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Gentle Thoughts

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
The following reflection is by Brother Thomas Casey OP who tends the gardens at St Dominic's Retreat House, Montenotte, Cork

I was around the town of Youghal a few days after the Tour de France whizzed through. The street cleaners had done a fine job of cleaning up and the main street was as clean as a brass penny. I was in no hurry so I took it easy. It was a good time for a stroll and a look around.

As the sun was going down I was distracted by the long shadows thrown by high gables, and then my eye lit on a chimney pot of a derelict building. It wasn't so much the chimney pot, but the spray of pink flowers which stuck up out of it. They were catching the last light, moving and weaving, demanding attention. For those of you who work hard and have long hours, it's good to slow down and look at things like this. As a side benefit I can tell you it is good for the soul because it allows gentle thoughts to have their say.

The first curiosity was how did the flowers get there? Who planted them? Was it a bird or the wind? And of all the seeds which are scattered throughout the world why did this one land here? And how did it survive? But there they were, the fruit of chance, and proud they were, sitting on top of a building where the occupants who had lives to live had lived them and were long gone. If someone moved in now and renovated the building, the flowers would have to go, being a hindrance to the draught in the fireplace and considered nothing but weeds and a nuisance. For the moment, however, these flowers reigned supreme. Who knows, they might have preferred a plot in some lady's garden but it seemed to me that they were doing just fine and were happy to bloom where they were planted.

And I said to myself, 'there you go, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else'. That's the way with a lot of people, always restless. I suppose one of the gifts of youth is to be on the move, seeing how best to make a life, and hoping for happiness. For those, like me, who are old, and have wandered down many a byroad unexpectedly, it is great to be able to say, 'well I did my best with the lot that fell my way'. And just like the flowers in the chimney pot of an old house, I now bloom where I am planted and with the help of the good Lord remain faithful to the end.


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