On Saturday, eleven days ago, whilst Lucy was in England doing her knitting wool thing, Molly and I were taking a stroll around the local Plan d'Eau. The weather and the ground were damp that day, and there came a moment when, lo and behold, I found myself lying on my back and gazing at the limited wonders of an overcast sky. My first reaction to this unexpected state of affairs was to murmur, "Oh Moll!" as I discovered I had let go her lead. Now as you probably know, our Molly is as deaf as a beautiful, black post; her eyesight isn't up to much either. Thus it was with a sense of pleasure and relief that I felt her snuffling my face, with her tail banging against my chest. She had not wandered off, and was safe. It was only when I realised what a fool I might have looked, lying on a wet and gritty path, that I found the necessaries to get back on my feet, and drive home.
At home, I was engaged in the partial laying of a new hall floor, a task I wished to complete before Lucy returned home on the Monday, two days hence. This I did manage to do although the pain in my right thigh, and a slight niggle in my right knee, was causing some difficulty. You see, when I fell - I had caught my foot in a grass-camouflaged animal hole - I did so with my bunch of car keys and my purse/wallet in my right-hand trouser pocket. If I knew the values of the parameters involved in the thigh/keys/wallet-to-ground contact, I'd happily calculate the force of the contact for you. It felt like many tonnes per square centimetre. (Alright, tons per square inch then.) As the week progress, my thigh improved quite satisfactorily. Unfortunately, unsuspected damage to my right knee, held in abeyance whilst my thigh healed, now made itself unpleasantly apparent.
Yesterday, having collected all the reasons I needed to see my local GP, (my alarmingly colourful knee and associated pains, two hypodermic syringes of anti-flu stuff for Lucy and me - mine's free - and a request for my annual blood test) off we went to the surgery. After some gentle poking and prodding, and slight manipulation, the doctor concluded that there had been a sprain, damage to various ligaments, bleeding into the knee joint, and possible disruption to the meniscus between the thigh bone and the lower leg bones. (For those interested that's a cartilage between the femur and the tibia and fibula, the whole joint suffering the effects of a haematoma.) At the completion of our visit, and not needing to have an X-ray - which can be a real pain, sitting in a clinic with sick people and screamingly ebullient kids running around - we went on our way rejoicing, as the saying goes, to 'la pharmacie' for some painkillers.
It has to be said that yesterday I was feeling rather less than well. Nights are difficult to cope with at present, and when the morning finally arrived, and finding me in something of a 'below par' state, I was offered breakfast in bed.
"Poor Tom!" I hear you saying, "Needing to be fussed and coddled."
Now please do not be concerned on my account. Being fussed and coddled by Lucy is not something I have a strong aversion to; in fact I have no aversion to it at all; I will go further and say I rather like it. So there you are, confession is good for the soul, and so is fussing and coddling.
This morning, meditation was very difficult. Frankly, I was feeling on the up and found it difficult to find a sense of inner tranquillity. I burned a stick of frankincense and myrrh (well you have to do things properly, and my knee is far from pain-free) but it didn't help. Then, before I had a chance to start beating up on myself for my failure to carry out my spiritual exercise in a successful manner (get thee behind me, Ego!), some thoughts came to mind. But before sharing those thoughts with you, let me say that in my experience mortification of the senses was a necessary path out of the extreme spiritual difficulties in which I found myself in the late-eighties/early-nineties. I have never found physical mortification an attractive proposition, so have never indulged, except when falling down when taking a stroll, or similar experiences.
Now let me share those thoughts I alluded to a little earlier.
"When the will, the moment if feels any joy in sensible things [experiences of the senses - my brackets] rises upwards in that joy to God, and when sensible things move it to pray, it should not neglect them, it should make use of them for so holy an exercise; because sensible things, in these conditions, subserve the end for which God created them, namely to be occasions for making Him better known and loved."
[St. John of the Cross]
So I don't feel bad about my morning meditation. The next thought is one I really like.
"Anybody who wishes to do so can get all, and indeed more than all, the mortification he wants out of the incidents of ordinary, day-to-day living, without ever resorting to harsh bodily penance." [Aldous Huxley]
So that's alright then! My fall (Oh the pain! Oh the agony! etc. etc.) turned out to be a blessing in disguise?..........No-o-o-o-o-o!