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Showing posts from December, 2019

THE SEA WAS STILL AND CLEAR: New Year's Eve 2019

Ballyloughan New Year's Day 2010 Coming to the end of this year and the decade since 2009, I’ve been looking back in gratitude at those ten years, going back a further ten to the end of the year in which Maura had died and the arrival of the new millennium. This is what I wrote then in my diary: “The sea at Ballyloughan was still and clear as glass, reflecting all the colour - the orange, dark red and pink of the sky as the sun went down over the hills of Clare. The buildings too were washed in the colour and a cargo ship, moving slowly towards the docks, cast its shadow as it passed between the sun and the Galway coastline. The sound of birds echoed, birds skimming in formation over the water, flying towards the south. I stood in contemplation and awe and worship. Even Vincent Browne or Stephen Hawking, if they stood here, would understand worship, without having to have it explained. It seems kind of God to let me witness this at year’s end and maybe it’s an omen of be

AN ADVENT WEDDING: Sublime Intimacy

Advent weddings have a special appeal, though couples getting married in December probably don’t have Advent on their minds and are more likely to be thinking in terms of Christmas. In a beautiful cathedral the Groom stands waiting for his beautiful Bride to arrive. It’s time! All the talking is done and he faces the altar quietly, intently staring ahead, allowing no distraction to deflect him. A single tear falls from his right eye. His three-year-old niece would like to blow out the Advent candles. There is to be no distraction. Twice he has asked me to make an announcement about photography – that no one but the official photographer should take pictures. The father of the Bride thought this to be unreasonable but she had been firm. She didn’t want the photos of her walking up the aisle to be filled with the heads of happy guests leaning out of the pews with mobile phones in their hands. I had never thought of it like that before but it makes perfect sense. It also meant that

NOSTALGIC FOR CHILDHOOD CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

Been to see Jay at Eastbourne Hospital. This giant of a man comes towards me with his arms wide open, giving me a big hulk of a hug. He wants me to do so many things and, though obedience in me wants to do everything, I can only do some. Amazing that he wants to be homeless, sleeping in his tent in the woods. Would I check to see if his tent is still there? He feels safer there than in a building. He kisses my hand, an action that always embarrasses and humbles me. I say, “there’s no need!” And then I choose to kiss his hand. It is an act of reverence and love, like kissing the hand of the baby Jesus in the painting by Fray Juan Bautista Maino . Walking in the cold sunlight I pass a family coming back from town with their shopping. They move slowly, looking content, unburdened. The man smiles at me. I smile back. The sight of them makes me suddenly, surprisingly nostalgic for childhood Christmas shopping and I'm back home, going to the market in town with Mam and Colie

Magnificat for the Immaculate Conception - It Is Love That Pauses Here

It's Only Your Strength I Remember

He is one of the strongest men I know - a hunter, builder, fisherman, priest. Steady, stalwart. But the serious illness of his sister whom he loved brought him low, upset him greatly for he is also strong in love and loyalty. I was comforting him and he said, “I envy you your strength!” And I replied, “you have seen me at my weakest!” He had indeed witnessed me close up at my weakest worst. But he said, “it’s only your strength I remember.” Memory is a strange thing. When I look back at my life as it was ten to fifteen to twenty years ago I remember it in largely negative terms, think of myself as a mess and a failure but when I read my diaries from that time I am brought face to face with something a lot more positive than I realized. When I read of other things this friend and colleague said about me in those years then I know that, in fact, I was ok – more than ok. What he has said of me bears a weight beyond all others because he confronted and challenged me, demanded