JACKAL HOWLS AND STARRY NIGHTS

BAGUETTE LUNCH TODAY with a priest colleague who’s one of my most inspirational pals. Over a quarter of a century Jerry and I have regularly nattered away over coffee and sandwiches and I’ve always come away inspirited, often challenged, always happier, invariably enlivened, and usually with a renewed booklist since, as with all my closest friends, we natter largely about the people and the books that have been teaching and delighting us since we last met. Energising encounters. Ours, and those we engage in with others. Life-friendships of this kind are our richest gifts.

We talked about pretty much anything you could mention today. And about Carlo Carretto, the Little Brother of Jesus who, to quote the bumph on the back of I Sought & I Found (DLT, London, 1984) …

… burnt his address book, left Catholic Action and set out for the Desert. Carlo Carretto, the son of poor Italian peasants. Carlo Carretto, the great and inspired spiritual writer. Here he is again, mature but ourageous as ever, as outrageous as Jesus of Nazareth. He gives us his own story and along with it his prayers and his help.

‘The desert – the real desert, the one made out of jackal howls and starry nights – was the place of my encounter with God.

‘No longer did I wish to discuss him. I wanted to know him.

‘I sought the God of all seven days of the week, not the God of Sunday.

‘It was not hard because he was there ready waiting for me.

‘And I found him.

‘And this is why I say with joy, and dare to testify to my brothers and sisters in the Spirit: I Sought and I Found’

There ready waiting for me. Sometimes I find him in ‘the desert places’ of my own life. Sometimes I find him in Jerry. Sometimes I find him in you, dear reader. And in these encounters I am most fully alive. I seek and I find. I am sought and I am found. God is ready waiting for me – to find and to be found. And I am ready waiting – to find and to be found. So’s Jerry. And you. And the people manning Alimentos Gratis at St Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco. We are, as we said over lunch, “on the cusp of something”. Laus Deo!