I find myself singing the Connemara Cradle Song. “Hear the wind blow love, hear the wind blow!” Out loud! Against the wind, head down in the dark, the wind with rain on it. So it doesn’t matter! No one can hear me.
The seafront on this night feels like a scene from Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes!‘ It is the scene of mostly solitary men, mostly jogging. One woman! Jogging! The bravest is the man who sits on a bench staring out to sea. Stillness mid the elements! Waves like a thousand white horses galloping to the shore.
All the amusements stand deserted. Kiosks closed and shuttered! Palm trees wave frantically and the automated pirate’s voice in the crazy golf place shouts insults at nobody.
I was tempted to sit in front of the TV for the evening. I had just witnessed a teenage boy’s grief over the death of his dad; heard the poem of the man’s godson spoken through tears. Observed the dignified sorrow in the faces of all those who loved him. I soak it all in until I’m filled with a helpless pain.
St. Mary Star of the Sea offers a space of solace, comfort and a bit of warmth when one’s very core turns cold with grief.
John was only 50 and I met him once, the day before he died in a tragic fall. He was at Mass and came up to me at the door afterwards to welcome me to Hastings. A bright smile, vibrant and warm! His beautiful three year old daughter was with him.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me! When I was a stranger you made me welcome” – the words of Jesus keep turning in my mind. This is what John did for me and therefore to Christ Himself. It’s as if an unnameable interior pull drew him to Mass that day to be near to Jesus in preparation for what he did not know was going to happen. God does that when someone is about to die. He visits them in a hidden mysterious way to prepare their soul for the pilgrimage beyond death.
And maybe John’s welcoming of me was part of that preparation. I’m already well welcomed here but there was something about the way it happened with John. It’s one of the things specified by Jesus in the last Judgement that awaits us all in the end. I was a stranger and you made me welcome. Whatever you did to one of the least of these you did it to me.
That’s the kind of thing that determines whether we get to heaven or not – what we do to the least of people or neglect to do.
The wind has a way of reaching into the loss that I have absorbed, stirs up all kinds of stuff and now the fury inside me. It’s a kind of helpless fury over the unspeakable violence that is visited by men and women on the least of all God’s people. The anonymous women, men and children who are violated day in and day out!
I have a fury over the selective outrage that is trotted out in public, on the airwaves, spoken by the sophisticated, glamorous, and powerful of this world. Every violation is an outrage but it frustrates me to hear one outrage spoken by people who promote other outrages. But they are not seen as outrageous because they are so slick and posh and rich.
It appalls me that people claim to have rights over the lives of others, rights that belong to God alone but maybe He has been turned into an irrelevance by minds that do not wish to know the truth.
And I wonder too is there another storm on the way? A storm of a different order. Is the turmoil taking place in nature prophetic of something spiritual to come?
So that’s the kind of prayer going on in me as I push resolutely against the wind and rain. I think of Jesus in the storm on the sea of Galilee, His own fury in the cleansing of the Temple. Mine is an unholy fury. If unleashed it would just be destructive. And I take no pleasure in it at all. His fury is pure and redeeming. So I give mine to Him for what it’s worth and maybe He will turn it into something redemptive.
“Oh winds of the night may your fury be crossed. May no one that’s dear to our island be lost!”
With the wind to my back now my mind turns to something beautiful, the consolation of another grief, one of the most awful griefs that I have witnessed. A mother who has seen three of her children die, two of daughters in the space of two months. She has a very special place in my heart and it was such a joy to get the news that she has given birth again to a beautiful daughter. The thought of them softens my entire being.
So I pray for them with gladness and gratitude. And I sing the lullaby for them in a sporadic kind of way – not as it is meant to be sung, but I am singing:
“Angels are coming to watch o’er thy sheep
Angels are coming to watch over thee
Hear the wind blow love, hear the wind blow
Lean your head over and hear the wind blow
Blow the winds gently, calm be the foam
Shine the light brightly and guide them back home”
I turn in home to my quiet house. Earlier in the day a visiting priest asked if I mind living alone and the answer that emerged in me was, “I am not alone!”
– Father Eamonn Monson SAC (https://eamonnmonson.blogspot.co.uk/)