Séamus Ahearne: INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY (Wordsworth) (Or Even – MORTALITY.)


We reached the airport. We arrived in Faro. Somehow we maneuvered the cases along the narrow aisle. Ryanair minimizes the space. We got down from the aircraft. A woman with a baby in her arm arrived and took one case. Another woman (who looked older than myself ) took my case. Clearly, we present as ancients. Intimations of mortality rather than Wordsworth’s words came to mind. Can old age be so obvious? Then it was the sheer generosity of people that took over and I was grateful. Airport travel is not made for older people anyway. Ryanair definitely don’t make it easy.


It was one those days. The Dutch couple were thrilled. It was two-and-a-half years exactly since we last met. 19th March 2020 and today is 19th September 2022. We met on the boardwalk. We recalled those faraway days. After one hour I reached the beach. The sand was heavy and soft. The waves were like the Dutch couple, enthusiastic. They missed me. The birds called the family together and told each other that I was back. I sat down then on my usual chair and chatted with the sea. The wind and air was rich and enriching. I was alone with the gossiping waves. The vastness of the ocean. The noise of the clattering waves. The variety of shapes and colours, in the water, was tantalizing. It was beautiful. Finglas was a different world. What a wonderful world! Then I met Michael. An Irish man. He was going off to Spain. He had to visit three World Heritage Sites. His wife wanted to see them. And as he said: ‘If that is what she wants, she gets it.’ The three sites are: The Escorial; Salamanca; Mont Perdu. I then watched as four women swam. They proved to me that women can multi-task. They swam. They talked. They giggled. How is it possible to do all these things at the same time? (Men are so limited!)


I got back to the house. The other two had surfaced. All I heard from them was concern and anticipation for this Funeral. They abandoned or postponed life for the chairs and were still there at four. It was a Funeral like no other. Our Funerals are serious and evocative and very personal. A life is remembered and celebrated. But the Queen had a different standard. It was precise and exact. My comments from the sideline were rather irreverent. I admire the coordination, the choreographing, the respect, the memory, the colourful nature of everything. The silence in the crowds was extraordinary. The display of hats, with their obscure shapes, was probably apt. The corgi with the horse were symbolic. I thought the hats were bordering on the ridiculous. The centrality of the Christian Ritual was everything.

The formal language from the past was very off-putting and not inspirational. It was definitely a relic of old decency and nonsensical. I wanted something rather more simple. The music was uplifting. It was enthralling how the camera kept completely away from the visiting dignitaries. Justin Welby spoke clearly and to the point. There was a message to be heard. There was a reminder too that much of this performance and the theatrical celebration by the institution shows how some of it should be relegated to the past. The Church retains too much of the same. And our language… can be far from incarnation at times. But then every Funeral and every person, deserves the flexibility of approach, in a celebration of each life. Can we continue to do it? Wordsworth’s ‘Intimations of Immortality’ was apt. (With its own twists and turns). For the day.


I came across this programme recently. Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould were investigating a painting from John the Baptist’s Church in Port Glasgow. The painting was of Jesus who had been taken down from the Cross. John Mone (bishop) had asked a local art lecturer to do some work on the painting. He had died and his widow wanted to complete his search for the original artist. All the searching led to the Flemish painters with a connection to Renaissance Italy. I learned of workshops where many worked together on such paintings. I learned that most of these Flemish paintings were unsigned. The experts eventually gave their opinion. It wasn’t Michiel Coxie, (the expected and hoped for artist). But it probably was Raphael Coxie – his son. So called Raphael, after the artist. The whole story was intriguing. What attracted my attention was much more mundane. It was a name. It was John Mone. John was eventually a bishop in Paisley, Scotland. He was a gentleman. He had a big heart. He was cheerful. He was warm. The painting of his life was indeed a work of art. His authenticity was obvious. All the glamour of the Royal funeral is far away from a heart lived in faith, humour and humanity. A very suitable model for leadership (in my view).


She has a problem. Her grandmother is in hospital. She can’t understand why doctors and nurses can’t make her well immediately. And then she has a go at God. God is supposed to fix everything and knows everything. What is God up to? Is God lazing about or sleeping? It is time to make her nanny right. Indi is going on strike until this is sorted. She also says that her own mother is stressed out and that this affects her life too! So Indi has declared war on God. How that will play out, I don’t know. She considers God a friend. ‘With a friend like that, who needs enemies?’ (Teresa of Avila, along those lines somewhat!) Indi agreed.

Seamus Ahearne OSA

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