Séamus Ahearne: Blowin’ in the Wind…
Blowin’ in the Wind (Dylan)
Where are all the flowers gone?
My cowslip (outside the door) is beginning to fade. I feel lonely. That beautiful flower is like a guard of honour here at the bungalow. We smile at each other every day. It is precious. The Tolka now beckons. The ducklings are plentiful. The swan sits. The coot has coaxed the chicks to the island. It was a dramatic performance. They were fearful and very reluctant. But the ma insisted. The heron displays a dignified nonchalance as a yapping dog attempts to demand attention. Tony is at the river early every morning. He is a student of nature but much more. He loves the daily revelation. He is almost overwhelmed. He takes out his mobile then to show off the photos of what I have missed. The robin on a plinth and on duty. The goat on a hill-top. The bees feeding. The very occasional capture of the kingfisher. (I listened to the reporter from Gaza later. He said: “I can hear the birds today.”) I leave the minister-for-nature and move on with the spirit refreshed. The buttercups have accepted their role in colouring all the park. What can I do but smile? I wander into the church and a flower greets me. I ask the local gardeners to tell me its name but they can’t. Identify it please. It is very special. It is rich and enriching. (Bush Lily).
Martin Bashir is in trouble. Princess Diana doesn’t go away. That interview on Panorama (1995) keeps on biting. Harry and William are very unhappy and seem to make links with the crash in the underpass (Paris 1997). There are some diversionary tactics at play. Bashir may have been ‘economical with the truth’ (used by Robert Armstrong in the Spycatcher Trial) in securing the Interview and the BBC may have been slipshod in its investigation, but it did seem that Diana had a story to tell, and she was going to tell it. Andrew Morton’s book (1992) was a tasty soupcon to whet the public’s palate. Her so called paranoia was fuelled by much of what had actually gone on. She didn’t trust people because she had been let down by too many. The outcry now against the BBC is somewhat self-serving for those who want to clip those wings. Politicians like a gripe. The BBC provides a great service.
The night/day of the big wind:
Pentecost weekend arrived in claustrophobic times. A feast of expansiveness. We ran out of sound on our broadcast online. So the viewers had to be attentive to raised voices. We staggered on. It was a distraction from the Celebration. The feast of Harvest. Extravagant. Exciting. Exuberant. Extraordinary. The harvest of nature. The world of beauty. The talking wind – felt but unseen. The fire of enthusiasm. The get-up-and-go. The stamina. The wonder of an exploding God from the most unlikely people. The poets and artists. The musicians of life. Those who startle us daily. Who fires us up! Who enliven us! The mother coot coaxing the little ones is an exemplar of parenting. The parents of everyday life, discovering something bigger and more in themselves. The real educators. The daily unveiling of the beauty and wonder in so many people. Embolden. Empower. Set free. Release. The heroines and heroes of today and yester-year. The extraordinary in the ordinary. The beautiful and the sublime. Flúirseach. What the Spirit brings: Love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, trustfulness, goodness and self control. It indeed flourishes. It is there to be caught and celebrated. We are blessed.
The Dublin Diocese here has set up a Taskforce: Building Hope. The questionnaires are circulating. The questions are dredging our depths. I spoke to one priest and asked if he had responded. He is weary with a deluge of post (the to do list) and feels that he is on the way out (retirement). I put a halt to his gallop into such nonsense and told him of Rita (89-year old). She regularly tells me that she will ‘break my neck, kill me stone dead and put me six feet under.’ I told my colleague-priest that if he didn’t reply to the questionnaire, that I would carry out Rita’s threat on him. He then began to speak. He glanced backwards (to his ministry) and said that we had worked so hard but we had sacramentalised everything. We poured out our guts but somehow had had tried to tidy up God into little segments of clarity and precision. We didn’t cope too well with the evangelisation aspect or the mission. There is no blame or condemnation but rather we can and must begin again. The dismantling of the present system and the apathy towards the priestly caste allied with the fall-out from Covid, gives us this moment to be creative. Even the centrality of our Rituals have to be assessed.
