Nothing special

I’ve been behaving like an eleven-year-old. And now it’s time for me to grow up.

Perhaps I should explain …

Just four days after my eleventh birthday, I fell onto a broken milk bottle and sustained a life-threatening injury to my left leg. The physical trauma, however, was overmastered by an horrific realisation that continued to impact me from that day forward: my guardian angels had let me down!

Having considered myself “special, gifted, holy, beloved of God” — and thus worthy of the care and attention of the angels — I began to wonder where I’d failed. What had I done wrong? What could I do to make sure nothing like that ever happened to me again? How could I be good enough?

In time it began to dawn on me that I could never be good enough to escape the risks and rigours of everyday life. And then, threaded through those thoughts, was relief that my life had been spared, coupled with the bitter-sweet belief that “Only the good die young.”

In recent weeks I’ve had to deal with a string of stuff which at first I wished I’d been spared. But now, emerging from the situation (and allowing the sense of relief to subside), I’m seeing how much I’ve learned. And my soul is ablaze with gratitude and compassion.

When Bodhidharma was asked, “What is the first principle of the holy teaching”, he didn’t say suffering. He said, “Vast emptiness. Nothing holy.” (John Tarrant, in Poison and Joy


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