‘Look to a new horizon’ – Archbishop of Dublin’s September letter
As we embark on the autumn season of 2021, I wish each and every one of you everything that is best as you find your way forward, however tentatively, in the days and the weeks of September. The word: tentatively may surprize you but there are many people who have spoken to me who are tentative about the future. Confidence is at a premium just now. If you have it, then please share it.
Already, for example, we see outbreaks of the coronavirus in schools and our heart goes out to pupils, teachers and family members as they seek together to manage these outbreaks and the suffering, the exhaustion and the anxiety that go with them. The Roadmap click here for link to Reframing the challenge, continuing our recovery and reconnecting for the opening up of society, and our part in it, frames our approach to September, not least following an Taoiseach’s address to the nation. This he did passionately and compassionately on the last day of August. In that address, he was laying before us The Roadmap. He thanked the people of Ireland for everything we have done to date and, interestingly, for trusting in the science. He also encouraged us to use our personal responsibility in how we do our business and in how that business affects the lives of others as we move forward. Personal responsibility is the ethic of the present for the future. In this way, and to our surprize, the on–going presence of the coronavirus provides a positive opportunity for us to build a more caring and compassionate structure for our society if we fully embrace the opportunity alongside it to offer companionship and confidence to those who are feeling left out or left behind. For some of us, moving out of Lockdown will be both problematic and a considerable shock to the system. Compliance with Regulations has become such a way of life that the setting to one side of restrictions will bring its own difficulties and challenges. Others of us simply have no option but to get on with it, as our jobs depend on it.
Let us continue to remember the early strapline and the early idea from the very first Lockdown, namely that We are in this together. I should like to add some more straplines to this as of now. One is: Celebrate your new steps. Each move outward, each move forward is deserving of celebration with yourself and with others whom you cherish. A second is: Share your experiences. It is very important to talk about these things, not least as we always pick up something new from others and something obvious that we had not seen for ourselves. Such sharing is good for us and for others as well. A third is: Remember the bereaved and listen to them. The bereaved are a special care and concern of all of us and they may well have lost their voice through grief and sadness. They carry
many things on their heart and they may well fear that nobody could possibly want to listen to someone as inconsequential as they feel they are.
A fourth is: Do not forget the young people. The voice of young people is precious to us as we emerge from The Lockdown. Before The Lockdown, it was they who were systematically, Friday after Friday, marching peacefully for a comprehensive national response to climate change. This voice still needs to be heard. They have missed out on two years of formative social life and formative educational life. This is a very large part of their lives and we who are older need to honour them and to hear what they have to say and to connect with them around things that matter to them and to us very quickly. And a fifth is: Look to a new horizon. In the Hebrew Scriptures and in The Old Testament of The Christian Scriptures, Lot’s wife looks back – as, let us imagine, the lava from the volcano catches up with her and engulfs her. A curiosity for her old city and a fascination with her old life, both of them now gone, just as she fled their rubble and as she had the chance of a fresh life, was just too alluring, too enticing, too seductive. We all need to try our best to look forward, to think differently and to relax into the future. And we need one another to be able to do this with any delight and in order to conquer our fear and our foreboding.
And finally: Don’t expect to do it all at once. This is not a competition. This is not a race to the line. This is more a circle where everyone holds hands and comes together to meet in the middle. If you are actually able to do less – then, do less. Nobody is counting. If you need a rest – then, take a rest. Nobody is watching. If you are able to keep going and going and going – then, share this capacity with everyone you meet. And – remember to smile at them, not least if you do not know them or have never met them before. You are now a bigger person by virtue of your experiences, however difficult they were, however hard they are to understand, however hard they are to take on board.
Psalm 24.7, a Scripture shared by the Jewish and the Christian Faiths, gives us a glorious and a joyous image – whoever we are, wherever we are – of a way forward as a journey of adventure and of hope and of companionship, and of lifting up: Lift up your heads, you gates, Lift yourselves up, you everlasting doors … Let us lift ourselves up in these new days of new opportunity.