The Friday Thought - Taking stock between the ‘Jigs and Reels’

If I had my way all advertising for Christmas would be banned until December.

Since Halloween we have been bombarded with commercials and advertisements ensuring we won’t sleep in for the big event. Apparently Santa arrived during the week in Guildhall square; I was asked to dress up as one of his elves for some reason, unfortunately I had to attend an Irish dance class.

By way of explanation I have to confess that once more it wasn’t my idea. Having survived the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ competition last year I vowed never to set foot on a dance floor, unless of course it was a family wedding. Then some genius came up with the idea of ‘Jigs and Reels’ for a fundraiser for Trench Road Folk Group who hope to travel to Lourdes in July. Considering the minor detail how the pilgrimage was my idea it was felt I wasn’t allowed to say no, even if I wanted to say no, not a being was listening.

My sister endured Irish dancing for years; my mother sat in many a hall throughout the country while my father sat outside in the car. In light of this I was a bit weary, there would be two conditions: I wouldn’t be talked into wearing a dress or a wig, and we’ll not even mention make-up or fake tan. After I had been duly reassured I checked the matter out with my parish priest, Fr Canny. He had no problems and by way of wishing me luck he told me to ‘break a leg’. Although I have to confess it was a bit disconcerting considering the man in question was in plaster from foot to waist.

However by the time I had finished the first practice I nearly wish I was the one in plaster. Halfway through I had an excuse ready, I had organised to meet a couple only to be totally devastated when they text to say they had to cancel the appointment. If I had any good sense I would have walked out without saying a word.

Many a person in a gym will tell you the benefits of attending classes, whether spinning classes, body pump or body combat. You can add a new endeavour to the list, the Irish dance class.

Obviously I was expecting a leisurely night turning up wearing my work clothes; by the end of the evening I discovered how black was the wisest of colours to be wearing in a small hall with thirty people leaping round like eejits, whilst the heating was still turned on.

I was drenched by the stage the practice was over. I already knew I was starting from a very low level, my timing; co-ordination and sense of direction are terrible if non existent. Yet there is a God because I don’t think I’m the worst, even though it’s only my opinion.

Between hop, skipping and jumping I was shattered by the time we had finished. Our mentor kept telling us how well we were doing for our first night, obviously I had slipped under her radar or it was a case of a simple majority would do to constitute progress.

As another year draws to a close and another new year approaches I wonder once more what I have let myself in for. There are occasions and events in life where we have no choice or control over what happens, so it seems foolhardy to add to the mayhem through self affliction.

As the new Church Year dawns the readings from scripture bring into view the last things. In our hectic lives we seldom are afforded the opportunity to take stock and reflect upon what it is all about.

In between sales and the madness which these weeks generate we can lose all sense of perspective. The commercial and financial pressures associated with this time of year often choke and stifle any sense of hope or joy.

The reality of God and his promises, his comforting presence or reassuring approach are lost in the frenzy of the holiday season. When we crowd God out of our lives, what are we left with and how does it impact upon our attitudes and treatment of one another?

As we struggle from one day to the next can we raise our eyes about the here and now to begin to understand what sort of vision of the world at we working from?

Do we accept the inevitable rat race which the next month and a half will create, simply joining the queues and adding to the panic? Like many occasions in life we have to find the middle way, putting all things into perspective.

On the Feast of Christ the King the question is simple, do we allow God to rule in our lives and in our hearts. During the last year where has God been as we reached important decisions, as we wrestled with serious decisions?

In our attitudes and behaviour towards others, what has guided and shaped our actions and words? Do we have the wisdom, compassion and courage to find God present in those we encounter?

For in as much as we live out our vocation as God’s children and in the way we have treated one another as members of God’s family will we be judged, have mercy and mercy will be shown onto us?