Monday, September 4, 2017

Don't Let The Sun Go Down - Returning to the Haven of Hastings


It's the last song I'll hear in my red Toyota Yaris - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me has come up randomly on my playlist. Elton John. Summer 1974! It ends as the car pulls up to the door of St. Benin’s in Shankill. Synchronicity!

It reminds me of my cousin Anita singing the line “don’t discard me” with a little bit of mockery! And , more seriously, it also brings to mind St. Paul’s "Do not let the sun go down on your anger!" (Ephesians 4:26) which is always easier said than done but still always to be aspired to. Don't let the sun go down! But it does!

The crossing of the Jordan featured in the readings at Mass recently and I’m aware that in crossing the Irish Sea I have crossed my own Jordan, with stuff to leave behind,  taking with me only what is necessary – materially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s a great opportunity.

I've brought the car back to Shankill where it belongs and I'm on my way back to Hastings where I belong. 

I'm only there long enough to have lunch but it was so good  to sit at the old familiar table and taste the food and the life that I had become so accustomed to and loved. John left me to the Aircoach bus stop.

Traffic is shocking. There's a fire in the Port Tunnel and it seems that every lorry in Dublin is at a standstill. So the bus has had to turn back and find another route. Already an hour and thirty minutes since we left Shankill. 

It's got people talking, phoning. Tense. We might all be late but I'm not tense. Yet! It's 3pm and I pray. Divine Mercy. Two hours now. Whitehall. It'll be alright. 

The airport is jammed with people but not chaotic for all of that. Where are we all going and what are we about?

On board two little children are screaming at each other over the window seat. Right in front of me! A high pitched, relentless sound that seems to bring pleasure to the adoring father. "I don't like you." is the final insult they throw at each other? Then they settle - after a fashion. 

At Gatwick airport my visa debit card is rejected a few times as I try to buy my train ticket to Hastings. Embarrassing and a bit worrying! I wonder if it’s been cleaned out. But luckily not! It was blocked by the bank following a few suspicious transactions which were not mine. Those who dealt with me from the bank were absolutely wonderful, bending over backwards to help me out.

So I’m back in Hastings now after a few busy and very interesting weeks. Much too littletime with my family. Not as much time as I would have liked with friends, neighbours and relations but most enjoyable. Three weddings! Two trips to Aran! A long weekend in Spain with my Camino family! Our bonds of love have not only endured but deepened and will be sustenance for the next stage of my journey.

Pat and Kathie Davey came to visit and brought with them the painting of St. Anne’s church which Barbara Dunne painted for me before leaving. It hangs in the sitting room where I can see it from my armchair and be grateful.

I have always told the people in Shankill that they taught me how to be a priest and, when I was praying here the other day, this new thought occurred to me – that my departure from Shankill created in the community there such an incredible surge, a powerful impulse of love, a love that gave birth to me anew, gave me new life and that God has delivered me - this new life - to Hastings which I experience now as a haven of peace and refuge. And here I will be born again in a new impulse of love. The love of Christ that overwhelms us, urges us and impels us! (2 Corinthian 5)

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