On Friday morning after morning Mass I drove across the Craigavon Bridge on my way back over to Derry.
On my day off I normally follow a similar routine which begins with me leaving my car in one of the smaller city centre car parks. There are certain advantages to this arrangement, there are no fixed prices; it depends on the mood of the supervisor.
I’ve been calling to the same car park for years, unfortunately familiarity breeds contempt because under no circumstances am I allowed to park my car. I have to abandon my car in the middle of the yard and the owner insists on parking for me in case I do any damage to surrounding cars or property. He even offered to pay for a booster seat so I could see out over the steering wheel to prevent any parking accidents.
The way I look at the situation, the parking’s cheap when he’s in good form, so he can slag me all day as long as he doesn’t charge over two pound for the privilege.
As normal I was rushing about the town like a headless chicken trying to sort all my business affairs, usually bills and more bills. During my first call of the day I was exchanging stories regarding preparations for family celebrations.
One mother of the bride was getting very emotional wondering how she was going to cope with her youngest daughter getting married.
It is definitely a man’s world because women are under so much pressure when it comes to weddings. There is so much to organise, expectations are so high, bringing with them added stress to ensure the whole occasion passes without a hitch and ensuring everyone is looking their best.
Of course the poor mother was at her wits end because she confessed how she wouldn’t even go out to the clothes line without putting on lipstick first, so you can imagine the sort of dilemmas the wedding will bring. In comparison I told her about my nephew’s christening and the difficult choices I face not being sure which shade of black to wear.
Well when I thought the day couldn’t become any more bizarre I walked into the next shop where three women were having a serious moral debate. I knew then I should have walked out before I was dragged into the ethical minefield.
One woman was trying to convince the other how it would be better to give money to a charity rather than spending it putting flowers on a grave. I have to confess my sympathy was with giving money to the charity although by the time the debate was in full flight I was sitting comfortably on the fence, nodding sympathetically to both parties.
Then from the wings the third woman got involved, stating to one of the other girls: “I don’t know what you’re on about but didn’t you put Guinness on one of your family graves?” I was nearly in uproar and couldn’t believe my ears until I was told it was a wreath in the shape of a pint of Guinness.
By the time I left the shop I was emotionally exhausted and drained, thinking, so much for a day off!
We fret, panic and worry about so many things in our lives as we find ourselves rushing from one event or situation to another.
All of us from time to time need to go to a place of rest to discover in our hearts what we really need at this moment in our lives.
All men and women need a chance to recognise the real hunger of their lives and what we really thirst for in our souls.
Being made in the image and likeness of God we were created to be in relationship with one another.
Yet to understand how we become truly ourselves only through being open to the community of our family, neighbours and all humanity, we need to come to terms with our own lives.
The truth of who we are as persons and as a community in relationship with one another can only be discovered in Jesus Christ. In his love God the Father sent his only begotten Son into the world to bring healing, to teach his people the way to salvation and to shepherd and guide his children along the pathway which leads to eternal life.
Having been created to share in the life giving relationship of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, nothing else in this world can satisfy our need to be loved unconditionally, completely and eternally.
Only in God can we find the cure and the answer to the real restlessness and loneliness at the heart of our lives.
The beginning of wisdom is recognising who we are and what it means to live a truly human life.
In our truly life giving relationships and communion with one and another we catch glimpses of what it means to experience God’s love and to share in his life.
To love and to be loved in any honest and authentic manner demands that we become more like Christ, being willing enough to carry the burdens and make the sacrifices through which we reveal our love for one another.