Psallite Domino, qui ascendit super coelos coelorum ad Orientem, alleluia.
It is more than a solar year but less than a liturgical year since I last heard those words. They are the Communion Antiphon from the Feast of the Ascension (and from psalm 67, which I find a great source of strength). Something very odd happened when I last heard them; I knew I would be going out East. I shrugged it off and the conscious part of me laughed at the stupidity of this. I was very sick and hiding just how sick I was. Life was simply a struggle from day to day and beyond that there was no further reality. Death seemed far more likely than travel. I started putting my things in order, including righting the odd wrong from way back in my past, though still not sure if this constituted preparation for death or travel. Best live every day as if it were the last..... and pray as if every prayer would be the last one said....
Now that everything is indeed set for challenging but wholesome employment in Eastern Europe, perhaps there is a little "see, I told you so" playing around my subconscious. I am grateful for the prayerful calm and complete lack of drama associated with what is happening. It feels like the most ordinary thing in the world to be doing; getting rid of most of my stuff, leaving my routine and going to work for souls who seem so genuinely pleased to have recruited me. The "known unknown" that is leading me on is simply a somewhat abstract yet very human smile, but not one I'd dare ignore.
It seems no coincidence that so many of my friends are also heading off away from the UK. We all feel like chess pieces being moved into position. We know our limits, we know we will do nothing out of the ordinary, we know life will continue in a strangely familiar but uniquely uncluttered and concentrated way. We all feel prepared, alert and humbled by God's love for us.
And as I familiarise myself with the Greek-Catholic rite, I am struck by an often repeated cry of the priest:
Înţelepciune! Să luăm aminte!
Wisdom! Be attentive!
Indeed! God does indeed want my full attention, the spiritually refining days of passive sufferance are over for me; there is work to do. Work that is neither heroic or earth-shattering. And the nature of this work will probably be hidden from me. This is for the best, I work best in ignorance. As a priest who knows me better than most said to me, "if you actually knew what you did, you'd be a menace!"...