Séamus Ahearne and his ‘torrent of words’ and the ‘anawim’ of Finglas
Looking backward::Going forward
Torrents of words have spewed out from the keyboard over the past 15 months. Everyone must be drenched. It was effluent from my fingers and I take no responsibility for any of it. Some might indelicately call it verbal diarrhoea but I admit a delight in enabling words to have wings. There is a carelessness and a freedom. We don’t have to watch what we say or what we write. Let them loose. They have a life of their own. They should never be imprisoned and controlled. Words. Observations. Comments deserve to be set free. Why are so many fearful?
The Anawim from Finglas South:
We were invited (Rivermount Parish) to tell our story on zoom. To ‘We Are Church.’ To the ‘Parishes of Howth, Sutton and Baldoyle.’ It was free and light. It was easy. We had no agenda. We aren’t performers. We are the ‘anawim.’ Even if HQ OSA doesn’t think that, in calling us out of the place; they have no idea of the beauty of faith-life here. We make no claims to being the perfect parish. We do the simple things well. We talk. We share. We laugh. We banter. We argue. We believe in each other. We work together. There is spontaneity. Many in the community have grown in confidence, which is what our mission statement is. What we do well is this: We don’t just see the good in each person but rather see ‘the God’ in everyone. That is our gift. What can I say in conclusion? The light touch matters. The nonsense of faith is important. The world of God is lively and joyful. Liturgy is about life and it is shaped by the ordinary lives of ordinary people. So let’s throw around words and let them spin as they will. Let’s have fun as people of faith. Let’s see the wonder in the wildness of living. Let’s shout and scream with fun and laughter. Psychological constipation is a disaster and there is too much of it about everywhere and in Church. The formality and seriousness of church life is an affront to God and stifles the throbbing wonder of grace among us.
Before 10th May 2021:
The Churches are opening up. I was thinking back over those fifteen months. The online Services surprised us. We never expected people to participate. It was a challenge to make the Service real without participants. We are so used to the liveliness of sharing, where the richness of experiences enlightens all of us. Yet somehow, the zooming cameras; the colourful reflections full with the Bible of nature; the variety of song and the expertise of our team, added light and colour and stimulation and inspiration. We have been surprised and proved wrong. It has worked. We didn’t expect that. The Funerals have been marvellous in bringing people together even if they are separated. What else? We were forever on the phone and that has helped. And then all those zoom meetings. The schools too came calling. It was quite miraculous that people brought in their envelopes; brought in their Trócaire boxes; brought in their Easter dues. It was impressive and humbling. And then there was more. The shopping and the cooking and the generosity of other cooks was very special. Gratitude and graciousness sprung up everywhere. The doors were busy. And then there was the walking despite the shrill screams of the sciatic nerve. The fresh air stirred the mind and the accumulated cobwebs were swept away. The company in the bubble too created its own structure. What has been severely impressive has been the constant comment – “We miss meeting each other.” Everyone has seen and knows now that Faith and Church and Sacrament is above all about the Communion together. Talking and sharing. Meeting and arguing. Laughing and disagreeing. Christianity needs bodies. In touch.
The First day of a new life:
This morning, we met; our First Mass together. It was exhilarating. The sharing was moving. The variety of comment was truly extraordinary. Here is a little sprinkle of what was said on the experience of lockdown: There was lack of motivation even an inability to concentrate. The absence of structure. Depression and fear. The feeling of dementia invading. The isolation. The distance from people. The missing Mass where the broadcasted one was no substitute. People were spoken about – the many who got sick; the great number who died or suffered bereavement; the ones who really got old. And then a few got used to the new world and didn’t want to emerge. One man was swamped in sadness and depression and then began to play his accordion. There were comments on the online services and how these kept them going. There was even a hint of jealousy of those who were able to take part and how others would love to. There was deep appreciation of the zooming cameras and the colourful and artistic reflections plus the music. There was also a comment or two on the how the Readers dressed up and the odd smirk or wink! The cat-walk for the Prima Donna! There was an odd mention too of Hair!!! As a collective – this was a mosaic or tapestry of memories and stories which celebrated differences and honesty and openness.
The Tolka today:
Very few got to the Tolka this morning. Even the heron didn’t oblige. I saw a fish jump. The ducks rambled up beside the sitting swan and shared the space amiably. I met Mary and John later. John was recovering after his 82nd birthday on Saturday. He met his daughters. He is surrounded by women. Mary says that he is spoiled. I tell him that he suffers from overzealous and caring women. He wanted to know if I had seen a swallow. I hadn’t. Another man arrived. He claimed to have seen one. As Aristotle said: ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer.’ (Supposedly, he wrote it). The bird song these days is uplifting (Sursum Corda). The trees continue to dress up as their greening spreads. The weeping willow is majestic. Máire (our photographer) featured a tree on our Facebook page. She wrote that every tree is different and every leaf is unique (according to scientists). “All God’s creatures got a place in the choir.” God is always speaking. The sky. The clouds. The shadows. The waking sun. The wind. The rain. God is always full of chatter. There is a very rich variety of words dangling before me as I walk.
Peter and Adrian Dunbar:
I was thinking too of Peter (Sunday Reading) “the truth I have come to realise is.” Every day, I learn more and see more and realise how little I know. I have connected that to ‘Line of Duty.’ I watched the final episode last Sunday (2nd May). I had never seen anything previously. It surprised me how important it had become. Even ‘The Tablet’ had ‘The Battle of Hastings’ as its cover. I watched the programme. I hadn’t a clue. I didn’t know what they were talking about or who this ‘H’ character was. At least Adrian Dunbar didn’t forget his roots: “In the name of God and his Holy Mother….Mother of God…. Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey…. God give me strength.” And for me like Peter, the truth I have come to realise is that I know so little (not fully immersed in today’s culture obviously) and that I have to learn afresh each day. Dag Hammarskjold’s line comes to mind: “For all that has been. Thanks. To all that shall be. Yes.”
Indi has been rambling:
She is house-hunting. She was down South. She is still not comfortable with the foreign language they speak down there. She wants to know why they can’t speak like the Dubliners (her people). She couldn’t quite make out some of the smells she got down in the countryside. Again it wasn’t like any perfume in Dublin. She had other problems too. More teeth were coming through and she was a little irritable. She told me on the phone that she wasn’t the only one who was irritable. They weren’t happy down there when Waterford were beaten by Cork. She was happy to tell everyone that Lewis Hamilton won again – a 100 poles and now 98 victories. She liked the fact that Rory McIlroy has won also and that Aidan O’Brien and family continue to be so successful. She loves to look at Nicola in Scotland and believes that this woman is the one to put a smacht on some of those men politicians. And then she asked – “What about this Baptism?” She has a final question to ask: “Will it hurt?”
Seamus Ahearne osa