Fr Kevin Neal
It was a pretty amazing seventh form and it was one of the last that I had responsibility for as a boarding master and as senior dean.
It was just before I went to the seminary and began the bridging course towards priesthood.
I had the senior boarders to care for from day to day but it was really the whole of seventh form because the boarders and day boys got on so well together that you never knew who would be around the hostel or when.
They got on well as a class, too – probably too well, because they were likely to be at someone’s house baking a cake for some competition instead of being at history or whatever.
Having said that, they did extraordinarily well in class – and are still doing well.
They got on well both in class and on the sports field. Rugby, soccer and basketball were well represented at several different levels, and they gave great leadership to the younger boys. I was quite proud of them when they moved on from the college, both boarders and day boys, and in the various ways that I caught up with them over the years. They seemed to return fairly often.
Then I moved down south, for three years in the seminary. Apart from the occasional meeting, our paths didn’t cross.
It was with some joy, then, that I did meet up with an old boy from that time many years later. He is happily married, raising a family and is doing very well at his job.
I was expecting a cup of coffee and a good yarn, and that would be that. Little did I know that most Saurdays since then the two of us would get together for an extended yarn and coffee somewhere around Palmerston North.
We know the best coffee houses within a 30 kilometre radius of the city and of course I’ve met his wife and grown-up children.
I first met Michael, for that’s his name, in Form 1 at the college, and we met again off and on until he finished seventh form. He’s in forties now, a fine man, and one of many that I’ve known down through the years.
He doesn’t tell me all his troubles and I hope I don’t burden him with too many of mine. We just have a yarn and see a tiny little bit of what lies ahead.
There’s a book on this subject that came across again this morning. It’s called Practising the Power of Now, by the German-Canadian spiritual teacher and best-selling author Eckhart Tolle.
I remember reading this book, before I was laid low with stroke, and thinking that this author was on to something.
He says we can’t do a single thing about the past and the future is a mystery to us, but the present – that is an event of great satisfaction. Just enjoy it.
I think we all have people knocking on our door. If we live in the now, all we have do is let them in.