Needing more than Needle and Thread

That was the week that was : Some stray thoughts:
A blind lady sings:
Alisha comes to Mass every Saturday evening in her chair. Mick wheels her in. She arrives and is helped into a pew. She smiles at everyone. She is blind. But she is beautiful. She stirs all of us into gratitude. The past weekend – we had news to share with Alisha & Mick. Dermot Troy was being remembered on Lyric FM. Dermot would have been 90 on Monday (31st July). Dermot died at 35. He had sung with Maria Callas & with Joan Sutherland. He is often noted as Ireland’s best tenor next to John McCormack. He was Alisha’s brother. His music continues among us in the loveliness of this woman’s life. We are blessed.
Loud talkers are silenced:
Cahal McCoille, Vincent Brown, Kevin Myers, Anthony Scaramucci have gone.
Cahal did a fine job with Morning Ireland. He sometimes irritated me with his dogmatic certainty. He was trying to outdo Paxman.
Vincent (I have read rather than watched or listened to him) was a curmudgeon character. He struck me as angst-ridden and seemed to wait for someone to wake him from his stupor of boredom. He wrote well and was often on the side of the underdog. His connection with Charlie was rather interesting.
Kevin got caught out in his own eccentricity. He wrote because he is a controversialist and a contrarian. That was the reason for a Kevin. We need such people. In this very awkward and abusive age; somehow we can be too sensitive.
And Anthony. He was most enjoyable for ten days. But he exemplified the crudity of public dialogue at present. He out-Trumped Trump. The Quartet could be classified as the awkward squad. I dare to say this: We will miss them. I even feel a loss that we don’t have some similar characters who can fight the argument for God or faith or religion of their ilk. I wonder could we convert those four into a team for marketing faith in the public square???
A baby is dying and the country is convulsed:
Little Charlie Gard died. The death of a baby was so sad. The public nature of his dying was difficult. However, I felt there was something not quite right about the whole campaign. I found the involvement too of Francis and Trump less that proper and not convincing. It may be indelicate to say this but the outbreak of such emotion and even anger became volcanic. It began to border on the emotion around the death of Diana. I don’t find any of that very real. It is all rather vicarious emoting.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink:
Drogheda and Navan took over the News for a little while. It filled the empty spots for the Media. July/August is the silly season. There was a major problem. The absence of water troubling (I spent my early years going to the well!) But wasn’t all of this very predictable? The mealy-mouthed politicians that is our squad in the Dáil, created a monster that will criss-cross the land for years. They couldn’t and wouldn’t deal with it. Water costs. It has to be paid for. Someone has to pay. If it isn’t paid for by the users, it either comes out of the exchequer (or is borrowed) which means that money is not available for other things like health or education or welfare or housing. These are obvious facts. I think Jim Dillon (from the grave) should be brought back to the Dáil and he could repeat his words (about Conor Cruise O Brien) – he said that Conor had ‘a wishbone for a backbone.’ It is applicable to all of them as a collective of politicians. They got lost in their own stupidity.
Disclosures Tribunal:
As if water wasn’t bad enough, we had the Disclosures Tribunal.
I don’t know much about Chaos Theory but whatever it means, it could be applied to this ‘carry on’ in Dublin Castle. How is it possible for anyone to have faith in such institutions (Gardaí, Media, Politicians, Tusla) if this is an illustration of what goes on. If this were told as a story, it would be dismissed as total fiction. It was shocking and very embarrassing.
Ripped jeans:
I carry around in the car a needle and thread (or so I say to some women.) I also offer some young ladies a ‘special collection’ at Mass. When I see all those ripped jeans walking around on women, I feel concerned lest they might get cold. I don’t know much about Heavy Metal, or the Punk era or Grunge, but it does amuse me to see all these air vents as a major fashion item. Do you remember when you didn’t have ‘a backside’ in your trousers?
However, I am now coming around to the view that ripped jeans are in fact a symbol of this generation. The fabric of society is badly torn. Politicians. (How could a Trump be elected? How could the Water issue become such a mess?) The anti-politics nature of our world presently (America, France, Brexit, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela +++). The Church (almost apologising for its existence and fearful)……
