Back in the mid west of Ireland last weekend, it was all about place and family. “Home is where the heart is” is a familiar saying. The mind travels all over the place but the heart is rooted in the everyday experience of the here and now. To be born in a place like Killanena with a beautiful natural environment is a wonderful gift. The beauty that surrounds us shapes the heart and soul of the growing child. Brian Merriman, the local poet of the late eighteenth century expressed it well in his great comic poem: “The Midnight Court” ‘Do ghealadh mo chroi nuair cidhinn Loch Greine, an talamh, an tir, is ioghar na speire” which has been translated by Louis Marcus as follows: “Lough Graney lifts my soul with joy – Such land! Such beauty! What a sky!”
The time now is Eastertide when Christians celebrate the glory of being alive in the Risen Christ. In our family, there is a poignant sorrow mixed with joy on the anniversaries of beloved members who died at Easter. The memories of the living and the dead are united in one heart and soul when all are gathered in a gentle way at a Eucharistic table. There, faith in a God who lived among us in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth and who now unites people in one heart in the spirit of the Risen Christ gives desire and hope to continue the journey.
The first reading of the second Sunday of Easter tells how the first Christians lived in the early church. The emphasis was on a community that shared and cared for one another, (Acts 4: 32 – 35) The second reading from 1 Peter 5: 1-6 focuses on faith in Jesus Christ as the foundation of a life lived in love. The Gospel story from John 20 : 19 – 31 tells of Jesus coming back to His disciples after the Resurrection, not to judge and embarrass them but to encourage them and offer them peace. The key to their future as He saw it was forgiveness. In order to be free to live in the future, we need to let go of the past with all its hurts, disappointments and distress. He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven: for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” To be forgiven and forgiving sets everyone free.
On Sunday at 12.00, some members of the local community had organized a tractor run around Lough Graney which lies in the middle of the parish. It was a coming together of the farming community to celebrate rural living and raise funds for local causes that need extra support. It was a modern demonsration of sharing which was first practised in the early church. They came from all the neighbouring parishes to make a cavalcade of a hundred and eighty tractors. (See Killanena Tractor Run in Facebook.) Nobody born more than fifty years ago could image something like this happening. There is great hope for the future but the expression of it will depend on creative and imaginative people who love their native place.
Our ancient Christian ancestors understood life as a search for the place of resurrection. Maybe that is another way of saying that it is a search for the place where one is completely at home, When that place or state of being is reached, living and dying become one in the amazing experience of life.