Wanted new members for the Intoleration for Intolerance Society.

Two men are digging up the road outside my place this morning. A pneumatic drill’s growls are mingling with Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.

It would be so easy to be irritated.

The peace of a Sunday morning disrupted by road works, the part of me that I least like would go out there and complain.

It is not the fault of those two men. It is very cold and grey today and they looked cold and grey too, covered in road dust with snow on its way. I bet they would rather be doing something else.

Their bosses would have ordered it, hoping not to disrupt weekday traffic. After-all, cars are the masters, not that old-fashioned concept of the peaceful, contemplative day of rest.

Last night, the sounds of thirteen year old female anarchy, echoed through my walls as I was trying to go to sleep. A party, (obviously), out of hand, (well why not?), and loads of fun was disturbing the peace – well not my peace. Let them enjoy themselves. It is the dawning of their teenage years and if they can’t find fun now, when will they? My fractured spine does a good enough job keeping me awake any way.

A near neighbour, Helen, and I were talking the other week about how we are planning to become intolerant of intolerance. Maybe you can join us.

Someone who I would really like to join our all too small society, is His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

I must be careful here because I used to find his predecessor, intolerant if nice. I was having negative thoughts about him when I paid a visit to the Vatican last year. Passing his photo, I thought: I hope the human race, in its many varieties, is more tolerated by the new pope.

I wasn’t looking where I was going and tripped on an uneven paving stone. I limped round St. Peter’s with a bloodied knee and ripped trousers to remind me of Papal vengeance. Luckily the magnificence of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling eased the pain.

Well this week, another nice, intelligent and kindly looking old gent has shown either an astonishing lack of thought or, more likely, I fear, an unacceptable double whammy by his acts of tolerance.

So far my knees, are undamaged, but I am going to risk another act of papal vengeance regardless.

I saw Benedict deliver a sermon in Munich Cathedral once, long before he was made pope, when he was plain Cardinal Ratzinger. My german wasn’t anywhere good enough to understand what he was saying but I was there as a architecture enthusiast so that didn’t matter.

He looked very kind and gentle but the unfortunate and repetitive use of the word Fuhrer was slightly unsettling until I remembered that they call Jesus, Fuhrer in Germany too.

I suspect that he is a nice man and I also think he was trying to be tolerant last week when he made these two outrageous announcements.

He was busy welcoming back into his flock some prodigal sons.

First, he reversed the excommunication of four bishops who were followers of the extreme right wing French bishop Marcel Levebre who wanted a return of the, beautiful and moving, latin mass but who also had some pretty unsavoury things to say about the Jews.

He is long dead and probably not a candidate for canonization, but four of his bishops are still kicking and Benedict XVI has welcomed them home.

Tolerance indeed considering one of their number is a holocaust denier and others of the band have made public statements that the Jews are still to be held responsible for slaying Christ. Lets just say it, in other words, they are anti-semites.

I only wish his holiness would show equal tolerance to those excommunicated Liberation Theologians, those priests condemned for fighting, and often dying, for the poor and under-privileged in South America.

Well, his kindness hasn’t run that far as yet, but the pope has also shown another act of tolerance this week.

He has reinstated a German assistant bishop who believes that Hurricane Katrina and the deaths that it caused, was an act of God to punish New Orleans for its depravity exemplified by its tolerance of homosexuality and promiscuity.

Well, the Roman Catholic Church has sure got some interesting new members. Come on Bennie, try to show them the error of their ways, for sure, but please don’t welcome them back as if they have done nothing wrong. Long live Christian love and tolerance!

Meanwhile, I found my peace and contemplation in a different place than the Vatican yesterday or the road outside my home.

I went to a two hour kung fu workshop run by my kung fu club.

I am only just returning to it after my injuries. I have been able to do taichi even when I was on the hospital ward but kung fu was just too much with a fractured spine.

Well I am gradually getting back to it.

Those two hours yesterday morning allowed me to focus under my instructor’s all seeing eye, on my main four patterns, slowly, without any impact, but still physically and mentally inspiring.

I have so missed that feeling where the mind, body and breath come together, ideally, in total concentration and I learnt a lot just by that quiet, studied repetition of movements that are so easily fudged.

OK, I learnt how much I have to learn. Well not even that. I learnt that it is an unending study but also something that untaps so many things within me.

Doing it again reminded me just how much I love it, the challenge and each limited achievement. Also, I recognised that there is something about those moves, different in that subtle Chinese way from taichi, that gets me moving in a way that I have been exlcuded from since incurring all those body injuries three months ago.

I know how big a task lies ahead, getting back to the state of fitness I had reached last October. I am thinner and lighter, I can feel bones that were previously covered by muscle, I just dont seem to feel like me anymore physically.

After the recovery from whatever treatment lies in front of me, I also know that getting back to fitness will hurt. Well that is just tough – I will be worth the pain.

Some of the guys there were getting ready for the trip to China – one I was supposed to be taking – I am frustrated and disappointed that I will miss this, what would have been my second journey to that extraordinary country. I have been working all year not just on the kung fu but also on my mandarin chinese in the hope of enjoying deeper conversations with the almost totally non-English speaking population of Fuzhou. Some of them, Chen, in particular, whom I consider friends.

It looks like I will be in hospital now instead.

If my health is up to it, I hope to write this blog from my ward and include news from the China front as it is fed to me by my instructor, Neil.

I suspect, though, that some news I will not be reporting, is any sudden outbreak of human tolerance from the Chinese government.

Lets hope for some tolerance then, from them and from His Holiness and from all those other people in power. Come on guys, join our society.

Now, have those bloody men stopped digging up the road yet?

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