Young Sean O Rourke:
Sean O Rourke will be 65 shortly. Tom Moore will be 100 shortly (£28m). Pope Francis will be 84 shortly. Diarmuid Martin is 75. I will be 74 shortly. I didn’t know that I was old, until I was told officially to cocoon.
I wonder will those of us cocooned emerge as beautiful butterflies or their equivalent? However, it is young Sean O Rourke who is retiring. He is a disgrace to older people. Most of us have seen what retirement looks like, and we don’t like it. We could tell him. Sean has done an excellent job. But he is a mere garsún. My hope is that none of the usual suspects replace him. We see enough of Miriam, Ryan and even Joe. There must be some fresh voices, who could carry on, in Sean’s manner, with a warm wholesomeness. He succeeded Pat and did even better.
The Stasi (or seismic sensors):
Five weeks of lock-up has passed (for me). Shut-ins experience the frustration and isolation of it all.
However, the invader virus, has to be feared and respected. This unwelcome guest arrived, as a surprise even if the possibility was frequently predicted. We now are told, that we are doing well but ‘could do better.’ It sounds like a School Report. I shudder somewhat to hear that ‘seismic sensors’ are taking soundings. We are being watched. My mind echoes old stories: ‘Brave New World’ (Huxley). ‘1984’ (Orwell). The Stasi ((The Lives of others; Kochler’s East German Secret Police) ‘The Wild Swans’ (Chung). But it is necessary. We accept that.
The advantages and disadvantages of Coronavirus:
Niall Murphy (Belfast solicitor in his forties) was on ‘Morning Ireland’ (Wednesday). He described his experience of Covid 19. He had spent 16 days in an induced coma. His prospects were 50/50. He has now got home the past three days. The reality is very striking. If a young man like that, was struck down; it can happen any of us. We have to take care of each other.
What has been good in these days? The weather. Living with quietness and silence. More exercise than I would ever take (2 hours daily). Hearing the birds. The flowers dancing. Leaving windows open. No alarm on. Tidying up the house. Seeing the helpers and the shoppers. A new respect for the front-line people. Reflection. Some reading. The value of work structure and the need.
What has been rough? Eating alone for five weeks. (I know many have to). But I find that eating, needs companionship. Like Mass, it is social. It is Community. It cannot be detached or passive. It cannot be solitary. The days seem endless. I begin to forget what day it is. Not meeting people in the homes or in the school. The aloneness. Everything that usually shaped my life has evaporated.
The artist Jack Vettraino:
Jack Vettraino looks at me from the walls of this office. He amuses me. I like his frivolous touch. He exists somewhat outside the establishment. Eccentric and peripheral. (Something like ministry!) There is movement and nonsense in his paintings. They also remind me of my Scottish days. It is good.
I have listened to Des’ (Cahill) Island disks at 18.30. I liked the stories and some of the music. My favourite distraction- is Grand Designs on TV. I love the intricacy of the dream house. The plans. The problems. The arguments. The final production. We too are building a new Home (for the life of God), new lives (for ourselves as ministers) and a new Church. Our dreams need backbone (not a wishbone) to cause these dreams to come true. This appeals to me.
I also sometimes see Judge John Deed. His stride impresses me. His sure touch. His forever battles with the authorities. His chaotic life in love. It is very real. And again, it amuses me. These are usually repeats but they are first timers for me. One of the benefits of Covid 19 is that I see such programmes. There was never time previously.
Politics – towards a Government:
The political shenanigans are intriguing and infuriating.
I know that Covid 19 has taken over the news. But we need a Government. We can eavesdrop on some of the political schemers. It is like listening to the excitement of children, waiting for the tooth fairy to arrive.
Money is (supposedly) available for everything and everyone. The whole country can be humoured. No austerity. No raising taxes. No anything. I am reminded of Tony Gregory with Charlie Haughey or Jacky Healy-Rae with Bertie or possible Shane Ross in the recent Government. ‘Money. Money. Money.’ (Abba). Do we or they live in a fantasy land or what? Many years ago, when I was somewhat immersed in Economics; there was a rather simple awareness. If many folk are looking for loans; the cost of loans will go up. There is no free money. It has to be paid for. At present, we can borrow. The EU will give us money. We can carry out all the aspirations of every would-be-party to Government. This is wrong. It is a lie. It can’t happen. The future will pay. We can’t have everything. That is good old sensible living. Even new Economics can hardly justify ‘spend, spend, spend’ as the way forward. At this stage why would anyone want to be in Government?
The online experience of Eucharist:
I will go online shortly. One of our priests has died. His funeral is on, this morning. He was almost 93. Bernard was a quiet man who was ferocious in battle. He also had the gift of clarity in every argument. He didn’t bother too much with the greys of life. He lived until he died. He never gave up on his pastoral outreach. His God had to be celebrated today and in this world. He didn’t live in yesteryear.
I went online last Monday for Mass. I was assaulted in many places by the garish, gaudy and gooey pictures of Divine Mercy. They filled the screen. I made a rapid exit. That is probably my problem. The Devotion helps many people but it I find it mawkish and off-putting. I found too, that many Masses had no singing or music. Rud nach féidir, I think. Like an unsociable Mass; it is impossible!
The Gobán Saor:
This weekend, we are blessed, in having The Emmaus story. I associate the Gobán Saor with the Emmaus journey. The young lad, who shortened the road for the father, was rather sensible. We need storytellers. We meet many who shorten the road for us. It is done with storytelling. Our hearts burn. We meet Christ at the Table. We meet Christ in the chat. We meet Christ in the wonder of nature. We meet Christ in the artists of life. We meet Christ in the companionship of daily chatter. We meet Christ in neighbourliness. We meet Christ in the encouragement of people. We meet Christ in kindness and in our listeners. We meet Christ in the revelations of sharing. We meet Christ in the ‘breaking of bread.’
That ‘bread is broken’ in many different ways and is done daily. Even in the lock up days of the cocooned. Those without parole or even the chance of an electronic tag. ‘Bread is broken’ on the phone. In the papers dropped in the door. In the messages. In the shared videos. In the sheer goodness of people. In the scenery of life. In the shoppers. The Eucharist continues. In the midst of everything, only gratitude can see the graciousness of God in life and day.
Seamus Ahearne osa