The other day as I left the tube I heard a man with a microphone yell out ‘repent sinners, you cannot change the past’. My local tube station is a lively place. It tends to be the venue for preachers, singers, trumpet players and even the occasional dancing dog (called Ricky). As I walked away and mulled over his message I realised that I am a daily time traveller. Working in the hospice means I am privileged to hear the most amazing memories. Sometimes I might accompany a patient as they remember what happened to them last week, or I might be walking with them as they remember the blitz, the swinging sixties or being a new romantic in the 1980s.
All my journeys into the past tend to be about regrets, failures or sins. Patients allow me the chance to time travel because they desperately want to feel God’s mercy acknowledge and heal their misdemeanours. True, you cannot change the past, but you can repent, say sorry and allow yourself to forget. Over the past year I have been struck by a very profound characteristic that most patients share – they are all excellent listeners. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says: ‘We need to practise the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing.
Listening...is an openness of heart.’ Hospice patients often display a breadth of self-awareness and openness of heart which is breathtaking. They readily time travel, repent, and hungrily desire God’s mercy and love. So in these last few days of the Year of Mercy, do not forget to go to your parish church and enter the confessional as if it is Dr Who’s Tardis and allow yourself to time travel, ready to encounter the God of love who is in every age. Please pray for the patients, staff and volunteers of St Joseph’s Hospice.
By Fr Peter Michael Scott, Chaplain to St Joseph's Hospice