There’s something magical in the air in France each September – a renaissance after the August shut-down, a new beginning after long days on the coast or a slow summer pace of lifeat rural retreats. In the blink of an eye, life in France changes. Children go back to school, people return to work and the rhythm of day-to-day life resumes. This is la rentrée – with all the optimism and opportunity this time of year brings. Streets become busy once more, restaurants pull back the shutters to welcome back the crowds and a new calendar of cultural events begins.
Today as we stand on the threshold of a new chapter in the life of the community of God which is the Irish Chaplaincy in Paris and as I personally embark on a new beginning in my own ministry we have a wonderful moment to take stock, to reflect and to appreciate what has gone before as well as to look forward in hope to what lies ahead.
As we recall the gift of Fr Dwayne’s ministry over the past five years we express our gratitude to God for all the blessings that he brought through his pastoral commitment and care. May the Lord guide him and bless him in his future ministry.
Times of change and transition are always a God-given opportunity to pause, to stop and listen, to take stock of our priorities, values, pursuits, goals and collective hopes and desires and of course to try to discern the presence of Christ himself at work in our lives and in the life of our families and our community. ( For new pastors like me its above all an appropriate moment to say little and to listen much!!)
As we joyfully anticipate the promise of a new ‘stretch of the road’ together with its fresh opportunities and challenges we remind ourselves that like Saint Peter and the disciples we are urged by the Master himself to be hopeful in spite of whatever uncertainties and unknowns may lie ahead. Today therefore, is a day to pray for God’s abundant blessings upon each one of us as we proceed toward the future with fresh hopes and expectations. Yes, it is truly God’s blessing that we all need on this first day of a new chapter together – for it is this blessing which gives us the grace, strength and courage to begin again.
The following evocative poem by Brendan Kennelly is appropriate for new beginnings.
Begin again to the summoning birds,
To the sight of light at the window,
Begin to the roar of morning traffic,
All along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise,
Born in light and dying in dark,
Determination and ehaltation of springtime, flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queing girls,
The arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal bridges linking the past and the future,
Old friends passing through us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end,
Since it is perhaps what makes us begin,
Begin to wonder at unknown faces,
At crying birds in the sudden rain,
At branches stark in the willing sunlight, at seagulls foraging for bread,
At couples sharing a sunny secret, alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending, that always seems about to give in,
Something that will not acknowledge conclusion, insists that we forever begin.