Chapters of Life

At the end of a 20 km bike ride, I lay flat out on my back on the boardwalk of the Chaguaramas beach, staring intently at the dusk sky. I allowed my thoughts freedom to roam. 

First thought: I reminisced on my youthful days of vigorous exercises that I have now abandoned. Then my thoughts jumped to a birthday conversation with Gabrielle Peat, a centenarian, who commented: “Oh. My memory is not what it used to be.” I remembered collaborating with her as a catechist in a former parish and her memory was as sharp as a kitchen knife. 

Second thought: Our life is like a book consisting of countless chapters. Each chapter narrates the progression of the physical body, mental capacity, social development and spiritual life. Gabrielle and I have turned the pages of our books to new chapters in the mental and physical dimensions of our lives. 

Third thought: What are the chapters of the book of life? The chapters as determined by the four dimensions of God’s creative imagination of the human person – spiritual, intellectual, physical/emotional, and social. Each of these has its own chapters.

Fourth thought: What determines the content of each chapter is not the unexpected or expected circumstances of life, but the way in which we respond to these circumstances, the way in which we are aware, learn, adapt and adjust. These shape the way we negotiate the thick and unexplored forests of life.

Fifth thought: When humans face painful atrocities of life – slavery, human trafficking, refugees, child labour, rape, sexual abuse, murder – that is what drives them to rewrite the chapters of their lives to the admiration of readers of their book. I recall the words of Frederick Douglass: I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs, and A slave is one who waits for someone to come to free him (Ezra Pound).

Sixth Thought: These women and men, reflected in Douglass’ and Pound’s quotes, carried among their meagre possession faith. They believed in a God who doesn’t wear pyjamas.  

Seventh Thought: The people of Haiti are writing and rewriting new chapters of their lives.

Lying on my back, I prayed that, through the just generosity of our hands, feet, heart and mind, chapters of the lives of the Haitian people may end with the resurrection. 

How are you writing the chapters of your life

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