The Hungry Grass!
The Tolka and the Olympics:
I went down to the Tolka very early this morning. The timing coincided with the moment of my sister Maura’s death, 23 years ago and I was thinking. I reached the river. The Tolka was soothing. And then I met my friend. The heron stood still. He ignored me. There was no interest in Maura. He didn’t want to talk about Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. Gold medals didn’t matter to him. I thought the women rowers might stir him into chat. But Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh, Emily Hegarty were irrelevant. He was on the water. He wanted breakfast. I tried telling him about Joe Canning’s retirement as that surely was worth a mention. Joe has been outstanding. Even if Conor Gleeson may have helped him step aside! My friend the heron, remained unmoved. That total ability to remain aloof was impressive. As I left him, I asked him if he was sad for Sanita Puspure. I think I saw a tiny glint in his eyes as he cast a look towards me. It wasn’t disdain but rather a hint of concern. It could be framed like this: “What is wrong with that fellow?” (The heron’s thought on me!)
A theological refresher:
I had a visitor. The Course had been postponed last year due to Covid. The Parish Community runs a Refresher Course in ‘applied theology.’ The bishop arrived. He was then soaked in the theology of Rivermount. He was forcibly dragged into Liturgical Orthodoxy. He was purified of all the formality of Ritual. There was no deference allowed. Our theological experts scuttled his received wisdom. He whispered to me later – that he understood now how badly I am treated! “That crowd have a way of looking at things, which makes the incarnation very real and dumps the artificiality of much of the religious language.” He also said that those women were formidable dames! He was sent off – shaken and stirred. We had fun. He wasn’t bad at peeling spuds and getting the vegetables ready for cooking. The locals always enjoy his company and he also has a great craic with them. He feels very much at home. He has been decontaminated. Should we offer this Course to some of our own confreres in leadership?
A Great Hunger:
We have five weeks of bread. John 6 intrudes on Mark. This great big dollop of bread sticks in one’s craw! There is a hunger. There is a feast. My friend the heron could be our teacher. Stand still. Stop. There is a feast of wonder. There is a feast of beauty. There is a feast of love. There is a feast of nature. There is a feast of friendship. There is a feast of family. There is a feast of neighbourliness. There is a feast of community. There is a feast of laughter. There is a feast of care. There is a feast of encouragement. There is a feast of minding. There is a feast of grace. There is a feast of music. There is a feast of art. There is a feast of poetry. There is a feast of generosity. Yes. God does feed us. Babetts’s Feast dramatises it. Of Gods and Men shows off the Table and that Bottle of Wine.
Our Communion of life is awesome. If we can catch the awesomeness; then we can celebrate the Eucharist. In some little way, Covid helps. It does. Our Mass together has very few present. The collections don’t make noise. There is no movement. People are set apart. There is a softness and a gentleness. There is space to be quiet. There is communion in being unable to touch others. There is the missing and the appreciation. But we can never ‘receive’ ‘the bread of life’ or become ‘the living bread’ unless we are aware of our hunger. Unless we walk on Holy Ground. Unless, we know God is in this place. Unless, we can find the glow of God in the faces around us. Unless we know how small we are and how little we know and how big God is, and how much God is beyond us. We can never tame God and sometimes we try to do so.
The good, the bad and the ugly:
Church features these times only for the wrong reasons. It could be the Tallaght funeral. There was some drivel written and spoken about it. How little ‘the experts’ know of the reality of trying to arrange such funerals for the bereaved. It could be the Trial in Rome. It could be the Canadian story of those indigenous children. It could be the Marmion story at Belvedere and Clongowes. But there is much more to be said. Those of us who struggle daily to be around; to do our bit; to be some sign of a living, caring, loving God, are shocked by all the failures among us. There is collective despondency. We cannot grasp how such things happen. But our memory is bigger. We remember the good. We remember the great. We remember the miraculous.
The curse of negativity kills the very soul of life. And cynicism is rust. Life around us can be rough. The streets are left so dirty. Many don’t care. Criminality occurs. The drug trade is abominable. The murders are plentiful. The story from the Courts almost destroys belief in redeemed humanity. But there are wonderful people. We watch. We listen. We learn. We do the best and we see the best. We celebrate the extraordinary in the ordinary. We find the miracles. We see the feast of life. We never give up. The roll-out daily in the media of the bad news is sufficient to destroy our appetite for the good. But there is goodness everywhere. A concluding thought then is: Find the beauty in every day. God is good. People are wonderful. Let the good overwhelm the bad. Move on. We can succumb to the morass and muck and swamp of life. As we describe the Gospel: It is the Good News of Jesus Christ. And so it is and so we are.
Indi goes wild:
She loves the wide open spaces. She wants everyone to sing: Don’t fence me in (Andrews Sisters). She got intrigued by the Olympics. She was convinced that she could do everything they did. She tried the weight-lifting. She was experimenting with a two-litre bottle of water. She did well. She gave up when she saw young Simone Biles. Her twisting and turning was too extravagant. She is determined to be an Olympian.
I have no idea how she came up with this one. She had heard that there were no Baptisms, no First Communions, no Confirmations. And then she said that she had been eavesdropping and knew that some went on. How could they go on if they were asked by Church and State not to do so was her question. She further heard that some folk due First Communions or Confirmations didn’t have the Ceremony but did have the dressing up and got a blessing. And the photos. This was beyond her. She then came up with the idea – could she have Baptism without being drenched with a hose? She isn’t keen on being hosed down but she wants something to mark out how special she is and how precious she is to God and to everyone. She wants her day.
Seamus Ahearne osa