Reflection 29th October 2017

A Reflection for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matt 22:34-40 ( ) 

A lick of love

Poetry is making a comeback! A pleasant experience affirming me in this view was the recent gathering in the parish hall at Kimmage Manor where the audience enjoyed a trinity of poets: Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan and – the novice in published form – John O'Brien C.S.Sp.

For well over four decades Paula Meehan has been plying her trade. She frequently draws inspiration from childhood and adult life in Dublin’s north inner-city. Her work is also influenced by her experiences of Catholic practices and traditions.  In one of her many poems that I like to re-visit, she tells the story of returning as an adult on an overnight stay in the family home in Finglas. Puzzled by the early morning rising of her father and his activity, she sees him in a new light. The result of her reflections is the moving poem, ‘My Father perceived as a vision of St. Francis’.

Theo Dorgan is a prolific and sensitive wordsmith in many areas of literature. Continuing on the parental theme, he has a caring poem, ‘Speaking to My Father’, reflecting on the life of his father who worked in a tyre factory.

John O’Brien also shares various aspects and reflections from his many travels and encounters. A poem comes alive when read aloud especially by the poet. One of the poems that John read was about an anonymous man who comes to him in London and asks: “Would ya say a Mass for me parents, …An’ a Mass for Sligo John”? The care, indeed fondness, of the man making the request towards the deceased ‘Sligo John’, who ‘kept to himself and kept others away’, is touchingly told among the more than eighty poems in a handsome volume, ‘At the Edge of Words’.

Poetic wisdom and challenge come also from ancient sources. We have a weekly source of poetic wisdom in the few verses of a psalm in the Sunday readings. This week the believer tells us ‘I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour…’  This scribe is well able to express that which is deep in the heart.

Poetic words touch deep down. A present-day font of heart wisdom is poetry groups, where people come together to read, reflect and appreciate poems old and new, mostly by others but sometimes by a member. It might be worth checking out in your area for poetry groups where images are shared as above indicating ‘A lick of love’.

Jim Owens - Jim is a Spiritan Associate and is a healthcare chaplain at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Fairview in Dublin. He and his wife Geraldine live in Co. Meath.