In April I like to re-visit Kavanagh’s seasonal yet perennial poem, The One. To my delight, it was quoted in full by the celebrant as a reflection at this morning’s Mass in the context of the return of swallow and cuckoo. These harbingers of Spring – in spite of the seemingly endless Winter – were signs of hope, the priest said, and Spring was further evidence of the wonder and beauty of the cycles of creation which we enjoy here in our ‘common home’ … echoes of Laudato Si’.
Being ‘of the land’, my thoughts went to the farmers of the country, who are currently suffering unprecedented hardship through fodder shortages, the absence of new grass, contraction in the agricultural sector, the buffeting of cold wind and rain forcing them to keep cattle indoors – all very worrying indeed and they may not be in any mood to listen to the Muse who, in this month of April, is:
‘Prepared to inform the local farmers
That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful God
Was breathing His love by a cut-away bog’.
And then I found my thoughts drifting go to the Emerging Concerns of our Congregation as we prepare for Chapter 2018 – our worries, our ‘fodder shortages’, the contraction of ‘our sector’, our lack of ‘new grass’, our being indoors because so many are no longer able to be the ‘walking nuns’ of yore … But April is here and the flowers and the birds are bravely returning in spite of the hardships and in their very existence look up ‘in the face of the One and the Endless’
In the greater scheme of things we are, as congregation, living out our vision and mission guided by the values of the Gospel, spelled out in our Mercy Constitution and Policies, in a ‘…humble scene in a backward place where no one important ever looked’.
We too are ‘mostly anonymous performers’ but we know that God is with us ‘in the swamps and marshes’; in our inter-connected universe we too, with flowers and weeds, the cuckoo and the swallow, look up in the face of the same ‘One and Endless’
‘Sensational as April and almost incredible the flowering of our catharsis’; Kavanagh’s ‘catharsis’ or release – the easing of his despondency and anguish brought on by his struggle with lung cancer – was helped by his appreciation of the emergence of colourful new life around him in that April of 1954. He never lost faith with his God. May we too be able to put our ‘concerns’ in perspective, respectfully search together for our way forward, rejoice and be confident in God’s unfailing love as we move on to October’s ‘leafy yellowness’. In the meantime, the Chapter-time, the flowering of our ’catharsis’ might also be ‘sensational!
For the full text of the poems, The One, and October see Patrick Kavanagh: The Complete Poems, p.291
Canice Hanrahan rsm
South Central Province