Séamus Ahearne: Wind, rain, DC, sport and Indi…
Lent is our Spring
Assaulted by the wind:
These mornings have been very cold. The wind has been strong. The rain has been sleety. Even the dogs didn’t take their walkers out on the adventure. I was alone. I always walk the same path each morning but I see things differently every day. It was the vagaries of the wind that struck me this morning. It attacked me on the way down. It battered me on the way up. It even has a go at me from the side. It should be charged with GBH. I looked sideways at the crocuses and the snowdrops and was jealous that they are well grounded and don’t feel the full force of the gale. They smile at me as I pass. I wave back. The sudden gusts don’t allow me stay put for a chat. The wind is invisible. Is it now? It makes itself felt. I get back and into the shower.
Throughout the day, the starlings gather for prayer. They love the church and sometimes come closer to my gaff. They are more communal than we are. It is a delicious gift to get close to those birds. They are boisterous but their iridescent colours are quite beautiful, even breath-taking. (Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is worth reading to be charmed and excited by nature.)
Delia Murphy and Roman days (1):
The past woke up for me this morning with reminisces from Roman days. Delia Murphy was being remembered. It is 50 years since she died. There is a cluster of stories that got stirred up, with the mention of Delia. In Rome, she lived on in history, or rather her story lived on. She was at the hub of social life despite the war and during it. The formality of a diplomat’s life was too restrictive for this free spirit. However, it was the folklore of the war-years that became prominent for me. It was the Vatican Pimpernel, Hugh O’Flaherty. It was the use made of the colleges in Rome. It was the part played by our own man Tom Tuomey. Pacelli may have seemed to dither in those war-years. But it is also certain, that the underground movement, which meant some 6500 people escaped the Nazis, surely had the blessing of Pius XII. Delia played her part in that too.
Delia Murphy (2)
Our student days lived on the legacy of such heroic work by our predecessors. Tom Tuomey was a very special character for us. It intrigued us that he might be part of the network with Hugh O’Flaherty. Tom would talk too of those days of Tom Kiernan and of Delia. Aidan O’Hara wrote a book on Delia – I’ll Live ‘til I Die. She did. It reminded me too of faraway days when my uncle had a gramophone – His Master’s Voice. One of the songs on that was I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler, I’m a long way from home. That too was one of Delia’s songs. Delia rather often used alcohol to soothe her voice and to liven up any gathering. That was the woman. She did a B Comm degree like myself and somehow in her final years, she lived in Chapelizod, as I did, those same years, when I worked in St Mary’s in the Park.
Delia Murphy (3)
Tom Tuomey was an inspirational character for us as students. He was a Nathaniel character– without guile! The same man took off for the wilds of Ecuador in his later years where his mixed up Italian and Spanish, jelled into his own version of a new language. But he was loved there as we loved him. That same Tom, had an episode called the Defenestration of St Monica’s (Our international house in Rome) which linked in our minds, with the Thirty Years War….. The Defenestration of Prague! Tom survived the Nazis; survived the defenestration; survived a primitive life-style. He was great. I expect he sang a few songs with Delia. His might have been: If I had a hammer. Her songs were multiple: ‘The Blackbird of ballad. Her father Jack may have searched for Klondike gold but many found a treasure in her.
The Trial is over. The Impeachment is done. The vote of Jurors went along predictable lines. I wouldn’t want those Jurors involved in any serious or criminal case. Objectivity and listening to the evidence, clearly had no part to play. Even Mitch McConnell admitted that Trump was guilty, but argued with himself, to suggest that the Impeachment was unconstitutional because Trump was no longer President. It was Mitch who ensured that the Impeachment didn’t go ahead while Trump was officially President. Oh dear, the mental gymnastics necessary to twist a conscience into line is quite impressive. It sounds similar to the Russians, convicting Navalny for breaking bail while unconscious in Germany, due to poisoning. But politicians have to be so smart in fitting facts to fiction.
Our own Micheál Martin didn’t do too well either. He said that he would go to Washington if he got an invitation. (St Patrick’s Day). How on earth could he manage such a ridiculous statement? The world is shut down. We are shut down. Joe Biden has shut down the White House. And yet this man – our Taoiseach, could be so blasé. Our other leader – President Michael D Higgins had a different and forceful message to send out in the past week. He called on academics to challenge the whole nature of colonialism and its consequences. He was clear that the residue of colonialism remained in the sense of a cultural superiority in some of the thought-processes of our nearest neighbour.
Ireland got beaten. That particle of shoe on the line did it. But we weren’t robbed. Liverpool managed to fail again. Man U could only draw. Jordan Spieth is doing well. He speaks to the ball after it leaves the club and even directs the wind to assist him. I like people who talk to the wind. Jose Mourinho looks more sullen than usual. His expensive loanee Gareth Bale is not helping his mood. Wales did well to beat Ireland and did even better to beat Scotland. The Australian Open continues. The fans who were welcomed at first, are less welcome now. Aubameyang got his hat-trick. Richard Freeman is not doing well. British Cycling and Team Sky have more questions to answer. Dave Brailsford is in the spotlight.
Indi is protesting:
I think she has joined the women in Russia for Navalny. She stands up and protests. Her new face is sharpish. She hasn’t as yet made up her mind which protest to make. She is still asking questions about God. She has heard the news on the Radio talking of Ash Wednesday and something about Lent. She wants explanations. She is clear – she doesn’t want a black face; she is well capable of doing that herself. When she heard how the ashes came about; she was mesmerised. Palm Sunday. Waving palms. Cheering Jesus. And now burning the palms and making ashes. She thought we were crazy.
I tried to tell her that Ash Wednesday was the beginning of Lent. That Lent was a refreshment course for Easter. That we were supposed to smarten up. It was the Spring time in Faith. Now she grasped this one. Spring, she said, is about new life and flowers and buds and warmer weather and growth and longer days and light. So we were supposed to have a spring in our steps and wake up our hearts and heads and stir ourselves. That made sense. She wanted to go back to the ashes. I told her – that it was a stark moment to make a big statement where we had to wake up; take up the cudgels for living; become committed; show conviction; make a fresh start in life. I told her to read Brendan Kennelly. Begin Again or even to look at The poem from a three year old. They would give her material to embrace Lent! She scoffed at me. “I can’t read. You know that.” I told her that she had parents who could read it for her and explain everything.
Seamus Ahearne osa