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Showing posts from November, 2018

We Are Not Tigers: The Need To Be Noticed

‘The Life Of Pi’ tells a powerful story that is layered with many meanings – physical, emotional, mental & spiritual. Following a shipwreck the only survivors are Pi Patel, a 16-year old boy, and a tiger. They end up - just the two of them - in a lifeboat drifting across the Pacific Ocean and in the course of the journey the boy trains the tiger to give him his space on the boat. They even develop a connection with each other and when they are on the verge of death the tiger’s head is resting on Pi’s lap. They survive. The boat drifts onto a beach where the boy collapses and the tiger simply walks away straight ahead into the jungle - out of the boy’s life forever. What hurt Pi was that the tiger left him without even looking back and in his desolation the boy is expressing something that is essential in every human life – that we be noticed, acknowledged by another, that we matter. Not so much for the things we do but simply for being who we are in all our stages of lif

Getting Ready For God: Thoughts on Purgatory

I was in my room in Dublin one bitterly cold January day, getting ready to fly to South Africa to give a retreat to the Pallottine Seminarians there. Travelling light had become second nature to me and the case on my bed was fairly small but while I was packing it a voice inside me said, “you don’t need all this stuff.” But I ignored it because anything in it was actually essential – my bible, notes, just enough clothes. And I arrived at Heathrow for the flight to Johannesburg, checked in my little suitcase and boarded the flight. By now the temperature had dropped to minus 7 and we were left sitting a long time in the plane while they made up their minds to fly or not. When they decided they would fly they discovered that there were no baggage handlers to put our luggage on the plane and after another long wait the pilot announced that we would fly without the luggage. There was a discontent murmur among the passengers but I just smiled as I thought of the voice I heard

LATE MORNING: Poems From Tanzania

Waiting Across the field To dawn at sea A corner in the midday sun Beneath the sky at night Alone within his heart The warrior waits for death The watchman waits for dawn To this have I been called To wait on God A moment forever In expectancy of surprise (Makiungu 1981) The Rag It was used To clear the floor Of muddy footprints On rainy days Thrown out upon The weeks and months Of harsh winters Perishing The home of worms and snails Till taken in Soaked and worn To help the fire In some strange way Then set aflame Consumed (Makiungu 1982) Late Morning (For Maura) How many times You peeped into the room (when I was sleeping late) Wishing, thinking We could be together Chatting And how were you to know That when I sit beside you Look into your eyes Or come home to you I am filled With silent peace, content With the look of An expectant mother Knowing I have arrived Safe to sleep Once I thundered Childish fury in your

Rheinberg War Cemetary

Their sleeping place on earth Is still and sad Their silenced cry Who stand in line Unarmed Where they had fallen Armed Some named And others known To God alone There is beauty In their resting A beauty born of war But WHY the war? (Thurles 1978)

KNOWN UNTO GOD: Remembrance Sunday

It’s the summer of ’78 when ‘Saturday Night Fever’ is in full flight and I’m a student working in Germany for the holidays. That same summer I went to visit the Rheinberg War Cemetery , the resting place of more than three thousand victims of World War II. I was struck by the silent stillness, the sheer beauty and peace of it and I pondered the contrasting uproar of ugliness, the unspeakable suffering that gave birth to this place. War is an awful reality that I cannot understand but I find in myself a great respect for every single person who has served in war in any capacity; the selfless generosity and courage is deserving of my honour and admiration. And the peaceful silence that rests over such cemeteries seems to me to speak of promise – God’s promise of a lasting peace that is eternal, a peace that only Christ can give, a peace that will perhaps elude us as long as we live on earth, a peace that will find its fulfilment in heaven. Such a promise in no way is a justif

ON OUR HEARTS AND ON OUR LIPS: Holy Water for the Children

It’s an idea I got from Elaine in Shankill, giving the children in school a bottle of holy water to bring home; small plastic bottles that remind me of Caroline in St. Anne’s Resource Centre, Caroline preparing hundreds and hundreds of them in preparation for Easter. Good ideas always need someone who will do the practical part. I brought up the idea at the Spiritual Life committee in Sacred Heart School here in Hastings. Head Teacher, Mr. Hellett loved it. He sourced the bottles - 250 of them - got them filled with water and labelled with each child’s name. And so, on Wednesday, Eve of All Saints I spent most of the day in school going from class to class. The children, from the youngest up, were very enthusiastic about the Mission I was sending them on and they all understood the idea of mission. Their task was to bring the holy water home to bless their families. The chats we had were lovely and they had a very good grasp of what a blessing is, when a priest gives a b

LOVE CRIES: Poems for November

LOVE CRIES Love cries Because it loves Its tears selfish And not selfish at all It cannot bear absence Not loving the one For whom it would Give its whole life If it could be measured It would have The length and depth Of tears Floods and Oceans For Love is water In all its shapes And temperament And when I die Do not put sweet words On my lips I will not say That I am only gone To the next room I will not ask you Not to cry I should not tell you Anything about how You should grieve But if I would I should ask you to cry And cry as you must Until the time for letting go And I would ask for the flowers Of your garden Cascading their fragrance Like incense all around About us as testament To our loneliness and loving The loving that is perfected In all its expressions