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Ascending

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 12 May 2013

Getting older is not easy.

I am reminded of this on Bank Holiday Monday.  We are out for the day with my mother, the kind of day she always loves with her family, and grandchildren.  She certainly has never lost her love of people.  It is the middle of the day and we have taken her to the sea.  She is always up for everything despite her very painful arthritis.  But suddenly she says “I am so sorry, the pain’s bad, I think you’d better take me back home.”  At home I help her into bed and realise, even more, how difficult things have become, simple things, like taking off socks, picking up clothes on the floor, getting into bed and trying to roll over to get comfortable.  She is apologetic: “I’m sorry I’ve spoilt your day.”  “You haven’t at all.”  The desire is to protect someone you love from all of this, to be able to find the answer to the difficulty, the right tablet to bring the cure.  But I am very aware of our powerlessness.  We are stripped back to bare love.

This quality is brought out in Michael Haneke’s film: “Amour,” now on DVD.  It tells the story of an elderly married couple Georges and Anne still very much in love.  Anne has a stroke and as the film progresses her condition slowly deteriorates and Georges cares for her.  The outside world recedes as the flat becomes their Calvary.  There is no sentimentality, love is stripped down to something elemental – something like survival:  ultimately when all else is gone that is what is left, in Philip Larkin’s words “what will survive is love.”  How strange that it is here, where we least expected to find it that ascension begins, here in realising our human mortality that we also see our immortality and the grace of God.

Revd Richard Carter