STEPHEN D’EVELYN: Buses Pass Me By: Making the Invisible Visible

In general, … [Aquinas] thinks, human goodness requires an emotional commitment. So, for Aquinas, the good life is a passionate life. It is not achieved by the repression of emotion but by emotion guided by virtues.

McCabe, Herbert (2008-03-24). On Aquinas: Foreword by Sir Anthony Kenny (Kindle Locations 1199-1200). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Buses pass (me) by. I have my bus pass but it will not filfill its purpose unless the circustances are right and the bus is the right bus. are right and the bus is the right bus.

In the taxi later, I am reminded of the passion of patience. It is Ramadam and my Parkistani driver and I talk about fasting. He says the Arabic word for fast means ‘waiting’. THe more prosaic information I find online just says it means to abstain. fasting is not simply denail, it is waiting, delay, preparation.

Being passionate is taking part in the passion of being, the passage of passing throuough. It is however soemthing we do together: passing creates relating. I watch the trees and houses go by, looking for landmarks that tell me we are almost home, and we talk about the day and what we will do when we get home as we go.

All of this has a certain inflection and pattern of grammar influenced by me being disabled, partially-sighted, at the edges of fully-sighted worlds. Time passes in special ways, I suppose, as I anticipate and remember things I do not sully completely, as they emerge and dissolve.

But this fragmentation is a kind of splendour, or can be, shot through with pain, yes, but full-bodied (if not ‘able-bodied). This full-bodiedness is experience of perception, responses, Aquinas’ virtues as emotion and commitment, guided, as motion between and among us.

Poetry in motion is a cliche but making as we go we pass through but are not isolated in or from the world but pass through barriers of pain reawakened, re–opened to the surpassing love of God. We are in the pass between the peaks.

Not seeing, we are invisible. Buses pass us by before we see what number they are. People pass us by. Or we may even be told to get off the bus. We are on the wrong one.

Or we simply don’t fit. We are not what is expected. That hurts. It somehow cheapens both our own pain and passion for justice to turn this into an analogy with the rejection of Christ, the supreme marginalization. Rejection is not an example. It is an experience, a phenomenon lived and lived through. Perhaps we start to see how the passionate pain of disability can be guided by strong perceptions of what is right, can be a kind of enactment which starts to pass beyond what it is and to help create what it hopes for. THe pain of passage can be a walk of new beginnings.


4 thoughts on “STEPHEN D’EVELYN: Buses Pass Me By: Making the Invisible Visible

  1. This morning On Being’s Krista Tippet interviewed John Powell whose stories about his father and himself resonated for me to this post, particularly regarding disability and virtue. I was very moved by both the essay here and the interview this morning. I think you would love this man whose linking of virtue and disability is so much like your own.


    • Thanks, Marion! I would love to read or listen to John Powell. Did the interview mention a particular book? Is the interview online? (I can check for it, of course.) THanks!


      • Hi Steve,

        So nice to be communicating with you. On Being is a radio program which you can access (with all its archives) at Or just google On Being and it will pop right up. The Powell interview was yesterday’s program, so it will be the most recent online. The whole premise of On Being is the spiritual in its diversity of expression. I listen on Sunday mornings. I will look for more on Powell. I would love to stay in touch with you as I have such wonderful memories of you in Rhode Island. Are you still swimming? Let me know the best way to communicate with you. I want to hear about your family too!



      • hi Marion, thanks! I will try to listen to that most recent broadcast of On Being with Powell. It sounds great! Yes, it’s relly nice to be in touch. The internet is a funny beastie! No, no swimming right now, beyond taking our three children for tehir swimming lessons on Saturday mornings, but I am still fond of the look of the pool and maybe will find a way back into teh water as well. Yes of family keeps Racehl and me quite busy–Mary is now six, Freddie four, and RUth 3. THe elder two are in school and thriving. Ruth, being a Frebruary baby, will start in 2016/ (Children start a year younger in the UK tahn in the US.) They are livley, fuynny, contankerous, boisterous, witty, sweet. well rounded I guesss! THanks again!


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