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Saturday, 27 November 2010
The Angel and the Atheists

From TMD's 2010 Carol Service for the First Sunday of Advent

... on the last verse of Angels we have heard from heaven, the angel ascends platform, singing.


Angelis
Do not be afraid.
Look!
I bring you news of tremendous joy
which every person will hear.
For a Saviour,
who is Christ the Lord
Is born this day
for you
in the City of David.
You will find a baby
wrapped in swathing bands
and lying in a manger.
And this will be a sign for you.

The three atheists come briskly onto the sanctuary. They wear dark glasses and university scarves Their banners say:


There’s probably no God.
Now, stop worrying and enjoy yourself.
(Atheist Bus Campaigns and the BHA)


Why believe in God?
Just be good for goodness sake.
(American Humanist Association).


The bad news is that
God does exist.
The good news is that
you don’t need him.
(Italian Union of Rational Atheists
and Agnostics)

Angelis
Can I help you?
The City of David is the first turn on your right.

Ovis
I don’t think you can help me, Sir or Madam. What are you?

Angelis
I’m an angel. That is, perfect will and pure intelligence.

Ovis
So far as I can remember there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence. (Bertrand Russell)

Angelis
Whose intelligence?

Ovis
Human intelligence.

Angelis
(Peering into his face) Umm.
As it happens, the Lord does praise intelligence: he says the children of this world are wiser than the children of light. Though it’s not exactly a compliment, and he suggests his followers should be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves though there’s not much sign of them doing it.

Ovis
(Points to the banner) One can just be good for goodness sake.

Angelis
I haven’t seen much of that either.

Ovis
Come, come. Man would be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. (Albert Einstein)

Angelis
(Looking around) Man does seem to be in a poor way.

Ovis
The National Secular Society affirms that this life is the only one of which we have any knowledge, and human effort should be directed wholly towards its improvement, and that supernaturalism is based upon ignorance, and assails it as the historic enemy of progress.
(NSS Charter)

Angelis
How does you brain work?

Ovis
Very well thank you.

Angelis
Your thanks are not misplaced. But how does it work?

Ovis
I don’t know. Brains are not my subject.

Angelis
Yes I can see that. If you cannot explain your own intelligence how will you explain the intelligence of him who made you? (St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses)

Ovis
A believer states everything must have a creator but fails to say how he was created. (The Atheist Blogger, 101 Atheist Quotes No. 60 source: Anon)

Angelis
By your own assertion you claim nothing has a creator; yet you do not seem able to explain how you yourself work.

Ovis
Are you talking about faith?

Angelis
Well, if you have no answer, let us by all means change the subject.

Ovis
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. (Richard Dawkins)

Angelis
Naturally stupid are all men who have not known God, who from the good things they can see, have failed to identify their creator.( Wisdom.13:1)

Ovis
There is no creator.

Angelis
Prove it.

Ovis
Can’t. I believe in evolution.

Angelis
Out of what did everything evolve?

Ovis
Matter

Angelis
Ah. Can you find any piece of matter anywhere in the universe whose precise appearance cannot be dated?

Ovis
Well, no. But knowledge is also evolving.

Angelis
It is increasing, we sincerely hope. But it will not change the date of carbon. There was a time when carbon was not. There was, provably by your own scientific accounting, a time of nothing. How could anything evolve out of nothing?

Ovis
But I believe all these things will - as science progresses - be explained. (Matthew Arnold)

Angelis
You are using a very awkward word, my friend. You believe; that is, you have faith. Now, good Mr Dawkins has said that faith is belief, in spite of, even because of the lack of evidence.

Ovis
Yes, yes! But he was talking about religious faith.

Angelis
Was he? But you just told me that faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence (another of Mr Dawkins’ one liners, by the way). Well, think! And evaluate the evidence.

Ovis
For creation, there is no evidence. (Sarcastically) The kindly God who lovingly fashioned each and every one of us and sprinkled the sky with shining stars .... is a myth of childhood, not anything that a sane, undeluded adult could believe in. (Daniel Dennett)

Angelis
Is he? Where’s your evidence? I’m sorry, my friend. If I may be permitted to quote good Mr Hitchins: What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. May I dismiss your argument?

Ovis
No! Perhaps we could agree to differ.

Angelis
Yes? Perhaps you were right to put God may not exist, on your poster.

Ovis
Prove God!

Angelis
Certainly. Perhaps we could break for a carol first.

Ovis
(Enthusiastically) I actually love most of the genuine Christmas carols. I was once invited to King’s College Cambridge for their carols and I loved it. (Richard Dawkins quoted in the Mail, 23 December 2008)

Angelis
(Scepticaly) We might not quite equal Kings....

Angel ushers them off as we sing While Shepherds watch their flocks by night....
The Angel and 1st Atheist, without placard, return on last verse. They sit on platform.

Ovis
Okay. Prove God.

Angelis
Certainly. The Lord said to those who followed him, his apostles, at the last supper, “Believe in me, either because I speak with the Fathers authority or because of the evidence of the miracles I have done.’ (John 5:37-40)

Ovis
Possibly, but I don’t believe in the Bible.

Angelis
But you don’t have to believe in the Bible. It exists. It is a physical object.

Ovis
I don’t believe in its content. What about the cheating and the trickery, the violence and the massacres and the rest of the dark deeds of the Old Testament (Verbum Domini 42). And what about the Law...

Angelis
(Amazed) You object to the ten commandments? Come, come, you are not that bad. The first three may pass you by, but you don’t like theft, murder, adultery and envy and you are willing to do as you would be done by.

Ovis
What about an eye for an eye, and stoning people, and burnt offerings and not eating prawns and pigs, and all the unclean stuff.

Angelis
Scripture is the Word of God in the words of men (Dei verbum III), not a dictation test from on high. The Old Testament is governed by the New; that is, those commands which are explicitly endorsed by Christ, are valid for all. And those which are not, are not.
For example, Jesus remarked: “You have heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”

Ovis
I don’t notice any Christians doing it.

Angelis
I don’t notice many Christians doing it. But, personally, I only accept responsibility for Roman Catholic Christians.

Ovis
They’re the worst.

Angelis
That’s right. There is more of them than the rest, and Christ insisted on coming to save not the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:13). As a devout Catholic, Hilaire Belloc said: “No merely human institution that conducted its affairs with such knavish imbecility would last a fortnight.” The Roman Catholic church is not a club for the nice and virtuous, but a hospital for the sick and disorderly.

