James Roose-Evans, at 90, quoted T S Eliot today in his inspirational ‘audience’ with us at The Bleddfa Centre: ‘Old men should be explorers’.
If ever there was an explorer through – and of – life, he is one. And like many explorers, he is able to open up the way for others to find new territories.
The territory James Roose-Evans explores is the inner life, the journey is inward, and the destination? James encouraged us today to think of it as ever further, beyond, still to come. ‘Don’t think of yourself as old. No – not ‘old’! Older!’ Always moving forward, always looking ahead, and moving towards.
And death. We talked also about that great taboo. James thinks we do not think about death enough. And how do we think about that great thing we all face, we all come to? James doesn’t see it as an end, but as transition, a moving from, through and towards. At 90, he is able to say this without it seeming sophistry.
Someone asked him how he managed both to have given so much energy to so many different aspects of his life: so many disparate creative projects, his priesthood, theatre directing, Bleddfa itself, and so much more, and at the same time go so deep into silence in his life. The silence, he says is the place, the balance, the inward source of everything else. If James has an overriding message, it is to turn attention inward both to understand what is in us, and to find the deepest connection with something greater than ourselves. Everything we need, all the resources we need, he says, are in here, are within: we do not need to get them outside ourselves and from others.
And if we practise silence in our lives, give space to our inner life, it helps us to receive synchronicity in our lives and be open to things when they come to us. Learn to listen, so that we recognise something special when it is before us
After a shared period of silence, James’s final word was from Hamlet: ‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will—.’ In other words, as he says, if we f…. it up along the way, it doesn’t really matter that much: something beyond ourselves is there, shaping something beyond the end we see.
And, that brings me back to Eliot again: ‘In our end is our beginning’. Let us not be afraid.