Showing posts from March, 2021


Monday of Holy Week. The wind is cold but in a sheltered place on the seafront the sun is warm on my face, my head resting back into the silence of the morning, John’s Ray Ban’s shielding my eyes. He bought them in Marrakesh from a street vendor who approached us as we were having coffee al fresco, reviewing the week that we had just spent together in the Desert. He is with me in spirit as I sit where we would normally sit at the half-way stage of our walk. We would go just beyond the Azur and double back down the lower level and sit a while. As well as his Ray Ban’s I’m also wearing his ring. Both were given to me after he died. Being back with the parish congregation was emotional, especially when I said thanks to the people for their messages, cards and support on John’s death. One man said very kindly, “we lost our priest but you lost your friend” and I’m touched by the recognition of our friendship. At the end of Mass on Saturday evening my breath failed, my voice trailed off as

FED UP WITH BEING FED UP: But Mornings Like These

"I suppose we're as well as can be these days” he said when I asked how they are doing. “Fed up with it all” he went on, “fed up with being fed up, but mornings like these help a great deal." A morning in Annaghdown. Fed up with being fed up! It’s a good way of describing how we are feeling on the anniversary of the first lockdown. There’s a litany of things that covid-19 has done to us all and we could go naming them all out but “mornings like these” – that’s where I would like to go now. To think about the things that “help a great deal.” I’m just back from John O’Brien’s funeral and the self-isolation that was required of me at home. In spite of the sorrow that is in me, everything fell into place as the graciousness of Divine Providence accompanied me all along the way, soothing my fears, softening that nameless guilt that can arrive from nowhere. That nameless guilt! Sitting on the edge of my bed at home, just after waking, I was feeling guilty as though I had alr

HE TOUCHED ME: Reflection on the life of Father John O'Brien SCA 

Morning of John's funeral. I sit on the chair where he used to pray, in the room where he slept. Facing out into the garden and the fields of Ballynoe as far as the eye can see. Daffodils beneath the fence and a pale sunlight on the grass - sunlight growing bright and brighter still. All is neat and still and quiet. Quiet but for the occasional bellowing of cows in the parlour.   And dark clouds marching slow across the blue sky with the look of rain in them. But as it turned out, it was snow, not rain that they bore into the early part of the day. Later there would be rain after the burial was done. Torrents of rain that drove us out of the cemetery, tearing us apart lest we be tempted to linger in unsafe social closeness that is forbidden now.   Lines from a hymn come to me:   "The day is come, the accepted day When Grace like nature flowers anew, Trained by Thy hand, the surer way Rejoice we in our Springtime too.   Let the whole earth in worship bow Great God before Thy Me

Funeral of Fr. John O'Brien SCA

 Homily: A HOLY AND SACRED SPACE St. John at the end of his Gospel says of the life of Jesus, “ I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” about Him. Something similar, though not on the same level, can be said about the life of John O’Brien. Every thought, every memory that could be remembered about him and our life with him – the whole world would not contain them. There is so much to be said and yet he himself said in the days before he died, “say as little as possible.” But in this I cannot obey him because there is so much stirring in my heart, so much stirring in all of us, especially at the suddenness of his passing, that it must be spoken. I’m very grateful that I had time with him in hospital at the end, that he, Tom Daly and I were together there for a couple of days, that Tom was with him when he died. I thank God that John and I had a brief opportunity to say what we needed to say to each other, to speak of how important w

FEBRUARY SONG: Seasons In The Sun

My tears are dry. Dry like sand. Lost sand of the Sahara scratching the place between bone and marrow, a constant irritation, clogging up my eyes. It's hard to cry when you're coping, managing what needs to be done. "Big boys don't" but that's not true anymore.    It comes out in dreams. The other night I was put into a psychiatric hospital, tried to escape, was captured, and locked in a room. I heard the key being turned on the outside so I was trapped, alone, in bed with no way out and I wondered would I panic or stay calm. Then I woke up. There's a bit of madness that comes with grief, especially when it's pent up, locked inside.    Next, I dreamed about Josh Groban. I was on stage and he was in the audience and I was telling him how much I love his "February Song" and today I found a very poignant video of it on YouTube. "Where has that old friend gone?" And of course, now I realize that for me it refers to John who went awa