The little things in life matter

Unruly Starlings:

I am surprised. The Starlings clearly read the ACP.  They didn’t comment on what I had written, but their sulking is obvious. They have stopped jeering me and have just gone away. I have been abandoned. The back door is quiet.  I was only joking when I accused them of laughing at me. Why couldn’t they see the joke?  I even miss them.  But if they are that thin-skinned; good riddance. Well not really. I miss their noisy banter.  I wish they would return.  We could chat at the back door.  No one else is allowed to visit me. They could and can.  So.  If you read this.  I am sorry.

Washing Feet:

My period of self-isolation concludes today.  ‘But this is not all’ (as the Gospel says Lk 24.21), I am cocooned. There is more. As an elder, I must stay put.  I can go into my backyard.  I live in luxury; my backyard is the Parish Backyard – the School yard. I unlock the gate, let myself in and lock up again. I walk around three or four times a day for a half-hour each time.
I think of those who have no place to walk. I think of those locked up with children in apartments.
I think of those who are alone. I muse to myself of Peter at the Washing of the feet. Peter didn’t like it.  I understand him well.  I have no problem with washing feet. I have spent my life helping people. I don’t like being the one who has to be helped. I find it very difficult at present when a tragedy has occurred, that I can’t visit the mother.
This house is empty. It never used to be empty. But the phone calls are many.  Everyone offers to shop; to help in any way. It is humbling. Even the undertaker calls. He wasn’t looking for business. He was letting in the newspapers.
I look out at the empty streets. This Ghost town.  I am thinking of the closed shops in the villages and towns of Ireland after 2008.  I wander back much further. To Slievemore (Achill); to Clonmines Friary (Wexford) to the Great Blasket Island.  Those abandoned places of the past. The Desert or Wilderness comes to mind.  I then try to settle the desert of my own mind. I was too caught up in doing and going and rushing and helping.  I am forced to stop.

The written word is fit as wrapping for a fish supper:

I am under House Arrest (with no prospect of parole) I continue my decluttering.  It is therapeutic.  The bins keep filling. I think some of the rubbish in this house, has been here since Mick Cleary‘s time. My desk is even clear.  Everything is orderly in this office. I wonder will I be able to find anything!  I expect that I will be looking for something that has gone to the bins.
I smile at all the scribbling I have done (and the throw away words and now the thrown away paper) and how easily it is now, to totally dump that keyboard effluent.  The old comment about newspapers comes to mind – as ‘wrapping for fish and chips.’ If only my thrown- away papers, was even that useful.  It will be recycled however.

Erin – ‘Big Life Fix.’

I have even watched some TV. My RTE didn’t work for years but it is on now.  I accidently turned on ‘Room to improve’ (Dermot Bannon) the other night. And then something rather different came on.  ‘Big Life Fix.’  And then I saw her.
She had disappeared from my life for some years.  (The family had moved).  A long time ago. I remember Erin. I watched her comb her hair with her foot; watched her feed herself with her foot; watched Liz lift her up and she almost slipped out of her arms. Why?  Erin has no hands. She was a delight then. She is a delight now.  Her cheerfulness and her wish for more independence was highly emotional.  She was wonderful way back then. She is wonderful now.  She is 15.
There was an attempt made for her to use prosthetics as a baby.   But she got rid of them immediately.  I remember her as that little baby.  None of us could feel sorry for her.  She got going. She did what she had to do.  Everything was an achievement. She moved onto to the next obstacle. She was bright and beautiful. She didn’t need our pity but evoked our amazement.   We are restricted now.  Erin has been restricted always.  But she smiles on.  All she wants now is to be a real teenager and ‘to do her own thing.’  At 15.  I know she will be.  Our little problems are minor.  She is a gift.  What are our restrictions now?   To look around. To mind each other. To think of one another.

