‘Mammy! Mammy! I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles….’
‘You never miss a mother’s love until she’s buried beneath the grave….’
Think Al Jolson….think the old Irish song, ‘A Mother’s Love’…. Add to this the scene in the old movie, ‘Going My Way’, the old mother at the end, and you’ll get a sense of where I am coming from in this ‘rumblings’, one of the last couple of them left before I leave St. Matthew’s. As I continue to reflect on the past seven years here in St. Matthew’s the memories, once given the nod, come tumbling fast on top of me as if I had just opened a packed high cupboard. They come, these memories, in all shapes and sizes. Yes from the little snippet of a brief conversation or passing acquaintance, to the larger chunk of recalling something or indeed someone life changing.
Of course with many memories come various emotions. In the past seven years we have laughed and cried together. Indeed we have loved and lost. We have celebrated the miracle of new life, sometimes much sought and long awaited. We have walked in the valley of death together. Sometimes this was a different type of celebration, a giving thanks, albeit with a broken heart for a long and fulsome life. Worst of all, at times, we sat in numbed silence our heads throbbing with endless unanswered and unanswerable questions in the face of the sudden inexplicable loss of a much loved one.
On these occasions we try and find the words, the gestures, the music. Sometimes words fail us, – maybe more often than not. It is in these times we realise that in the sacred silence God gently holds us. I believe even, perhaps especially, when it appears that he is not there.
I got older in St. Matthew’s. I’m closer to sixty now than fifty. What strikes me on that, is how the body ages and yet emotionally I feel so young. Maybe that’s a dressed up way of saying that there’s still a lot of growing up to be done! This is all a bit personal. Indeed some might say more than a tad narcissistic. Navel gazing. Obviously my hope in penning this is it might resonate even somewhat with yourself.
Yes I got older. Time passed. Did I get wiser? Hopefully a bit. Having said that I did learn a good while ago that simply chalking up the years does not per se lead to wisdom, it’s more being able to reflect on the years that makes a difference. We can all reminisce but reflection goes deeper. What did that episode in my life actually mean? How significant was that relationship for me?
I guess what brings it on to a completely new level is when I have the courage to reflect on my life through the eyes of faith? What is the significance of these events and more importantly these people on my pilgrim path and in my relationship with God?
A few months ago I lost my dog. Luna, a beautiful boxer. I had her for twelve years, since she was six weeks old. I was broken hearted. It got me in touch once again with loss. With death. The big death and the little deaths. The broken, or indeed lost friendship. The strained relationship. Sometimes just the challenge that change presents.
I was here in St. Matthew’s when my beautiful Mum Bridie went to God. I did not know it then but I do now, how God was looking after me. I was on the altar here in our beautiful church celebrating Eucharist as Bridie was leaving us. It was Divine Mercy Sunday. It needs no further comment.
I’ll leave the last word to Bridie. We are always children to our parents. To Ma, we were always ‘the kids’. Sometime before she died, in a conversation with my sister Maria, she remarked, ‘I don’t know when I last saw the big fella as happy!’ It was a comment on her. It was a comment on Bridie as a loving mother. It was a comment on me. It was a comment on my happiness and fulfillment. It was true. However most of all it was a comment on you. On you as a community. Your welcome. Your warmth. Your care. Ma was right again.