Talks and Reflections by Brian Boobbyer

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The Second Touch

Christ cured a blind man. He touched his eyes once and the blind man could see people vaguely 'like trees walking'. Then came the second touch and all was clear. He could see other people as individuals.

I am suggesting that we all need both touches.

St Teresa of Avila, the patron saint of Spain, who lived in the 16th century, wrote about her 'second conversion'. She mentions it in her famous autobiography which, after Don Quixote, is the most widely read prose classic of Spain. She was 40 at the time, having become a Carmelite nun at 21.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta described a similar experience for herself as 'a call within a call'.

I remember God first getting a foothold in my life at the time of my confirmation in the church when I was 13. My conscience then rescued me from various habits. But I was still the centre of things, aware of myself, I think, as a decent bloke with a few minor blemishes.

Seven years later, I was challenged to listen to God and compare myself with Christ and His standards. I found I was not the decent person I thought I was.

This was for me the beginning of the second touch.

I got a Christmas card from an old university friend. At the bottom he wrote: 'Isaiah chapter 60 vv 1-2'. I read it, and it seemed to me like a charter for the new year: 'Though darkness covers the earth, and dark night the nations, the Lord shall shine upon you; and the nations shall march towards your light, and their kings towards your sunrise.'

It seemed to say to me, the darker the darkness the brighter the light can stand out. As AIDS and violence spread, and despair grows, there is one essential for all of us: to make sure that our candles are fully lit.

Psalm 18 says: 'Thou wilt light my candle.' A quiet time in the morning enables us to leave our rooms with our candles lit.

And if the candle flickers or goes out, what then? I suggest: pray quietly, obey the next thought, care for the next person.

There is a simplicity about the spiritual road in life which we can recapture each day.

If I believe in God and do not give Him priority it seems perhaps that I am content with the first touch. I may have a certain spiritual dutifulness, determination and intensity, but there is no music.

God can cross out my self-will. That is the Cross. Then I am free from myself.

That is the second touch.

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