Séamus Ahearne: COP26, Sanctuary, Death and Strictly Indi as Dancing Queen

“Either we stop it or it stops us.”


The two young lassies were noisy. Vinisha Umashankar and Greta Thunberg. Vinisha said: “We’ll build the future, even if you are stuck in the past. I’m not just a girl from India. I’m a girl from Earth.” (15 years old!). Greta Thunberg said: “The politicians are pretending to take our future seriously.” She said more than that too with her blah, blah, blah plus. Joe Biden showed how the US took everything seriously when he arrived to see Pope Francis with 85 big cars in his cavalcade. Surely his entourage didn’t need all of that. This was part of his journey towards Glasgow! Rather contradictory. The Queen didn’t reach COP26 but did remind politicians that “the politics of the moment weren’t good enough. The time for words has now moved to the time for action. ” David Attenborough told the conference that it was “time to rewrite our story; to be motivated by hope not fear.” Two old ones of 95. Two young ones. It is a challenging time to be a politician. It will be very unpopular to implement the necessary carbon plans. The humouring of those who want simple and immediate solutions to everything won’t be placated with the huge demands now necessary. Covid was bad. But climate change and earth-warming policies, will shake up the political establishment and all of us. 


I went to Kilcock Art Gallery last Saturday. Fergus Lyons had his Exhibition. It was called ‘Sanctuary.’ It is on view until the 27th November. The Gallery is situated in School Street. The name of the road is even instructive. It was a place for learning. I admit immediately my bias. ‘Inside the First Gate’ really got to me. It was the wood, road, field beside my home of the past. It was marked ‘sold.’ It didn’t matter because I was a viewer and not a buyer! The paintings were beautiful and evocative. The word ‘amazement’ is overused. But it was the only word that speaks the truth of the experience. I cannot but stand back and admire the work of an artist. The artist sees. The artist can express what (s)he sees. The transfer to the canvas is extraordinary. The light and shade. The depth. The colour. The capture of beauty. The water. The stones. I believe that the Christian has to be an artist. To see more. To capture the wonder. To be bigger than now. To be humble before the God of everyday.

Oliver Sacks:

I went down to the River Tolka this morning as usual after 6. Hardly a dog ventures out at this time. I did see the debris of Halloween. Some people think that supermarket trollies can burn and all the rubbish thrown out by households – chairs plus! One trolley was even thrown into the river.  This wasn’t pollution; it was desecration. Leftover pallets were strewn about. I talked to the river. We shared a common upset. And then I saw the heron. My heart woke up and was content. After a few more steps I quickly thought of Oliver Sacks – ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat.’ The heron was a stone. I moved on and I saw some white blobs on the pond. Were they the swans? I couldn’t be sure anymore. ‘I can see clearly now. That song can hardly ever be sung with certainty by any real Christians. Even if we have done so confidently and arrogantly in a previous life. We know so little. We miss so much.

November 2nd Service:

‘When you’re in love, it’s the loveliest night of the year.’ This song had many singers. Mario Lanza takes us back a long time. I don’t know how appropriate the link is, but our own Service on November 2nd brought that song to mind. We usually pack the Church on this night as we recall all the dead of the year and all the dead that come to mind. This year we had to restrict the numbers and go online. Some 1.5K plus viewed immediately with 300 plus comments. How did the song apply? It was the saddest night but also the loveliest. The music, the songs (all so evocative). The quietness. The reflections. The togetherness. The honesty and spontaneity of the responses and observations. The faith. It could be called a lovefest. It was one huge Community in the place and across the air. We were surrounded by the crowd of those who were part of our lives. Missed and missing: Yes. But also present. Charlie Landsborough’s song also came to life: ‘Sometimes Saints don’t look like saints at all.’ It was a holy gathering and very special. In a strange way, the loveliest night of the year.

Young Indi:

The latest WhatsApp tells me that she is dancing. I presume her ma and da are dancing around the kitchen while watching Strictly Come Dancing. Indi has the moves. She’s got rhythm. I hope music and song in the home will always enliven her life. It seems to me that many grow up and grow dull. We lose the song of childhood. Indi can’t do that.


She upsets her mother these times. She joins some other children with a minder while her ma is away teaching some days. The ma Freda is not happy when Indi is less than keen to come home. I think she is jealous.

Indi reminds me of Brendan Kennelly’s poem of a three-year old. (I know, she isn’t three yet but). She wants to know why do the leaves fall? Where do they go? Why are they all so colourful? Why does the moon have a big face and then gets very small? Why does the day get cold? She doesn’t listen much to the weather news but she did hear that there was ice on the roads this morning. She wanted to know what ice was. She rang me with all those stories. She is almost as bad as her cousins. They wanted me to tell them who made God? This is all too much for me.

Seamus Ahearne osa

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One Comment

  1. Soline Humbert says:

    Séamus Ahearne’s column…

    Indi has got to be the shining star of the ACP website.
    Unless you are like little children… Thanks for the fun and joie de vivre!

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