Rogers and Hammerstein:
“Oh what a beautiful morning. Oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling…..” The summer solstice is a special time. If it behaves as it should. It has and does today. I know little of the mythology attached to the solstice but I do like Billy Shakespeare’s effort. His play/comedy hasn’t featured much in my recollections from the past but I enjoy the ideas suggested. Comedy. Love. Complexity. Dance. Madness. Delightfulness. Celebration. Fantasy. Dreams. I was wondering how it would seem as a backdrop for ‘the life of faith.’ It is certainly possible that ‘The comedy of errors’ might be even more appropriate. I had another fanciful thought – Merriman’s ‘Midnight Court’ should also get a look in, as part of the scenery, for ‘the world of faith.’ There are presently so many deprived women who can’t handle the wastage of good men which the Church has stolen from them. It is only a very stray thought. We had thought of putting a version of this on, in Dundee many years ago, as an incentive to faithful living!
Pope Francis and the Algarve:
I got back from the Algarve two weeks ago. I miss the beach. I miss the chatting waves. I miss the silence and the noise. I miss the space and time and wandering. It feels like years since I returned. People are very inconsiderate – they get sick; they want to be married; they want babies baptised; they even die; the school community is fraught with so much going on, in the final days of the year. And then Francis gives us his programme. I still maintain it is quite wrong that this good man should be dragged to Ireland. To the Aras. To Dublin Castle. To the Pro-Cathedral. To Knock. To Croke Park. To Kevin’s place. To the Phoenix Park. Why wouldn’t people leave him alone to get on with his business in Rome? We need him so badly and yet we waste his energy and time. And then why bother with Knock?? A visit to Kevin’s place is good but can it be, other than contrived? If he came and stayed with me, I could have secretly smuggled him into Bow Street/Church Street (The Capuchin day centre). We could have arrived un-announced. Anyway.
The Refugee from the Aras:
And then I hear Mary McAleese stridently screaming at Kevin Doran. He did manage to put his foot in his mouth. I admire him too for saying what he has to say, even if I disagree totally with him. Mary seems like someone out on parole (after the constrictions and confinement of the Aras and the limitations of Roman Canon law in Rome.) “Yes with a heart and half.” Really? Her No- to-Confession is fair enough but I would rather prefer her to say with ‘half a heart’ in regard to the Referendum. Anyway. She can say what she wishes. In the Play Sketch that I see the Church to be – we can’t get too uptight about anything. People can say what they want to say. God is bigger than any of us. And poor God doesn’t have to lose sleep because someone gets so pumped up about anything.
I am sorry. We are sorry:
I get rather rattled with the seriousness of our politicians. Even if immediately afterwards, I want to laugh at them. They have to have a Debate. They want to say Sorry. Will they ever get sense and grow up? Leo is so pleased that we are now leaving the ‘dark ages.’ The ‘glangeen’ Simon Harris is glowing with delight that he has discovered for the first time ever in Ireland the word COMPASSION. Is our Cabinet too young to be sensible? They begin to sound like teenagers where everything done by the elders in the past, is foolish. They want to negate that past. They have found the elixir of life (Nirvana). I even think that they may suffer from political naïvete or is it just immaturity? When people look backwards and dump the blame for everything on the past – they simply are avoiding the responsibility of what is facing them at the moment. I feel like saying: Grow up. Get on with it. Unless we look at today with humility and grasp the fact that we might miss the obvious at present – we are doing a disservice to the humanity in ourselves. I wish we would all stop this grovelling and apologising and get on with living. There is something very stupid when life get peppered with such drivel. (‘Blame it on the Stones – the Rolling Stones – and the rising cost of tranquillisers.’ Etc. etc. ) It is so much easier to be apologetic about the past than it is to look at today. The Church is also good at this. We have become too defensive and so cowered by life that we want to hide and beat our breasts. To be seen and not heard. We want to shut up anyone who draws attention to us. We look like a sad band of very old and very sick people who belong in a Nursing home. The nursing home of the church. I say – come out. Shout. Laugh. Smile at the world.
The God of laughter:
For me, Religion is only truthful and faithful if it is full of humour and laughter. Faith gives a context and a perspective to everything and to everyone. We are artists working with broad strokes. We can stand back and let all this seriousness and pomposity of life (in many people) be smiled at. The solemnity of the serious is almost a denial of God. The God I know; The God I celebrate; The God I meet daily – Is a very big God. God is a God of laughter. God is a tease. God has a sense of fun. God is a comedian. The rigidity and formality of some Church people has to be a total contradiction to the Christ of the Gospel. I want to paint a God from the Song of Songs. I want a profile of God from Hosea. I want to celebrate a musical God. I want to haul out the fun in Job 38. I want my friend in the Jonah story. I want the teasing Christ of the Caananite woman story. And then if only we could – (with John 1.35) hear it said and follow it: “ What do you want? Where do you live? Come and see. “ I think ‘The Clown’ (Heinrich Boll) was used as a very apt image for the minister or priest. It seems right. It is a challenge.
‘The course of true love did never run smooth’:
Shakespeare’s Midsummer night’s dream could be our dream and our inspiration. Or Merryman’s Midnight Court. The very name suggests itself. Merry man. Merry woman! If we were that Merry woman; that Merry man – then Faith would flourish. Religion unties us. It sets us free. We are the blessed ones. We are the lucky ones. We have the longest day. We have the sunshine. We have the perspective. We have the humour. We can laugh. We aren’t dying. We have a sense of life and a sense of death. We are bigger than Now. We have fun. The Christ that we meet is always eating. He gathers people. They stop. They talk. They eat. They argue. They are normal. They get hot-tempered. They get down. But they get up. They don’t care because they really do care. Lighten up. Come to the Table. Enjoy the company. Fall in love. Fall out of love. Be lovers at least of life. Catch the wonder of every day. Taste the mystery. Get a context. Get perspective. For the artist – perspective is everything!
The chaos of politics:
We see Trump in the US full of bombast. We see Italy in chaos. We see the UK talking utter nonsense over Brexit. We see the former President of Brazil and of S Korea in Jail. We hear the solemnity and stupidity of our own politicians. Our world cries out for the humour of faith. We have something that is essential and that is life-giving for everyone. Never mind the mistakes. Never mind our own foolishness. Never mind the debris of religion. Celebrate the characters. Create a Drama for life which is full of laughter and complexity and dreams and failures and love and beauty and wonder and hope. We have the longest day and we are living it every single day of our lives. We live in a permanent Summer solstice. If only we could find a Shakespeare among us – who would sprinkle the cocktail of humanity around and if truly Mr Merryman (or something similar) could be exploited or exploded in each of us. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling. Everything is going my way. ‘
Seamus Ahearne osa