How many homes now sit around a table – eat, share, talk? Many eat independently, with a Tablet or Mobile or TV on the go. The Table of Mass which explores and exploits the concept of eating and sharing and listening and talking – is now often outside the experience of present day culture. Simplify and expand the whole notion of Sacrament. And also of Ritual. That man who wasn’t going to bother replying had much to say. The warning of Rita hangs over him.
Old Codgers and Tiramisu:
There is a collective shout of delight by older people. Phil Mickelson wins US PGA. Pádraig Harrington did well too with his playing partner Shane Lowry. Two other ‘old men’ performed: Sergio Aguero and Gareth Bale! Waterford beat Limerick. Leicester just missed out on the top 4 finish. Liverpool came back from the dead. Dublin and Kerry draw. The rowers were brilliant at Lucerne. Sport has been a form of Tiramisu for many!
The News headlines:
The Cyber Attack on the Health Service hijacked the news. Even Covid dropped to the sideline for the moment. The Cease Fire between the Palestinians and the Israelis was very welcome. It is a complicated situation but the basic issue of proportionality is a seriously moral question. The Ryanair plane was forced to land in Belarus. The pirates are have taken to the air. The sadness of the Trial of Deirdre Morley for the deaths of her three children was overwhelming. It is beyond us to grasp the depth of despair in such action. It is not easy to make sense of the Agreement by the Prosecution and Defence; the Agreement of the Medical Evidence and the Direction of the Judge and yet understand why it was put to the Jury. It is also very delicate and intimate for the father Andrew McGinley to go out on the Media so thoroughly after the case concluded.
Indi has gone wild. She half picks up bits of stories and then she runs with them. Her latest whim has arisen from her walking. She can walk. She wants out. She wants to be free. She was taken to the doctor last week (routine) and they stripped her. She wasn’t pleased. She has her rights. So she says. So we must go back to her walking.
She has got caught up on God. She is intrigued by her own history. And then tries to analyse her walking. “I can stand. I can walk. I can decide where I want to go. I am free.” So she demands that they tell her of God. She wants to know what Prayer is. Does it mean walking out and looking around and wondering at everything she can see? She has a conundrum. Why can’t she fly like the birds? She then tells me that her house is full of barricades. The door is blocked. The washing machine is blocked. Everything is put up on shelves. Why are they hiding all these things from her, she wants to know. Her final conclusion is this one: All those obstacles and barricades are like the walls that get in the way of seeing the beauty of life and then giving thanks. That is her Prayer. She has decided that nothing and no-one will ever limit her mind, imagination, heart from seeing everything and being grateful. She is a prayerful little thing. Now you know what walking can do… She keeps on walking and will smash down all the barriers!
Seamus Ahearne osa.
“The questions are dredging our depths. I spoke to one priest and asked if he had responded. He is weary with a deluge of post (the to do list) and feels that he is on the way out (retirement).”
R S Thomas, Welsh poet and Anglican priest, wrote (in The Minister):
They chose their pastors as they chose their horses
For hard work. But the last one died
Sooner than they expected; nothing sinister,
You understand, but just the natural
Breaking of the heart beneath a load
Unfit for horses. ‘Ay, he’s a good ‘un’
Job Davies had said; and Job was a master
Hand at choosing a nag or a pastor.
And Job was right, but he forgot,
They all forgot that even a pastor
Is a man first and a minister after,
Although he wears the sober armour
Of God, and wields the fiery tongue
Of God, and listens to the voice
Of God, the voice no others listen to;
The voice that is the well-kept secret
Of man, like Santa Claus,
Or where baby came from:
The secret waiting to be told
When we are older and can stand the truth.
O, but God is in the throat of a bird;
Ann heard Him speak, and Pantycelyn.
God is in the sound of the white water
Falling at Cynfal, God is in the flowers
Sprung at the feet of Olwen, and Melangell
Felt his heart beating in the wild hare.
Wales in fact is His peculiar home.