Paddy Kavanagh, the Irish poet wrote often and beautifully, about the meaning of Christmas and the presence of God, in our lives.
For Kavanagh, childhood, poetry and theology were all of one piece.
Everything he wrote, captured something of the mystery of the incarnation. He wrote about the most common things which he saw as carrying hints of heaven.
His farm was the Bible. County Monaghan was his Bethlehem. His poetry was his prayer. He had his Emmaus revelations along the Iniskeen Road.
He didn’t fear a judging God. For him, the Maker of an astonishing creation, could only be a beautiful and loving God, a tender Mother who ‘caresses the daily and nightly earth.’ The miracle of continuing Creation, of the renewal of the world each day and each season, filled him with a child’s wonder. “And in the green meadows,” he wrote “the maiden of spring is with child through the holy Ghost.”
His most quoted lines are:
“God is in the bits and pieces of Everyday: A Kiss here, a laugh again, and sometimes tears.”
Kavanagh invites us to look at the world and to see beauty, in the things we take for granted. But he does more than that: he goes beneath the beauty and shows us, the inner meaning,
“Until one day, we will recognise the face of our incarnate God of surprises and disguises everywhere. ”
“… Mass-going feet
Crunch the wafer thin ice on the potholes
And I was six Christmases of age..”
Seamus, thank for this and for all your reflective pieces throughout the year. You enrich our lives and our ACP site would be so much the poorer without your contributions.
When I think of Patrick Kavanagh and Christmas I remember his poem “A Christmas Childhood” and the words “My father played the melodeon outside at our gate…” the only line I still remember. That must be a Monaghan thing, we certainly never had that in Donegal. I must look up his poetry again. I also remember “Spraying the Potatoes”. Spraying the spuds is something we definitely did do in Donegal. I also think of my shortcut on foot from Earlsford Terrace to my digs in Ranelagh when I was a student and walking along the canal and passing a seat or seats where he was supposed to sit and reflect on the world. I think there might be a seat there with his name on it.
However, the first thing that always comes to mind when I hear mention of Patrick Kavanagh is Johnny McAvoy’s song ” Oh, you are a rascal Tarry Flynn you’re writin’ poetry instead drills, roaming the fields all day, won’t you ever work or won’t you ever play” –or was it pray?
Seamus, I want to wish you and all our ACP friends a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and my very best wishes for 2019 –hopefully a non-Brexit 2019. I have never thought it would happen and I am more confident than ever that it won’t.
It is nearly midnight as I am finishing this. For all of my younger life I would be in St. Mary’s Kincasslagh with my mother waiting for midnight Mass to start. Here in our parish in Edinburgh our”midnight” Mass tonight was at 8.30pm with the carol service at 8.00pm. It was our parish priest’s second Mass –2 parishes –of the evening. How the times have changed.
Goodnight, Seamus and God bless you always.
I’m sick of saying to people “Thank God for the Irish.” and how your country is recognised as on of the fairest there is, true story. Where else could you find so much support towards the things we all feel so worried about in today’s day and age? If we can’t find sources of inspiration here, where can it be sought?
In 2018, I’ll again ask myself what kind of world would we be living in if it weren’t for a bottom-up approach to exposing clericalism at its most basic instances within the Church? There is something to be learned here daily. Our coastal realms will show health when they show wealth in resource development which is always the goal for each community.
God (Creator/Architect) bless us – every last one of us.