Séamus Ahearne: “Enrico, didn’t you like the pasta? Why aren’t you happy?” “Certainly I liked it. And of course I am happy.” “Then why aren’t you crying?” (The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club – Marlena de Blasi)
Some of the News:
Dame Deborah James has died. (“Find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always have rebellious hope.”) The Podcaster was 40. ‘Bowelbabe,’ She launched ‘You, Me and The Big C’ Podcast in 2018. Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray were beaten on the Centre Court. The veteran Serena Williams appeared but was overwhelmed. Liam Broady won (with great excitement). Boris Becker is missed by some, even by John McEnroe! Ghislaine Maxwell got 20 years. Cassidy Hutchinson stripped Donald and his colleagues bare and revealed the stupidity of a lying administration. Liz Truss brazenly blamed the EU for the protocol problems and was willing to dump an international treaty. We had the sad centenary anniversary of the outbreak of the Civil War. Russia hits a shopping mall in Kremenchuk while Putin claims to be trying to save Ukraine. Boris has found the comfort of the world stage avoiding the home front. The Paris trial ends after the 2015 death of 180 people. Salah Abdeslam given a full life sentence. Galway won on penalties. Mayo were beaten. Eoin Morgan (cricket) resigned.
The moaners and the groaners:
The Heron has spoken. I return home. After my trip to the Tolka every morning; I have a shower and then some ‘stirabout’ (porridge). The Radio is on. Morning Ireland begins. Sometimes my friend comes on, and I listen more attentively! The Programme is done well but the moaning of so many is such a pain. We hear of Reports stating the obvious and summarised with such solemnity. It appears everyone has a gripe about something. Nothing is fair. “I want more. I deserve more. The cost of living is killing me.” No one ever shouts that they are overpaid or have security of tenure and pensionable jobs. The Government should do this and that, and produce more money for everything, is the mantra of the morning. What the loudest shouters want (and have to get), does mean that there is less for everyone else. Government money is there to be thrown out like confetti. Or so it is assumed. My past in economics sang a very different tune. Do most people reduce to childish behaviour in the ‘I want’ system? Am I moaning too?
We have had several funerals of young people in recent times. (15, 29, 35, 39, 45, 47, 48). I noticed the Sunflower has appeared in bunches on some such occasions. It is used too for Hospice Fundraising days. It is a very bold flower. It announces itself. It smiles at the sun or the sun smiles on it. It is a great source for pollinators. It denotes for many, happiness, optimism, honesty, peace and devotion. I recall a Principal some forty years ago speaking at a National Conference on A life in the day of a school. Her core message each morning and then as the school finished was the Sunflower message. The good. The beautiful. The wonder. The laughter. The fun. The smile. I recall too, a Deputy in the local school, Malachy’s, saying goodbye to every child leaving school with a smile and a thank you. (The problems of the day were forgotten so Siobhán said). I see in the school beside me (Finian’s) the Staff out at the gate (with Maureen in the lead) welcoming the children and parents every morning (in all weather) and then at the gate as the children go home. The Sunflower blooms.
Like Morning Ireland or the News generally, we are lavished with troubles and problems. Negativity flourishes. It is the language of everyday and shouldn’t be. It rusts the soul. When we read of Church or priesthood or the past of faith or God; everything is dull and bleak. Where is the Sunflower of life? Church Ritual is laden with solemnity and where is the Sunflower of Liturgy? Bishops speak and every comment is riddled with Francis and his words. But his simplicity gets forgotten. The human touch. The ordinary and naturalness of the Gospel. The basic sense of Communion. Being together. Listening. Respecting. With God in the middle of every conversation. The small talk of everyday is the food of life. The small talk is the big talk. Dioceses now are overwhelmed with administration. The human touch can get lost. It shouldn’t and mustn’t. Any bishop or leader who gets swamped in administration should be released from the Office. The personal hello with – How are you? Or as one of my lovely parishioners says: “What’s the story?” This does matter and is the real stuff of humanity. What was the Irenaeus quote? ‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’ That surely is our challenge.
I scream when I hear of the Synodal pathway. It becomes very intricate. An ornate version of managerial linguistics. But the reality is basic. Do I believe in the mystery and wonder of each person? Do I listen? It is the heart of pastoral life. Enjoy the chat. Listen. Visit. Be a guest in the life of others. Live and learn humbly. There is a real problem mentioned for us as priests. Can we get cut off a little from the ordinary mess of family life in the hideaway of celibacy? So yes. Revise priesthood. Revise Parish. Revise Liturgy. Revise Sacrament. Revise dioceses. Revise Bishops. Revise our whole way of presenting and living faith. It is very simple. This is a wonderful life. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t corrode it with formality. Simplify. Talk. Listen. Enjoy the privilege of faith. Celebrate the ordinary. Every day is revelation. Release the poet in us and in each other. Am I moaning too? Maybe I have had a few surprises in recent times and some debris has seeped into my bones.
Her mind was full for the past few days. She was going on holidays. Where was she going? To a house. Who was going with her? Her mammy and daddy. She had to bring her monkey box (whatever that is); her lunch box; her bed. She was going to get Smarties on her holidays; she would go to the beach and build sand castles; she wanted to visit a farm too to see chickens and cows and sheep. I could hardly believe it but her next wish on her holidays was to go to the shops! She wouldn’t bring her grandmother on holidays as she felt there wasn’t room in the bed for such a big person. That was her speech.
She had no problem telling me what for her, was a taste/touch of heaven. Smarties clearly featured. The sand and the water and the beach. She was keen however that she would have her own bed. She delights too in watching the rain and even being blown around with the wind. She imagines that the wind is playing games with her. She tries to catch it but she can’t see it. It is there and then it disappears. She believes that she will grab it eventually because it must play fair. She loves to see new hills and mountains and new bushes and new trees and new people certainly. For Indi, every day is a gift. Every day tells her more. Every day has a surprise. Every day for her is God playing hide and seek. She giggles with delight. She loves living. She is a Sunflower.
Seamus Ahearne osa
30th June 2022.