Before and After

Slab from the old monastery of Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly, Ireland
Slab from the old monastery of Clonmacnoise, Co Offaly, Ireland

Thirty-six years have passed since I crossed over a cold sea, ship-bound for Liverpool. Again I was leaving, searching for a returning. A dilapidated bus bearing the company name “Magic” carried me through what was then England’s industrial midlands, travelling south towards London.

Some few miles to the west of London (Londinium) a city established by the Romans lies the old parish of Harmondsworth which derived its name from Heremod’s enclosure. Millions of people from around the world traverse this landscape, for here, where now exists a large international airport, stood the old village of Heathrow.

In January1981 I was due to board an aircraft at Heathrow bound for Sydney. As the time neared departure, I felt a magnetic current drawing me towards a posture of waiting, an “inner voice” counselled me not to go aboard the plane. This call was clear, accompanied by a vision of what the future held should my life be moulded solely by the world of outside appearances. I could see that it would not matter how many or how good personal relationships might be, how great or important the job I might have, how much money I might earn, how many material possessions I might acquire, on its own all of this would amount to nothing. There and then I realised that to go solely forward and inevitably one way down into that “outside future” was to commit myself to a terrible existence.

The aircraft left without me.

What now, I said to myself? Three days later I met a man who received me into his care and began to direct me back and up. It is said when the pupil is ready the teacher appears. To be offered the guidance of a teacher and to be open enough to receive what he or she has to offer is a grace. To accept then the conditions necessary to begin preparation, to be worked upon, so as to be moved towards submission. Submission to a higher influence often evokes in us a deep fear of the unknown. What is going to become of me if such a step is taken?

After having passed through a repetitive painful process that had allowed something in me to give up I was brought to this turning point. To have given up for a time even the desire for change and what I had searched for over the years had unknowingly placed me for a few vital moments in a mysterious stillness wherein I distinctively felt my life was being weighed. As has happened to others, I experienced a compelling need to come deeper into my inner self and there repose until through a blessed reorientation I found myself in silent witness opening towards the compassionate heart at the centre of my being.

Ted McNamara

“The moment one commits oneself, then providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events; all manner of unforeseen incidents and chance meetings and material assistance come forth which no one could have dreamt would appear.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe