Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ealing... West London, for the traditional Conventual Mass at Ealing Abbey at 10.30.  No mean achievement, given that I had gone to bed not many hours before (see below), and had to negotiate the bus and Tube journey on its slow Sunday schedule...

The Mass at the Abbey is beautifully sung, and the great arches seem to swoop the sound up to Heaven. People are reverent. Holy Communion under both kinds. The robed choir processes in and out behind a great Cross.  Afterwards, I chatted to friends - we had been together at the party just a few hours before!

My reason for going to Ealing was to be with Dennis and Mary O'Keefe. Dennis is a distinguished academic whose writings and lectures have stirred, inspired and challenged people over the years. Just at the moment he is giving us all a lesson in courage.  Following grave injury in a fall two years ago he is immobilised  recieving round-the-clock care in a nursing home, with the support and love of his wonderful family.  Relays of friends have of course been visiting. Sometimes in pain and frequently enduring discomfort, Dennis nevertheless has been showing courage and good humour. His wife Mary is a tower of strength. Trying to think of something that would be interesting and helpful to him, we came up with the idea of  starting a discussion about his experiences in Poland back in the days of Communism, when Dennis, along with Roger Scruton, was a speaker in Poland at gatherings of the underground University, giving lectures on philosophy, and taking part in wide-ranging debates...part of the extraordinary series of activities which led to the formation of Solidarity and the eventual collapse of the Communist system.  Now the  fulll story is being put together, and a piece of valuable history is being recorded. With Dennis describing some of the adventures, and me scribbling in a notebook, and emails back and forth to Poland - and a planned visit by Auntie to Krakow in March - this whole project is slowly taking shape.

This morning, Dennis had been able, with difficulty, to sit in a wheelchair for Mass celebrated at the Home. It was exhausting, but an achievement, and made the day special.

Curiously, Ealing in the part of London that has long been "little Poland", with Poles settling there after WWII, and Polish churches and shops and a whole community life. Sometimes, after visiting Dennis, I've dropped into a Polish shop or used a Polish internet cafe, and it has seemed v. appropriate...

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