Monday 19 March 2018

I'm definitely not one to preach about faith and Bible study, but...

This Woman's Life

'I’d like to think about the Bible the way I think and read about great writers that give me a lot to think about.' Photo: Getty Images/Stockbyte
'I’d like to think about the Bible the way I think and read about great writers that give me a lot to think about.' Photo: Getty Images/Stockbyte

Rita Ann Higgins

I feel awkward. I'd like to join a Bible study group. What am I afraid of? Do I think that someone will slap me across the chops with Padre Pio's glove or sandal?

No. It's not because I have fallen among thorns, even though I probably have fallen among thorns. I don't think I am having a crisis. I don't have time to have a crisis. No, it's much worse than that. I'm terrified that towards the end of the session I'd have to stand in a circle and hold hands with people I don't know. Albeit nice people who speak softly and I'm sure are very welcoming.

Give me a hundred 'I love the parables'. In the Proverbs, the fool gets an awful hammering.

"In the mouth of the fool is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise preserve him." (Proverbs 14:3).

I knew the Beatitudes by heart at one time. The Sermon on the Mount is another favourite. It's like magic realism in many ways. You can't quite believe it, but you can use it as an analogy against today's awfulnesses.

I'd like to think about the Bible the way I think and read about great writers that give me a lot to think about. I want it to be a lens with which I can view the past and the present - and I'm sure there will be similarities.

As TS Eliot wrote: "There will be time, there will be time. To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet."

I want to meet before the mask goes on - but no hand holding, and no other signs of intimacy.

Words matter, words don't matter. I like to look up words in actual dictionaries. I like hunting for a word. I have a Dinneen Irish/English Dictionary that I treasure. It was compiled by Fr Patrick Dinneen and my copy is from 1927. Not that I know much Irish, but I always wanted to dream in Irish and I want to have sex in Irish (and no, I don't want to film it).

Dinneen gives us a few great words for kiss in Irish. Smaiseog (a loud kiss); flaspog (an audible kiss); siosog (a sucking kiss); and poigin (a little kiss). According to Dinneen clapog and spailp also mean kiss.

The University of Limerick recently put Dinneen's dictionary online. Before looking it up the only Irish word for kiss I knew was pog. If a word has a Biblical whiff of it I'd like to know where it features in the Bible.

Take for example the word 'trespass'. It's a word that got into my consciousness recently. It's hanging around in there like a corner boy, and I can't seem to kick it into touch. When I think of trespass I think of childish images of orchards and apples and don't steal. As a woman, the apple will always be there to haunt you. But what if Adam offered you the apple? Would the balance of power as we know it be any different?

Other ways trespass infiltrates this tiny mind is in relation to property. Along with property and with trespass in my mind, comes a 'keep out' sign in big bold print.

Residents of a leafy suburb in Galway are apoplectic with rage at Galway City Council's decision to include in the developmental plan the opening of a mosque in someone's house - in Mincloon, by Jove. They want to change the use of a house to a place of worship.

"There are no limitations as to what this could mean," said the director of services at Galway City Council.

According to the City Tribune, one irate resident said the issue has nothing to do with multiculturalism, it's all about safe planning, safe roads and protecting all of the people of Galway and not just some of the people.

Now that all reminds me of a relatively new word in the lexicon - rahoonery - which gave rise to anti-Traveller sentiments in Rahoon back in 1969 when residents tried to remove Travellers from their camp-site by force. In the dictionary, rahoonery is described as a noun meaning "violent anti-Traveller sentiment and action".

The magical realism continued in the courts in Galway last week, when a man was found brawling. Not the end of the world in itself - but he was packin' a claw hammer in his underpants.

He didn't have it there to tickle his cranium, your honour. He had it there to pull teeth from his arse.

Recently the HSE has nobbled a memo which describes patients who overstay their welcome in hospital beds as trespassers. The inhumane memo stated that staff are legally entitled to remove the person (that is, the 80- or 90-year-old patient) as a trespasser, using only minimum force, of course. What is minimum force when it's at home?

They Trespass Against Us

The memo said,

get them out of that bed,

make Lazarus out of the lot of them.

By the head or the knee,

a puck in the back,

a knuckle in the nuts,

but no head butts,

a sweeping ankle throw,

but no bruises.

They trespass against us.

Minimum force at all times,

except at tea times,

give them little: no tea, no ham,

give them spam.

They trespass against us.

Unwilling or unable

make them bed blockers stable.

Fed or unfed get them out of that bed,

but no bruises. Infirm or inform

who cares if they're warm?

They trespass against us.

The memo was meant

for senior management eyes only.

Written by their legal team,

paid to be mean, paid but not seen.

They trespass against us.

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