Séamus Ahearne: New days, new ways and Indi prays…


The roads are different. The heron is absent. The nest-making swans are out of sight. There are ducks but not my friends the Tolka ducks. I don’t see the water hens. The Spring shrubs are out. They are talkative and beautiful. The gnarled trees talk of longevity. The air is crisp. My boots like the familiar and seem shy and tentative, as we walk. Athlone and the Shannon, can’t compete with the Tolka. I must have become a creature of habit. I was radical once and even adventurous.
Has the weight of years snared me and quashed me? It is a new day. It is. Chapter time for the Irish Augustinians. After five years, we gather to listen to Isaiah – ‘See I am doing a new deed, can you not see it?’ We try to. The world is new. The church has to be new. Even ancient professionals have to be new. I pine and wither away thinking of Finglas South. The new, feels sore. The country roads beckon. The birds are noisy and sing different songs. There is a new message whispering in the air. I must return and talk to the Heron.
We had strange ideas plotting sedition this morning. They hovered over the Assembly. We had ‘God after God.’ ‘The God who may be.’ (Richard Kearney). We had Charles Taylor (not the former President of Liberia) but the philosopher of Secularism from Canada. We had Sally Rooney with ‘Beautiful world, where are you.’ Can you believe this? It was a Roman who created such a downpour. The issues and comments were a summary observation, on the Church. Our disappearing God, (that we thought we knew) had us running as best we could, trying to grab hold of someone/something to comfort us. So yes, we are poets and artists of faith. We are searching for what happens after the God we had tidied up; after the Church we had carefully built; after the religion we had defined so clearly and neatly.
Now the symbolism of the demolished building in Finglas West speaks to us of a dying world. We feel like dead men walking. We have to become inventors; innovators; architects of the future. God is not dead. Nor are we. It is a new God we must find. A new creation. We had 80 First Confessions last week and 11 baptisms in Rivermount. That new building (of sacramental moments) is very fragile. It won’t stay upright against the storms of today. And it is hardly appropriate.
The war in Ukraine continues. Conventional wisdom screams that the bully can’t be allowed to win. The pacifist in some of us is beginning to collapse. Some laughed with knowing scorn at Joe Biden but I thought his outrage was real and proper. No one has words strong enough, or deep enough, to hurl at the outrageous behaviour by the Russian invaders. Homes destroyed. People killed. Cities flattened. Internal displacement. Refugees. And the Communist system dares to claim a quasi- religious justification for the devastation. Religion has often been used badly, and history is littered with the destruction caused by those who claim the infallibility of knowing the God-view. That disease is still pervasive.
Covid is lurking about. It has invaded her friends. It has scuttled her plans for play. She is not amused. She can’t understand why anything should disrupt her carefully constructed schemes of amusement.
In those moments left blank due to so much being scuppered on her; she devotes to God. Yes. God is very near to her. She plays hide and seek with God. She watches the sun. She sees the shadows. She notices the changing patterns of the clouds. She thinks God is playing games with her and she gets giddy with laughter. She can’t understand why adults are shy to talk of God and are ill at easy in such a discussion. They become busy with everything else. God is a sideshow for them but not for her.
She has her own way of praying. It goes something like this. (When she rings; she tells me): “Thanks for playing with me. Thanks for the fun we have together. Thanks for the colour of the hills. Thanks for the cows in the fields. Thanks for the birds who sing to me. Thanks for the flies that I try to catch, but can’t. Thanks for my house and my food. Thanks for mammy and daddy. Thanks for all my friends with Jazz, where I go when mammy is at school and daddy goes to work. Thanks for my books and teddies and toys. Thanks for the air. Thanks for everyone.” She ends then by saying to God – “Why don’t you do something about these wars and do something about Covid too. You can’t be that busy!”
Seamus Ahearne OSA


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