“THE DAY’S DISASTERS IN HIS MORNING FACE” (Goldsmith)
The Whales in Tasmania:
I don’t know why it appeals to me as a symbol, but the story of the beached/stranded whales (c500) in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania, stands out as a metaphor of the Church at present. Apparently many of these pilot whales are dead. Now the church is not dead but much of how we did things and what was supposedly important, has had to go. And that is good. Is the Church – Becalmed, Beached, Stranded, Lost or Hopeless? It may be waiting to be rescued. Dublin is locked down. The internet Masses are back on. The clericalised version is in evidence. The passive nature of it all, is a reminder of what worship was like too often. How do we now help each other to move on and to move out? We need to imagine a new Church, new ways of ministering, new manner of celebrating God among us. The virus is a challenge and opportunity.
1770s plus: Poets (1)
I visited the 1770s recently. It mesmerised me. The fluency of language of some at that time, is extraordinary. There was Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (powerful/revengeful/grief); Cúirt an Mheán Oíche, was bawdy, humorous, and outrageous. Rabbie Burns exploded with colour and nonsense. Even that Kilkenny man, Oliver Goldsmith, caught the times with his range of feelings in The Deserted Village and others. Some twenty years earlier – Elegy, Written in a Country Church-yard by Thomas Gray again had a fine nostalgic story and was so evocative. I love the music in the language of each of them. It erupts like jazz with its variations and freedom. They must have had Classic FM or Lyric FM in those days. The artistry of delivery, was extraordinary. I rush forward into more recent times, for the grouchy and grumpy Paddy Kavanagh, whose words were enriched by the clay of the countryside and were beautiful and so reminiscent of the past for us country folk. Mary Oliver is my muse on nature these days. But I have my herons also.
My own photo–artist has created a painting of the heron on the Tolka. She has put it on Facebook. I don’t know if any of the technical wizards can release it onto the ACP. It is a work of art. Máire wanders to the Tolka most days. Her body is tired and pained, but her sense of curiosity and enthusiasm, takes her wandering. She helps us to see the miracles of her Garden of Eden. I think of those poets (artists), Máire; of their sculpturing of words; their fluency; their painting; their photos. And then I wander into strange lands. Is it fantasy? Is it a wonder-land? I imagine a Garden of Eden full of good things to see and beauty to behold. It is awesome. For me the world of God; the world of Faith, is that world. Mere plodders we are, most of us, as we try to capture and celebrate the awesomeness of this world. We are struggling with images; with words; with inadequacies to drag ourselves into the God-world. And then something like the Statement from the CDF arrives (on Tony Flannery). The CDF have never visited the Garden of Eden. They want to tie down God. They want to tidy up God. They are the Luddites of faith. They don’t know the poetry of life and the mystery of grace. They play with sledgehammers and don’t know that in the Garden of Eden, we must tread gently/softly on the dream-land of God. Take off the shoes. And bow. The Word is becoming flesh every day and every moment.
AOC and RBG:
My poor befuddled head gets confused. It used to be clear. My memory was sharp. But the chaos of these days, has addled and dishevelled my brain. Even mnemonics and acronyms have danced and juggled in my mind. AOC (Alexandria Occasio Cortez) has brightened my political outlook. She makes sense, when little of American politics makes sense. RBG (Ruth Baden Ginsburg) was a lady of statue. She had an independence and a sense of direction and clarity, on her journey of life. And now Trump rushes in to nominate his candidate for the Supreme Court. His party are in agreement. How on earth can anyone justify such a politicisation of the judiciary? Boris has angered the previous PMs. Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, John Major and Tony Blair are all in agreement that Boris is flouting International law and that he is wrong. Where are the principled politicians in the UK and the USA? But then who are we to feel aggrieved? When Church politics can be so embarrassing?
On Your Bike:
Sam Bennett made his way up the Champs-Elysees last Sunday to conclude the Tour de France. He won the stage. He wore the green jersey. Sam went to school in Crehana Primary School (on the Waterford side of Carrick). I think Seán Kelly did the same. Seán last wore the Green Jersey at the Tour some 31 years ago. Crehana School was/is a little country school not far from my home. I recall too when Seán’s brother Joe (1991) died after a crash from his bike up in that area on the way down from the hairpin bend towards Carrick. That all takes me back to long ago and special places and people. Now I never made it on the racing bike. My bike days were way before that Seán’s coming! I didn’t even have a three speed on my bike going to school in Carrick. I can even go back a little further and recall a little green bike at home when we learned to ride. My sister left me with a pain in my shoulder as she struggled to keep upright. Riding a bike was a major achievement. Having a bike was a sign of success. I recall when a bike was stolen from the family and it was a major disaster. The whole village was disgusted. And now I see bikes thrown everywhere by the children. They have more than they want and are careless. But a motor bike was stolen outside the house here some weeks ago. It was parked there for protection! The Holy House failed… That saddened me. Two people have offered to donate towards its replacement. So generosity emerges even in dark moments.
And then there is Indi:
Her maternal grandmother Helen tells me that she is very bold. I can’t understand that one. All Indi is trying to do, is to exert her personality. She is, after all, six months old. She feels that she is a big girl. She can roll over. She is doing less dancing and more twisting and crawling as she investigates everything. Her latest chatter on those night time phone calls is concerned with faces. Everyone looks so different. She is amazed and wonders. She doesn’t quite understand why everyone isn’t smiling. Some faces are dour. Some are dull. Some are full of problems. She has only a few needs. Change. Wash. Food. Sleep. Discovery. She is determined to be as bold as possible. She has heard about this Garden of Eden and she wants to see everything. She is afraid to sleep at night, in case she misses anything. She can’t stop talking on those phone calls about all the new things that happen for her everyday. We could all learn from her. I think she celebrates Eucharist better than any of us.
Seamus Ahearne osa