Sunday, March 15, 2015
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
|Archbishop Richard Clarke and Archbishop Eamon Martin in front of a gift-wrapped cathedral in Armagh for the launch of the Flesh and Blood initiative|
Monday, March 9, 2015
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Guest post by Emma Tobin
Love Can Be Enough
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
There are tragedies in human history that cannot be captured in words, calamities that have ravaged the world in fire and bombs, evil that we can hardly comprehend stretching ghostly fingers over our sleeping homes. As humans, we are awfully flawed, but we do have some redeeming qualities, light that makes these memories feel survivable. For all that we feel compelled to kill and maim and hate one another, we have also found something called love.
The universe is filled with bright stars and things as pleasant as coffee and baths and spices, but nothing our human hands have created can ever quite amount to that moment - you feel it juddering between your ribs - when you realise that you love something, or someone, more than you could ever hate them. Oh, and love has cracks and edges, but it swallows you, like a dragon with its great lolling tongue of complications.
Love isn’t wound dressing, it doesn’t make scars fade or turn our lives into magic kingdoms complete with frolicking unicorns and confetti, but it does make a difference. When old grief comes skulking back there’s a hand to hold, a voice that holds our heart in its lilt to soothe the throbbing in our souls. We spend a lot of our time thinking about love, be it love for a person or love for the way that the stars poke through clouds to light up dark places. It’s a human affliction, and as much as it aches, it’s also the most important thing we possess.
As much as love is terrifying and sharp and potentially ruinous, without it we couldn’t have things like poetry and art and dragons. There’s a reason why George Orwell uses romance as the greatest wad of spit in the face of totalitarianism, because love is personal and powerful, and the greatest act of rebellion against an unkind universe is to love anyway, love despite scars and tragedies, love not in order to forget but to dignify the value of human life lost. Love can drive us crazy and prop us up and pull us down, and like anything important it doesn’t have to mean the same thing to everyone.
Some people find love in books, some in numbers, some in people and some in religion. Some people love coffee. The luckiest people find love in themselves. Love is smiling stupidly and hearing your heart shudder your ribs with its surety. Love is when someone says your name like they mean it, when they look at you like you’re more interesting than their shoes. When they forget that anything else exists but you.
I’ve always thought that the most important lesson we can learn from religious faith is that love prevails. I adore the uncompromising belief in children that the one definite thing that God means is love. They see God in their family and their friends and in the things they like to do. Sometimes I think we don’t need to make it more complicated than that. Capitalism has made life all about success, be it financial success or academic success, but when it comes down to it, love is more important than all of that. Love is the root of passion and belief and art.
It’s easy to forget that success does not always have to mean what the world tells you it means. It can mean finding a fantastic book to read or making a new friend or the perfect cup of tea. And love, likewise, is up to you, defined by you. Just because it isn’t drenched in dramatic overtures with sundry explosions in the background doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be the centre of the universe your eyes create. So what if you scratched the car? You have a small pet at home who greets you with wide eyes and bounteous excitement. So what if you’ve got stretch marks and tired eyes? You have peaceful sleeping and peach-scented moisturiser in your future.
Friday, January 2, 2015
Monday, October 6, 2014
My 17 year old daughter wrote this for her school mental fitness week which began today. She read this on her school intercom system:
This week is Mental Fitness week, which for a lot of you probably means the long an arduous process of picking out an outfit to dazzle the entire school with, but for a few of you, it might just mean a lot. Because the fact is that 1 in four people will, at some point, experience a mental health difficulty. This week is about you, and it’s here to remind you that you are most certainly not alone.
I don’t want to bombard you with facts, so instead I’m gonna do a little speech.
I like speeches.
Sure, by itself, the world is just trees and rocks and clouds, but if there is some magic, it’s in people, as much as I would love Hogwarts to be real. You can either accept that life is an individual experience or a collective ordeal. You’re not wrong, either way, but only together can we make human life worth something. We may not feel inherently valuable, but as countless love stories have told us, we have the potential to mean everything to another person. As J.K. Rowling said, “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
Alone, we might not really feel all that important, but if you add just one person who cares, you become as great and incalculable as the universe itself. Sure, the universe is big, but that’s only because every planet is millions upon millions of miles apart. There are seven billion of us squashed together on one insignificant blue planet floating aimlessly around a tiny star, but just look at the things we have done. Things like Christmas and the Mona Lisa and Mario Kart.
There are times when all of us feel alone, or overwhelmed, or disgusted with ourselves, but that isn’t a reason to become disillusioned with the world. Don’t be sad because your life isn’t as exciting as the books you read or the films you watch, because once you get past the tininess of the community you’re living in, there are millions of things you don’t know about the world. Watch documentaries about planet Earth and see all these things you hadn’t even thought of. Revel in the hours of fun children manage to have with the ketchup packets in restaurants. What it that even about?
There are so many things to be amazed by, so many books you’ll leave unread if you give up this stupid huge, tiny world.
No matter how bad things are right now, remember that everything is temporary, and that you have the strength to be more than what you’ve done so far. You can be the things that you will do, the promises you make to yourself.
Maybe you’ll paint a masterpiece, or write a classic. Maybe you’ll write a song they’ll sing in a thousand years, or maybe you’ll discover something that will save lives. Maybe you’ll do nothing but love and be loved. The point is, unless you keep beating on, you’ll never know.
This week is for you, a little reminder that there are people who can help, and a world that aside from all its flaws is pretty cool and worth paying attention to.
Read out on school intercom system for mental fitness week 6 October 2014