Each of us has an influence on others

In his latest column - Let the Busy World Be Hushed - Fr Jason Murphy reflects on how we all can affect others...

The sun shone clear on Ash Wednesday morning and the sky was a turquoise blue. I noticed how the young leaves were starting to bud on the dark brown whitethorn hedges as I went for a morning run. I thought on Johnny McGahey from a little place called Creevelea in north County Leitrim. For the last week of February, he used to shout to me as I walked by the door of his demountable dwelling on my way to morning mass, ‘mark my words as sure as the sun is in the sky, come the first of March the crows will start to build their nests’. Right on cue, the crows were picking up the twigs littering the ground that beautiful morning, left from the storms of the days before.

All around, Spring was in the air; the greening of the bushes, the yellowing of the whins, the evaporating mist that hung o’er the lake. There was a reawakening in the air that made you feel grateful to be alive in this time and place; while people hid in the basements of cities across the Ukraine deprived of the morning sun.

As I drove to work, a Garda beckoned the line of vehicles to divert off the bypass through the village of Butlersbridge for there was an accident ahead - blue lights of a fire engine and garda cars flashing in the distance as drivers blessed themselves looking beyond the bridge as they crossed the Annalee.

Little did we know in the midst of the blue flashing lights in the distance that a young girl lay sleeping in the springtime of her years. Morning mass was said as students lined up for ashes to be placed on their foreheads, ashes to remind that we are but dust and that our lives are finite, made all the real by the talk of the death of this girl.

In her dying the story of her life was made manifest. She had worked hard to save for this, her first car, her insurance to take her to College in Maynooth. All the messages beneath the death notice told of how highly regarded she was amongst her professors and fellow students, how diligently she had studied, how pleasant she had being, the cruelty of it all; a life cut short when it was that the bright colours of her springtime were now only showing forth.

People spoke of a girl who gave of her time with children diagnosed with autism and who had in those days gained part-time employment with the Youth Advocacy Programme for young people at risk. She gave and gave to her younger siblings, trips to McDonald’s after school as a treat and a walk along the River Erne and Turbet Island to feed the swans who gathered there, always and forever thinking of the other over and above her own self. How could anyone in their grappling make sense of it all?

St Paul writes to the very early Christians that ‘the life and death of each of us has an influence on others’ reminding them and us today that no life, however short, is lived without altering the course of the journeys of those around us. In the midst of a world where people seek power for power's sake, whose sole purpose is to satisfy their own egotistical wants and needs, where people strive each day to increase their monetary wealth so as to create an illusionary stronghold around themselves; to go beyond oneself to touch the life of another is a most beautiful thing.

We are all called to influence, to lay the imprint of our lives on the lives of others in the midst of the ordinary and the everyday, to lift the heavy burdens that people carry with them throughout their lives by the little we can do, to be as Simon of Cyrene was to Christ, a model for our living.

Ciara was but 20 years old and yet, in those short years of living, had given so much of herself to enhance the lives of so many around her. Her life was so full of promise, like the greening of the bushes in the springtime, her true colours were only being revealed.

Though many questions lie unanswered, the why and wherefores, there is nothing surer that Ciara was a true example of what it was to be as Christ to others and as I listened intently to the homily at her funeral mass, the words of St Paul to the Romans rang oh so true, ‘the life and death of each of us has an influence on others’, for even in death she was urging us to go beyond ourselves to find the beauty that lies hidden in those who live in the springtime of their years.


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