Saturday, 21 August 2010
Father Donald was also there of course and had entertained the group with his guitar playing. Mrs Davenport had excelled herself in preparing a lovely meal helped by Sister Martha and a few other nuns from the Convent nearby, who had also been invited.
All in all it had been a lovely afternoon with great food and drink and a wonderful small gathering of friends enjoying themselves and each others company.
Father Donald had just finished his solo performance of some Spanish melody on the guitar when Theodore decided to change the mood of the party altogether.
“I have brought my bagpipes with me …” he declared, “they’re in the car … let me fetch them and play you a tune or two … what?”
Before anyone could react to the suggestion, he stormed out of the garden missing altogether the sideways glances between Sister Martha and Father Donald.
“He has been practicing for some time …” said Rose sweetly with a smile, “I don’t see why I should be the only one to enjoy his noise …”
“It’ll make a change from the guitar …” replied Father Donald in his broad Glaswegian accent, “and it’s great to have someone proud to be Scottish … I would have learnt to play the bagpipes myself … but it’s hard to practice when you’re brought up in the tenements of Glasgow …” he chuckled.
A few moments later Theodore re-appeared with his bagpipes in hand.
“You’re from up North Padre …” he asked Father Donald, “Do you play the bagpipes?”
“I’m afraid not …” replied the priest, “I learnt the guitar instead as a child …”
“Oh … I can teach you if you wish …” said Theodore enthusiastically, “although I can’t think off-hand of any church hymns suitable for the bagpipes …”
As he started blowing through the pipes and getting ever so redder in the face, his cheeks inflated to the point where they would explode, there was a rustling noise in the bushes at the back end of the gardens; just by the statue of Our Lady.
They all turned round towards the bushes as Theodore stopped playing, and they saw a fox come out of the bushes and fall on its side at the feet of Our Lady.
“Strange behavior …” whispered Father Donald, “I’ll go there slowly to investigate …”
The others remained in their seats by the barbecue and watched intently as the priest walked ever so slowly towards the fox, trying not to disturb it. When he was a few feet away the creature let out a scream but did not get up or even move. It just lay there baring its teeth threateningly. Father Donald stopped and then after a short while he walked backwards slowly to rejoin the group by the fire.
“It’s badly injured …” he said, “its back leg is bleeding … probably shot by a farmer in the lands just behind our gardens … or maybe bitten by some dogs …”
Theodore pulled Father Ignatius gently aside away from the group and then whispered quietly “I have my shot gun in the car Padre … shall I put it out of its misery?”
“No … that won’t be necessary Theodore … I’ll phone the Animal Welfare Society for their advice,” replied Father Ignatius, “in the meantime, get everyone in the house … luckily we’ve all finished eating.”
About half-an-hour later they all watched from the safety of the house as the Animal Welfare Society people dealt with the situation. They tried to capture the fox and take it to an animal hospital where it could be treated and looked after until it is strong enough to be released in the wild once again. Every time they approached the animal he bared its teeth again and attempted to bite his benefactors. Eventually, it was caught and taken to the hospital.
“And to think I was prepared to shoot him …” said Theodore looking out of the window, “luckily the Padre here stopped me … well done Padre!”
“That fox reminds me of our behavior …” said Father Ignatius gently as he poured his guests hot chocolate drinks just brought in by Mrs Davenport in an extra large pot.
“How so … Padre … I don’t look like a fox do I?” interrupted Theodore as Sister Martha smiled coyly.
“When things go wrong in our lives we too tend to behave like that fox,” continued Father Ignatius. “We get angry at what’s happened, we’re concerned, frightened even, about the future … we get defensive and we go on the attack. We believe that God has abandoned us; and we’ve reached the end of the line.
“When we behave like that, we shut off a channel of communication with God.
“When God is temporarily put aside, He doesn’t stop loving us, but we block His influence to do good in our lives. Like the fox, every time God tries to help us we bare our teeth in anger. Our behavior is futile and un-productive.
“The fox did not realize that by being caught he’d soon improve his hopeless situation. But we should know better, and trust our Lord rather than lash out at Him without thinking.”
“How true …” said Sister Martha, “what a good observation Ignatius.”
“Thank you Father,” said Rose, “I’ll remember that next time I feel things are getting too much!”
Theodore put his cup down and declared “Jolly good show that God doesn’t carry a shotgun … that’s what I say … what?”