Earlier this evening, June 21st, I was in Ballintubber Abbey at a Charity Concert performed by the Mayo Concert Orchestra. It was in aid of the Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland. I was asked by a friend and orchestra member (Fionnuala Tynan) to share a reflection on the theme of the longest day of the year. It was nice to be asked to do this and I was happy to be involved.
In thinking about the reflection, Kevin Johnson’s song “Shaney Boy” came to mind. It’s a tender song, written by a father for and to his son, tracing the journey of a child’s day and, by extension, the journey of life. It’s a song I like for its simple lyric and profound message. Have a listen and then we’ll go on ….
Anyway that was the thought behind my thoughts this evening. I tried to look at life in terms of a day. Below are the words I shared. I hope they made some sense. Again, I was glad to be invited to be part of such a special night.
I heard a story once of two men, steeped in the love of Irish Music, going into the pub in the evening time. They intended staying a while, playing a few tunes and enjoying a few drinks. The tunes turned into a session and all track of time was lost. Emerging from the pub after dawn and having no concept at all of how long they had been lost in music, one said to the other “isn’t there a mighty stretch in the evenings?”
We like the day – the day speaks of honesty. The Lord calls us to live our lives in the day where honesty finds its face and voice. We gather now at the closing of the longest day of the year. Given , to us, today, more light than any other day of the year we might well reflect on the living of life in the present, give gratitude for lives lived and look to the future, hope-filled with the potential of new life.
We look to the dawn and remember now those who carried us and walked with us in the morning – parents, brothers and sisters, neighbours, friends, school mates and all who helped us find our feet. We seek God’s blessing on those still with us and his Eternal Reward for those who have closed their eyes to the light of this earthly day. We remember early steps, bruised knees, tear-filled eyes and uncertainties kissed and pushed away in the reassurance that was parent – “you’ll be all right”. “I’m here”. “Don’t worry”. “Shhhh, go to sleep now”. We remember it too in the certainty of school yard friends who made sure we were picked for the team even if our skills lay deeply hidden. We thank God for those who shared the dawn and early hours of our day. We remember the dawn.
Moving to the noontime, we hold on to the heat of the sun, the sound of the Angelus Bell, the anticipation of dinner (we have dinner in the middle of the day – the “ould stock”!!) We think now of those who shared our noontime, co-workers, neighbours, friends and, in particular we might recall those friends who were to become a central part of our lives. We remember that man or woman maybe, observed at a distance, who was to walk into our lives and our hearts and remain central to both. “On Raglan Road of an Autumn Day, I saw her first, and knew ……” We think of work colleagues and those who put trust in us by “giving us the start”. At noon, we found our strength and, in the heat of the day, gave of our best in work and play. So much was born of noontime, decisions made, commitments given, dreams fulfilled, risks taken, chances given … Yes, on this long day, we do well to think of noontime. The sun at its height and God’s warmth at its pinnacle. We remember the noon.
Evening time, speaks of homecomings and of relaxation. Children watching for the homecoming, waiting to be gathered in loving arms, praised for the latest crayoned page on the fridge door and called to the table. It speaks of gratitude for the roof over the head, the food on the table and the sharing of conversation “how was your day?” “you don’t want to know!!” “Tell me anyway!” In the telling is the re-living and in the re-living is the rediscovery of the hopes of morning and noon. Home is where the heart is. Home is the evening. The evening speaks of gatherings ours, coming to hear a tune, watch a performance, share a bit of time. The evening ideally brings a slowing down of pace, a chance to reflect and once again that call to gratitude for those who make home of the evening. We live the evening.
Night time follows the day. While it might take that bit longer on June 21st, it will arrive. Its darkness will envelop us. Its moonlight and stars will encourage us and its quietness will call us to rest – to sleep – to dream – to remember. Its darkness will move from intensity and eventually give way to new light and another day. Night must come before dawn. It need not be feared but it must be respected. There is trust called for in the night. Trust to close our eyes and let the world of dreams come into view. The more familiar we are with the day, the steps and sounds of the day the less we need be uncertain of night. If we know where we put things during the day, there is little danger of stumbling over them in the dark. We use the daylight then to prepare for the night. We seek to put things in their place, to respect all, love all, forgive all and wish all well during those daylight hours so that the night can bring its rest with the certain promise dawn is just around the corner.
The longest day – the best of preparation – the genuine efforts to respect dawn, noon and evening make light of the dark and certainty of the doubt. Enjoy the day. Isn’t there a great stretch in the evenings??