Oh where have all the cygnets gone?
The morning was quiet. I met one duck. The heron never appeared to greet me. The swans had their babies, while I was away. The parents and the cygnets had vanished when I returned. I missed watching the parents taking out ‘the children’ for lessons. No other human being ventured to the Tolka today. (All bankers on this holiday!) The News was warbling on when I reached the house. It had some new Report to speak about. All these morning Reports annoy me. They appear to create artificial tidiness on life which isn’t like the mess we all experience. I think the work on these Reports, provides employment for those who like playing with statistics. This morning we were told that most heart attacks occur on Monday mornings. What a useless piece of information! Apparently, this may have something to do with our circadian rhythms. It could be linked to the ‘stress’ of those going back to work. And then it may not. How wonderful is all of this? All very important.
Sliabh na mBan and Kilcash:
I was down in Gambonsfield Church (Kilsheelan) yesterday. The Sat-Nav took us deep into the countryside. It wanted to show us all the beauty of nature in places I had never even heard of. (I came back my own way!) We had cousin Hugh’s Ashes to bury. The sun shone. Sliabh na mBan smiled down on us. Kilcash reminded us of days gone by. The clan arrived. A little hole was dug in the grave. We reminisced. The ‘stone’ spoke. Of aunts and uncles. Their ages at death shocked me. They had seemed so old when they died, and now I was the oldest one at the grave, and I feel young! Some of the extended family arrived. We chatted. I hadn’t seen several people for many years. They too had aged and I didn’t recognise them. I was thinking. Who now will hold the memories and the family stories? I have been too long away. And have forgotten the roots of my history. My memory is sharp but the family story doesn’t come immediately to my mind. Those who handed on the story are now gone, and none of us asked the questions way back, but we wish to catch the stories as we age. And there is no one to tell us. (Elegy, Written in a Country Graveyard, by Thomas Gray, was very appropriate).
Rapunzel and Indi:
A WhatsApp demanded attention this morning. It was Indi reading Rapunzel. That can’t be right. She is only 3. But she was reading it with conviction and delight. Whatever about anyone else, she enjoyed our little Funeral yesterday. She was very sociable, mixing with the other children and playfully checking out all the adults. She was curious on some new and different people. When it came to the time to fill in the grave; our Indi had to hold the shovel and put some clay into the hole, like everyone else. What she imagined herself to be doing I haven’t a clue. I think, it was the crowd and the novelty, she liked. The graveyard. All the grave-stones. The sunshine. The greetings from Sliabh na mBan. The children reading the Prayers. And the song/music: Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli with ‘The Prayer’: “I pray you’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go, and help us to be wise. Lead us to a place; Guide us with your grace, to a place where we’ll be safe.” Precious sentiments.
The Ordinary and the Velveteen Rabbit:
We are in the ‘Recovery Ward’ these times. ‘Ordinary’ is extraordinary. The glut of First Communions and Confirmations is over. I know that the Trinity and Corpus Christi clamoured for attention. We had to abandon the ordinary. Rublev’s Icon came to the rescue for the Trinity even better than Augustine’s book De Trinitate. The Table. The Space. The home. The welcome. And then Corpus Christi – Augustine is rather good: De Catechizandis rudibus with his ‘Amen.’ Or Teresa of Avila’s ‘Christ has no body now but yours.’ The official Liturgy can be painful with its wooden words which takes from the richness of both feasts. Many of the words are indigestible. I wonder would an application of Margery William’s book – ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ (1922) be suitable for the Liturgists or Rubricians, to use as a proper model, for the language of worship? It might become ‘real.’
Now I go back to the ‘Ordinary times.’ These days which celebrate the usual, are sacred. Ordinary lives. Ordinary chat. Ordinary whispers of God. Ordinary language of nature. Ordinary wonder of children. Ordinary laughter. Ordinary fun. Ordinary pain. Ordinary worries. Ordinary prayer. Ordinary and simple everyday matters. Ordinary gestures. Ordinary music. Ordinary trees and clouds. If we come down from the lofty language (of a dying Liturgy) which escapes into holy words – we might see God in care, affection, the ‘being there’ of real Communion. Sometimes we are very nostalgic. We think of the beauty of First Communion. The spontaneity of the children. Their exuberance. Their participation. It is beautiful. But then the reality sets in. No one appears again. No parent. The Confirmation is a confirmed exit. The missing God and the not-missed God. There is a huge loss if the God world is neglected. We have work to do in our marketing. But then does our formality really bring life’s experience into our worship? There is the challenge. Oh give me the Velveteen Rabbit – and let it become ‘real.’
‘Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid;
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d,
Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre.’
Seamus Ahearne osa
5th June 2023.