In this week’s blog, Fr Paddy reflects that often we can hold on tightly to hurt, fear and memory, which hinders us to experience freedom and contentment in our adult lives.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published  11th August 2010.

Very soon the dreaded leaving cert results will be distributed to thousands of students. It is a time of worry and opportunity. A time I’m sure many of us remember in all our lives. I think of the following story because fear and anxiety are forces that take away our fulfillment and peace. The story begins with a child playing with a vase his mother had left on the table for a few moments. When the mother turned at the sound of her son crying she saw that his hand was in the vase and was apparently stuck. She tried to help him and pulled and pulled until the child cried out in pain. But the hand was stuck fast. How would they get it out? The father suggested breaking the vase but it was quite valuable and the child’s hand might be cut in the process. Yet he knew that if all else failed there would be no alternative. So he said to the boy, “Now, let’s make one more try. Open your hands and stretch out your fingers out straight, like I’m doing, and then pull!” “But Dad,” said the boy, “If I do that I will loose my penny!” The boy had a coin in his hand all the time and was holing it securely in his tight little fist. He wasn’t prepared to open his hand and loose the penny. But once he opened his hand it came out of the vase easily.

The story, though simple, may well reflect our own lives. Often we can hold on tightly to hurt, fear and memory, that it hinders us to experience freedom and contentment in our adult lives. Many of us at times in our lives may well hold on so tightly to our possessions, fears and hurts that in fact we can become imprisoned. There are many prisoners in all our communities who are confined to a very limited sense of freedom, because of a great struggle in regard to being able to let go.

Jesus Christ is a great liberator and patiently encourages us to let go, so that wee may taste the true sense of human freedom. That vase in the story can well be likened to the entrance of the kingdom of God. It is narrow but quiet easy to pass in, but first we must “open” our hand to God and allow all that is necessary to leave so that we may be truly unburdened and enjoy true contentment and fulfillment. If we keep our fists closed and hold fast to what we have and keep it for ourselves, we will be unable to take hold of the “Hand of God”!

We arrived with nothing and will depart the same way.

We need to grow in our awareness that the precious things in life are often not at all the material things we possess or indeed the fears and uncertainties that we mat hold on to. For the leaving cert students, points really are not what is important. In the coming days may God renew his hope and optimism in all our lives especially our young students at this time.