Ovis
You take the words right out of my mouth.

Angelis
But no one can claim that the Gospels command war, murder, abuse, adultery or lies. If Christians do these things it is for their sins, not their principles.

Ovis
(Cautiously) I might, just, be prepared to concede that Christ was a good man.

Angelis
Don’t. He wasn’t. Read the Gospels. Try your teeth on: I am the way, the truth and the life; I an the resurrection; before Abraham was, I am. (John 14:6, 11:25 & 8:58) You have two choices: either he’s a nutter or he is .... God.

Ovis
You’re dodging. That’s faith. I don’t do faith.

Angelis
No. It’s a rational estimate. If the Lord was a mere human nutter even you would be able tell. Mental disturbance is fairly transparent.

Ovis
Has it occurred to you that the Gospels might lie.

Angelis
Why should they? Almost everyone who wrote them died a violent death which they could have avoided by renouncing their message. Do you really want proof?

Ovis
Yes.

Angelis
Hundreds of thousands of people have died because they would not deny that Christ is God; more of them in the last century than in the nineteen before. We are the witness to the truth that sets you free. To die for someone else proves that you love someone else more than yourself - that’s true life - and holiness.

As I started to say earlier, Christ said, “Either believe in me because I speak with the Father’s authority or because of the evidence of the miracles I have done”. And he added, “I tell you the truth. He who believes in me will also do the miracles that I do - and greater miracles than these, he will do!”

Ovis
Oh, miracles! (politely sneering). Paranormal phenomena have a habit of going away whenever they are tested under rigorous conditions. That’s why the seventy four thousands dollars reward of James Randi, offered to anyone who can demonstrate a miracle under proper scientific controls, is safe. (Richard Dawkins)

Angelis
In the last 30 years the Catholic Church beatified 1340 people and canonized 176 (give or take a saint). Unless they were martyred, there has to be a miracle each time. Look up some of them; a lot are in living memory.

Ovis
(Scoffing) For example?

Angelis
At the age of 22 Sr Catherine Capitani had varicose veins of the oesophagus, her stomach was an open mess and she was dying. Through the intercession of John XXIII she was completely cured. The doctors declared that there was no possible scientific explanation for the cure. Sr Catherine is alive and now in her fifties.

Gianna Mola was a doctor married to another doctor when they were told she would not survive the birth of their fourth child. She refused to have a termination. Their child was born and Gianna died of sceptic peritonitis a week later. The child, Gianna Emmanuela is still alive; she is also a doctor. However, Gianna Bereta Mola, is not merely a saint because she laid down her life for her child, but because God heard her prayer for Elizabeth Camparini who had a torn placenta and lost the amniotic fluid surrounding the child in her womb. The doctors said that the child could not live, but she carried it to birth. Mrs Camparini and her child are still very much alive.

The Australian nun Mary Mckillop was canonised a few weeks ago. Her prayer to God healed Veronica Hopson, then aged twenty three, of myeloblastic leukaemia. A mother of six, Veronica attended the canonization with Kathleen Evans, who was healed of inoperable lung and brain cancer. These are still alive. They were all in Rome last month

Juan José Barragan, a Mexican drug addict, after stabbing himself, leapt off the balcony of his mother’s flat and hit the ground thirty feet below, on his head. His mother, Esperanza, implored the help of Blessed Juan Diego. They took Juan José to Durango hospital where they still have the X-rays and medical reports. Three days later he rose from his bed, completely healed in body and mind. The doctors said it was unheard of, amazing and inconceivable. Mrs Barragan and Juan José are still alive.

And many of us watched the beatification of John Henry Newman and saw an elderly deacon who was so excited he nearly forgot to take the book of the Gospels with him up to the lectern. That was Jack Sullivan whom John Henry healed of spinal stenosis ... Are you going somewhere?

Ovis
(Over shoulder, exiting) The National Secular Society asserts that supernaturalism is based on ignorance and assails it as the historic enemy of progress....

Angelis
What’s progress? (They turn to him and face him) What do you want to be when you are grown up, mm?

Ovis
Alive! (hastens off)

Angelis
(As they hasten off) You’re so right! And that brings us to the real theme of tonight’s celebration: Life.
(Exits)

The service continues with On Christmas night all Christians sing and ends, ultimately, with God rest ye merry gentlemen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


TEXT: barring attributions, TMD 2010

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Recent Work....

TMD Icons of St Peter and St Paul for St Oswald's Church Coppull, Chorley, Liverpool Diocese, and vestnents fo St Clare's Parish Chester.  Banner for Pope's Visit fot Connah's Quay.

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Papal Visit Live

In this Papal visit, there is no official place for Contemplative Nuns, special attention is being, rightly given to those who are teachers. Since there was no where we could go together we decided to stay at home and watch it on EWTN. As Mother said, we’ve had a straight rush with harvesting, in rapid succession, peas, beans, soft fruit, apples and plums we will sit and watch with sandwiches! so here we are! We were struck by the graciousness of the Queen and the unassuming gentleness of our Father. The Queen thanked him for receiving so many other members of her family; we could not help thinking of the Duchess of Kent, Lord Nicholas Windsor, Lord Downpatrick, Lady Marina-Charlotte....

Sound bytes that struck us

I have come to you as a herald of Peace. Benedict XVI

Live in respect and mutual love. Benedict XVI

There is only one thing that lasts; the love of the Lord for each one of you. Benedict XVI

Education in respectful and affectionate trust. Benedict XVI

If we had nothing in common we could not communicate and if we had everything in common we would have nothing to say. Lord Jonathan Sachs

Listen to the music between the notes. Lord Jonathan Sachs.

We created you from peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Dr Khalid Azzam (quoting the Quaran)

No two snowflakes are alike, but all are sixfold. Dr Khalid Azzam

It is He who is seeking us who places the longing for himself in our hearts. Benedict XVI

The dialogue of life involves us in simply living beside each other. Benedict XVI

The Catholic church follows a path of engagement and dialogue. Benedict XVI

It is what is unholy on both sides that keeps us apart. Archbishop Rowan Williams quoting Pusey.

