‘This world is awash with hope and love’

Fr Jason Murphy, in his bi-monthly column Let The Busy World Be Hushed, has another uplifting message for us...

Boxes of ripened red apples were laid out for the taking on the table in the staff room, as the trees turned to a golden hue outside the window of the school along the Cootehill Road. Pots of blackberry and raspberry jams in jars of all shapes and sizes left dotted around the tables along with chutneys of apple and beetroot, to enhance the palates of her colleagues for the weeks and months to come.

Each year this ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ brought with it gifts of all kinds from her garden as the colours of the leaves turned from the mature green of late summer to the variations of red, yellow and brown and, with the changing colours of this harvest time, our staffroom took on the fragrance of a cider store with the maturing fruits that lavished our tables.

Crocheted blankets and teddies for new-borns, knitted robins and churches too, octopuses and tea cosies, little presents to mark moments in people's lives with the turning of the year.

And with the passing of this teacher, our colleague, Margaret King, in this the season when we are prompted to look over our shoulder and reflect on the beauty of the Spring and Summer that has passed, we are reminded of the joy that she brought to our lives and to the lives of all the students that she taught, little boys and girls who entered in with faces that were at first bewildered to those six foot something near grown men.

She held each of them in the palm of her hand as she introduced their minds to the wonders of French and all things European; students who, over time, became most fluent in the language and others who wondered how it might be of use to them out in Bruskey baling hay. But despite all the learning, the essays and the homework, it mattered little for by the influence that she had on them throughout these their formative years, her gentleness and kindness remembered beyond the verbs and pronouns, touching the hearts of little children now scattered the breadth of the world-wide.

On that bright autumnal day of her passing when the sky was blue and the sun illumined the colours of the trees, I was overcome with appreciation as I turned a corner by the golden beauty of a big old gnarled majestic chestnut tree. In the falling of the year it was that I came to appreciate its utter beauty and so, with the passing of our colleague, we were overcome with a sense of gratitude for the beauty that we had experienced by her presence in our lives, the simple acts of kindness to both teachers and students alike, quiet words of encouragement, the times taken for a little chat.

At her funeral as we paused and reflected on her life, the words of the little boy in Creeslough spoken at his father’s funeral came wafting to my mind. The little boy Hamish O’Flaherty who was with his father James just moments before he died, the father who loved golf but did not play for as he said, “Why would I play golf when I can spend my time with you?”; who read to his son each night before he fell asleep, who cared not of what people thought and wore a paint stained jacket to the shops, to the movies, to the beach.

Realising the long shadow cast by his father over his life of 12 years, Hamish told the assembled congregational and those who listened in that we should be filled with gratitude. “Be grateful for your families, cherish them, for they won't be there forever,” he said. "Use the time you have with them wisely. Be grateful for your life because that too will not last forever. Be grateful that God has given us this life and all the things in it, our families, our friends, our home and this world that is awash with hope and love that God has given us. Be grateful, for you will be able to rest after your hard work.”

And so in this time of Autumn as we rush and hurry about many things, let us pause and be grateful for all that has been gifted to us, all that we take for granted, be it our health, our loved ones, our colleagues, nature and our very lives. For as little Hamish reminded us, all can be taken in a moment, as with all who perished in Creeslough, in the very blinking of an eye.


Seeing the extraordinariness of the ordinary