The ripped jeans are shouting a message at us. We need more than a needle and thread. I was wondering. Do we need a few bishops appointed with some of the attributes of the Quartet above who could gather up the threads of society and be fearless in shouting out the issues of the beyond; of uttering something of the poetry of life; of helping to stretch the elastics in our imaginations and show us possibilities. We are getting bogged down with problems. That wood and those trees are screaming. We are messed up. But life is bigger than all of this. Faith has a bigger view. Life is more than today or even yesterday or even tomorrow. We have made life too small and too puny.
What is prayer?
I was thinking if only we began to pray more, and if only our prayer was bigger that it is, and if only our worship broadened our minds and our hearts.
One young lady wrote to me from Scotland. She was asking how she could have reached the advanced age of 67 before being able to pray?  I wrote back to her and said: ‘you have always prayed.  Your love for Tony was a prayer. Your love for your children Joseph and David was a prayer. Your work was a prayer. Your friendship was a prayer. Your art was a prayer. Your goodness was a prayer. Your life is a prayer. Your presence – as an artist- in- residence (hospice) was most definitely a prayer (For the patients and for you.)
I ask every family at Baptisms about praying. They had answered that they would teach their children to pray. I ask them – what does that mean?  Heads drop. People are ever so reluctant to say anything in case it might be wrong.
But what is prayer?   It is the taking off of shoes. It is the burning bush. It is the gentle breeze. It is the awareness of nature. It is gratitude. It is beauty. It is wonder. It is the poetry of the soul. It is the music of life. It is awesomeness. It is kindness. It is goodness. It is gentleness. It is the eyes of the heart and imagination open to whisper – ‘thank you’. It is the big heart of laughter. It is the touch of comfort. It is the warmth of love. It is the awareness of the uniqueness and mystery of a little life. It is finding a Tent of Meeting. It is any old mountain that gives a view.’
As I scribbled those words rapidly, I thought of Paddy Kavanagh. Paddy was a grumpy old so-and-so. But he was the one who could raid ‘the pockets of God.’ He was the one who could recall his attic room and see ‘the stars shining in’ with the very mystery of God. He was the one who could see ‘God breathing his love in a cutaway bog.’  Maybe more prayer and better praying is essential for all of. The psalms are great models.
Those torn jeans – everywhere. (The fabric of society) A needle and thread won’t fix them.
It will be the Alishas of this world. It will be the poets of faith. It will be the politicians with backbone. It will be the artists. It will be the humour and laughter. It will be creative faith. It will be those who get stuck in there in the scrum of life and show what hope is. It will be our teachers who lift the hearts and imaginations of our children. It will be the parents who give their all. It will be the people who make music. It will be a Church that is full of heart and always welcoming. It will be that Tent of Meeting and that Mountain where views of goodness and beauty and wonder and Godliness are shown off. It will be gracefulness and love. It will be a place where Sacrament (Augustine said that there are hundreds of sacraments and he was right) is celebrated and is noticed as echoes of God everywhere. It will be even the Paddy Kavanaghs in our own spirit that can see and celebrate.
It will be anything and everyone who lifts us beyond the ordinary and the obvious and enable us to see the treasure and the pearl.
Seamus Ahearne osa

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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    There’s no doubt a miracle is needed at this stage. The planetary alignment that is happening at this juncture is symbolic of an important decision to be made at this time. Who has the best plan: a group of scattered heads of state or Pope Francis. Where does the general population need to rally?
    I get so caught up with the reminiscing on this site that I get completely disconnected with the present which is still unfolding around us at a rate under the watchful eye of Pope Francis followers who are expecting change from levels of hierarchy in the way it is being promised from on high.
    To accomplish something, you have to get in the mix of the doers and accomplished. Philosophy only takes you so far. Natural Law even further. But to experience what our senses are experiencing – all the trauma and affliction and success and glory one can fit in, solutions still present themselves at times. Taking part in them is as far as you can experience real living and being closer to God. Creating heaven here is our job, not God’s.

  2. Still Hanging in says:

    There is hope for us all as long as you keep faith alive in our ordinary lives…alleluia!

  3. Sandra Mc Sheaffrey says:

    Seamus, once more a call to wonder and worship. Thanks. Recently, welcoming some USA pilgrims on the French Camino who braved a steep hill to visit a C13th church, I gauged their receptivity to a question about their President… the fact is, he is only a symbol of a world weariness, he is not its cause. (Needle and thread on the Camino are for creating a wick for blisters to empty… )

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