Unity will only come about in answer to prayer. Benedict XVI

The Church is called to be inclusive, but never at the expense of truth. Benedict XVI

Robust debate and sheer intolerance, a difficult past and a turbulent present, may not be a barrier to an enlightened future. Faith is not a relic, either in political discourse or in modern society.
John Bercow (Pa smiled at this, with appreciative amusement)

Time is always short. Helene Hayman, Speaker of the House of Lords.

Obedience to the word of God because it is a true word. Benedict XVI

THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH THAT IS NOT THE AUTHORITY OF SERVICE. Benedict XVI

Lifting up our own bodies as a sacrifce, completing in our flesh what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. In our flesh He continues to be in agony until the end of the world. Benedict XVI quoting Pascal

You are a priestly people called to consecrate the life and work of the world. Benedict XVI

I ask each of you, first and foremost, to look into your own heart. Think of all the love that your heart was made to receive, and all the love it is meant to give. After all, we were made for love. This is what the Bible means when it says that we are made in the image and likeness of God: we were made to know the God of love, the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to find our supreme fulfilment in that divine love that knows no beginning or end.

Every day we have to choose to love. Benedict XVI

THE FRUIT OF THE CROSS IS THE CIVILIZATION OF LOVE. Benedict XVI

Not what are my entitlements, but what are my responsibilities, not what can I do for myself, but what can I do for others. Faith is part of the fabric of the country. Mr Cameron

Monday, 8 November 2010
Preparing the Way

The Papal Visit I

papa benedict papal visit

John Henry Newman, like many of your little sisters at TMD, became a Catholic after long prayer and thought. He was not born into it. Nobody made him do it.

The Roman Catholic Church in Britain in the nineteenth Century had its own very real struggles and it hardly knew what to do with a humble intellectual genius who loved the Church - except to put him to the test. Newman is a saint of the heart. He was a wonderful friend, a marvelous teacher, a transcendent theologian and a lover of life. In beatifying him, the church accepts with humility that he was only gradually understood.

This community - as those who attended the 2008 Carol Service will know - has a great love for Cardinal Newman, for nothing that Church or state could do to him shook his love for Christ and his body in this world. A month before the visit started we began daily readings from Newman’s writings after Holy Mass and the Official biography for the beatification in the refectory.

Meanwhile, in the throes of desperately trying to finish overdue vestment and icon orders we were asked by a local parish to do a banner for the Hyde Park Vigil.

8 nov 2010 connah's quay banner

In the fortnight immediately preceding the Holy Father’s visit to this country, we began to pray the prayer for the Visit at the end of mass.

We also, in the daily intentions kept in our prayers the leading secularists, whom the Vatican press office described with wry amusement as ‘noisy but marginalised’. If we love God and unite ourselves with his will, all these people and many more like them will discovers the truth and come to see God face to face .... and heart to heart.

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Friday, 28 May 2010
A week with the Word

Something wonderful happened to us!

Religious people are required by Church Law to have a six day retreat once a year. Well, we have more retreat days than that; our life is prayer - and our greatest prayer is our togetherness. So we really like to give ourselves a retreat!

A kind friend suggested Father Peter Burrows - and we had the most incredible week. He is a theologian of Sacred Scripture who has something outstanding to share and can communicate it. But more than that!!!!!!!! He was where we are and we loved him!

We quote from the Amazon page for his book “Jonah the reluctant Missionary”,

Peter Burrows is a retired priest of the Diocese of Plymouth living and working with the Society of African Missions in London. Born in Los Angeles, California, he studied theology at Harvard, and received a Ph.D. in Rabbinic and Biblical Literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a post-graduate degree in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy and was licensed to practice as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapy by the State of California, working for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as a Family Therapist. He has lectured in Scripture and Psychology at seminaries, colleges and universities and in many parishes and synagogues throughout the United States and Britain.

He also lectures at Allen Hall and is an SMA Father.

This picture is him, though its not a good one! If you ever get the chance to hear him, take it and enjoy it!!!!!

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Easter 2010

When we celebrate the Easter Vigil at TMD we are trying to do what the Church did from the start: to spend this night in vigil. It is not just the Church! We are doing something that goes back perhaps thirty five centuries. So like all vigilantes we are trying to stay awake - not shorten our prayers!

The Lord seems to create different themes each year. This year it was the Church in her pain and humiliation at this time and the sufferings of the Successor of St Peter.

During the mission of John Paul II to the Church, the figure of Peter in our Easter garden was that of the Pope. After he went home to our Father’s house, we could not immediately replace him with a sculpture of our Father Benedict XVI. But this year, we did so. The scenes of the passion and resurrection took place in front of St Peter’s and Christ rose from his grave in the catacombs of the Basilica.

Of the nine readings of the Vigil, the Prophet Baruch seemed to capture our minds and we turned it into a conversation. You will have to imagine the Prophet standing in the midst of the choir with his interpreter beside him....

A reading from the prophet Baruch.
Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life:

Are you listening to what God is saying to you?

How is it, Israel,
that you are in the land of your foes,
grown old in a foreign land,

Have you got enough time - to spend it clinging to the things of this world?

grown old in a foreign land,
defiled with the dead,
accounted with those destined for the netherworld?

Are you seeking death or life?

You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!

Are you really listening to what God is saying to you?

Had you walked in the way of God,
you would have dwelt in enduring peace.

Is there a deep desire to be obedient to the Lord in the centre of your heart?

Learn where prudence is,
where strength, where understanding;

Are you learning the ways of God or is self getting in the way?

that you may know also
where are length of days, and life,

Are you using God’s time well?

that you may know also
where light of the eyes, and peace.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Who has found the place of wisdom,
who has entered into her treasuries?

Have you entered into the pearl of great price?

The One who knows all things knows her;
he has probed her by his knowledge
The One who established the earth for all time,
and filled it with four-footed beasts;

Do you marvel daily at the Lord of creation and all he has made for us?

he who dismisses the light, and it departs,
calls it, and it obeys him trembling;

Are you a light that he can use to illumine the darkness?

before whom the stars at their posts
shine and rejoice;
when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”

When God calls do you say immediately ‘Here I am’?

when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!”
shining with joy for their Maker.

Are you a person filled with the joy of the Lord?

Such is our God;
no other is to be compared to him:

When did you last shout for sheer praise for the knowledge of God’s existence!?

He has traced out the whole way of understanding,
and has given her to Jacob, his servant,
to Israel, his beloved son.

