Tuesday, June 05, 2007
In my last post I spoke about synchronicity or “meaningful coincidence” of seemingly unrelated events. To the “unbeliever” (in the general sense of that term – in other words the sceptic) there is no such thing as a “meaningful coincidence.” For him or her everything happens by chance alone. Stephen Hawking, the great Oxford theoretical physicist, belongs firmly to this group – it’s all a mere question of luck or bad luck. Seán was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could have happened to anyone. Some of us die young. Others die old, and yet again others die at any point in-between. That’s what’s meant by the statement: “You die when your number is up!” It’s all sheer statistics and nothing more. It’s a random world governed by statistics! However, to live by blind statistics and dry mathematics is like eating sawdust, and like sawdust it is a poor diet indeed. Deep down we need a meaning or a pattern. We need a reason to live and a reason to die. We need a meaning both within us and beyond us.
I suppose, all I can say by way of response to Hawking is that life is a little more than mathematics or physics or statistics. The human mind is much more complex than an intellectual understanding alone allows. For example, Howard Gardner outlined 7 different intelligences in his famous book Multiple Intelligences and he initially listed 7 such intelligences, and others have gone on to add to his list. I would contend that such scientists as Hawking and more recently Richard Dawkins have reduced intelligence to the more mathematical and logical. Hence they rule out the insights we gain from philosophical/existential intelligence, musical intelligence and artistic intelligence. In fact, it seems to me that these two academics are working from the left side of the brain, the logical side, solely. They leave no room for the intuitive side, the right side which is all about intuition, imagination and creativity. Intuition leaves room for synchronicity for a world of “action or activity” beyond our immediate knowledge.
Now, I return again to the seemingly unconnected occurrences around the night of our Graduation Mass and Ceremony. These below are roughly the “meaningful coincidences”:
1. The theme of the Mass – “Do not forget me!”
2. The readings chosen – The call of the prophet Jeremiah as a young lad: “Lord I am only a youth”; the Gospel recounting the story of the Good Thief on Calvary – “This day you will be with me in Heaven.”
3. Ian Lowry’s speech on the brevity of life, his breaking down during it. Pick the daisies today because tomorrow you will be pushing them up.
4. The fact that I had asked Seán to be the candle-bearer at the ceremony is meaningful for me because the light-bearer always represents the group like the athlete at the Olympics who carries the torch. Also the fact that many of the small read and white candles burned out so quickly that they left candle-grease all over the stage is significant. Then, the eerie fact that Mr Oonan went and got some knives for us to scrape off the candle grease – 2 ordinary dinner knives and two longer knives, one of which was a sharp knife like a carving knife. This knife went missing, and Christy Oonan was worried because it could be so dangerous. I remember remarking that if that knife got into the wrong hands it could do damage or injury.
5. The fact that Seán’s dad was the only parent to photograph Seán’s receiving his certificate and tie. In this picture Seán is looking directly at the camera. It is a lovely picture to remember Seán by.
6. The fact that Ian Lowry gave his emotional speech with the message of living life to the full because it is so short coupled with the fact that Ian was the one who broke the news to Seán’s parent’s on the night of his death is significant also. Ian is both the messenger of life and death which itself is the role of an “angel”. Remember that the Greek for angel is “angelos” = “messenger”. Ian told me as I was outlining the significance of this linking, by stating that when he went to place flowers at the site of Sean’s death he found a “feather.”
7. The fact that Seán’s maternal grandmother connected so well with Fr Finbarr Neylon and requested that he be the priest to be called over to the hospital.
8. The Mass celebrated on the Sunday following his death was extraordinarily moving and uplifting to say the least. It happened spontaneously almost. Fr Finbarr celebrated it and we used the very same readings as we had on the night of the Graduation.
9. The sad but humorous comment by Seán some weeks before his tragic death that he would like “Tears in Heaven” played at his funeral could also be seen as uncanny.
I am sure there are many more “meaningful coincidences” connected with Seán’s sad and tragic death. I will add them in as I am told them by others. Each one on its own is indeed a mere chance occurrence, but put them all together and you get a pattern, a meaningful pattern. Anyone who lived through these experiences, as we have in St Joseph’s, is left bowled over by the pattern that emerges. It is a pattern with a profound message – to live life to the full, to trust your instincts, to trust oneself, others and finally God. It tells us that we are all connected in deeper ways that we might imagine – that we are connected at an unconscious level and at a really deep spiritual level, that we can help each other through the worst storms of life, that we can be there for each other, that even though the young candle-bearer be dead, the light lives on. From this sad death much good will come even though it is so hard to see it. Those of us in St Joseph’s feel that we have been touched deeply by something much deeper than anyone has hitherto experienced. We have been brought closer than ever as a result. Indeed, it was a high price to pay for our newly experienced closeness. I will never forget the events of these last few weeks. Neither will or sixth years, their parents and the family of young Seán.
May the light of life always be with you, Seán.
May your smile enlighten your dear family.
May they always give thanks for your life,
For all the good memories and the laughs,
For the tears as well as the shouts of joy,
For the silly little memories that warm a heart
On a cold, dismal and gloomy night.
May their days of grief shorten as summer comes,
Their sorrows lessen as the clouds clear.
May the love poured out by all their friends
Fill the yawning gap with smiles of solidarity.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.