RETIREMENT?

A Place to Retire to ? View from my kitchen window at home

It's a long enough journey home - 10 hours from house to house - but there's no complaint except a weary body which is not a complaint. Just a fact of nature. There's a great amount of pleasure in the whole process - the train, the airport with an americano stretched out to last an hour so that I can charge my phone, a delayed but lovely flight and running in the rain to catch the 19.45 GoBus with only minutes to spare. And there I listened to all 10 episodes of Vesna Goldsworthy's 'Gorsky' on BBC Radio 4, so beautifully read by Philip Arditti. A voice that has soothed me to sleep some nights. It brought me to within 10 miles of Galway.

I'm home for my brother's retirement as head teacher. He's seven years younger than me, so it's natural that I might taunt myself with the question, "what about me?" A taunt and a temptation. I’m naturally and essentially a very lazy person attracted by idle thoughts of spending my life dreaming, writing, walking. And then I think about the parish in Hastings and the moment in the gospel when Jesus lost most of his followers. The Parish might, like Christ, ask me, "will you go away too?" and I like Peter would answer, "to whom shall I go? You have the message of eternal life!" And this is true! The people of Star of the Sea hold for me the Word, the message of eternal life.

It was lovely in this secular age that the celebration at the school was centered around Mass which I concelebrated with Father Benny McHale who also gives his all. He spoke of Harry's enthusiasm, informing us that the word comes from the Greek "entheos" which means "God within" – to be in God and to have God within oneself. I've looked it up since. An enthusiastic person is one who is possessed or inspired by God. It was an emotional experience hearing about my brother’s achievements, some of which I hadn't heard before. He himself would never boast. How proud our parents would be! How proud we his family are of him! I don't think I ever heard Harry give a speech, didn't realize how good a speech he could make. Well put together, delivered with a depth of feeling, revealing emotions that were important for his audience to witness and at the same time he remained master of those emotions.

Another highly anticipated part of this trip was my first encounter with my grand-nephew Cole who was born a month ago to Jenny and Brian. Here he might be called my great-nephew and I his great-uncle! My Camino Companions amusingly tell me that I’m a great Grate-uncle! There was talk of me meeting Cole while Brian was at work but both he and I wanted to be together in the moment and so it was. What a beautiful little child. What a grace to be given him to hold for so long. To be trusted with a child, to be trusted by a baby is a singular blessing, and what a joy to see Brian transformed into a Dad, Jenny transformed into a Mum, to see the completeness of this little family.

In the mix of family, we have our canine moments, which have often been a source of irritation to me. But if I resisted the dogs, then they seemed determined to draw me in. At Brian and Jenny’s, I had every bit of my face, neck, clothes licked by their two very lively dogs Willow and Roxy, fearsome looking but very friendly creatures who seem to have taken a shine to me! And Róisín’s Neo who liked licking my ears! Evelyn's Charlie and I have already become friends. He's older and tamer than his cousins! But it seems that, despite myself, I am being drawn into closer encounters with God's creatures - dogs now as well as pigeons!





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