Has God confided in you his plans for peace and justice?

Since then she has appeared on earth,
and moved among people.

Are you a witness to God’s plan of salvation?

She is the book of the precepts of God,
the law that endures forever;

Are you living the law of love?

all who cling to her will live,
but those will die who forsake her.

Are you prepared to give life to others?

Turn, O Jacob, and receive her:
walk by her light toward splendor.

When you learn the ways of God do you put them into practice?

Give not your glory to another,
your privileges to an alien race.

Do you know just how privileged you are?

Blessed are we, O Israel;
for what pleases God is known to us!

God is here present among us. In the radiance of the Lord make your way to light, to wisdom, to truth. As God pleases, as God wills!!

This is the Word of the Lord.

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How to do - February 2010

To celebrate Mother Damian's feastday, which (it is rather like the Queen's birthday) we have transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes, we wanted to do a presentation on the life of St Bernadette. For those who like to follow our adventures - and for anyone who would like to share it with their community or prayer group we have put the script of this play for voices below.

Hail Holy Simplicity!
All we did was seat the community at the back of the Choir to read the voice parts and have two projectors, one with standard slides of Lourdes and Bernadette and the other with magnificent abstracts of water, wind, fire etc (atcheived by splashing glass paints on clear slide frames!) slightly over-lapping on the wall. And a couple of people in charge of wind and water sound effects!

It requires a minimum of ten voices and during it we sang the Vidi aquam ('I saw water flowing', from the Easter liturgy), the Hail Mary and the Kyrie (of the Mass) You could use any settings of these common texts or simply say them. If you would like our settings just send an SAE!

Water,Wind and Light

An oratorio for spoken and sung voices on the commission of Saint Bernadette.

It begins on the Easter Sunday morning before Bernadette’s death.

Bernadette
Voice 1
Voice 2 (the child)
Voice 3
Voice 4 (the accuser)
Voice 6
Voice 7
Voice 8
Mary

Chorus
I I saw water flowing.....

Voice 1
To the thirsty I will give water, as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Bernadette
When I dream it is as if I am always running downhill through a series of arched doorways, that the wind blows open before me.  The wind is warm on my face, like the warmth of a candle flame if you brush your finger through it.

Sound of rushing air.

Bernadette
They tell me there is a cave in the side of Calvary under the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  At Easter the Greek Patriarch comes out of it with the Holy Fire and the faithful light their candles from it, and, drunk with joy, they pass their hands through it and run the candle flame over their bare arms, sick people pass a fire over their ailments and some are healed. People wait outside with carriages and the Holy Fire is carried to the boats and taken to Greece and Russia and the flame runs like a wind over the face of the earth....
At Easter if you saw the world before dawn it would be a great procession of lights…. Light and water…. And arched doorways blowing open.

Voice 1
Who are you ?

Bernadette
Soeur Marie Bernarde

Voice 2
Where were you born ?

Bernadette
Lourdes. (She coughs)

Voice 3
Why are coughing?

Bernadette
Because I have a lung disease.

Voice 4
What is the first question in the Bible?

Bernadette
(Indignantly) That isn’t in the catechism.

Voice 4
None of these questions are in the catechism. What is the first question in the Bible?

Bernadette
The first question in the Bible is, Did God really say….?

Voice 3
(Interrupting) How did you get lung disease ?

Bernadette
When I was ten there was cholera, it left me with asthma and weakness of the heart, after the cholera came famine and we all but died, after the famine came the Cachot.

Sound of wind blowing

Voice 5
(Surprised) Can you hear something?

Bernadette
Yes, yes !

Voice 4
Just answer me one question, Mademoiselle Soubirous, why did God choose you?

Bernadette
Because he could not find anyone more unsuitable.

The Chorus, as they speak,  reposition themselves to one side. The profile of the Grotto appears on the wall behind them.

Chorus
Suddenly from heaven,
there came the sound like the ru>>>>>>>sh of a powerful wind.
divided tongues of fire resting on you,
Tell us! What did you see ?

Bernadette
A rose bush on the edge of the niche was swaying in the wind, it was the only thing that moved, everything else was still……I saw her.


Chorus
(Earnestly) A woman clothed with the sun,
the moon under her feet,
a crown of twelve stars on her head.

Bernadette
(Dismissively) No-No-No! She was a young girl, no taller than I, she might have been sixteen, she smiled. Sometimes she looked as though she were going to laugh

Voice 1
What did she say?

Bernadette
Nothing!

Voice 2
What did she look like?

Bernadette
Beautiful!..... she was so beautiful.

Voice 3
(With childlike awe)
Did she look like Our Lady of Puy?

Bernadette
(Amused) No little one.

Voice 5
Did she look like Notre Dame de Paris?

Voice 6
(Quickly now, they are all pressing Bernadette in their eagerness)
Notre Dame de La Salette?....

Voice 7
Our Lady of Montserrat ?....

Voice 8
The Mother of God of Mariazell?....

Voice 2
Of Vladimir?....

Voice 3
Of Rome?....

Bernadette
No, no, no and no, she was alive! When she went I couldn’t bear it.

 

Voice 4
(Derisively) You imagined it.

Bernadette
(Disgusted) Go away! You cannot imagine heaven!

Voice 4
You can try.

Bernadette
(Firmly) Vade retro……….

Voice 3
(Lingering on after the others have gone) Please what did she say to you?

Bernadette
She said, ‘I do not promise you happiness in this world’…..

Slight pause, sound of fountain

Bernadette
I can hear the sound of water.....

Group one (Voices 1-4)
Penitence, Penitence, Penitence!!!

Group two (Voices 5-8)
Repent and believe in the good news of God.

Voice 2
I baptise you with water.

Group two
Repent and believe in the good news of God

Voice 2
He who will come will baptise you with fire.

Group one
Penitence, Penitence, Penitence!!

Voice 2
Pray to God for sinners and kiss the ground.

Group two
Repent and believe in the good news of God

Voice 1
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Chorus
There was a man who was sent from God his name was John.

Voice 1
He came as a witness to bear testimony to the light.

Voice 5
From his fullness we have all received.

Chorus
(Whisper) Grace upon grace.
(moderately) Grace upon grace.
(shout) Grace upon grace!

Voice 3
(Odd and excited) I saw the Spirit descend like a dove, I heard the voice of the Father proclaim, I myself have seen and bear witness that this is the Son of God.

