Monday, October 18, 2021

DESERT FIRE: Cup of Closeness

A campfire in the Sahara Desert, beneath the canopy of a pristine night sky, brilliant moon. The Berber men are showing us how they bake bread in the sand. We break fresh bread, drink Moroccan tea, some of the group sitting, some of us standing in the glow of flame.

Ahmed, the chief camel herdsman, sends one of the priests to say he wants me to come and sit beside him on the sand and when I take my place, he puts his arm around my shoulder, drawing me into himself. A tender and intimate moment of reverence. Throughout this journey he has had a profound respect for my age. Like everything in life this is not just a physical and emotional human connection; it also has a spiritual and divine dimension. It’s as if God Himself has invited me to sit beside him, that He has chosen me for this. We all like to be chosen, to be picked out for closeness to another at all levels of our nature.

Monday, October 11, 2021

ONE THING MORE: A Truth To Be Told


The islands rise on the horizon, emerging through the mist. A young boy rests his head on the ship's railing, as I did in childhood, gazing down upon the foaming sea, waving at dolphins in the distance.  Memory of travelling to Aran in August. Memory of the past and the meaning that came to me through Aran and the sea.

I'm looking for clarity now, waiting for mist to clear, not in an anxious way but as a child who knows how to wait and trust and ponder.

"strange islands, the roaring torrents, whisper of the amorous gales, tranquil night, the approaches of the dawn and silent music" (St. John of the Cross)

Friday, September 24, 2021

THE MOON AND A QUIET FIRE: Farewell to Will


When it comes as a surprise it’s extra special – coming face to face with the moon while it sits low and large on the horizon.  You find yourself saying “Oh my God” out loud. A prayer of praise - for this deep yellow moon and the pink moon of a few nights ago. Moon upon the calm sea. No photograph will ever do it justice.

Friday, September 10, 2021

A PRAYER FROM MY KITCHEN WINDOW

 



To You my Lord I come
In Adoration
Beneath the world-mothering
Mantle of Mary

Asking Your morning Blessing upon
Mothers filled with purpose
Parents and guardians
Coming back from delivering
Children to school

I pray for every child
And each member of staff

May Your Grace descend

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Psalm 131 X - BALLYLOUGHÁN SUNDAY MORNING

 

O Lord my heart

Has nothing

To be proud of

For you have humbled me


Lessons hard to heed


My eyes have sought marvels

Beyond

Hands grasping stations

Above my reach


Temptations of the Desert

Have assaulted my soul


And I have not returned

To the child at rest


Arms that hold

The pretence of peace 


It is not the hope

Of Israel past

Nor any future 

Promise that I seek


It is You alone my Lord

For whom I yearn

In all 

Those misdirected ways


It is You

You alone

That I seek








Saturday, August 14, 2021

UNCOMPROMISING LIFE

“He hungered for the uncompromising life of a mendicant.” 
(Priest and Beggar by Kevin Wells)

I’m reading the biography of Venerable Father Aloysius Schwartz whose enthusiasm, energy and sense of purpose put me to shame, humble me. Though I have always known from a very young age that I would be a priest, always wanted to be one, it seems like I have spent my life wandering. I have always loved and been drawn to the poor, to the vulnerable but never had the courage to be poor. Vulnerable yes, but poor no. And even my presence with the vulnerable is always transient.