This week Séamus Ahearne opts for A Light Touch…

A Light Touch

Sheer Lunacy:

I walked in good company this morning; a full moon. Covid didn’t get a mention in our conversation. Plantar fasciitis did try to intervene and interfere. The swans were grunting gently. The heron didn’t appear. The trees swayed in time with the wind. The Weeping Willow was languid. The Tolka was belligerent. Only three dogs appeared. Some women ‘gossiped.’ I was surprised at the amount of traffic on the road. The morning was exhilarating.

The Dead:

Nobby Stiles has died. He was described as special and a kind man. But some saw him as the enforcer even if he was Johnny Giles’ brother-in-law. That too could make sense! Bobby Ball has died (of Cannon and Ball). He found God when he met a chaplain backstage who exuded peace. He wanted some of that. Cannon also found God later. Yvonne (Bobby’s wife) did likewise. He asked that his tombstone would have the inscription: “He gave us a laugh.” Robert Fisk has died. He was an extraordinary journalist. His approach was tenacious and driven by a deep sense of justice. He called out the hypocrisies of governments consistently. He saw the historical mess, which was the residual destruction left in the Middle East. He was strident about the Trumps and Johnsons of this world and how they casually cultivated some suspect and unusual friends.


The AGM stirred us into life: To appreciate what we have as a Support Group/Caring Group in the ACP. It was fitting that the Managers and daily providers for the site, were properly thanked and praised. We can take them for granted. We have to retain focus on what ACP is about and not allow ourselves be distracted by stray requests. We can never be apologetic that as a body of priests, we admit our need for each other. It is utterly anachronistic for us as a collective, to be grovelling about what went wrong in the past. We aren’t to blame for yesteryear; we are responsible for today. We have sufficient to deal with, at the moment. Is God alive today and are we creative as marketing managers for God?

Great Sport:

Lewis Hamilton did it again. Dan Martin is hanging in there. Sam Bennett had a little difficulty. Galway beat Wexford. Donegal beat Tyrone. Tipp got beaten! And Waterford emerged from the Cork match in glory. Sean O’Brien has been visiting the studios. The Tullow Tank has spoken with great honesty and realism. Aston Villa, Everton and Man United flattered – to deceive. Bale is back and scoring. The GAA speak of the healing power of the championship and as medicine for the common good. It was so sad to hear of Bobby Charlton’s sickness. Too many of that era have suffered from the same disease. Young Joseph has beaten father Aidan for the Melbourne Cup.

This is happiness:

I am reading Niall Williams’ book This is Happiness. He is a poet writing prose. Every sentence is exquisite. Each line is packed with beauty and is a work of art. The Gallery (of his exhibits) is overwhelming. I have to hesitate and smile at such artistry. His material too is evocative. It takes me back to my country life and the past. Everything is very familiar. I have one little quibble. It is laced with too much richness. I want time to draw breath. I find that there is a need for some dribbles of nonsense; the light touch; the small talk/chatter where nothing is happening. I don’t want to concentrate on every word and sentence. That is beyond me. The light moments give a chance to my appetite to dig once more into the heavier material. He is also the author of History of Rain and Four Letters of Love. Those are the ones that linger with me. They are gems.

Humanity and Christianity:

These are difficult days. The rhythm of life is scuttled. There is an unpredictability about everything. Even Ryanair isn’t as arrogant as it used to be. Who cares for the carers? I think the local pastors are doing what they can. I hope the bishops are in touch with their priests. And I hope the priests are in touch with their bishops, to check how they are. If we lose that common civility and sense of care; the core of our pastoral life is damaged. (Our very humanity). The local church has always been mindful/caring (and flexible) in the multiple issues of daily life. Whatever about the so called rules; the application, mostly was gentle. It is beyond me, (official church) how Seán Fagan could have been treated as he was; how Tony Flannery is being treated as he is. There is no humanity in it. There is no Christianity in it. It is devoid of Gospel values and Jesus Christ has gone missing. I only hope that care for each other is everywhere. The pastoral care has to exist among ourselves too! That humanity and Christianity has to be alive and well. That is the first evidence of a living God. When the busyness of life has been removed; we have to concentrate on what really matters.

“Do I look deceased?”

