us...even those blessed with fairly settled and predictable lives. We are to trust that God will be there, loving us in that future that is known to God but unknown to us. I have to convince myself that there is no guarantee that I shall live happily ever after. The fool's dream, the cheerful optimism of the family film. Having Abraham as my Father in the Faith, my role model is far from easy.

With these thoughts in mind I shudder at the over-arching trust, the magnificent confidence, in the words of the dying Jesus,

The Father asks each of us to make the same act of complete trust in him as we approach death. Then it's no longer possible for us to hold on to any of the props upon which we've relied throughout our lives. Death demands that we must place all our trust in God's loving, caring and merciful hands.

P.S. Thank God, I've found my passport!

Peter Clarke O.P.

Next week Isidore will reflect on 'Slamming down the phone.'

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