My aunt Maggie died in the 1918 flu:

My aunt Maggie died in the 1918 flu. The memories echoed down the years in the family. We never believed that anything like that, could ever occur again. We become so sophisticated. We needed no one. We didn’t need even God. But things changed. They are changing. We are out of control. We are helpless. We have been taken over by COVID-19.
We hear what is happening in Italy, Spain, UK, Ireland and even USA (when we get over the nonsense of Trump).  But we know nothing of what is happening in the Refugee camps.  The danger for us in the West especially, is that every life matters so much more here, than the value of each life in those faraway places.
John Horan SDB writes of Ebola. He lists the heroes and the heroines. The ordinary saints of life. He speaks of Sierra Leone. (Just Glimpses). Time Magazine made those fighters – Person of the Year (2014).
John sprinkles stories and quotations with abandon.  He is a prospector for gold. He finds it and shares it.  It is quite lovely.  It is definitely a ‘sursum corda.’
We can still clap our hands and cheer for the essential workers of today. The ones who endanger their lives for the rest of us. This is ministry. This is Godly. This is real priesthood. It doesn’t need celibacy or ordination.  It is there. This is the world of faith.  As Jeremy Corbyn said – it is the cleaners, the bin men, the shelf packers, the shop servers, the drivers of the lorries, the post people, the orderlies, the receptionists taking calls, the local nurses and doctors, the shoppers for the cocooned.   The list is endless.    Little things. Little people. Small talk.  We need eyes to see and to appreciate and to be grateful.   Many may not attend Mass – but if there is an outbreak of generosity and gratitude; Eucharist is happening.

Mass on the internet:

Closed pubs.
Closed churches.
Closed workplaces.
Closed schools.
I have dipped into those Masses on TV.  RTE and Streamed. Some are very good. Others are a disaster. As a few have said to me: ‘The folk who speak afterwards are much more uplifting.’   That prayer on Spiritual Communion being used seems out of kilter. Where did it come from? ‘ I embrace you as if you were already there.’  There is a mis-use somewhere of the notion of sacrament as well.  My friend Augustine would have lots to say on that one.   Now I do know that Augustine didn’t have an unwritten thought. But there is something not quite right.
I thank all those priests who try to make something living and real of the Mass with only a virtual congregation.  It is difficult.  I would find it impossible. Something more is necessary.     ‘The Lord be with you.’  ‘ And with your spirit.’  I find very strange.  I wonder will anyone come back to Church in the future,when they get used to not being here and not needing it?    Isn’t it ironic how busy we were as ministers in the Church and now life goes on without us?    I must say that the Funerals are really sad without the presence of a Community where the story of a life can be told and Celebrated.

‘In those shoes.’  (Camille O Sullivan)!

Here is a little throw away thought to conclude.  A young man celebrated his 21st birthday recently.  He bought a present for himself. The runners cost €500.  My walking shoes have been around for years. They were the best that Lydl could provide. They cost €15.   In this desert and wilderness of an elongated Lent, might we reflect on what matters.  Health. Friends. Family. Air. Birds. Hills. Nature. Kindness. Love.   Can we really improve on our lives by buying runners at €500 or cosmetics or smells or clothes or goods of any kind?
It is a time to think.   ‘All you need is love.’

Seamus Ahearne osa





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  1. James McCue says:

    A beautiful read but I pray “Don’t worry” continue to pray. We all miss daily mass, but I remember my Grandmothers praying in their rooms and watching mass on broadcast TV. I actually look for more Broastcast TV it is free to the common people. I hope our church can make it more available, I’m sure it will be my access some day. In the current environment my family and I are trying to attend Sunday mass as a family by watching Same Broastcast followed by a family discussion by phone after (each in their own home). I believe as grim as this isolation may seem it has to be better then the Dark ages. I can’t hug my children or grandchildren, but I love them just the same. Peace be with you all

  2. Veronica Clerkin says:

    Well Yaa lifted me heart Seamus. Might ask a few of our Starlings to go up and whistle a hello to you. When I read your comment on Spiritual Communion I just gave a whoop. I do say to himself when I hear it. Not saying it, he’s with us. Love it all. Here in the Burren we have seen more wild flowers in our field garden than ever before. The cowslips are out, the primroses are competing. Dog violets are pushing the ivy aside. The beautiful bumble bees are on the dandolines. No wild atlantic way high buses whacking them dead as they pass. One swallow has come in on the wind. The blackthorn is in bloom. Amazing what happens when we take time to Look. Thanks for your thoughts and reflecting. If you ever come round Blackhead sure you can take a short cut up the garden field on to the Green Road, sure its easy here to see heaven on earth and watch the sun go down on Galway Bay. Blessings to you and yours. Veronica

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