In this week’s blog Fr Paddy reminds us that with the arrival of Spring comes an opportunity for each of us to begin again in a new and invigorating way.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 2nd February 2010

The story is told about a teacher, giving a maths lesson in her classroom. The subject was division. The teacher wanted her young class to grasp the concept of division. She brought in a bag of potatoes and started to count out twenty potatoes and placed them on her desk. She asked her class a question – If ten people came for dinner, how would you divide the potatoes? The teacher hoped that this would help her class with finding the right answer. Straight away Paddy put up his hand. Teacher said “Well Paddy what is the answer?”, his response, “Miss I would mash them”.

This little boy was honest, his response humorous and very real. His answer was not what the teacher expected, but essentially he grasped the concept. In all our lives we can become accustomed to routine and find ourselves perhaps imprisoned by “Right Answers”. Sometimes we need to think outside the box. We all can become dull and somewhat routine. There is a challenge in the telling of this story to reawaken our creativity and ignite the fire contained within in all our souls.

This week we begin the month of February, we also welcome the new spring. This has been a long and dark winter in so many ways. Floods and winter freeze brought with it havoc and torment to so many homes in all our communities. Surely this pale into insignificance, when we consider the terrible suffering and brutal devastation that has visited the lives of so many in Haiti as a result of a terrible earthquake. This dark winter has been felt greatly by the unemployed and all who endure the bitter chills that accompany this icy recession. In the same way, this has been a dark and devastating winter in the history of the Irish Church. Our response to the reality of the Ryan and Murphy reports must be a heartfelt desire to change and begin in a new way. Survivors of horrific abuse, no doubt, felt greatly the intensity of their pain in the telling of their true story this winter.

There are despite the persistent chill, signs of the spring in our midst. Snowdrops and daffodil shoots point us to the longer evenings and brighter mornings. The new light is an invitation for us all to begin again in a new and invigorating way.

“Operation Transformation” is proving to connect with so many of us. A popular T.V. programme that accompanies people who want to live healthier lives and lose some weight. In an effort to be truly transformed, we must also allow our spiritual selves to be nourished and to grow. Taking time to notice the new life erupting from our garden soil is itself, connecting with the energy; that comes from the new spring. In the same way to appreciate all that we have and to avail of the lavish love and peace that comes from a personal friendship with our God.

Every day is a new one. There is always a sense of opportunity when we begin a new spring. May we have courage to think outside the box and the wisdom to know the difference?