Jim Cogley: Reflections Tues 14th May- Mon 20th May 2024

Tue 14th May – Mary’s Meals

Three of the Gospels have the account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes where Jesus takes something small that is offered and uses it to feed a multitude. One of my favourite charities does precisely this and it’s called Mary’s Meals. It was founded in 2002 by Magnus McFarland and its objective is to feed hungry children in a place of education. The idea was inspired by an encounter between Magnus and a Malawi child whose family had been wiped out by AIDS. When asked what he wanted most he replied to have enough to eat and to have an education. So, the project began with feeding 200 children in Malawi and today feeds 2.4 million every day in 18 of the poorer countries in the world. While in Ireland we have so much, we appreciate so little and we waste such a lot, a charity like Mary’s Meals affords us the opportunity of giving back something that when used properly and wisely can make such a difference.

Wed 15th May – A Local Initiative

Here in our own community of Our Lady’s Island the Church sponsors a coffee morning every Tuesday while those who come make a donation to a particular charity for each month. For May, the month associated with Mary, this charity is Mary’s Meals. For just 11c they can provide a full school meal, working out at €22 a year to feed a child attending school for an entire year. Having food also provides a big incentive for the children to come and be educated. While many charities have a high operating cost, Mary’s Meals ensures that 93% of all donations goes directly into food provision. They are enabled to do this by having an army of ‘apostles’, volunteers on the ground who look after the buying the food from local farmers and then getting it to the local schools. I find it incredible that the price we pay for one chocolate bar can provide 13 such meals while for us by giving what we can, it provides an opportunity to express our gratitude for having so much.

Thurs 16th May

Over many years I have created hundreds of pieces of wood-art that reflect the deeper realities of life. These symbolic pieces are usually not for sale as I use them in preaching, while giving retreats and seminars and many are featured in the many Wood You Believe series of books. (See jimcogley.com) To support the fundraising efforts of Mary’s Meals and do what I can, I have created three good quality pieces that are up for auction on e-Bay during the month of May. The opening price, based on time involved, and not on artistic value, is €300 each. The bidding will close in ten days. This hopefully can raise a minimum of €1,000 plus which can be converted into 10,000 meals for children in poorer countries where Mary’s Meals daily provide school meals. For anyone interested this is a unique opportunity to buy one of these Wood You Believe pieces and to support a wonderful charity that make a lifelong difference for so many. Alternatively, you may simply wish to support the charity and you can do so by posting a donation to Lady’s Island and mark it Mary’s Meals. At the end of the month, the total collected, including the amount raised by the auction, will be given.

For the link to the e-Bay auction click on: 




Fri 17th May

The Treasure Within

The piece shown, entitled The Treasure Within reflects the inner beauty and richness that resides at the heart of each individual. It is a hollow form about 17cms high and made from yew and ebony with the outside comprised of double twists. Inside the piece is a crystal resting at the heart of a carved flower. It is made to a high standard and is up for auction on e-Bay. Looked at from the broader picture presented in the Scriptures the treasure is a symbol of our true selves that always lied hidden in the field of our lives behind so many roles and layers of falsehood. We so often put on a face to meet the faces that we meet. When someone asks us how we are, we reply fine when the same fine, if we were honest, could stand for Fecked up Insecure, Neurotic and Eccentric. A false smile can conceal a lot of sadness and unhappiness. Often we try to accumulate wealth or outer things in the mistaken belief that the more we have the more we are and the happier we will be. Contentment comes with finding the treasure within.

Sat 18th May – To look within is to awaken – CJ Jung

The kingdom is definitely not about when we die and go to heaven. It’s much more about the here and now and how to find happiness peace and contentment in the present. Jesus and the Buddha were very similar in their teachings about this. The Buddha spoke about all suffering and unhappiness being caused by attachment to external things and that such attachments divorced us from the reality of our true selves. Jesus spoke of the man selling what he owned which is much the same thing – he let go of what he had out there in order to come into full possession of what he could only have on the inside.

The piece shown above and the one on Monday’s posting are highly prized hollow forms made from decorative burr oak and ebony linked to their support structures by brass cylinders. They are good quality and made to exhibition standard. Each is approx. 22cms high and the filial on top lifts off making the piece versatile, either as a stand-alone art piece, or as a container for something of sentimental value. Both are up for auction on e-Bay.

Sunday 19th May – Pentecost

The first Pentecost was an amazing event that found its way into the secular history books of the time because it signified the beginning of the phenomenon we call Christianity. How could a small group of people with little or no education and even less influence, transform the then known world in the space of a few short years? When the flame of Christianity took hold it just spread like wildfire and it all started with the tongues of fire that rested on the apostles that first Pentecost.