I mentioned Mary last week. She loves her job. She went to the bank to lodge her cheques. She hadn’t done that for a long time. She didn’t have any reason to be there. She gave her name and account number. She was told that ‘she’ was dead and that the account was closed. Mary was shocked. The bank clerk repeated. “Mary Ward is deceased.” Mary’s retort was: “Do I look deceased?” That now has been solved with contrite sentiments expressed by the bank in a long letter. ….I was wondering about my fellow Augustinians. There isn’t much news from them floating around so I decided to look up the Augustinian website. There wasn’t much there either and then I saw it or rather didn’t see it. Rivermount/Finglas South wasn’t even mentioned. I asked the same question (as Mary) – “Do we look deceased?” Someone obviously has had a pre-emptive strike – we were eliminated. As if we had never existed. Now we might be out on the periphery; we might be isolated or abandoned – but we are still alive. And with the greatest humility – we are very much alive and are very proud and humble of what has been done in the name of God out here. We are not dead yet. And we have no intention of dying or being killed off. Please note and recall Mark Twain: “Rumours of my (our) death have been greatly exaggerated.”

The News:

News: The Vigil of Election day in the US. Rather a big day. Two bad candidates. Johnny Depp lost his defamation claim. Strange behaviour – the failure of success. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe isn’t taken back into prison. Tracey Emin (who is very sick) is putting on an Exhibition. 25 of her paintings side by side with Munch’s 19 paintings. Entitled The Loneliness of the Soul. Leo is in a spot of bother. We have just broadcast our November 2nd Service remembering the dead of the year. It was extraordinary the names of those who participating online. 1.5k engaged so far.

Indi is laughing:

Indi was on the phone. She had a smirk on her face and was grinning all over. She couldn’t stop laughing at me. At 7 1/2 months – she knows how to stir things. Was she goading me or gloating? She was caught for breath as she tried to speak. “After all the words you spew out from your fingers every week; two words did the damage last week.” She was right. It was quite fascinating. Reactions, responses, education and even poetry occurred. I had to reassure her. My fingers write. Indi said that most of what I write is ráiméis, scribbles and probably nonsense. That is fine by me. Let the ideas find fresh air or be smothered by neglect. It is not important. We are very stupid if we think that our thrown away words are deemed worthwhile. Let the words blow away in the wind. But what is essential in everything, is the light touch; that is the stuff of living and I think also of faith. Whenever the ‘light touch’ is missing in relationships; in prayerfulness; in faith; in Liturgy – we are taking ourselves too seriously and are arrogant. Frivolity matters!

Indi is dancing:

When she had finished with her teasing, she changed subjects. She has been watching Strictly Come Dancing. She now knows that she wants to be a dancer. Her big claim is: “I could do that.” She loves the music, the movement and the energy. She doesn’t quite get this ‘darling’ stuff and the ‘gushing.’ She then jumped to a further issue – her pet hate. Words. Too many start sentences (media) with …. ‘Well look.’ (What are they looking at?) And then there is that one that drives her crazy: “You know what I mean” or “I’ll be totally honest with you.” “Absolutely.” “Amazing.” These don’t impress her either. And the ‘Hi’ is not among her favourites! Why are people so lazy with words? There is music and poetry in them. Be kind to them. Be respectful with them. Don’t get careless. (Her thoughts). At 7 ½ months?!

Indi and God:

She stops. “I’m moaning today.” She says. “I shouldn’t be. Every day is new.” She says: “God wakes me up every morning. He tells me to look around; to fill my eyes and mind with the wonderful pictures that are everywhere. He tells me that every day and every person is different. He tells me to enjoy each moment and to be surprised. He tells me never to stop enjoying the day. He then tells me to look at the ‘ma and da’ – and to say thank you. I had thought of them as being there and being there for me as if that is their job. But God tells me – be grateful; be kind; be loving.” She gave a big sigh. And finally said: “I never thought of it like that. I was only excited thinking of what I was seeing and getting every day. I should stop and say: Thanks be to God.”

Seamus Ahearne osa

PS“I wish I was as sure of anything as he is of everything.”                                

(Was it William Lamb about Thomas Macaulay?) Those words keep ringing in my head. There are too many rigids. Too many certainties. Too much arrogance. Everywhere and in too many of us.





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