Séamus Ahearne: ‘I WAS ENJOYING EVERYTHING: THE RAIN, THE PATH WHEREVER IT WAS TAKING ME, THE EARTH ROOTS BEGINNING TO STIR. I DIDN’T INTENT TO START THINKING ABOUT GOD, IT JUST HAPPENED.’ (Drifting. Mary Oliver).
The Algarve and the Tolka:
The Algarve is a memory. A distant one at that. The home front grabbed me immediately. This little parish of 70,000 is avaricious. It gobbles up time and energy. There is never a moment to enjoy boredom. Eight funerals last week. Nine this week. That is but a start. However, funerals are very special. It remains such a privilege to be a guest in the home of lives. It is intimate. It is precious. It is humbling. It is delicate. It is beautiful. It makes ministry mystical and miraculous. We are at the heart of the domestic church and at ease. We can be a catalyst for the Wake. The memories are stirred. The stories are told. The history and album of life is on display. There are tears and there is laughter. It is fun and sad and lovely. This is holy.
We have to throw off the burden of the ‘Holy Books’ or the ‘Ritual.’ So much of the ‘holy language’ is foreign and is very unholy for many. We have to allow God become incarnate in the family. This applies everywhere but especially with death. If we only had time. But we can make the best of what we have. There is so much more to do. But mission land has dealt with this for years. I recall a small parish in Brazil with only 120,000! Our ways have to change. We can’t prolong the structure of the past and feed the system as it was. All that matters really now is – That God is recognised and celebrated. That God is seen in every person and we help to reveal God. That God is taken out from the formal church and seen in the unexpected and unusual.
The cat-walk of nature:
Yes. I got back. To Finglas. I still walk around 6. Tolka Valley Park welcomed me back. I don’t see the heron or the swans or hear the birds. It is too early and too dark. I can’t see the trees until later in the day when the leaves celebrate like children dressing up. The flash of colour. The variety of leaves. It is like the last hurrah. It is the cat-walk of our wonderful green world. Nature and creation is performing its swan song. It is beautiful. It has to be a harvest of thanksgiving. All the produce; all the explosion of life; all the lavishness, taunts us and teases us: BE GRATEFUL. For our world. For our people. For our health. For goodness. For graciousness. What else can we do but be thankful. And in awe. My own reaction is tinged with some sadness. I find it hard to celebrate when I know that the blaze of outrageous colour is saying goodbye and opening the door with hello to darkness and coldness and dreariness.
The Mood Music:
I tuned in on Tuesday at 6 to a Zoom Conference. It was a Doctoral Defence. The candidate was in Carlisle. The University was in Ottawa. The Jury was scattered around the world. The topic was The Priests’ Council in the light of the Synodal pathway. The candidate was Robert Billings. He had been the Bishop’s Secretary in Lancaster, England. Robert had done a mighty work as Secretary and then did further studies in Ottawa (Canon Law). I thought the core topic was too precise and limiting. But Robert took us through the whole understanding of the Synodal process in every aspect of Church life. That to me was the important thing. The four Jurors then questioned him on his Presentation and on his Thesis.
I know that the Synodal Way has to be talked about but essentially it has to be lived. It has to be believed. It has to be real. It will always depend on our belief in the sacredness of each person. Do we believe that the Spirit speaks in each of us and that if we search together – the Communion of Searching will provide a vision for the future. Bread is broken and shared. The danger in our life is that we become riddled with defeatism. We get caught up in ‘doing the job.’ The effluent of negativism can seep into our bones. We only remember how things were always done and how clear and defined the role of each person was. The bishop knew his job. The priest knew his job. The laity knew their job. But that model is now shattered and we have to create a new way of being church. Revelation continues. The incarnation is not finished. The Spirit is unleashed among us. Christ is Good News. We are individually and collectively – God’s work of art. The mood music from us has to be soothing, exciting, uplifting, evocative and provocative. Classical sometimes and then some jazz.
Turner, Picasso, Sculpture in Context:
JMW Turner is visiting town. ‘The Sun is God’ exhibition is on at the National Gallery. These works explore Turner’s fascination with the vast and humbling forces of nature in the sun, moon and clouds. My friend Mary has just been visiting Picasso’s Museum in Malaga, where Picasso went to school. His work is vivacious but much of it is beyond me. I do like the Sculpture in Context Exhibition at the Botanic Gardens (Dublin). It ends in the coming days. All of this highlights the efforts made to express the inexpressible. It is a very holy thought. It is an admittance of limits. All of us have to stretch out beyond ourselves to reach the limits of what we see as possible. It is in art. It is in music. It is in writing. It is in rearing. It is in loving. It is in faith. Turner, Picasso, Sculpture all challenge us. These works are to be admired but more than that – they call us out of ourselves and tell us to fulfil the ambition of God for us.
She is growing up on me. She is asking too many questions. She had a gripe last evening. She wanted to know why her photo is no longer appearing on the ACP page. She believes that she lit up the page and that her words were much more expressive when the readers saw what she was like. I did try to tell her that Máire’s photos and her words were the reason that most people had a look at the articles. They were the main news item. The rest was padding and packaging.
She is intrigued with the changing colours of Autumn. She loves looking and examining the leaves. She wants her clothes to be the same colour and then like any emerging young lady – she wants all her colours to be coordinated.
I have no idea where she got it. But she has zoomed in on two words. GRACE and GRATITUDE. She understands why her ma and da tell her to say PLEASE AND THANK YOU. GRACE – she now understands as everything and everyone touched by God and in touch with God. And then she says – if life is graced and gracious, we must always be thankful. She can’t grasp at all how anyone can be ungrateful. Please and Thanks.
Seamus Ahearne osa 7th October 2022.