I’ve been used to expressing myself with words such as “fine”, “grand”, and “no bother” all of my life. But these aren’t really feelings at all. I think this is the experience of a lot of Irish men.
I finished an 8 week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course last week at the Mindfulness Centre in Dublin with elements of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and it was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It enabled me to communicate from my ‘heart centre’ on a consistent basis which has been a deep longing of mine. Here are some of my learnings:
An Ignatian Contemplation (from St Ignatius Loyola) on aligning with the suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane through our own pain or frustration during the Covid-19 pandemic. It involves the use of our imagination and feelings along with elements of mindfulness. It is also set in the context of the Advent season where we are invited to ‘stay awake’ to the suffering of others.
Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark, tells the story of a man who leaves his home to go on a journey and puts his slaves in charge while he is away. He assigns them different work including the task of the doorkeeper “to be on the watch”. They need to be vigilant because he can return home at any minute.
Can we imagine the master’s reaction if he finds his doorkeeper not on the job? Sleep, according to Kieran O’Mahony OSA, is commonly used to mean inattention, lack of alertness, as well as death. Surely not a good thing this Advent season.
It is not someone who has a huge, precious diamond that is richest, but someone who is able to give a huge, precious diamond away. Something like the extremely rare purple-pink Russian diamond called ‘The Spirit of the Rose’ that was sold at auction in Switzerland for €22.5 million.
In a poem by Rumi, we are told that being human is a ‘guest house’. What a wonderful image of our being! For each day we can experience a whole range of emotions such as joy, sadness, enthusiasm and boredom. But the question is do we accept and welcome them all as guests or do we resist and distract ourselves by focusing only on the nice things?
“Dear Granny,” I wrote on her special occasion, “It is lovely to celebrate this birthday with you. Before my friends met you, they expected to see a frail lady, but they were surprised to find that you were full of life. Love always, Gavin”.
As I reflect on the whole experience of my Granny’s life and death since my last video (Gratitude in my Granny), I am grateful for a new appreciation of our relationship. I draw strength from our faith which we shared. I often saw her, for example, praying the rosary in her room. She said her prayers silently while going from bead to bead with her fingers. I felt comforted during these times, especially when I felt a little raw and vulnerable. We were in good, loving company and I cherish this memory today.
A testimony of the life and death of my grandmother Una. As I reflect on our relationship, I realise that I’m not necessarily grateful ‘for’ all things. But I am grateful for digging deep to find gratitude ‘in’ all things. RIP Granny.
The song I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons includes the lyrics: “Now I’ll be bold, as well as strong, and use my head alongside my heart”. The chorus repeats: “And I will wait, I will wait for you”. The singers describe a connection and journey with another person, as well as mutual understanding, humility and intimacy. It is a call to build a relationship on a solid foundation where love freely flows. Of course, we all want to feel safe and secure, but where do we begin?
Don’t take it for granted. Peace is the most precious gift in the world, even better than winning the Euro Millions lottery. For what good is it to be loaded with cash and luxury when you have a monkey mind, a mind of wild horses, a mind of an elephant in rut?
Part of my staycation was to visit Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford, reportedly the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. Monks from Wales originally built a solid structure followed by Normans who greatly added to it. Modernizers maintained its sturdiness and now its electric lamp is operated from Dún Laoghaire in Dublin. Without stone upon stone, the light would not be seen.
I think of a bride from the recent explosion in Beirut. The chemicals blasted through the city and around Israa Seblani as she was being videoed on her special day. Before the explosion, she wondered if her parents were going to be happy seeing her in a white dress. Beauty was like a lamp that she could see in herself. After the explosion, she saw the damage that happened to Beirut – her lamp was still shining in the face of evil. Continue reading “From the lighthouse”→