In May 1975, I attended a lecture by Bernard Lonergan at the Thomas More Institute for Adult Learning in Montreal. I listened as he spoke about Healing and Creating in History, understanding little and feeling confused and disappointed at the end of the evening as I watched him walk slowly out of the large hall. I stoo behind a pillar to get a better look. As he passed, our eyes met, he nodded, and I found myself reaching out to shake his hand and saying: Thank you, Father Lonergan. Some of my best teachers have been inspired by your work. His mouth dropped open in apparent surprise, and then the blue eyes sparkled as he said: Thank you, my dear, I needed to hear something like that tonight.
I am not sure why I feel compelled to share this story with every group of students that I now introduce to Lonergan's thought. Perhaps I want them to understand something of the fragility of the man who wrote... even with talent, knowledge makes a slow, if not a bloody entrance. To learn thoroughly... calls for relentless perseverance. To strike out a new line and become more than a weekend celebrity calls for years in which one's living is more or less constantly absorbed in the effort to understand. Perhaps they will agree with me that the questions that move us to make the effort to learn something new are usually stirred into life by another human being. Perhaps they too will marvel at the mysterious effect we have on one another as we struggle to find meaning as we create a life for ourselves. (Moira Carley, Creative Learning and Living: The Human Element, Montreal 2005, 10-11)
Monday, 1 December 2008
I came across this lovely little incident revealing the fragility of us all, including the great ones: