Every day is a blessing.
The Eucharist of nature:
The day was quiet. The river was mostly a whisper with some variations. And then there was the heavy flapping of wings; the swans arrived. The grunts accompanied the flap. I was almost imagining tanks flying. The water in the pond was assaulted savagely. Such graceful birds can be dishevelled and floppy.
The silence reappeared. The weeping willow had the gumption not to dare intrude on the rowdy birds. The morning woke up. The walkers, with their dogs, appeared, and we greeted each other. We are all very predictable. The same time. The same place. The same morning greetings. We are so blessed in having such a park and being able to get out. The breath of God feeds us every morning. The bread of life. This too is Eucharist.
Bloody Sunday 1920
Bloody Sunday was remembered on the 21st November (Sat). The centenary. Mick Hogan from Grangemockler, was killed. Yes. Grangemockler is a place of my past. One player was murdered in Croke Park. 14 killed in all. Two children. 3 killed afterwards, in custody. 15 killed that morning who were supposedly the Cairo Gang. 6 probably were. 9 probably were not. Mick Sammon was recalled during the week (Ref on the day). What a special way to think of that match – Tipp V Dublin? Tipperary beat Cork on the 22nd November this year and won the Munster Final. It was unexpected and even more delightful.
The News and Newsmakers:
Miriam O’Callaghan, Bryan Dobson and David McCullagh, who usually present the news, made the news. They created their own Station House Hotel (Clifden). Golfgate. It is amusing to imagine each of them, cross examining anyone else, who might have done what they did! Obama has published his book: A Promised Land. The reviews are impressive. The extracts are sharp and special. The interviews are stimulating. It is difficult not to contrast this reflective person, with the bombast of the bully, wandering the fields of twitter-land and the golf-course. Jan Morris has died. She made the news many years ago on Everest. Made news with Venice. Made news in her transition from soldier to writer; from man to woman, such a long time ago. Made news with her wife Elizabeth and children. Wrote beautifully. Brexit is upon us. The weariness of everyone with that journey relegates much of that news to the sideline. I think Séamus O’Rourke with The Hard Border (on smuggling) sums it up best and ironically. A Report from the European papers this weekend (Andrew Marr Show) said that Europe was much more interested in The Crown than in Brexit! (Eddie please note!) Interesting – the 22nd November didn’t seem to recall the assassination of JFK this year! I must be getting old. I almost resent the changes on RTÉ. Mary Wilson has left the afternoon and now appears in the morning. Sarah McInerney has work to do to reach Mary’s standards. I think Claire Byrne is doing well, trying to take Seán O’Rourke’s place. (I would have liked things to remain the same! What an indictment?)
Sport: The unlikely ones scuppered the predictions. Cavan won. Tipperary won. Even Waterford won. Galway won. Spurs beat Man City. Brighton beat Aston Villa. The rugby wasn’t too good.
Little moments: A new classroom is under construction at Finian’s School. I was chatting with one of the men. He told me that his son wants to be a priest. He has always wanted to be a priest. He is now 18. He has been slowed up. He has to wait. He has to have patience. He needs to ramble into the experiences of a wider world. I was moved by the chatter. Why? The father couldn’t quite understand what was happening his son. I was amazed that anyone (these times) would want to join the priesthood. I too would slow him up. I suppose it affected me almost as if I was shocked and pleased. Somehow, somewhere, someone still hears God and sees Church as a worthwhile journey to make. I liked that. That did surprise me.
Another soupcon of hope touched me. We had a celebration on Thursday. The Salesian Sisters have their centenary year of their arrival in Ireland. We also celebrated on Thursday the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the sisters in the parish of Rivermount. We had a lovely gathering for Eucharist and therefore for sharing. We remembered. We recalled. We reminisced. Liz, Máire and Mary were great. It went out on Facebook and was much enjoyed. Those ladies have been brilliant in our parish. Their humanity, their humour, their commitment, their sense of mischief, their sense of fun. We are blessed. They are a blessing. The book of their history is called: Against the Odds. That is perfect. Everything they have done is against the odds. But their stamina and spirit are fearless and wonderful. We are grateful.
Margo and myself exchanged emails. Her treatment for serious cancer has stopped. It is going nowhere. She is in pain. But all she could write about was her neighbours of 40 years. The L’Arche Community. The first L’Arche in Ireland. Her words were beautiful and very moving. Again it was a celebration of goodness. Even the stories of Jean Vanier can’t dilute the greatness of little people. Grace abounds.
I had a meeting with ‘We Are Church’ during the week. They lifted my heart. Their love of God; their strong faith; their wish for change and Renewal was powerful, inspirational and hope-filled. A blessing again.
Four of our men (Augustinians) died in the same community during the past two weeks. It did stir the griasach of our history. Some of us chatted and shared the history. We were fearful lest the early story might be unknown to some. We should never forget the fuller story and the blessed work, done in earlier years. We were blessed. We are blessed. Life is always greater than now. Our saints are plentiful.
Indi was 8 months old (on Saturday).
I got a WhatsApp. The video showed her with a big Kelloggs’ Cornflakes box in her hands. She must have got that for her birthday. The fun she had. The box was bigger than herself. Her maneuvering of that box, with hands and feet/toes was extraordinary. She had fun and was intent on working out the intricacy of this big box. The colours and the noise intrigued her. I have to be careful with this woman. She is a serious lady. Anyway. She was on the phone as usual. She wanted to know about her cousins. She asked: “Do Sophie, Jasmine, Zara, Lilly, Rosie, Max and Gracie ring you?” I told her that she was different. That didn’t satisfy her. “How am I different?” she asked. I told her that all of them have each other to talk with, and to play with; that they go to school and have their friends. But that herself was born during Covid and has not been able to mix with other people. She accepted that and then she moved on, in her chatter.
Her new comments were rather unusual. She wanted to know why do the leaves fall off and then she asked, where do they go? And where do the flowers go and why? And why does it get so dark and why does it get cold. And why do people get sick and why do they get old and die, and where do they go? And then she asked – ‘will I get old and will I die?’ (I wanted to read to her Brendan Kennelly’s poem From a three year old. But I knew that she was writing her own poem like that herself.) Her little world is quite small and she thinks that there must be more to life than Covid 19 and all these serious people talking about masks and social distancing and washing hands and the R number. She likes hugs and she wants to meet people and to hear them and to talk to them and learn much more. She is jealous of her cousins who get out to school. She wants to know – ‘do they realise what a blessing it is to get out; to meet people and friends; to be able to learn?’ She already has no time for anyone who spends time with TV or with Tablets or on the internet. “What’s that word?” she says. “Addicted.” How she knows about such things, I don’t know.
Seamus Ahearne osa