When we were preparing to start our year with Teach Bhride last summer, members of past Teach Bhride teams all told us the same thing: the second half of the year passes in the blink of an eye, and before you know it it’s June, your work is suddenly nearly done, and it’s time to start saying goodbye. Well, now that June is upon us, I can confirm that they were completely right!
January brought our mid-year review and a chance to jump back into our music ministry and catechesis renewed by our Christmas holidays. Our celebration of the Feast of our patroness, St. Brigid of Kildare, issued in the month of February with song, prayer, and poetry. March was a blur of Lenten reconciliation services, radio shows with the Christian Media Trust, First Communion Teaching Masses, and class masses for the students of Scoil Mhuire and Kennedy Park. In April, we experienced the richness of the Holy Week and Easter Triduum liturgies at Clonard, enjoyed several visits from family and friends, and started gearing up for our upcoming parish Resurrection Play. May was an absolute whirlwind of grace-filled celebrations: two First Communions, two Confirmations, a Folk Group wedding, a retreat to the Mourne Mountains, a jubilant mass celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, a Rosary Service and May Crowning of Our Lady with the Scoil Mhuire third class, and Clonard’s first-ever Resurrection Play were some of the highlights.
And now, suddenly, the pace has slowed. As everyone predicted, we have sprinted across the finish line of May and suddenly stumbled into a quieter, more reflective time than any we’ve experienced thus far this year. Although our work is nearly done, this time is no less precious and important than even the busiest week of March or May. As we begin winding down, we’re finding more and more beautiful, everyday moments of grace. Whether it’s a home-cooked family meal shared with friends; a spontaneous overnight trip to Sneem in Co. Kerry to connect with my family’s past; a chance to linger over a cup of tea with the ladies in the parish after morning mass; or a leisurely walk with friends through the gorgeous woods and beaches of Raven’s Point just outside Wexford town, this past week has been a beautiful mosaic of moments that will linger with me long past my return to the States.
In the course of this year – and, in fact, of our whole lives – there have been periods of hectic busyness, times when we’re flooded with work so pressing that we don’t have to look very hard to find meaning or purpose in our days. These times are good: a full life, directed by an active pursuit of God’s will and desire to serve tirelessly is the kind of life we’re called to live. But, no less important in our lives are times like this one, when we’re given the chance to slow down and to reflect more deeply on the gifts we’ve been given and the treasures we already hold. Once the frenetic pace of work slows, we have to dig a little deeper; we can no longer define ourselves in terms of what we accomplish, nor derive our sense of meaning solely from the extremities to which we stretch ourselves for the sake of our mission of evangelization. In these quiet, grace-filled times, we’ve been given a precious chance to pause and find God in the little things, a chance to soak up the beauty and richness of every last moment of our time here in Ireland, a chance to remember that the relationships we’ve formed here will have a far more lasting impact than any event we could ever plan or program we could ever run. I give thanks for this winding down, this gradual knitting up of loose ends, this extended farewell. I give thanks for the opportunity to take a step back and simply treasure the tremendous beauty of the community we’re about to leave, while there’s still time to enjoy it. I give thanks for this chance to dig into the humbling reality that we have been blessed to receive far more than we could ever hope to give. May we not waste a single moment of this precious gift!