Sunday 26 May 2019

I can’t help thinking that we’re losing the run of ourselves at Christmas

The Way I See It - Fr Michael Commane

In conversation with a friend in the last few days we were talking about how in vogue the word 'experience' has become. He brought it to my attention how everything is now regarded as an experience. People look forward say to the experience of going for a meal, to Christmas.

One gets the impression that it really doesn't do any longer to live simply in the now and enjoy the moment in which we find ourselves. But experiences are not confined to the future. They are also part of the present moment. We all seem to be programmed to behave in a way that sends us off chasing rainbows.

It certainly looks like that at times and maybe especially so in the run-up to Christmas. All the frenetic shopping. I heard about a major food retailer in Dublin, that usually takes in €20,000 on a normal day, last Christmas Eve had its tills ringing to the tune of €60,000 and the shop closed early on the day.

It happens at Easter but more intensely so at Christmas that people get into a panic when it comes to shopping. With the shops closed for a maximum of two days, we feel obliged to stockpile. It ends up with people buying far too much and then after Christmas there is a scandalous waste of food. Every year in Ireland we throw out over one million tonnes of food. On average every household wastes €700 every year, and this peaks at Christmas time.

At the recent climate summit in Katowice in Poland a commitment was made for greater transparency on efforts to reduce carbon emissions to global warming. Are you playing your part, am I?

Isn't it true that greedy people are never satisfied with what they have, always wanting more? And isn't that symptomatic of our lifestyles, we are always jumping to the next place, seldom if ever happy where we actually are.

We seem to be developing some sort of characteristic that is forcing us, constantly wanting us to be in the next place. It's as if, we are never content or happy living in the present and experiencing the wonder of the now.

We are rushing somewhere, I'm not too sure where and it seems to manifest itself to a ridiculous degree at Christmas.

These days listening to 'experts' giving advice on how to cook the Christmas meal, how to spend the day, how to avoid the pitfalls of the season, I can't help but think we are losing the run of ourselves.

I recommend we say over and over the first verse of Patrick Kavanagh's poem 'Advent': 'We have tested and tasted too much lover -/ Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder./But here in the Advent-darkened room/Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea/Of penance will charm back the luxury/Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom/The knowledge we stole but could not use.'

'Tóg go bog e' makes an awful lot of sense.

Dare I say it, is it that we have lost the sense of wonder or transcendence in our lives? Have we lost the ability simply to stand back, pause and appreciate all that is right in front of our eyes? Was it Wordsworth who saw the extraordinary in the ordinary? We sure could learn from him too.

And it's no harm to remind ourselves that the self-disclosure of God happens most often in the here and now experiences of everyday life.

Live in the present.

Enniscorthy Guardian