Something extraordinary happened in that upper room where the disciples had gathered. It was a place where initially there was more fear than courage. They were petrified that the same fate was going to befall them as had their master when suddenly something happened that transformed them into fearless witnesses full of courage and zeal. It was literally the birthday of the Church and the ongoing ripples of that event were to spread out and have such far-reaching consequences that we are believers today because of it.

The Spirit that Jesus promised wasn’t poured out as a kick-start to get the infant church up and running. It was always part of the divine plan that every believer who accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of his or her life would be filled with that same Spirit. The Christian life is by definition a life of union with Christ lived in the power of the Spirit. Rather than being about will power it is about my will, yes, but working in conjunction with the power of the Spirit.

There is an incidence mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles where Paul goes to the city of Ephesus and meets with a group of the early followers of Jesus. They are a committed, prayerful, church-going people and to them he puts a strange question. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you were baptized? They look at him puzzled and reply, ‘We never even heard about the Holy Spirit’. If we were asked that question today would our answer be any different? Have we ever really heard of the Holy Spirit or grasped its significance for our lives? The Holy Spirit in our tradition has tended to be either the forgotten paraclete or that mysterious holy dove that no one seems to know too much about.

Each of us here has been confirmed. This carries the presumption, that we have received the Holy Spirit, but have we? I am not suggesting for one minute that God had not been true to His Word and withheld the gift of His Spirit. The question is, have we received it for ourselves? For a gift to be truly gift there has to be both a giver and a receiver. Otherwise, it is just like a parcel that has arrived but was never opened. For far too long we seemed to think that because the sacrament of Confirmation was given that it had some automatic and ongoing effect in our lives. If we but look around and see the way so many who have been confirmed live their lives, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this is true. Many who are confirmed go on to live Godless lives with no Christian values.

Some years ago Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa was giving a sermon on the Holy Spirit. To illustrate what he was saying he brought along a very ordinary lightbulb. Each one of us he said is like the lightbulb, we are capable of being lit up and radiating light; we have all we need to be lit up in ourselves except the power. Our task in life is to become connected to the source and to learn how to remain connected. The Holy Spirit of course is our source of power. It doesn’t come from above but from within. The more we learn to live from that deeper place within ourselves the more enlightened and empowered we become. This is precisely what happens when we pray or meditate, we are tapping into the infinite resources of Spirit within ourselves. We are living a deeper and more meaningful life where the storms of life don’t blow us away. It’s like what Jesus said that ‘In the world you will have trouble but in me you will find peace.’ One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is Peace.

The Bible uses the term ‘Living in the Spirit quite a lot. How would we know whether or not if we are living a Spirit-filled life? One of the best indicators has to be whether we experience the fruits of the Spirit in our daily lives.

The first of these is Love. This is a love way beyond myself which fills my heart to overflowing to the extent that I want to share it with everyone that I meet. It’s a love that becomes my reason for living.

The second is Joy, which is an inner sense of wellbeing and goes much deeper than happiness because it is not dependent on external happenings.

Then there’s Peace, which I have just mentioned.

Patience, which we certainly need in order to put up with others’ shortcomings.

Followed by Kindness, which is such an endearing quality in anyone. Someone once said, Always be kinder than you think you need to be because everyone is broken enough to need kindness.

Gentleness, which is an indicator of inner strength. Only those who are weak and insecure have to use power and be controlling of others.

Finally, we have the fruit of self-control where we are not enslaved by any form of passion or addiction. This is where we no longer see ourselves as a victim of anyone or anything but are very much in charge of our own lives. The opposite of this is where we might say I am not my own person anymore, my life is not my own or I am out of control.

Such are the fruits of the Spirit and the best indicators of living the Spirit-filled life that we are called to. Jesus did say that it was by their fruits that people would recognize his disciples, so in relation to the fruits of the Spirit just how fruitful are we?

Monday 20th May

The Treasure held in a Wooden Vessel

We are so programmed to think of happiness as being out there, somewhere beyond the rainbow. Someone will make me happy; something will make me happy; there’s always a boat coming in that I’m waiting for that will bring me happiness. Yet when we think about it realistically, has anyone ever made us happy in the long term? Has anything ever fulfilled its promise of happiness? Can anyone or anything fulfil all our expectations? It boils down to the fact that happiness is an inside job and so Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven being in here and never out there it. Most of us do a lot of looking out there, and get lost many times, before we eventually decide to stop running from ourselves and return home to the place that is always waiting for us.

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