This month I have been graced by the presence in Australia of my mother and one of my sisters…
mum for a six weeks
Gráinne for two.
Yesterday morning they both hugged me tight and said: “now go!” as I left them at the airport to take their 23 hour flight to the other side of this tiny and huge planet we inhabit.
And once again, with no regret and grateful for God blessing us at every step of the way, I wept as I walked away from the amazing family who sustain, from a distance, who I am. And it reminded me of the first departure, many years ago, when I was seventeen. My missionary calling is mine and theirs – no doubt about it.We know God through those who love us unconditionally. Prayer life is important, of course. It is vital. I could not take a step without it. And it takes us deeper. But there is a sixth sense to recognise what’s worthwhile, and a strength that comes from having a family that knows and loves you for who you are no matter what that is so powerful I stand in awe of what I have received and share in. It is moving, sacramental, graced, profound, strong as rock, solid as stone, healthy and cleansing as natural running water. And I thank God for it. It is no wonder that a Synod on marriage and on family is so important. And it is complex – so let’s stop being so polarised about things. What is at stake is too high. My mother was more vulnerable than normal in this time. She fell and broke her wrist… while in my care! I still blame myself a little for a fall I perhaps could not have predicted 🙁 . But caring for a month for the person who gave me life, tolerated my introverted infancy, my snotty-nosed childhood, my precocious teen years and the heart-wrenching decision to follow the call of a missionary Christ at the age of sixteen, was a privilege. Simply. So thanks Kathleen! The butter in my fridge will never have the same meaning. And I thankful also of those of you who have recognised this and shared in it, in some way. This time has allowed my family access where I am and what I do. They have been able to see where I work and live, meet those whom I trust – those who ‘fill in’, in some way, for their absence - and in some way 'verify’ that I’m doing what I say I do 🙂 . They have sensed what makes me get up early in the morning and keeps me awake at night, where I invest my energy, what makes me laugh and what robs me of joy. In some cases they have begun to taste the friendships that are becoming important to me. Christian faith is as divine as it is human. I am so profoundly grateful, even as I miss them. But that’s ok – one of the reasons I chose to follow Jesus was because he offered me a life to the full; a life in which I would “laugh with all my laughter and cry all my tears” (cf., Kahlil Gibran “Speak to me of love”). Anything less is fast food, cardboard tasting life.
I write this as I fly to Singapore to participate in a Symposium organised by the Archdiocese and in collaboration with my ‘second’ family: the community that taught me how to pray: Verbum Dei. A workshop on music in evangelisation and a concert on praying through music. It will be fantastic...and tremendously hard work :). But that’s ok. Because I have amazing roots that ground and sustain me, through which God has blessed and continues to bless me abundantly.
This amazing song Conor wrote that says this more eloquently than I could with words: beautiful lives living beautifully.