Irish eyes are smiling more than ever at the moment as we are learning to live with masks and face coverings.
Eyes can say so much. They undoubtedly are windows to the heart.
More than ever, we need to work at the coming together of gentle gazes, filled with empathy and kindness. Also, the gaze needs to be a collective one in which we all look at what we can do as individuals, families, communities, counties, countries … to help reduce the conditions in which Covid spreads and also the extent to which lives and livelihoods are impacted.
If ever there was a time when each individual’s every action counts, this is it.
Hope is beyond important and I sometimes wonder what it looks like.
I got a glimpse this morning as I saw the rapture of the dogs greeting the day. They tore out towards the backdoor but the oldest one hesitated for a split second and melted my eyes with his with a glance of love and gratitude. I headed into the kitchen with warmth in my heart and hope for the day ahead.
Ireland was given an injection of hope this week when two young paddle-boarders who had been missing at sea for fifteen hours were found safe and well.
It has been deemed the ‘good news story’ of 2020, as the two young women, aged 17 and 23, were swept out from a beach in the West of Ireland at evening time and were caught in a storm with high winds, heavy rain, crashing waves and thunder and lightening.
The pair, who are first cousins, were wearing just their swimming togs but crucially had life jackets on. They kept their heads, stayed calm, acted smart by tying their boards together and eventually to a lobster pot.
There was a massive sea search with all parts of the rescue services, fishing community and local groups coming together.
The country waited and waited, finding it hard to cling to hope, with each passing hour, but at last we heard they were safe and there has been an outpouring of absolute joy.
Like all countries, we needed to see a glimmer of hope in these dark times of Covid19. It’s like the two girls symbolize the importance of staying calm, clinging to hope and, of course, the power of community effort against the force of nature.
We all need bouyancy aids these days and a lobster pot or two to hang onto as we wait for better times.
One of the highlights of my year is the arrival of the first snowdrops in my garden and today was the day.
Tramore was shrouded in muggy fog but deep down under the unpruned hydrangea by the front gate, I caught sight of the gleaming white of snowdrops. This moment symbolises so much to me: light after dark; hope after doubt; courage after falterings; reunion after separation; joy after teardrops …..
Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained. (Seamus Heaney)
The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 was a fundamental part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.
I simply cannot let a Good Friday go by without giving thanks to every single person who was involved in bringing that Agreement about.
There was a time when it seemed like the Island of Ireland would never see the level of peace that prevails today. It is something that we should never, ever take for granted and it is also something which should be viewed as a beacon of hope by those who are subsumed by pessimism about ongoing violence.
I just tossed everything aside today and went out to greet Spring or should I say that she came to greet me?
First stop was what I’ve christened the ‘Primrose Road’ where the view of the fields was greener than green:
and there they were:
Out by Fenor Bog, one word on a magnificent woodcarving in the graveyard of Fenor Church caught my eye:
Hope is something we all need in life and I guess that each and every one of us has a duty to spread as much hope, in even the tiniest ways, to try and ease the way for those who are caught in a quagmire of hopelessness. That quagmire can seize any of us in the blink of an eye.
Nature was certainly playing her part in singing hope for me today. Is any sight more uplifting than clusters of snowdrops …
Christmas Eve always makes me think of the Christmas Truce in World War 1 in 1914. Every year, it seems more and more striking that soldiers from the opposing sides on the Western Front took the courageous step of laying down their arms for three days and came together to sing, talk, eat, drink and play.
The Christmas Truce makes me think about the futility of war and, indeed, the yearning that lies within us for peace.
My hope for the every single human being today is that they somehow find peace in their lives and that peace can ring out right across the world.
This is the place of peace that comes to me this evening. It’s high up in the Comeragh Mountains here in Co. Waterford and my father and I used to climb up there for years around Christmas time.
It’s been very stormy in Ireland over the last few days. It has seemed at times as if the end of the world is nigh with torrential rain, howling gales and dark, dark skies.
As I battled against the wind out at the beach during a lull in the rain, I was really struck by the beauty that can lie even in storms if we lift our heads and take a look around.
Pondering this, I had to conclude that there have been beautiful moments in the storms of life that have come my way over the years.
I’m writing this mainly as reminder to myself that storms are not all bad.
But I also want to reach out to anyone who is going through a storm in their lives right now. Please remember that the sun will shine again and that it may even be glinting at you, if only very fleetingly, to give you a glimpse of hope and better days ahead.