In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy tells of his renewed hopes as the season of Spring arrives.

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

This column appeared in the edition published 1st February 2011.

I absolutely love the 1st of February. Today is St. Brigids Day.  A Day which brings great hope. St. Brigid brings with her a story of compassion, generosity, healing and renewal. Today marks the beginning of Spring. Yes, it may still feel cold but already brighter evenings, emerging green shoots and snowdrops, announce a time for new beginnings. I’m glad the darkness and extreme cold of this harsh winter is ending. I feel enthusiastic and expectant regarding this Spring. I’m glad that this brutal winter of savage cut-backs and political instability soon has an opportunity to be renewed and reformed in the forth coming General Election. I stand for change, not in the clichéd sense but in the heartfelt desire that is palpable in all our communities. Good people earnest, sincere and greatly gifted can embrace the gift of this new spring time.

Over the past few weeks I have celebrated a number of funerals. What struck me most about these celebrations was the power of the positive, unique and talented spirit that is contained within us all. Lives that greatly enhanced not just their immediate families, but also the wider community. People who were sincere, genuine and energetic in sharing life freely with others. I was greatly inspired also by the wonderful sense of community enjoyed in the parish of Bagenalstown. We must never take for granted the wonderful gift that is community. I am very fortunate to live with people who care for one another who support, encourage and facilitate many good things to happen everyday.

For real change to take place, for a new direction and pathway to bring real hope and opportunity to our country; perhaps the starting point is our own story. The truth of the matter is that all of us carry with us a sense of winter and spring. Winter is often felt in the pain, anxiety and burden that is part of our human story. So too, it is experienced in our falls and struggles, our losses and human frailty. However, this fragile truth does not truly define who we are. All of us have a beautiful spring, constantly being renewed in all our hearts. The spring tells the story of our resilience, courage, determination and imagination. The spring in our story is about being able to begin again. Spring-time embraces the possible.

This is a time when for many people real questions are being asked regarding, where as a nation do we go from here. I suggest that part of this discernment is about tapping into the spring of giftedness, talent and abundance, found within the depths of all our being. Surely the wonderful neighbours and good people that are the living fabric of every community, reminds us that people are more important than policy and community is far more powerful that an economy.

The spring marks a significant change in the year. I am grateful for the powerful gift of hope, given to me recently by many good people who have gone from this life marked with the sign of faith. I am deeply confident that embracing a radical change of government, gifts of integrity, renewal and opportunity will be its fruit. Spring is in the air, may we take time to breathe in its hope and light.