A Get-out-of-Jail opportunity:
A new biography of Anthony Clare (d. 2007) has appeared. Psychiatrist in the Chair by Brendan Kelly and Muiris Houston. Anthony Clare was rather famous for his media performances. In the Psychiatrist’s Chair made for riveting viewing. I noticed a sadness in recent days as his final years were recalled. He became quite reclusive and was deeply depressed. I don’t know how connected he was then with Edmundsbury. He even wandered back to the faith of his childhood. His proposals for happiness were recalled: Be like a leaf – unique but part of a living organism, that is larger than ourselves with roots, alive and still growing. Belong to a club or a choir or any community. Break the mirror and stop thinking about yourself. Cultivate a passion and make a list of what you enjoy. Live in the moment. If there is something wrong in life; do something about it. These were recalled (and overwritten) by Gyles Brandreth in an article on how to survive Covid19. I have many friends in the Psychiatrist/Psychologist/Counselling Community. But I nourish a deep scepticism with some of the carry-on especially in those who proffer an instant cure for every ailment by calling in one of the experts.
Pope Francis has a knack of saying the obvious. His simplicity of expression does upset exponents of the obtuse. Being theological or being Jesuitical is often used in a derogatory fashion and as a term of derision. Some do take refuge in such obfuscations. It is a cheap way to hide and to avoid clarity. When Francis spoke of Civil Unions for Gay people he made complete sense. I agree that calling their union ‘marriage’, is a misnomer. But respect, acceptance, humility is essential in dealing with love in every life. It is delicate and very special. Raymond Burke immediately became worried. Francis was causing confusion. It was a private opinion. (He said.) This was not the ‘teaching of the church.’ And so says Raymond, as a keeper and a minder of ‘the teaching.’ God help us. Why is God allowed to get lost in the camouflage of the hang-ups of such people as Raymond? Francis’ gift to us is that – he strips back the accretions of history and shows us the simplicity of Christ and Gospel and challenge. The stalwarts of orthodoxy are now the opponents of Pope Francis. Surely their views are pickled in irony?!
Lewis Hamilton won in Portugal (on Sunday) and became the record holder of F1 victories. Young Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro. He comes from one of my old haunts (Hackney). The Premiership has become quite unpredictable. Liverpool. Everton. Man City. Man United. Chelsea. Aston Villa. Leeds. Southampton. Arsenal. Spurs. All of them are doing the unexpected. The youngsters on the Irish team produce the surprises against Italy. Galway, Mayo, Dublin, Limerick, Tipperary are back on the scene which feels good. Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford are showing the way to care for the downtrodden in the UK. Seán O’Brien recalls his past and wonders if too many of his rugby companions are becoming robots. Tadgh Furlong is not included in that comment!
The Weeping Willow, swans, herons and madness:
The time-change scuttles my body clock. I’m not just confused (like the people of God!) but chaotic. I go down to the Tolka River. It is always too early even with the extra hour. The Weeping Willow is very friendly. I wonder does it know its past along the Silk Road or even back to Aleppo? I never knew that it was all female. It doesn’t need males to propagate! It is very modern then. It is a beautiful chatty tree. And always very reassuring. The swans are on the pool. The parents and the three young ones. Their sounds are like gentle pigs grunting. The herons are slow to appear. Though my photographer has a video for me of the fishing heron. It is a silent killer. I met one heron a few days ago. It completely ignored me. It was indifferent as if I wasn’t there at all. It reminds me of life.
Who do we ignore? Who ignores us? Indifference. Such thoughts struggled for air, in my mind as I thought of Mad Sunday. I repeat myself. But I was talking with Michael, Margo, Bryan in the recent days. Three cancer sufferers. Each of them tell me of the Receptionists, the Nurses in the Oncology departments. These three tell me that no one can be downhearted when they meet such people. The admiration. The appreciation. The sheer delight. The humanity. The fun. The affection. The laughter. Found in such places in extraordinary.
