24Sep Séamus Ahearne: Culture, characters, crisis and Indi on film…

‘Accentuate the positive.’ (Bing Crosby)

The talking Tolka:

I’m confused. The Tolka River chats with me every morning. The heron doesn’t appear. The ducks must be sleeping. The Dawn Chorus sometimes is quite beautiful. But it happens only occasionally. I admit my own ignorance; I can’t identify the singers. Most mornings, the birds remain silent. Everywhere is quiet. Even the odd scooter appears in a hurry but is only purring along. The dogs don’t come out as it is too early for their walkers. The darkness lingers.

The sun wakes up reluctantly and almost seems grumpy. The wind and the air, smiles as it accompanies me. The moon waves goodbye. The shapes in the sky, mesmerise me. I’m at one with Mary Oliver:  ‘Why I wake early.’ What a gift each day is? It is the same and yet different every day.  What a blessed people we are, to have such a park, paths, greenery, trees, river, on our doorstep? My mind wakes up. My heart stirs. It is a prayer of gratitude. ‘Good morning. Good morning.’ (Mary Oliver again).

 

The half-empty glass:

I shower and breakfast. The radio comes on. The wonder of the morning could easily be suffocated if allowed. Instead the Programme is laughable. Everyone is fixated on their own problem. The rust of negativity takes over. The earnestness of all participants is very off-putting. It reminds me of squabbling children or even a child with a tantrum. The terrible twos seem to endure forever. Bad News is the only News. There is clearly a market for it. The effluent of negativity is like the lava from Cumbre Vieja in La Palma (Canaries). It destroys everything and everyone. It is a dangerous and a contagious virus.

We had a recent funeral for Suzanne. She died suddenly and she was only 40. At the graveside, Liz (parish sister) said to me, ‘There is no need for us; they have their own ritual.’ She was right and it felt great. The crowd kept on filling in the grave with Sunflowers. I should ask them now to surround RTÉ and Morning Ireland with Sunflowers to bring colour to the News. They could sing Everything is beautiful’ with Ray Stevens. That might scuttle the nonsense.

 

Counter-culture:

The Christian or God-person, could act as an antidote. It is called perspective. Too often we are submerged in the same pollution. When we listen to any spokesperson or writer or commentator or church leader, on religious matters, everything is dull and dreary and rotting with problems. What was wrong in the past; what is wrong now; what is wrong in the stupidity of leadership; what is wrong in the sexism of the chaotic structure. But it is God and Faith and Life we should be speaking of – while we acknowledge the frailty of humanity. We may not like to cling to the crude instrument of Original Sin but we have to accept the flaws in human nature with humility.

It is the miracles of life that we should celebrate. It is the local heroines and heroes we should admire. It is the laughter and fun of faith we should highlight. It is the excitement of community. It is the saints of everyday. It is the graciousness of life. It is the God we find in the most unexpected and unusual places. It is the Gallery of our daily lives. It is the artistry of faith. It is the privilege of being involved in the midst of the unfolding mystery. It is the stamina of the ordinary. It is the Liturgy (unofficial worship) in family life; in the neighbours; in the community. As Louis Armstrong sang:  What a wonderful world?’

 

Crisis. What crisis? (Was it Brian Lenihan Sn?)

Roger Whitaker sang of a ‘New World in the Morning.’ There was a fear and doubt in the song. Somehow we recognise the same concerns. This is a new world. Our church of the past is gone. The curse of certainty and solemnity has evaporated. The virus helped to kill it off. It was dying anyway. But we aren’t dead. A new world is emerging. It is a crisis and an opportunity. Some of the unnecessary accretions will now fall off. The vision can take over. Like Yeats – ‘ a terrible beauty is born.’ We cannot fear the future. As Leon Suenens said: Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.  Even Tupac Shakur used the same words rather later!

The weight of negativity can be too onerous to even attempt a new model of faith.  We are in the business of God. Didn’t Haggai speak of that? ‘The new glory of the Temple is going to surpass the old.’  Are we believers? We are now adventurers in faith. We are pioneers. We are going into a place and a country we don’t know. The Rituals and Structures that carried us in our earlier lives and defined our job descriptions, have almost gone. We are  missionaries. They sometimes carried too much of the West with them but many were very creative. Some of the problems we talk about are First world problems: Shortage of priests plus plus. It is a question of relativities. The business of faith is always a reflection of a journey into the unknown. God is still with us. Abraham has done it before.

 

Poetic characters:

Emma Raducanu won the US Open. Both Emma and Leylah Fernandez were a tonic when they spoke after the match. Their game of skill was a work of art. Billy Alexander (Kerry) won Gold at the Chelsea Flower Show with his ferns. He was glowing afterwards. Both Limerick and Tyrone were adamant that it was a team game. The panel. The coaches. The back- up staff. The focus was community. Communion. How enriching that was! Padraig Harrington has promised to get a tattoo. He didn’t say where! There is always heart in this man when he speaks. Michael D Higgins showed his mettle when he declined the invitation to celebrate partition. There was spirit in him. He has served us well in the office as have the two Marys. (Dignity. Courage. Inspiration.) Poetry is a living body. In sport. In politics. In humanity.

 

Young Indi

She is splashing words everywhere. Not too many make sense. But she knows what she wants. Watching her find a chair; climb onto it; negotiate a table and find the forbidden fruit, is quite a drama.

She now knows that her Christening is going to happen. Her cousin Gracie will join her. Both are happy with any party. She is quite willing to have  a shower or a bath.  She wants to know if this Christening will mean that she has to attend church; that she has to pray from a book every night like her granny or go to church every day like her grandfather. She wants to keep her religion quiet and easy. She is quite pleased to see God in the fields and the sky and the animals and the mountains and her parents and the River Blackwater and in the food she eats. She knows that God and Prayer happen when she says thank you.

She is always asking me about the heron. This is the gist of her comment and question: “Why does the heron stand still as if she is thinking or praying?” I tell her that the heron must stand still, and recall every day what is good and beautiful and wonderful in that day. Yes. The heron is praying. Indi then says: “I can do that too.”

 

Seamus Ahearne osa