An Unfinished Symphony
Dawdling by the Tolka:
The heron and myself have synchronised our arrival times at the Tolka. It isn’t quite similar to synchronised swimming in its preciseness, but close. Our movements and rhythms aren’t yet totally coordinated. The buds are waking up everywhere and they speak of new life. The daffodils have accepted their role, and the crocuses with the snowdrops, have handed on the baton. A few more dog-walkers appear in the early mornings and some are even running. I am jealous; not that I want to run but rather that I can’t. The rising sun comes up to wake each day as if in welcome and challenge to each of us. A year has passed of morning-walking. I am blessed. Even the earlier protests of my joints have almost given up arguing. The noisy chattering starlings keep me company throughout the day. They visit the Oratory and sing the Office. They are better at such choral recitation than I am. They trill with the Psalms.
A Scatter of News:
The Catholic nun in Burma (Myitkyina, Kachin State) Ann Rose Nu Tawng, said to the soldiers “Shoot me instead of the children.” The children had taken shelter in the house. Her habited and kneeling presence was a powerful symbol, and spoke to the world. The nuns, we have known too, are symbols of inspiration, courage, enthusiasm and faith. Kalin was found in Newcastle, Co Wicklow; John Nugent was happy. His ‘golden eagle’ was home again. He went missing for a week. Dunblane is remembered from some twenty five years ago, with Thomas Hamilton killing 17 in the primary school. I wasn’t far away from that disaster. A local school, St John’s in Dundee, had a takeover of a class, with Robert Mone killing a teacher and assaulting the children, some years earlier. We knew his family and the school. Murray Walker has died; the voice of F1. Famous for his warmth, fluency and even his malapropisms. Dr Richard Freeman has been found guilty. The highly successful cycling Team Sky and British Cycling are under severe scrutiny. Dave Brailsford (boss of both) has questions to answer. Johnny Sexton has proved to be the man for a crisis with steel in his concentration. He wasn’t scared! (As the ref told him earlier not to be!). The gathering on Clapham Common after Sarah Everard’s murder was crazy with the slogan of wanting ‘to make the streets safe for women.’ By convening, they made life unsafe for everyone. What could the police do? They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. And then the Vatican speaks: ‘God does not bless sin.’ What? Is going on……
Sunday morning Liturgy:
Grace, light and a work of art, was the Sunday theme. We listened to the theme and dramatised the message. Gustav Klimt – ‘The Kiss.’ Michelangelo – ‘David’ and ‘The Pieta.’ Munch – ‘The Scream.’ Picasso – ‘Guernica.’ Van Gogh –‘At Eternity’s Gate.’. David McEwan – ‘Nativity,’ ‘Stabat Mater,’ ‘Resurrection.’ Fergus Lyons’ – ‘The Stations’ and ‘Comeragh scenes.’ All of these illustrated our Sunday. But they were helped by Joyce Kilmer’s ‘The Tree’ and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘Earth’s crammed with heaven.’ And the song ‘Grace’: ‘Oh Grace, just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger.’ (Grace and Joseph Plunkett.)
Literature. Music. And then some more: But yes, what is a Work of Art? The poets of life who can capture in photo, or in words, the beauty around us. An eye for wonder. Spring’s revelation. The humbling privilege of being immersed in the intimacies of life – in ministry. The strange and special moments of mountain-top-transfiguration. Holy places. Holy people. Holy incidents. And finally, ‘you are/we are God’s work of Art.’ God is an artist of beauty, of music, of revelation. Each person is made in the image of God. A work of art. Each, different and unique. Each showing off the wonder of God. If only we allowed ourselves ‘be graced’ to catch that/capture that/ hold that/believe that? If we can see the light. This surely is ministry; is revelation; is real Liturgy. This is the adventure of Evangelisation and Mission. Covid may have stirred us from our religious stupor.
Don’t follow England and Wales:
A colleague from my past wrote during the week. He had written to his bishop (Birmingham). Brendan is a mild and gentle man. He attached his letter and the response from the bishop. The letters were deeply upset at the choice of translation for the Lectionary. He wrote to me, imploring me (and us) to mount a major campaign to push for the New Jerusalem translation in Ireland. He didn’t want us to compound the mistakes of England and Wales. He feels strongly that the New Missal should have been a lesson to everyone but apparently, it wasn’t. Brendan follows ACP.
Dead men walking:
I am in a state of chassis. Vincent celebrates his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood on the 20th March. We began together. He must be old. I must be old. I spent more years studying than he did, and am a little slower getting to the 50th. I always thought that someone who reached that point must be ancient and fit for the museum of life. I didn’t know that I was old until now. I do know that several of our companions from those days have left us for heaven. However, older age has some compensations: I was delighted to get the second vaccine last week!
I am very aware that a ‘power of attorney’ has been taken out on me and that redundancy is also around the corner. No one tells me anything but I presume I am losing my mind and am not fit to participate in such discussions. ‘Father knows best.’ I am foolish enough to think that my brain is alive; that my mind is sharp, alert and reflective; that my energy for ministry, is very active and committed. ‘Old age doesn’t come alone.’ (Apparently)! How can I be objective in my own case? What matter? I am reaching the ultimate state of uselessness. The scrap heap awaits me and others, considered equally useless. Our ‘fitness to practise’ appears to be on the wane. That can be the only explanation!
Following that, I do worry and wonder about so many homes and families shattered with the collapse of business and work. I am deeply concerned about those who face redundancy and who are anxious about being able to provide for the future. Those in safe jobs, especially with the State, are secure in salaries and in pensions. That has to be the ultimate in certainty. And yet very often such people are the chief moaners in society and are most active in the media. I don’t begrudge Helen McEntee’s (Minister for Justice) six month’s paid maternity leave and others likewise but it is a mighty gift in a very insecure age.
Indi wants to say something:
Indi is quiet. She has eight teeth. She will be one on Sunday. That preoccupies her. She told me that the ‘old folk’ have her home up for sale. They want to move down the country. She is quite peeved. Her take on all of this is: “They are culchies down there and they speak a foreign language. I am a Dubliner.” I think she is shy and will get over her fears. She was also upset when the children went back to school. She wants to be in school herself. The ‘old folk’ don’t understand her, she tells me.
I have no idea what has got into her and why she watched Tommy Tiernan on Saturday. She described Eamon Dunphy as ‘an old codger.’ She expected more from him. And as for the two Irish girls from Nigeria; she thought that they were very giddy. However the poem moved her in a big way. But Joe from Limerick, impressed her. She found him good. He was honest, real and full of heart. She liked the horses too. She abandoned the phone then and had to get back to arranging her birthday.
Seamus Ahearne osa