Chorus
Repent and believe in the good news of God.

The sound of wind is added to the sound of water

Bernadette
I can hear the sound of the wind!

Chorus
Listen toy the breath of God moving on the face of the waters.

Voice 2
Listen to the beat of your heart, listen to the pulse in your ears,
as God breathes life into your lungs.

Chorus
(Whisper strongly) Listen! hushhhhh!

Voice 6
I must turn aside and see this great sight,
the angel of God in a flame of fire,
in a burning bush
that is not consumed.

Chorus
(Whisper more gently) Listen! hushhhhh!

Voice 2
(Softly but commandingly) Moses!

Voice 6
Here I am.

Voice 2
Come no closer,
take off the sandals from your feet
for this is holy ground.

Voice 1
Kiss the ground.

Voice 3
Kiss the ground for sinners.

Chorus
I am who I am.

Voice 6 (With awe)
Let my people go!
Unbind my people and let them go!

Chorus
I am who I am.

Voice 2
Kiss the ground for sinners.

Chorus
I am who I am.

Voice 8
Which is greater,
to say that sins are forgiven or, ‘rise up and walk?’

Voice 5
I am who I am.....Hushhhh!

Bernadette’s smiles and claps her hands. During the song that follows the chorus hand each other glass bowls of water in the centre of which is a lighted candle, on the last refrain they go forward and place their bowls on the ground. Exeunt, except voice 4.

Voice 5
Spring up O well, sing to it, sing to it, sing to it.

Chorus
Spring up O well, sing to it, sing to it, sing to it.

Voice 5
Gather the people together, I will give them living water.

Chorus
Spring up O well, sing to it , sing to it, sing to it.

Voice 5
Go and drink at the spring and wash in it.

Chorus
Spring up O well, sing to it , sing to it, sing to it.

Bernadette
(Delighted) I can hear the sound of the wind and water, I can see the light!

Voice 4
(Somewhat mockingly) You saw her. You saw her eighteen times. One appointment you did not keep. Of the eighteen times you said, you saw her, eleven times she was silent……

Bernadette
No! Two of the times I said that she spoke, but it was a secret just for me.

Voice 4
What did she say to you?

Bernadette
If I told you, it would not be a secret.

Voice 4
Very well, nine times then; nine times she was silent. On some of these occasions you were there for nearly an hour. In silence. In silence? What did you do?

Bernadette
I prayed. She taught me to pray.

Voice 4
How?

Bernadette
(To herself; she has forgotten that voice 4 is external to her). She was heaven. The Grotto was heaven. The waters are not for me; I will never go back. But I am always there in the Grotto. You will find me in the Grotto. (Slight laugh) Even without permission, I can go to heaven.....

During bernadette’s last speach Voices 1,2,3, 4 and 6 come further back. They are now the paralysed boy and his four friends from the gospel, voice 5 is also the boy’s mother. Heavy banging from same area.

Bernadette
(Surprised) What’s that?

With appropriate noises.

Voice 2
Push!

Voice 1
I am pushing!!

Voice 2
Get the beam aside.

Voice 5
Give me an axe.

Several more crashing bangs and a couple of bricks falling.

Voice 6
You’ve got it! You’ve got it!

Voice 2
Well done lads! Now pull out the ends.

More indeterminate noises.

Voice 3
(moan of pain)

Voice 1
Careful, take it slowly.

Voice 3
(Anxious) I am going to slip off!!

Voice 2
No you are not. Close your eyes.

Pause.

Voice 5
Keep the other side straight.

Voice 6
Sorry!

A very slight thump.

Voice 2
If you take the front, I’ll take the back.

Voice 1
Right.

Voice 3
(Gives a sharp gasp of pain) Ah!

They are, so to speak, now confronting Bernadette.

Voice 1
(As if indicating the stretcher) He’s paralysed.....

Voice 6
.....Disseminated sclerosis, tubercular fistulas, blind, and hemiplegic.

Bernadette
I see.

Voice 1
(Briskly)He’s been to the baths.

Voice 2
He’s been to confession.

Voice 5
He’s been to Mass.

Voice 6
He’s been blessed at the Blessed Sacrament Procession.....

Voice 3
(Interupting) I want to go home.

Voice1
(In kindly exhortation) You have faith.

Voice 3
(miserably) I haven’t got any left.

Voice 2
That’s alright, love, we have faith, all four of us.

Voice 6
The medical bureau got his certificate, he’s been given up by science, and his mother has ordered his coffin. That’s right isn’t it?

Voice 5
Oh yes, I have ordered his coffin, Doctor.

Voice 1
(Turning to Bernadette) We haven’t any power in ourselves.

Voice 2
All we’ve got is faith, and we won’t go until he is cured.

Voice 3
(beginning to sob) I want to go home.

Bernadette
I am sorry.

Voice 5
Nothing to be sorry for dearie, we all just do what we’ve been told.

Voice 2
Look, Miss, what are you waiting for?

Bernadette
(Puzzled) What do you want me to do for you?

All five shout.
Pray!!!!!!!

Voice 2
Herself spent all that time teaching you to pray, the Bishop told you it was your assignment, what do you think we’ve come for?!

Bernadette
Oh! (The penny drops) Oh! Yes! Your sins are forgiven stand up and walk.

Voice 2
(As though trying to hand on to the stretcher) Steady! Wait for it!

Voice 3
(Ad lib) Ohh! I can stand! (Jumps up and down) I can stand! I can stand! Mamma Mary, I can stand!

Three jumps up and down, runs around the stage and runs off with a yell of joy! (returning queitly to take her seat)

Voice 2
(Pleased) Mmm! Ok; lets go down to the Grotto and give thanks, or do we go to the medical bureau first?

Voice 6
No. They’ll give him the once over, but they don’t want to see him for a year. The thing has to be instant, unmedicated and require no convalescence. I mean; who needs a months rest after a miracle?

Voice I starts saying the Our Father as she goes out of choir door

Voice 2 Well I never! Bit of alright that!

Voice 5 Wont his father be stunned!!!!!!!!

