Seize the moment:
Two disappointed women rang this morning. They sang from the same hymn-sheet. They were not connected to each other or in contact with each other. They had a problem. It was the Mass on RTE. They felt it was a glorious opportunity to reach people at this time. Both found it shocking that all they heard was that it was the Rosary only that would fix this crisis. One lady who is prominently involved in the pastoral life of Parish/Diocese, was much more impressed by the Humanist than by the Mass! I haven’t watched/listened to any Mass. I cannot comment myself but these ladies are deeply committed people and were sad that such a special and sacred moment, might not reach the depths of the viewers, at this time. Seize the moment.
What colour is God’s skin?
Jeremy Corbyn had his final PMQs in the past few days. Jeremy is a very fine socialist. He cares deeply. His focus is on the very poor in society. He has been a bad political leader because he hasn’t got the flexibility which is essential in politics. He was as much responsible for the failures in the Brexit debates as anyone. He had no ability to reach across the political divide. He was quoted as saying at PMQs: “We’ll only come through this as a society through a huge collective effort. At a time of crisis, no one is an island, no one is self-made. ….“The wellbeing of the wealthiest corporate chief executive officer depends on the outsourced worker, cleaning their office. At times like this, we have to recognise the value of each other, and the strength of a society that cares for each other, and care for all.” (The bin men; the shelf stackers; the cleaners). His sentiments are sharp and right. These aren’t words. This is his philosophy.
The scoffing starlings:
I will never be a Carthusian. As Up With People said and sang: ‘People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.’ I need people! The empty house. The silence. The absence of banter. The non-visiting. The non-communion (2 metres). The defined two metre distance between people. This non-contact sport. Is it any wonder that the starlings keep on looking at me. (The back door). I think of the word – grig. They are. They are laughing at me. They even come to the open door and noisily have fun at my expense. They then retreat to the trees behind the bungalow and gang up on me. A flock of starlings is called a murmuration. Whatever they are called; it isn’t murmuring that they are doing with me. They are having fun and scoffing at me. They shout of their freedom as they see me almost locked in.
Now I do escape to Phoenix Park each day for an hour’s walk. I go to the 15 acres (a myth indeed). It is much bigger. I have most of the place to myself. I do meet the deer. They are gentle. And very quiet. They don’t laugh. They don’t murmur. They sense that is a time of gentle reflection. They look kindly at me. They seem to understand me and us and now. But then I reach the Residence of the American Ambassador. The White House. I stop. And I wonder. How is it possible for such a country to produce Donald Trump and Joe Biden as the candidates for the Presidency? I have greater regard for the deer and even the starlings, than for those two. I move on.
Decluttering mind, heart and house:
I had an idea. My office is cluttered. I always intended to do something about the clutter. But I never gave myself the time to do that. So paper and files simply accumulated. It was a skip I needed and not several bins. I met my past. I discovered so much that I had written over the years, most of which I had forgotten. It was intriguing. Some items jumped out at me and took me back to a place and to people of long ago. It was a memory trove. In spite of that, most of those files were ruthlessly dumped. The office began to look worse rather than better. Only for the virus; it would never get done.
Funeral stories: The Album of lives
I had a huge ‘treasure’ of the personal stories of the dead and of the families. The funeral homilies were there (all personal). The story of every funeral was there. The Litany was there which brought together all the extended family. It was the tree of life in death. I wanted to file them carefully because they told the story of the history of the Parish. But I decided, that these had to go. Nostalgia wouldn’t tidy the office. And no-one ever was going to see them anyway. These summaries of family life in the parish were very special. I was remembering the names of long ago and once more recalling the privilege of ministry and the sacred invitation into the heart of home life. The virus gave me time to think and appreciate the graced ministry of this call. It was very humbling.
Little things matter:
I didn’t hear as yet, many say – or accuse God, of being the cause of this crisis (virus), I didn’t hear the opposite either: This happened because of the evil in our society and was due to God being forgotten. But somehow there is room for a reflection where we can imagine how little we are in control of life. If it can stop us to say: It is good to be able to go out! It is good to be able to go to the shops. It is good to be able to hug someone. It is good to be able to work. It is good to be able to celebrate our faith. It is good to be able to look around and listen to the birds singing. It is good to be forced to think anew and creatively about the routine of a day. It is good to think of someone/anyone/ everyone and their needs rather than be lost in oneself. It is good to take some exercise by just walking in the parks. It is good to have our schools. It is good to have our hospitals and all the related services. It is good to have the lorries who bring food to our shops It is good to have the people in the shops who serve us. I met an English man on the beach in the Algarve. He said to me: “This is magical and we own it.” I look around the Phoenix Park and I say to myself: “We own this.” The air. The sun. The moon. The flowers. The trees. The wind. The scenery. We can only bow and say: Thanks be to God. Jeremy Corbyn spoke of the equality of all. The virus doesn’t recognise borders. Doesn’t recognise the status of anyone. (Even Boris and Matt are now afflicted). We have been given so much. We cannot take it for granted. The virus tells us of this being one world and that we share a common world. We all belong. We all need each other.
The rattling bones. ‘Dem bones.’ Lazarus. This was dramatic. If we can have the life breathed into us; if we can catch the breath of God – then the story in Ezekiel and the story of Lazurus is not strange hyperbole from the past but is happening here among us. We will rise again. We will have the breath kissed into us. We will do it. The birds still sing and will. The sun shines. The gentle breeze (1Kings 19) is still soothing us. The bushes, flowers, trees are smiling. People speak to each other. People look out for each other. People help each other. People nod to each other. People shop for each other. The kiss of life can happen; is happening; will happen.
Seamus Ahearne osa