You’ve got a friend (James Taylor)
A life in the day
We watched and waited. The chicks appeared. Six of them. The Cygnets. In two days, they were out from the nest and on the water. Daddy- swan was on patrol duty. The ducks were told to scram. Daddy dictated/navigated the launch on water. It was a precious sight to see. New life. Tony stood here. He was like a Moses – with the Bush. Máire caught the solemn moment on camera. Other new life was sleeping on the bank (the ducklings). The heron had taken off up river for some peace. The cormorant had come in earlier with a majestic glide onto the pond but had moved off immediately. There was room for no one but the baby swans. The cormorant is quite a splendid bird to watch but we were lost in awe at the young ones.
The Tolka-Walk teems with life
I moved along the path and saw Anna (our girl from Poland) dipping up and down to the road. Her dogs seemed to be concerned. Was she losing her mind, I wondered. She explained that she was picking up snails. Oh she said, “I can’t bear to see the little babies scrunched under foot by the walkers.” That was something new for me. I continued and then I met Peter (South African). He told me that he hadn’t recognised me because I had changed hats. I do sometimes. Well it was raining! I hope it wasn’t the damage done to my head/face by the barber that had surprised him. He then went on to tell me of his love of the rain and how much he enjoys seeing all the beautiful trees with their various colours and also seeing the buttercups. As I walked on, I was thinking of the Tasmanian Devil who has been reintroduced in New South Wales! It is a fascinating story. Oh what a name and reason for it. But the cygnets have touched us in our depths.
I was mesmerised, even captivated, by Dominic Cummings. I didn’t let myself watch the TV for long but read much of the story. His effrontery, insolence and impertinence were impressive. It was his command performance that struck me. He was there for seven hours. His manner was relaxed and easy. His facility with dates and his recall was startling. His assuredness. His assessment of the dysfunction at the heart of Government was frightening. His summary of the chaos in politics was shocking. If a political party could pick Boris and Jeremy to fight an election for PM, there was very little hope for the country. If America could only come up with Donald, democracy has failed. We also know that Carrie loves Dilyn! What about the wonky supermarket trolley? I suppose it was all as a wedding gift! The written coverage of those Committee Meetings showed that the leadership was almost incapable of handling such a major issue as Covid. But then who could or would ever be able to be coherent/sensible in such circumstances? We can be very critical of politicians but politics is too often determined by the voters wanting immediate answers and lacking patience. Short-termism is such a curse. Instant explanations and soundbites have become the norm. The hunger of the Media for simple answers to complex issues is insatiable. I wonder what might happen if we let loose such a maverick as Dominic into our Church life? The church has a problem too in finding ‘leaders’ and sometimes it seems that the church might be compared to Boris and Jeremy in their head-hunting!
Building Hope Task Force
Dermot Farrell wants a response. The Task Force (Dublin) has a strict deadline to report back. The questions have been circulated widely. These are evocative and provocative. No one is excluded from participation. Everyone is encouraged to take part. How the Task Force was set up I don’t know and hardly care. But their work is seriously impressive. How they will collate all the material is beyond me. Even if I use today’s currency for such exercises – it is the ‘process’ that matters. This is partially true. It seems the Synodal model is at work. I have found the material to date very good. I thought that the local Deanery Meeting (zoom) was good. I thought the Presentation was good. I thought the Participation was good. I smiled when we were told that some Parishes hadn’t received the material. I know that the facts are more likely to be, some didn’t quite get around to checking emails. I hope the priests will reply. I hope the Questionnaire is circulated everywhere. I hope this material is extracted from sleepy computers. I hope the lethargy/inertia in the body presbyterate is dissolved.
A missionary Church
The Church now has to be missionary. We are evangelisers. Ireland and Dublin is mission territory. We have to learn the new language of today’s world. Much of the easy and habitual in church life, has to be dumped. We begin again. Gen 28: 16. Church. Sacrament. Priesthood. Parish. All have to be remodelled. Adapt. Adjust. Learn. Launch out into the deep. Artists and even magicians of faith are needed. The luxury of drifting has evaporated or has been killed by Covid. Unless all of us can stand back, look around, be startled into the delight and wonder of God, the new church will be as the old church. Tired. Staggering into decline and disappearance. Did you notice how insignificant or realistic the speech of the Taoiseach on Friday evening was? The Church didn’t feature.
The sound of Silence (Dundee)
I got a song yesterday on WhatsApp/Spotify from Mary in Delgany. ‘The Sound of Silence.’ I was reminded that this was played at a funeral some 38 years ago in Dundee. A young girl (a twin) had been killed off a motorbike. I recalled the accident and the family. I couldn’t make a connection between Mary and this funeral in Dundee. I rang June (the mother) in Dundee. We hadn’t talked for years. She is now 84 and very much hindered by age and by Covid. She was thrilled that someone could remember her daughter and that accident and the song. Then June said: “Can you believe it? I watched Mass this morning from Rivermount. You haven’t changed except for the white hair.” I was surprised that someone in Dundee would link up again with us. I left Dundee 35 years ago! It was lovely to chat.
Dundee (The Sound of Silence)
The second twin also died rather suddenly. So June now has a daughter down towards the border. She has space and wants mother-June to join her. Here was June’s comment: “Séamus. You know that I am not a good catholic, but I don’t want to leave my parish community. The Church would be too far away for me if I moved. I need my church community.” It was a very special conversation. We reminisced. I told her that the serrated edge on her tongue never aged, whatever about the rest of her body! She can’t walk far now and isn’t allowed drive and she can’t play golf. The reality of Covid was very clear. How few she meets. How she misses people. How absent basic conversation is. How scarce the buses are. And then she said: “We miss the Augustinians, they should never have left.” Her words are too close to how many of us feel here in Finglas South. That song suits: ‘The Sound of Silence’ in this connection too.
Her conviction of being a Dub, and not wanting to mix with the Culchies, has changed. She has investigated on a further trip South, and rather likes the open spaces. There is more to discover. She likes the fields. She has been to the sea. She has seen those big animals (cattle) in the fields. She likes the horses and the sheep. She sees lots of birds and cannot accept that she can’t fly yet. She has found new houses to search and cupboards to open and new rooms to explore. She meets more people and finds these ones intriguing. There are small ones somewhat like herself around too. She is excited.
She found holy medals, holy pictures, rosary beads and some more paraphernalia of religion in her grandmother’s home (maternal). She watches the granny with her prayer book and wants to know what she is doing. Indi didn’t know what these religious items were and it was rather amusing to hear the ‘old folk’ explain them. And then young Indi heard something again on baptism.
I had a baptism today. My first for so long. I had a wedding today. My first for a long time. She wanted to know who was baptised and when was it her turn. This young one is so curious. She has seen me online and wants to pull my beard. All this dressing up and church looks very colourful to her. She likes colour. She wants to run around the big space of a church.
Seamus Ahearne osa.