Unable to unknow

May 9th, 2006 | By | Category: International

Sitting waiting for a phone call, an email came in from a friend in the Philippines, and my mind went back to the last moments of my last visit there.It’s five years ago now, but the images are deeply imprinted in my memory.

Sitting in a taxi in a Manila traffic jam on a Thursday evening, on the way back to the airport, knowing that I would be in Dublin the following lunchtime, I tried to imagine what it was like for those who couldn’t get on a plane and fly to Europe.

What was it like to be trapped in the life of the man who was trying to make a few pesos selling peanuts to passing motorists?

What was it like to be one of the family who were living under one of the highway flyovers?

What was it like to be living in a house made from bamboo and woven leaves in one of the many villages we had visited?

When these people meet with God, what thoughts do they have?

Their whole life, to us, is an unknowable experience.

It is hard to unknow what we know. We know we have comfortable homes to return to. We know we have our treasured possessions. We know we have our friends or family to turn to in times that are dark.

There are few people in our community who would contemplate turning away from all we have and willingly facing the nothingness. There are few people who would put themselves into a situation where there was no way out.

It’s impossible to let go of all the things that are important, to stand alone and vulnerable in a foreign place; to imagine ourselves with nothing.

If we cannot go into that other place, perhaps then we should ask, ‘ what does God want from me where I am?’

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