Mad Sunday. Mad day. Herons. Or swans. Or weeping willow. Or air. Or sky. Anything. Everything. Stop and stare. Anthony Clare was right. Break the mirror. Bask in the beauty and giving of every day. Jason died suddenly on Wednesday. He was 44. He loved nature. He loved fishing. He loved taking young people away from the city – for camping. To get them to drop their mobiles/tablets and simply to drink in the air and the wind and to look at the water and the hills and the company of life. Such was his gift and his legacy. So let’s be MAD. Make a difference. Notice and celebrate. Delight.
Eve of All Hallows:
Halloween. Is almost here. The eve of All Hallows. Samhain. Possibly the Christianising of a pagan festival. The end of harvest. The beginning of winter. The leaving of one world. The beginning of another. Whatever. The children love the dressing up. The colourful and the frights. The word as some of us know it – means the Vigil of All Saints which is probably lost on many. But that hardly matters. Day. Night. Past. Present. Fun and fear. Life and death. Trick or Treat. The children will miss the visiting. I like to see it as an outlook. Not just facing fears or even hiding fears in dressing up or burying the demons. But rather linking with the Mad Sunday. Stopping. Thinking. The characters of life. Who creates fun? Who brightens up every day: Who lifts our spirits? Who is always there for us? That form of thinking leads gently but firmly into an awareness of the saints who are gone. Not the painted haloed ones, but rather a celebration of the ordinary.
I was thinking too of the Presidential Debates in the US. If someone was smart enough to ask me to prep Joe for the debate, I would have told him, a simple way to handle it. Speak of the dignity of the Office. Speak of what it means to be a Statesman. Talk of warmth and heart. Speak of the need to wrestle the country back from nastiness, crudity, nicknaming. The Office is about courtesy and civility. Honesty is always the way. Easy and superficial use of Twitter is not the way to govern or to lead. Stress the best in humanity. See that as Presidential. So I conclude. Halloween, if it is the Eve of All Hallows – we have to become aware, more sensitive to the simple virtues and values of humanity. Laughter. Appreciation. Godliness. The qualities of being a good human being and therefore being a saint.
And then there was Indi:
Seven months old, she is. But the phone is her escape from the confines of home. Indi tells me that she cannot walk but she is free. Her latest extraordinary outburst was linked to a poem by Pádraig Daly in his new book A Small PSALTER. The poem is: The Child Born in Prison. (From the Irish of Ó Dálaigh 14th century). Indi loved it. All the child (in the poem) knew was prison and bars. The mother is very sad at what she misses. The boy is happy because of all he sees. He tries to coax his mother into happiness. She only sees the dark side. Indi knows how little she knows. But she is free. She loves being alive. She loves seeing new things. She loves kicking her feet. She loves playing. She loves gurgling. She loves eating. She loves looking at new people. She thinks everything is great. She sees herself in the little boy. There are no bars. There is a hidden world to discover.
I don’t know where she got it but she can’t stop singing: “Always look on the bright side of life.” She then found another song for herself: “Don’t worry about a thing, everything is gonna’ be alright.” (Bob Marley). She got a glimpse of ‘Strictly’ too. Her response was: “I could do that. I have been practising for weeks.” She then got serious and wanted to talk of God and Covid. I didn’t know where she was going with this one. She whispered to me on the phone. I had to strain my ears to hear her. She said: “This Covid thing is like the bars in a jail. You can see just the bars or look out and see the sky. Everyone was in such a rush. Everyone thought they were busy and worn out. God has helped us to stop. We have to see What and Who is really important?” She did admit that she had an advantage. She doesn’t worry about a thing!
Seamus Ahearne osa
PS One of the loveliest woman in our Parish Community is a traveller. Mary is full of wisdom and a saint. She is frustrated with the family. “They’re all pagans up there.” What she meant was that they were ‘selfish.’ Would Raymond Burke understand that one?