As I ease my way into cyberspace with my first website blog entry, I cannot but wonder how we all survived before facebook, twitter and the myriad of social network sites that have become an inescapable part of our existence these days. With a little trepidation, I have decided to tell my story and to encourage others to tell theirs. Life is the great educator.Truths of perennial value often lie concealed in the bits ‘n pieces of our lives. Whatever faith tradition you belong to, whatever philosophies ‘rock our boat’, ultimately each one of us has the potential to write our own chapter in the evolving story of humanity. Ordinary things matter regardless of how insignificant they may appear. Even the smallest, almost miniscule, acts of human kindness have the power to trigger a process of transformation that knows no bounds. I’ve lost my way in life more times than I can remember. A voice inside always reminded me that I was not where I belonged. The road home has become the source of my enlightenment. More to go, more to learn!
I believe the time has come for us to become attuned to a new frequency. The direction we seek will only be truly discovered when we find our own inner compass. All too often, we are led by what others come to expect from us. Our coordinates are set from outside ourselves rather than from within. It’s hard to resist the lure of the ever revolving converyor belt of digital advancements that have become the barometer of success in the Western world. We get drawn into the whirlpool and often fail to see beyond it’s narrowed walls. Everything that’s new today seems dated tomorrow and we’re left continually searching for more to feed a habit that can never be fully satisfied. Rory replaces Tiger as the new face of Playstation 4 Golf Series, the i-phone 6 will surpass all that has gone before it, one fashion trend announces itself triumphantly to the world only to be replaced within months by the next ‘must have’ commodity. We are more than just spectators to this cyclical cultural saga; we have become participants in it. As a consequence, according to Social Justice Ireland, many people in Ireland today have become “caught in a never satisfied quest for achievement that ultimately produces a bottomless pit of anxiety… seeking to get more, to have more, so as to control the future… a route out of this morass is needed.” We need to penetrate through the maze and discover for ourselves what really matters.
This blog is as much about you the reader as it is about me. Each of us have our own stories to tell. Each of us at some point in life have struggled to wade our way through the torrent and the storm in our efforts to reach to the other side. There is a ‘spark’ within, something indomitable, something uncrushable. This is what carries us through. Storms will pass and the light then shines in ways we may not have noticed before. Many of us have stared uncertainty in the face and have confronted ‘head on’ the harrowing realisation that forces beyond our control can impact so brutally on our lives. Somewhere along the way, we become exposed to the elements and it can be damn tough. Viewed from the underside of history, everything takes on a new perspective. We begin to see things more clearly. Suffering can be the gateway to truth, to the liberation we seek, for it is only when we shed the superfluous things that once shaped us that we come to discover who we really are. “Often we have to come to the edge of the precipice before we reach the moment of truth. Times of trial release new energies.” (Jean Vanier)
This coming week, I’ll be busy with ‘The Island of Ireland Peace Choir’. Some of us are singing in Belfast on Tuesday, then on to Tullow in Carlow on Wednesday night and back home to The Edmund Rice Chapel in Waterford for our Good Friday Service. I’m honoured to be part of the choir. It’s something we’ve all have bought into and we love it! Music is a powerful medium. It can transport us effortlessly into the realm of the sacred. I was giving a wee talk in the Capuchan Friary in Kilkenny on Thursday night last and heard the ‘Soulful Spirit Choir’. They said more in their song than I could ever say in words. Something is stirring on the periphery of the Church. The shape of what is to come is simmering to the surface. People once silenced on the margins of the Church are slowly but resolutely finding their voice. Pope Francis reminds us that “in the midst of darkness, something new always springs to life. No matter how dark things get, goodness always re-emerges and spreads.” Maybe, just maybe, a life force is at play beyond what the mind can fully understand. The ways of the Spirit can never be caged in.
We, the people, are the medium through which God’s plan for humanity is unveiled. We cannot merely proclaim the Christian story, we must be bearers of its truth. When we reach out in solidarity with those who are most bruised and broken in life, when we simply tap into our individual and collective talents for the wellbeing of those around us, we reveal God’s face to the world. Good must endure no matter how great the uncertainties and the injustices that abound. The poor lead us to a new vantage point from where we begin to see more clearly. In empowering others, it is we who become empowered. “Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Though we see the waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can.” (Archbishop Oscar Romero)
My plan is to blog every few weeks through my website and maybe help in some way to provide a forum for people to articulate their own unique perspective on things. The climate must be one of respectful dialogue. Life’s too short for anything less! This week, we’ll be singing the beautiful Taize chant ‘Nada te turbe’ at our Good Friday Service. 500 years ago, the author of this prayer was born. Amidst the uncertainties and the flux, something timeless endures.
“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away, God never changes.
Those who find God, find they lack for nothing.
God alone suffices.”
(St. Teresa of Avila)