Skip to main content

THERE WAS NO ROOM: Sending Samuel Away

“There was no room for them…” – the phrase from Luke’s Nativity is branded in my brain because I have become one who made that a reality for another couple at my place, in my time. And whatever justification I may find, however I might want to present myself in a good light, there is something lacking in the logic of what has taken place.

Sunday night when I left out the bin, I was somewhat perplexed to see that another tent had been set up next to Samuel’s. Perplexed because this could mean a trend was starting and I wasn’t sure that such a thing could be allowed. In the context of the virus, I didn’t want any kind of gathering that could endanger the health of people coming to Mass. Already another man who was previously homeless, now in a flat, told me he wanted to move out and to set up a tent by the church. To him I said a very definite no. Moving from a flat into a tent in the winter doesn’t make sense.

The second tent unsettled me for part of the night and in the end, I entrusted it to Our Lady to show me the way, the right way to deal with it.

At 8am I was heading out the door for a hospital appointment when I could hear Samuel praying out loud in his tent, a sound that always touches my heart, the tone and sincerity of it. I decided to speak,
“Good morning Samuel” I said, “who is in the other tent?”
“Good morning Eamonn. It’s my friend!” he said.
“We can’t have another person staying here”
“I understand” he said, sticking his head out and looking up at me in the way that he does, “we’ll move this morning! We’ll be gone by 11.”
“You don’t have to go so fast!” said I with no small amount of guilt in me. “I’m going to the hospital and will be back by 10.”

And when I returned, there they were standing in the pouring rain, tents folded, all their belongings piled into the shopping trolley and the sight cut me to the heart. I might as well be sending the Holy Family on their way. And he didn’t know where they would go, he and his girlfriend whom he loves so much and wants to marry. But he also understood my need to care for the parishioners. “And you need to take care of your own health!” he said, with typical grace.

I told them to shelter in the far side entrance while I tried to work it out in my head. Prayed for guidance. Wondered about renting a room for them for a week or so. Wondered if Brendan knew of any place. And then, out of the blue Brendan himself rang to book a place at Christmas Mass. While he didn’t know of any accommodation, he said Jane would be able to advise me. He would call her. She called me back immediately with advice that was very, very helpful. The culmination of it was that they would have a flat from the council within a few days. I'm not altogether sure that this is what Samuel wants but maybe his girlfriend does, maybe she needs it.

Samuel gave me some sleeping bags and a blanket to wash and dry, left his guitar for safe keeping. Among his belongings was a picture of Our Lady of Medjugorje which he proudly showed me, saying how much he loves it. “We have great devotion to her here” I said. “I know” he replied, “I can feel her presence with me!”

And away they went into the unknown of that wet December evening while I with a sore heart turned in home again. His going in particular has carved out an empty space within me and I can only trust that what has taken place was necessary in God’s scheme of things. It’s God that Samuel turns to in everything and to the heart. He pointed to his heart before leaving and said, “this is what matters. We are in each other’s heart!”

It may have sounded hypocritical, given what I was doing, but I said to him, “I have a great love for you!” “And I do for you!” he replied.

Love hurts.


Popular posts from this blog

WILD HEART: A Brooding Beauty

'Wild at Heart' is the book I came upon in the sitting room at home. Wild is the unmanaged beauty of Ballyloughán, the beach where we swam and played as children, getting roasted by the sun. A brooding beauty. The sombre grey of the sea beneath a vibrant Western sky.  Dark and pale blue, brown and orange with a blazing white setting sun at its centre. The song of curlews echoing. I have gone there every day of my quarantine. Mostly in the early morning. 

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY: In Loving memory of Father John O’Brien SCA

  Meditation in the Sahara Desert Through a glass darkly. A phrase from 1 Corinthians 13 which was the last piece of Scripture I read to John the day before he died. The same phrase came to me separately and independently from Derry and Tom yesterday so it seems an appropriate place from which to start. In his unconsciousness John’s eyes remained open and, though he could not see us or anything around him in this world, it seemed to me that he was gazing into the Beyond, perceiving dim reflections of the reality towards which he was travelling, the God whom he loved all his life, the God by whom he was touched. "He touched me" was a phrase he liked to use. The Father was uncovering His face to His child and like a new-born baby learning to see, John sometimes looked a bit puzzled as if he was trying to work something out, trying to understand. But the end of that gazing is this, “…we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been

SAMUEL: By Whom God Is Heard

  He used to live in the shelter at the end of the seafront near the old bathing pool, the shelter in which the Name of Jesus is inscribed. You could see him cycling in that direction, looking happy with himself and he might glance in your direction as he did with me a few days ago. He smiled, I smiled and something within me said, “this man is going to come into your life!” And I wasn’t sure that I wanted him in my life at all. This beautiful Saturday morning, awake early I decide to open the church in case anyone might want to come in for a candle and a prayer, as Maria sometimes does on her way down to the shop. Today she doesn’t arrive but as I am pottering around the sanctuary getting ready for Advent and listening to Advent music, I notice a man come in. He kneels to pray in the half light and I leave him to it for a while. Then I decide to go to the church door in case he needs something and, sure enough he follows me out into the sunshine. The first thing I notice is that s