Father Joe

I HAVE BEEN ABSORBED BY TONY HENDRA’S moving and un-put-downable Father Joe. The late Dom Joseph Warrilow, Monk of Quarr Abbey, was for Hendra, and for countless others, “the man who saved my soul”. Hendra recalls that Father Joe, wonderfully warm, wise, present and humane, had said that “the only way to know God, the only way to know the other, is to listen. Listening is reaching out into that unknown other self, surmounting your walls and theirs; listening is the beginning of understanding, the first exercise of love.”

None of us listen enough, do we, dear? We only listen to a fraction of what people say. It’s a wonderfully useful thing to do. You almost always hear something you didn’t expect.

There’s no alternative to listening. The best debating listens; the best diplomacy listens; the best friendship listens; the best learning listens; the best loving listens; the best praying listens; the best teaching listens; the best worship listens. But none of us listens enough. None of us listens enough – whilst longing, in the midst of the perpetual noise of this world, to be warm, wise, present and humane. Tony Hendra’s story, and Father Joe’s example, encourage me to keep trying.

3 August  2006