Over the past week, Carlow town has been looking fantastic, with its colourful bunting and many venues hosting and celebrating culture and arts in our Éigse festival.
In a similar way this week, the people of Bagenalstown celebrate Pride of Place.
This celebration is an endeavour to acknowledge the important and valuable contribution individuals and community make to the life of our town. We have many reasons to have a sense of pride in the place we are living. Regrettably, bad news travels fast.
However, I suggest the ‘good news’ which happens every moment needs to be appreciated and celebrated, more and more. Éigse and Pride of Place are wonderful examples of such occasions.
The minister for sport and tourism Michael Ring, while visiting Bagenalstown recently, affirmed the fantastic sense of community and goodwill that every day allows great things to happen, such as a wonderful outdoor swimming pool by the banks of the River Barrow and a new children’s park in the Fairgreen area.
These days, the storm clouds of recession and uncertainty may well overwhelm us.
As the Euro crisis mounts, we may feel much less confident and even more insecure regarding our future as an economy.
It is a time to remind ourselves that, in the depths of our being, God has planted a huge amount of talent: an abundant reservoir of gifts and flair. We are greater than the value of any currency or membership of any economic union.
In the midst of the ordinary everyday, we achieve extraordinary things.
Such fruits and gifts can only be discovered and appreciated through the eyes of reflection. Our lives have all been touched by the extraordinary generosity and great love of parents, and the faithful companions and friends who remind us we are not alone.
Ordinary routines are often indicative of extraordinary encounters, when God’s presence becomes alive in our day-to-day lives: mothers and fathers bringing children to school with lunch packed and breakfast complete – a task that, in the life of every parent is, no doubt, routine but fuelled by an unconditional generosity and love that gives us a glimpse of the sacred.
Our communities are so enhanced by the sprit of volunteerism.
Tidy towns committees, meals-on-wheels, care of the elderly and sporting organisations are just some of the many instances where wonderful things happen.
A visit to a neighbour who is sick, a word of sympathy to the bereaved, an act of compassion in times of gossip all sing a hopeful melody when we are overwhelmed and frightened by the constant flow of doom and gloom.
Deep within us all, we have that innate confidence to see beyond the present storm clouds. With God on our side, we are blessed to have a Christian hope in the midst of the ordinary.
We are encouraged to continue to see beyond the now and to taste the sacred.
“I have knit you together in your mother’s womb. Before you were born, I knew you.”
We are created as living sacraments, signs of the sacred, rays of hope. The sun continues to shine even when the storm clouds darken its light. May we be proud in the place we call home and take time to appreciate mid-summer hope.