The Friday Thought - Learning the lessons of life again and again

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I was up the town a couple of Fridays ago and walking up Waterloo Street I met one of my father’s cousins. We began talking about a wedding both of us would be attending the next day.

Now it’s not every day you see a man in his 50s leaving your company only to disappear through the door of a tanning salon. Before I could make a comment he came back out the door looking rather red faced and shaking his head in amusement as he tried to explain how he thought it was the bookie’s.

He went on to blame me for distracting him but I thought it was more than a co-incidence that he should make the mistake of calling into the sun beds the day before the wedding. Let’s just say the jury is still out.

From time to time I’m known to have put my foot in it or made the odd mistake. The aforementioned wedding was a case in point.

There are times when I wonder why I bother with wedding practices because inevitably the couple always look like two lost sheep during the ceremony.

Obviously on most occasions neither of the couple have found themselves in the position of being a bride or groom before, so you have to make some allowances for nerves.

The exchange of rings and the exchange of the coin are usually the parts of the ceremony when the couple look at you blankly and in their eyes you can see them silently crying for help wondering want to do next.

Generally I advise them to look lovingly into each other’s eyes or they end up putting me off.

There was a new development at this wedding; the couple got mixed up at the Nuptial Blessing, the blessing for their married life together. Instead of kneeling down to receive the blessing the bride and groom got to their feet and proceeded to go down to the congregation to make the sign of peace. Nearly in a panic I had to call them back. When the couple realised their mistake they started to blame one another and at this point I realised they were well and truly married.! I then made the off the cuff remark that it was a case of the blind leading the blind. Only then did I look up into the balcony and notice that sitting in the middle of Long Tower Folk Group who were singing at the wedding, was Richard Moore. To say I moved swiftly on to the next part of the Mass was an understatement.

Obviously after the ceremony I made my apologies only to discover no one in the folk group, including Richard, had noticed the remark, at which point I wished I had kept my mouth well and truly shut.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson but no doubt they will be countless other occasions in future when I talk myself into trouble. I’ve never really copped on to the concept of thinking before speaking.

There are many lessons we learn on the road which is life, some we have to learn over and over again.

There is a stubbornness in human nature which condemns us to making the same mistakes.

Above all it could be characterised as the weakness of the human condition. On our own we try to manage without reference to anyone else, we like to be independent of help.

At times we don’t like to be seen as weak, to have to rely on the assistance of others. Pride is a strange thing and it lurks in all of us.

There is nothing wrong with being proud but often our pride is based and founded on the wrong things.

We can become so caught up in ourselves we fail to recognise the achievements or the needs of others. We all need confidence to overcome our fears so we can live life to the full.

Confidence has to be grounded on the one proper foundation which is offered to all of us, namely God’s love for all of us as his children. As St Paul reminds us, if we want to boast of anything it should be our faith and our reliance on God.

The disciples huddled in the boat in the midst of the storm represent the story of all of humankind.

We find our story there as well, when the storms of life affect us, when we’re hurled and battered by the tragedies which afflict us, we wonder where we can go, we wonder how we can stay afloat.

As long as he stayed focused on Jesus, Peter was able to do the impossible, to walk on water.

Yet when he became distracted by the wind, the rain and the very human realities of everyday life he was overwhelmed, lost sight of Christ and began to sink.

The same is true of us, if we lose sight of God, if we fail to trust in him and try to rely on ourselves, then we too will begin to sink. God approaches all of us in the storms of life and his message is simple, do not be afraid, for I am here!