Pat Hume ‘valued the quiet, private spaces’

Pat Hume spoke of how she valued the “quiet and private spaces” shortly before her untimely death earlier this year.

The late peace campaigner is quoted in a new book compiled by homelessness campaigner, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, who, during the Covid-19 lockdown, asked a range of well-known Irish people to consider the question: “Where and how do you find peace in your daily life?”

The book, entitled ‘Finding Peace’, includes contributions from media personalities like Tommy Tiernan, Miriam O’Callaghan and Ray D’Arcy, to politicians like Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who all answer the question in their own way, giving us an insight into their minds and their lives.

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Among the most poignant of the contributions is Pat Hume’s who, in conversation with her daughter, Aine Abbott, reveals that three things sustained peace for her - even in the most turbulent of times.

She says: “The first is community, from my own amazing family to the many wonderful human beings I have been privileged to meet. The second is the natural world. I love to walk. I have been blessed to travel a little and I live in Derry, a beautiful city in itself and on the doorstep of Donegal, so beauty is never far away. The third has been quiet moments of prayer. In a busy life, this might have just been a few minutes of quiet in a chapel, or a few moments spoken in my own mind. I have absolutely no doubt that these have sustained my peace and, maybe, saved my sanity at times!”

Mrs Hume, who passed away in September after a short illness, also spoke of the “uncertain times” we live in.

She says: “If John were alive, he would be applying these three tenets of peaceful change to our current situation. Faith in the generosity of others; trust as a foundation, and, above all, the embracing of diversity.

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“John’s notions of kinship transcended boundaries of family, community and nation. If he were alive today, he would be telling us that our interdependence includes our fragile planet and all the species that live upon it. He would be urging us to develop a planetary kinship. One that is inclusive of all life. This will involve a deep shift in our relationship with the natural world.”

Mrs Hume says her experience in Northern Ireland taught her that, for those suffering injustice and hardship, violence could offer the “seductive illusion of absolute righteousness”.

“Violence blinds both perpetrators, and those who fear them, to the messy complexities of human reality,” she says. “The non-violent path can appear slow and painstaking by comparison. But reality itself is messy and complex and true peace can only be found if it is grounded in reality. It is a lifelong task.”

○ ‘Finding Peace’, compiled by Sister Stan, is published by Columba Books.

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