DURING a retreat I attended late last year the retreat master asked a question, “Who are you when you are not doing what you do?”
It was a searching question and I did not dwell on it because I said I have plenty to be doing. But when the lockdown came it raised its head again. What will I do when I have nothing to do and nowhere to go? My initial reaction was an overreaction and things turned out alright.
I found reading John B Keane’s Christmas stories settled me down and I got a good few laughs out of it - even if it was out of season! Even though I am not an avid reader I now read regularly and I find it enlightening and fulfilling.
A thing I discovered early on was the generosity of parishioners. There was no end to offers of support - one day I got three dinners! So I had to work out a rota for my benefactors.
It is very affirming to experience the kindness and thoughtfulness of people. Maybe our big fault is that we take people for granted and do not appreciate the goodness that surrounds us.
The virus has given us time to reflect on the wonder of life, to stop and look around us and to see the love of God reflected in people and creation. The little discomfort that the virus has caused most people pales into insignificance when we consider the misfortune of those who are poor and sick.
This is not to take from those who have tragically lost loved ones from Covid-19. They and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
Millions of people are dying from starvation and governments turn a blind eye. At the heart of the Christian vocation is a call to feed the hungry - one of the corporal works of mercy.
The final question on the last exam we will do before entry in the promised land will be - did we share our resources with the poor and the hungry?
As Jesus told us, so long as you looked after the least of my brothers and sisters you did it for me. There we will say, Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.
So our life is a journey into the bosom of the Trinity - that is where we will rest in peace because we will be together and forever.
There is a lot of wisdom in Daniel O’Donnell’s song - One Day at a Time.
There is always something to see and do. Yes, there are a few inconveniences. It’s the first year I have not heard the song My Lovely Rose of Clare being sung after a Banner victory - so far anyway.
The locals are quietly confident that Clare are set to make an assault on the championship. Some say it would be nice to play the All-Ireland final on Christmas Day and then go home for the dinner. Hope blows eternally in the heart of the Banner.
Christy Ring said that you have to wait for the cuckoo before you start hurling. That adage will be turned on its head as we watch a winter season of the clash of the ash.
But hurling even though it is very much at the heart of our culture is not the only aspect of life that is important.
Climate change is becoming a very real and frightening consideration for us who inhabit the planet at the moment. In the face of such a threat we might be inclined to throw in the towel and say there is nothing we can do to stem the tide. This is fatalism - we can all do a little bit to keep the planet alive.
We should all have a little inventory of acts of regeneration and so ensure that future generations will have a chance to enjoy the beauty of our world.