They quietly return to their seats

Voice 7
That was not a first class miracle. even if it is on front of the Basilica in mosaic.  Insufficient medical evidence! In 150 years, in reality, here have probably been around twelve hundred cures. They have almost nothing in common. Some have happened outside Lourdes entirely, some on the train home. Some have been cured at the baths, or got off their stretchers to follow Our Lords living presence in the Blessed Sacrament round in procession. We are very particular; we require absolute proof that you had your infirmity before you were healed and absolute proof that you no longer have it. With X-rays and doctors reports. Every sort of illness has been cured here - except hysteria. But we only absolutely claim rather less 60 first class miracles.

Voice 6 has joined 7 as soon as she is out of her Hospitalité gillet

Voice 8
Most of the early miracles are not included because of the inadequacy of medical science in the nineteenth century. And many modern cures cannot be considered because when their doctors heard the word Lourdes they didn’t want to know.

Voice 5
Gerard Baillé is not really first class. His optic nerves had withered and died and his mother - carelessly - prayed that he would have enough sight to get a job, but he had to wear spectacles. We don’t accept spectacles (we are very hard to please). The mere fact that his optic nerves are still withered and dead, does not make any difference.


Voice 4 And there was Elie Auclair, he relapsed. Elie was a complete and bitter atheist. His hatred for a non-existing God was intensified by Pott’s disease, paralysis, huge open abscesses, and approaching death. His believing wife got him to Lourdes dying on a stretcher - and he went home dancing. But the knowledge of his own sins and his former hatred of God overwhelmed him, even though he knew that he was forgiven. His disease returned with horrific physical sufferingand he lay on his death bed filled with peace and grace, after seven months of intolerable agony, he died smiling. He is not a miracle, he is a saint.

Voice 8
MarieBailly had tubercular peritonitis and Henri Mieuzet had terminal enteritis.  They were among the many healed people that became priests and nuns.

Voice 2
Catherine Latapie, the very first Lourdes cure dipped her withered hand in the spring after the 12th Apparition and was healed. She walked the nine miles to her home village and had a baby that same day. He too became a priest.

Voice 1
Justin Bohouhorts, the third Lourdes miracle, lived so long after his death certificate that he sat him up in the sanctuary by Pius XI at the canonization.

Bernadette
What canonization?

Pause. Voice 4 coughs politely.

Voice 1
And she did not promise you happiness on earth?

Bernadette
Oh! But I have had happiness on earth! Promised or not. I may have spent my life between Calvary and Tabor; but I have been so happy.

Chorus
Tabor, let us go in procession to Tabor and build a chapel.


Voice 2
Go forward in procession with branches.

Voice 3
Even to the altar.

Voice 4
Go forward in procession with candle even to the Shrine.

Voice 5
Even to the Shrine.

Voice 6
My vows I will fulfil .

Voice 8
Before those who fear Him.

Bernadette
One thing I have asked of he Lord this I seek to dwell in the house of the Lord!

Voice 1
Go out quickly!

Voice 2
To the streets and lanes of the city

Voice 3
And bring in the poor

Voice 4
The maimed.

Voice 5
The blind

Voice 6
The lame.

Chorus
Go out to the highways and hedgerows.....

Bernadette
She said, “Tell the priest, I want people to come in procession!”

Chorus
......That my house may be full.

Bernadette
(Wonderingly) I live in a glass cloister. (She lights her candle from one of the lights.)
It is as if our cloister was a stairway, I walk higher as I see your light, I am part of the procession, In the dark I walk through the archways of glass in a procession of love. Follow me.

Chorus
II Hail mary X3 Full of Grace X3 The Lord is with you X1

Voice 1
It is good to be here.

Chorus
(Each, randomly) It is good Lord to be here.

Voice 6
It is good Lord to be here.
 
Voice 2
Let us build three tents.

Chorus
It is good Lord to be here.

Voice 2
Tell the priests to build a chapel....

Chorus
It is good Lord to be here
 
Voice 2
I have prepared a place for my people.

Chorus
It is good Lord to be here.

Bernadette
(Dreamily) It is good Lord to be here. To be where you are; to walk with your people. To be before the altar of the Church that you have built.

Bernadette
I am here - but I am not. (She falls to her knees facing the platform) Heaven is not tomorrow and another place, heaven is here and now (to herself) I see now what you meant when you said I do not promise you happiness here but in heaven, heaven is always breaking through into earth.

II Hail Mary up to third Blessed art thou among women

Chorus
I saw the temple in heaven open
and the ark of the covenant was there.

Mary
I was poured out before the springs
Before the fountains of the deep
In the beginning I was made
The first of God’s created things.

Chorus
I saw her clothed with sun and crowned with stars
she had the moon be neath her feet

Mary
My robe is whiter than the snows
My face shines for you like the sun

Chorus
Then saw a new heaven and earth
The dwelling place of God is with men

Mary
All those who loved me I have loved,
to those who seek me I am there,
for those who thirst God gave to me,
a spring of everlasting life.
I am the Immaculate Conception

Chorus
I saw the Holy City New Jerusalem
Come down out of heaven from God
Jerusalem above is /free
And she is our Mother.

Bernadette
You’ve come ! O you’re come as you promised!

Mary
The great loneliness will soon be over.

By the Cross of Jesus, I stood. Take your place beside my son.

It helps to be very still,
As still as Massabielle.

On the Cross your will, at Gods invitation, has placed you where fighting and anger are irrelevant. Rest in his love and my nearness

Pause

Bernadette
Life is only the waiting room of heaven, I was made of nothing and God made this nothing, something great……(pause) ‘I give you the assignment of prayer,’ that is what he said.

Chorus softly

III Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Lord have mercy

The chorus return to the platform, Bernadette’s seven last words which follow are said with dramatic intensity and appropriate pauses. Voice 4, carries a large candle and Voice 7 has in her pocket a small glass cup.

Bernadette
My Jesus, how I love him

Chorus
III Lord have mercy

Bernadette
(Looking up calmly at Mary) I saw her, I saw her…..

Chorus
(Not looking at Mary, whom they cannot see)
II Hail mary X3 Full of Grace X3 The Lord is with you X1

Bernadette
But she was so beautiful, I long to see her again.

Pause – drum crescendo

Bernadette
(According to ability, gives a loud cry or groan of agony)

Chorus
III Lord have mercy

Bernadette
(Quickly) My God! My God….

Chorus
III Lord have mercy

Bernadette
Pray for me a poor sinner….
This is repeated randomly several times, including during the singing of the Kyrie.

