Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Power of a Poem 6

Last evening I attended a evening mass in memory of a former pupil of mine, Seán Nolan (1988-2007) who was tragically murdered at the young age of 18 years on the night of his graduation.  His memorial Facebook page is here: SNFacebook and a tribute I previously wrote for him here: SNTribute.  Yesterday evening was a poignant one - everyone meeting once again and sharing old memories.  Ironically his sad passing has brought about a great comraderie among his family and friends which continues to grow.  It was also  personally a journey back to my own past, to all those funerals I have attended and all those friends and family members I have said goodbye to.  Then the celebrant was also an old friend, totally by chance - he had been my novice master when I was once a member of the Augustinian Order for a brief period of three years in the early eighties - Rev. John Hughes, O.S.A., a fine psychologist  and now Vicar for Priests in the Dublin Diocese.  He gave an excellent homily, though for some it was a wee bit dark.  However, it was essentially Pauline (that is, in line with the words of St Paul) insofar as John was explaining how we "see through a glass darkly" on this side of the grave.  I did not think his homily was so much dark as perhaps a bit Augustinian or Pauline.  It certainly was balanced and John wove the memory of Sean into an excellent homily on the mystery of the Trinity.  Anyway enough about John.  Now to a poem I would like to offer here in his memory.  It is a fine little lyric by the American poet Wendel Berry (b. Kentucky, 1934).  This little poem is called A Meeting.

A Meeting

In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: "How you been?"
He grins and looks at me.
"I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees."

Above a picture of the Pope's Cross, Phoenix Park, January 2010.

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