Get Up.

All through the afternoon I have been unable to begin anything. Not even to look at the to-do list, never mind to add or subtract anything from it.

I think this is a danger of coming-to-terms from afar with the sorrow of Uvalde, Texas this week. The usual go-round of voices limiting the potential causes of an event like this and prescribing what can and cannot be done in response have begun again – almost immediately in fact. One network played a series of videos of Ted Cruz (R-TX) from 2018 or before repeating almost the same words again and again in the aftermath of mass shootings, accusing his political opposites of ‘politicizing’ the event. Senator, with all due respect, freshen your words and your approach. This latest has occurred in the state you represent. These are your constituents and their deceased children and loved ones. Can you not muster one moment of actual human connection or one new idea as to how we might at least mitigate future disasters of this kind?

The beyond-Cruz danger is that good people are already demoralized in terms of hoping and being energized toward any effective response. I have spoken to friends today who are feeling that way. But we cannot – in honor of the dead, and the soon-to-be-dead as this will happen soon again in some measure – allow ourselves the luxury of becoming demoralized. We must instead become ‘moralized,’ filled with consistent and lasting moral outrage at what we have allowed ourselves to become.

This is Memorial Day weekend. We rightly pause to remember and honor those who over the centuries have given their lives in service to this nation. I daresay that it is a disservice to their sacred memory to believe for a moment that they bravely faced the firepower of wartime foes so that we might become a people who face each other and fire thousands of rounds again and again and again, killing ourselves and wounding the best of our principles and traditions.

So I rouse myself and you to stand and walk and work and converse to one goal: This Must Stop.

Jesus in the church (Glenstal 2022)

In the Abbey Church the hour before noonday Mass,

in the quiet a woman kneels, with a bucket of water and a cloth

washing the kneelers of each and all the pews.

She bends and wipes, sits sometimes and sighs, sometimes kneels in silence. and then continues to bend again.

(I think never have I seen prayer as committed and deep)

I see Jesus kneeling before his disciples at the last supper

washing the feet of each and all.

Here now Jesus looks like the majority of humanity as she cleans

with love,

and here the feet of the disciples are invisible,

but still as always soiled and in need of washing.

I move across the aisle from the benches she is apporaching now,

meaning to get out of the way, but settling on the far side I think, ‘Have I just played the role of the resisting Peter?

Lord, you will never wash my feet?’

A couple joined in a lifetime of marriage enter now and pause at a painting; the husband reads to his wife in his deep resonant old voice that here is ‘John 4, Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well’

And the image of the moment shifts,

here is the woman with the pail, as the woman at the well carried her pail and met there Jesus who told her the story of her life

and she was changed, but even more confirmed

in becoming her true self.

Comes the Mass and at the Gospel these words (of all!) begin, ‘When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them . . . ‘

Perhaps I see or hear too much, more than is there, but whatever you doubt, believe this:

the work of God goes on, in all ways and in all places.

Glenstal Abbey Church

On to Glenstal

The sun is shining here this morning at Ashbourne. It wasn’t shining half an hour ago, and it may not be ten minutes from now. But now, it shines. So, stay with the present moment.

Within the hour with my kind hosts, Billy and Pauline, we will set out ultimately for Glenstal Abbey. It is a place with important memories of arrival and settling in during the summer of 2005. It is good to have the opportunity to go there now, to arrive, and to be available to the Lord who is always lovingly at work.

Yesterday afternoon at the monastic ruins we visited, a wonderful chance meeting took place. There was a young couple in the graveyard which has existed for seemingly ever around what is left of the walls of the monastery and its church. They had come over on their bikes and greeted us as we wandered around. A conversation opened, as they leaned on their bikes. They are a newly-married couple, he from Italy and she from Ukraine. They have decided to settle for life together in Ireland. We talked for five or ten minutes and felt as if we knew their hearts, as if we had known them forever.

This seems the fruit of hearts open to one another as we meet through life, whether meetings that will lead to long and deep connections, or seemingly chance meetings that open to depths of meaning in minutes. The four of us stood talking surrounded by the ruins of a monastery – a place of faith and prayer and community that flourished on that same earth 14 centuries ago.

When we will to connect, when we are open to one another in trust, right in the midst of a world that seems to teach us not to trust, surprising gifts pour down from the heavens. Along with Irish rain!

Tonight I am in a lovely room at Glenstal’s guest house. This place, as well as so much that has already happened over the past week and more, bears witness to the availability and the loving power of hospitality freely offered. I am often told – in word and deed – that real hospitality is terribly rare in our time and that what masquerades for it is not to be trusted. I see and feel and experience something quite different. And quite heartening. That is, the abundance of genuine loving welcome offered and accepted between friends and among strangers.

Since arrival here this afternoon, Glenstal’s hospitality has included the invitation to prayer. Both evening prayer and compline have been rich moments of peace, of blessed words emerging from a sacred silence, gently and with purpose.

Psalm 90 always rings true at the closing of the day. And so it did tonight: “Since you cling to me in love, I will free you, protect you for you love my name.”

Hospitality, love, protection. And sleep. From here at 9:35pm, to you at 3:35pm, may the remainder of the day open hospitable doors and loving words to you.

The evening light over the church at 9:35pm