Chorus
III Lord have mercy Christ have mercy Lord have mercy (Softly)

Longer pause

Bernadette
(In a voice faintly hoarse, but triumphant) I thirst!!!

Voice 7 takes a glass, dips it in one of the bowls of water and helps Bernadette take a sip.

Chorus
I I saw Water Flowing soft and slow

Chorus
To the thirsty I will give water as a gift
From the streams of everlasting life

Long pause: Bernadette is dead.

Chorus begin softly and swelling out
II Hail Mary in its entirety
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If you do use this would you like to acknowledge Ty Mam Duw in the Programme Notes - and do let us know how you got on!

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Letter to my Moslem friend

Dearest Pushpindar,
God is good!
We have not seen each other since we were teenagers, but in the Spirit we are always present to each other in affection and respect, and the internet allows us to speak. There is so much goodness of God to share.

You were the first follower of Islam whom I came to know personally. My family had no faith and I was brought up as an unbeliever. I knew as little about Islam as I knew about Christianity. It was Ramadan and you had spoken about fasting. You said that it helped you to focus; that it confronted you with the simplicity of prayer and the needs of others. Someone asked you why you were a Moslem and you answered, “For myself, I believe that we should follow the religion of our fathers; the religion into which we find ourselves born.” This troubled me, for my father according to the flesh was an atheist.
At the end of the discussion I asked you quietly - I was ashamed that I did not know - ”I am sorry, Peanuts (the name you preferred in those days!) but what do Moslems worship?” You answered witheringly “God!!! Of course!”
I owe you this Pushpindar, that when I set out to seek God for myself, I, too, started by fasting.

God led me to the Catholic Church. I love her because she is a place of awe and reverence where I can bow down and worship God. I am not talking of bricks and mortar, but of a people united in adoration of the Living God. I feel especially blest to have found a father whom I can revere, to teach me the faith of love. He is Benedict XVI. He prays that we may all find the love of the Living God and he seeks dialogue between peoples and civilisations. Dialogue is not the same as discussion. Discussion is a controversial exchange designed to lead to a single conclusion by the reasoned victory of one proposition over other propositions. But in a dialogue, two people lay before each other their beliefs and experiences, not in head on conflict but side by side in respect. They try to share what they have understood and not to defeat all other possible understandings.
The Emperor Manuel II asked Ibn Hazn a question: “What new thing has the Prophet brought?” In quoting this question my father has made it clear that he did not agree with the Emperor Manuel’s conclusion. It is a good question; for dialogue.

May I invite you, Pushpindar to come on a spiritual pilgrimage?
I would like to take you to a small island off the coast of Wales. It is called Ynys Enlli. Shall we travel there in the Spirit and gaze across the cold seas to the north of Ireland? You are looking out on Christian provinces divided by centuries of bitter warfare and you say to me, sadly, “What new thing has Christianity brought to this world?” I bow my head and answer, “God himself came to us in Jesus to show us the way of love. And our lives are still torn apart by greed, war and violence. Pride envy and the refusal to forgive still eat our hearts, though we have been fed on Christ’s Word and his Body.”

Then I will beg you to look at the land on which we stand. I will say, “This is called the Island of Saints. Many centuries ago a man who loved God lived here. All his life he had tried to be a hermit. Everywhere he went people loved him so much that they followed him round Cymru, till he came here, where the waters are so treacherous that to set out to it on a small boat is to risk death. And still people wanted to be near him. Even after his death, the memory of him was so beautiful that everyone wanted to be buried beside him. For many centuries a great house of God stood here, whose monastic family praised God day and night. Over the ages, hundreds of thousands of people dared these waters when they thought their time had come to go to God, so that they might be buried in the shade of St Dyfrig and his holy companions. The fathers of the monastery cared for the sick with such tenderness that many pilgrims decided not to die after all, but got well and went home.”

I would turn you round, then, and direct your eye towards an industrial city in the Midlands of England., and I would tell you of a servant of God called John. He studied the teachings of my Church and found them rational, true and good. But this was not enough for him; he wanted to see the holiness of Jesus in the people whom he deemed to have the right ideas. I will believe, he said, the Catholic Church’s claims when I see, today, barefoot friars walking through the brutal slums of our cities, feeding the hungry, and serving the poor and sick.
John turned round and found himself facing St Dominic Barberi in Birmingham, serving a people who, for the most part, suspected and despised him. John lived in a century in which more religious orders and lay institutes were founded to feed the hungry, nurse the seek, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned and empower the downtrodden by education, than in the eighteen centuries that had preceded it. But John Henry Newman’s eyes had been closed. When he allowed God to open them, he found he could indeed see.

Please share with us, we beg you, what new things Islam has brought to our world. Tell us your stories of holiness. You have answers. Do not hide them. Do not let yourself be manipulated. The Western press deliberately distorts the Pope’s word’s into inaccurate and incendiary headlines. These are picked up by the press in Islamic countries in an even more garbled form, and people for whom the Hellenization of Christianity (the topic of the talk at Regensburg) is a closed book, end up on the streets in a riot. Who benefits from this? Only those in the west who are seeking a justification for a war that everyone - and not just the former Cardinal Ratzinger who said so from the start - is beginning to see is a thoroughly unjust war.
Do not abet those who hate you, but, I beg you, answer those who love you. Ibn Hazn and the Emperor Manuel II were having a discussion, they had never heard of dialogue. The Emperor spoke brusquely; he answered his own question without giving his Persian friend a chance to reply. My father is not a brusque person, he is a man of noted delicacy. He has said that he does not agree that the Prophet brought only inhuman and evil things. But unlike the Emperor, he is not so discourteous as to answer the question for you. Will you answer it?
May we pray together? Can we share this prayer, which is not without humour, found in a book about an imaginary civilisation? The public worship of this Eutopia was divided between heartfelt song and silent adoration, it required the putting right of all wrongs between family members before it could start. It only had one prayer:

O God, I acknowledge you to be my creator, my guide and source of all good things. I thank you for all your blessings, especially for letting me live in the happiest possible society and allowing me to practise the truest religion. If I am wrong, and some other religion and culture would be better and more acceptable to you I beg in your goodness to reveal it to me, for I am ready to follow where you would lead. But if my culture is the best and my religion most true, then keep me faithful to them both and bring the rest of humanity to adopt the same way of life and faith - unless the present variety of creeds is part of your inscrutable design.
When you take me to you, let my death come easily. I do not presume to beg that it be soon or afar off, but if it is your will I would rather come to you soon though it were by a most painful death than be kept long from you, even by the happiest life on earth

This prayer was answered. St Thomas More was not kept long from his God and died at the hands of fellow Christians; praying.
Life is short. For all of us. Answer soon.
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To Pushpindar Murrypurry b circa 1954 and educated at Newarke Girls Grammar School, Leicester.

