Friday, 12 October 2012


I was in absolute heaven!  There was I in the cool of the evening, relaxing on the verandah, from a height gazing out over the Atlantic Ocean- silver-plated by the brilliance of the tropical full moon. On a table by my easy chair was a glass of iced lime-juice and a bowl of mangoes.   What more could I desire?
Quite simply, a challenge!  I felt bored, restless, frustrated. I needed something that really absorbed me and defied me to get the better of it. I needed to confront and to prevail  over it.     Gazing around, wondering if anything could put some zest into my life  I found a worthy target - an owl perched on a branch that draped the parish church.
This was no blinking owl, no winking owl! This owl was motionless, totally absorbed in itself.    At peace with itself and with the world around it. as though nothing could disturb its serenity,  its composure..   For some reason I was annoyed with this rigid, frigid, bird          that had not the slightest interest in me.      With indifference it dismissed me as a person of no its parish priest!      As far as it was concerned I was meaningless,  non-existent.
Well might you ask, ‘Why did I care? Why should the owl have any need of me?       And, more seriously, ‘ Why should I feel a need for this the owl to pay me the slightest attention?’ Because at last I had found the challenge I needed.     I would force this bird to acknowledge my existence. I would impose my will upon it.      I would out-face it. I would out-stare it! I would compel it to notice me!
With all my powers of concentration I stared at this owl eye-ball to eye-ball, so to speak.     I expected to make it so uncomfortable through my steady staring   that it would shift and shuffle, or better still, turn away from me.   It must have known that I had come there, into its territory, into its hunting-ground.     Fool that I was, it hadn’t occurred to me that it might have pounced on this hostile intruder!
By now you might be thinking I’d embarked upon a crazy escapade.     Kindly take note. When travelling in a bus or when at the cinema     I’ve amused myself  by staring hard at the back of the neck of the person in front of me  -a complete  stranger.  On rare occasions I’ve been successful.      Eventually, my target has looked round, bewildered, unsettled  and smiled  at me sheepishly…and mumbled some kind of  greeting. 
What more could he do? He couldn’t accuse me of anything.       There have been times when I’ve been able to disconcert the odd cat or dog – by staring at it.
As for influencing owls…I’m a failure.    An ‘Owling’ failure!  And for me this is an ‘owling shame.  That unyielding owl convinced me it had its own life to live and so had I.     it was not my business to want to control its life.    And now I think of it, it’s quite out of order for me to try to control the life of another single person… not even when I mean well.

As a priest I’m not meant to try to live anyone’s life for him…  to be a director or controller of anyone….ever.   
This is one of the hardest things for a conscientious priest to accept…and one of the most humbling.     The same is surely true for caring devoted parents.    They long for their children to lead godly lives, but there comes a time,  as they approach young adulthood, when they, priest and parent,   can do no more than lead by example, offer advice, try to persuade and love and pray,  love and pray!  And never give up loving and praying for anyone.
This may sound like a counsel of despair. Far from it!        Right from the very beginning God gave human beings their own free wills.       In so doing God has always allowed them to make their own choices, even ungodly ones.
BUT– and it’s a mighty big ‘but’ – God will never, never, abandon any one of us  –no matter how  wicked the choices we may make.       He will never cease to offer us the graces that would persuade us to turn towards Him.     His will to save will remain unwavering.
                          This I know, God really cares about me, takes care of me,                    
       but somehow,    I don’t think God is particularly interested
         about whether or not owls care one hoot for me!’
Peter O.P.
On 26th Oct. Isidore will reflect on Meeting God  in "My Babel Moment."

1 comment:

  1. Love the owl looking at me and not giving a damn!
    More confused by first section of the blog where the writer is sitting overlooking a moonlit beach and his mind turns to OWLS!!
    Agree fervently with the second half of blog.We have no right to try to live someone else's life for them and often our own vision for someone else can be deeply floored. Love and pray and leave things in God's hands.