Probing the limits

February 20th, 2013

Waiting in the doctor’s surgery yesterday for an hour. I don’t read the magazines which are all of the ‘Hello’ variety. I try to pray. As always the Jesus Prayer. And I think. I tend not to bring a book when I know I will have to endure the tedium of waiting for an appointment, or a bus or train. I try to use the enforced non-activity in a place I would not ordinarily choose to linger as an opportunity to pray and think. Prayer did not come easily. The fact that there was a new born baby in the room probably influenced the direction my thoughts took. Death is never far from my mind these days, specially when some organ or other ceases to function as it should. Whenever I think about death I tend to see it as one’s definitive birth. One has no idea of what is to come. (I find it hard to believe that death is the end, a final dissolution.) No more than a child in the womb could ever imagine what lies beyond birth. Seeing the little baby I was reminded of Lois’ excitement at feeling the movement of her baby in the womb for the first time. And this life, the end of which I am approaching, is second womb. Like the little baby I am approaching the end of my gestation. And like the little baby I too stretch out and probe the limits.


Now that I have raised my children and retired from work, now that my age means that I am no longer physically or mentally agile, now my days are filled with little routine tasks and activities. Of no great import. A succession of inconsequentials. Only when I sit still. Only when I still my thoughts. Only when I focus on the limits of awareness in the silence and the darkness, only then do I touch the walls of my womb. And as Michael Polanyi and Simone Weil have pointed out – a wall is a membrane which separates, and which joins. And it is permeable.