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The Delinquent
Ty Mam Duw

He was a delinquent like any other delinquent; dull eyes, school failure, no work. His clothes hung on him, yet he was not a pathetic figure; his bent face was a picture of futile spite and anger.
He sat resentfully in the room to which they had taken him.
Another officer came in and reproached him in the legal terms of his accusation with having broken into the garden and hacked the branches and fruit off the one-of-a-kind tree. Wanton, destructive, senseless, empty..... Then they left him alone.
He felt tired, irritable and a bit frightened. But he did not think. He had learned how to feel without thinking years ago - except on the practical edges of his mind .
He could hear the ticking of a clock that he could not see; a wheezing clock that seemed to drag every second to its final agonized extreme before the painful click of time passed.
The room was completely bare and windowless, lit from the ceiling. Ther was a hard white table and a scuffed chair. The steel door, which had a 20 centimeter grill, was complicated by protected hinges.
He sat crouched, tensed to do something. There was nothing to do. Time passed.
He did not hear an approaching footfall. The double latches geared and shot back and a man walked in. A plain clothed officer, very tall, heavy, imposing.
Instinctively, the boy stood up and backed to the wall. The officer sat on the seat the boy had vacated and looked at him.
“It wasn’t my fault,” the boy said. The officer looked at him and the boy hooded his eyes. “It never is,” he replied. The clock obtruded its slow tick into the room.
The officer crossed his legs. “How would it be if we offered you another chance? You know the sentence for what you’ve done, but there can be an alternative. The alternative is an obstacle race” - The officer laid a stop watch on the table - “against time. First of all you have to escape from this room. I’ll drop you a hint. The way out is different from the way in. Then you have to get through the combined obstacle course and I.Q. test. Again, I’ll give you a hint; you are the only person you will meet on the course and your choices will depend on you. If you complete the course you will receive a billion dollars and inherit the earth. If you fail to complete the course you will be destroyed. Do you want time to think?”
The boy looked up, fear and hate almost equally balanced.
“Alright.”
“Alright, what?”
“I do the course.”
“You try the course.”
“I try the course,” the boy echoed, with shrill sarcasm.
The officer stood up, making the boy seem even more trivial. He started the stopwatch, turned, and passed through the steel door. In the second it shut, the boy was on it, clawing at the sophisticated fitments, pressing levers, trying skeleton wire, and the old plastic card trick, with no result. He assumed that the door must be the way out because the man had said that it wasn’t. It took a long, wasted time to convince himself that it wasn’t.
Then he put the table against the wall, and dragging the chair up with him, he began to beat in the light panel. But behind the glodex sheeting there was merely a niche with a fluorescent tube Three quarters of the way round he hit too hard and the lights went out.
The dark was complete.
Gritting his teeth, he felt round every inch of the walls. Then futilely, he went over the door, again. There was nothing.
Cold and sweating, he groped for the chair and sat down. He forced himself to think. He had tried the door and the walls. He had not tried the ceiling or the floor. To try the ceiling would require standing on the table on a chair in the dark. He would start with the floor. It was his first analytical thought.
He worked from side to side systematically, carefully, amongst the shattered glass and plastic of the light panels. In the centre of the room he felt the outline of a trapdoor or manhole cover. He fingered the fitted square, carefully. There was nothing to get hold of.
He felt hopelessly tired. He had no knife or screwdriver. He scrabbled at the neatly tiled edges. Something thin to slip down.... the glodex panels! He felt for a piece that was big enough and prized it down the sides. The plastic bent but the trapdoor moved. He forced apart the opening and pulled the heavy iron top away. A coldness rose up from the empty space. He could feel no bottom. Once again he was forced to the dilemma of thought. He could not stay where he was. He had to escape. He would lower himself slowly and if his feet did not touch the ground he would let himself drop at arms length to minimise the fall. He got to arms length and he could not feel the floor. His nerve rebelled in terror and he would have climbed back up. But his fingers slipped and he dropped about eleven metres onto a sandy floor. He lay trembling where he had fallen.
It was no longer absolutely dark. To his horror he became aware of light from the manhole space he had fallen through. Then he heard the unmistakable grinding clang of the manhole being replaced. Feverishly he began to crawl away. It still wasn’t completely dark. He was in some sort of cave or natural tunnel. Still on all fours he made his way to the light.
He came out. It was the night of a brilliant full moon. He leant back against the rock face and breathed deeply with relief. Before him was a desert valley strewn with jagged and pillared rock formations. He was so tired he would have laid down and gone to sleep, but suddenly, behind him came a snarl and a roar. He started to run.
His mind wanted to lie down and die, but his body kept on grimly running. Every time he slowed the beast roared a few feet behind him. Creased with stitch and shaking with exhaustion, he stumbled on into the dawn.
The day when it came, burned. The beast had gone, but now he was driven on by thirst.
The days that followed were alike in this; he was driven on - thirst, beasts earthquake, terror. He was made to run and made to choose. It seemed like a whole lifetime. It seemed like three lifetimes.
Exhaustion, fear and choice were his constant companions. But of other people, he saw nothing. His isolation was absolute. Sometimes there were hints of human habitation in the distance, but the inner forces of his journey drove him away.
He knew himself to be a man with the plague, bearing the mark of Cain.
He ran for ten, or was it sixty thousand years? Then he came to a cave in the twilight. He was old, worn out, destroyed inside himself, but he had learned to think.
There was a sound. He had almost forgotten what it meant. It was a woman singing.
The woman’s sleeves were rolled up. She reached over the manger, straw clinging to her apron, and picked up the baby whom she had just been washing. The woman reminded him of someone he had once known. So did the baby. He stood before the manger, awkward, strung up, out of place.
The woman held the baby under its armpits, its legs dangling, its shouldered hunched. It dawned on him that she was holding the child out so that he could take it.
“Welcome, Adam,” she said.