Thursday, 1 October 2009

One of my days on Gozo

It is pleasantly hot, nothing like the excruciating August heat. The house I am staying at is gorgeous, neither words nor pictures do it justice. The lower floor is some 300 years old, used to be a manger, with holes in stones for tying the animals still intact. There is a huge roof terrace, a courtyard, an inner well, a balcony onto which two bedroom open, it is a paradise! And in a quiet dead end street lined with plants in huge pots.

Church clocks beat time every quarter of an hour. Technically speaking, I don’t even need a watch here. I think they stop some time during the night and start again at 5 am. Oh yes, from 5 am on, life begins…

I started my first day on Gozo, rather confused yet, and unable to find the right church, with a mass at 10 am. Then prayer in front of the crucifix.

What is it about Malta that makes me prioritize the right things at once? I have only been gone for 5 months, and yet again - people who are important are forgotten, the mass and prayer that should be the centre of all life, of all day, are somehow shoved aside. Not neglected, but just, somehow, not in the centre. Is there too much to do in our over-civilized world? Too many choices? Too much information?

In Marsalforn, I got on a bus, and as the driver was starting the engine, I noticed with my side vision that an elderly lady one row behind me on the other side made a sign of the cross and characteristically kissed the crossed fingers. As much as I was tempted to think of this being directly related to the Gozitan/Maltese driving technique, the recent Scripture came at once - never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Yes, it’s that simple, isn’t it?

When I prayed in front of the crucifix in the basilica today (St George), I suddenly thought: “This is where I want to be, yes, exactly in this niche, in this corner tucked away from the world, in this place, in this state of mind”. After a few seconds had passed, I realized this was exactly what Peter wanted to say when he saw Our Lord transfigured on the mount. He wanted them all to stay as they were - in that feeling, in that place, in that moment. The Lord didn’t answer him anything…

Neither did he answer me, of course, but as minutes passed by and I looked at the crucifix again, I almost saw it. Peter couldn’t stay. Neither could Our Lord. He had to go to the cross. As a matter of fact, so did Peter. We all have to follow in the footsteps of our master, and if even he could not remain in that state forever who am I to expect perfect choices in perfect circumstances? I remembered my last evening in Whitland last year and the way I suddenly saw the cross as my own… I suppose, it will only be in heaven that we will actually be able to experience this perfection constantly.

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