Chains of nostalgia

Sheltered, when the rain blew over the hills it was,

Sunny all day when the days of summer were long,

Beyond all rumour of labouring towns it was.

But at dawn and evening its trees were noisy with song.


Nostalgic opening lines of a poem by J.C. Squires that resonate warmly in my head and heart .Don't we all remember with a sweet painful yearning the summers of our youth that stretched before us like endless rivers of joy? And don't we remember with the same yearning how sheltered from the biting winds and rain of winter we were as children, warm in our beds, our feet playing contentedly, if gingerly, with the socked hot-water jar; hearts and minds soothed by the low murmur of familiar voices drifting upwards from below. Don't you remember? And don't we all yearn for the simplicity, the integrity, of that first world we knew: its beautiful certainties, its clear lines, its firm, steadfast boundaries; a world lost to us, the memory of which serves to darken today's world as shoddy, rootless, violent, threatening?

Isn't it that yearning for a time gone by that has us scrambling to read sentimental accounts of golden-age children running barefoot to school through the fields, waving goodbye to mothers leaning rosy-faced over the half-door, shouting greetings to singing birds and bleating lambs, crushing ripe blackberries to their sticky, innocent mouths.

Nostalgia: a sentimental yearning for the past. Recently, I read an account by a young woman who had been a heroin addict. In it she claimed a strong link between her addiction and nostalgia: she yearned obsessively for that first high she had experienced with the drug. Her years of addiction, she wrote, were bound up in her attempts to reproduce that first high. She now saw nostalgia as an enemy that had kept her chained to the past, alienated from the present, blind to the future. To all intents and purposes she had been, she said, a dead thing. To live again, she had to free herself from the chains of nostalgia.

In the words of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh:

There is only one courage and that is the courage to go on dying to the past, not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to the past we become unavailable to the present.

And there's the rub. The seductiveness of the past can make us unavailable to the present, unavailable to the 'now'. And if we are unavailable to the 'now', we miss the abundant gifts and graces offered to us in the now. We miss out on the opportunities to love more, pray more, stand and stare in awe more at the wonders of the created world, grow more in wisdom and enlightenment, be more joyful in the presence of God's love and compassion.



31st July 2019 The Guest House
21st June 2019 The Glorious Abundance of the Almighty
25th March 2019 Shrinking
15th January 2019 Balance is All
19th November 2018 The human hunger for beauty
9th October 2018 Shifting Perspectives
19th June 2018 Thank God I was wrong
16th May 2018 "Today is a new dawn, new, clean and fresh - and so are you, my dear! Don't worry. All is well."
26th March 2018 The Long Winter
7th March 2018 The Gift of Tears
19th January 2018 An Understanding of Kindness
14th December 2017 Do You See This Woman?
17th October 2017 We Are All One with You
7th September 2017 Gaps
20th June 2017 "Love is not loved."
25th April 2017 I Hope You Dance
21st March 2017 From Darkness to Dawn
27th October 2016 The Bright Field
27th June 2016 The Enemy Within
31st May 2016 The Little Way to The Almighty
25th January 2016 Love Immeasurable
11th November 2015 Letting Go
21st May 2015 The Gift of Loss
6th May 2015 Walls
24th November 2014 Leaning into Winter
24th October 2014 Crossing the Road
25th June 2014 Fetters of the Soul
30th April 2014 The Power of Gratitude
10th March 2014 The Darkling Thrush
11th February 2014 Spring
10th February 2014 Masks
3rd February 2014 Dancing in the Wind
21st January 2014 Chains of nostalgia
13th January 2014 Forgiving wrongs darker than death or night
7th January 2014 Singing out Loud
17th December 2013 CHRISTMAS FOUND
9th December 2013 Withering into the Truth
2nd December 2013 The Celtic Prayer Garden
25th November 2013 Missing Dates
18th November 2013 NEARER GOD’S HEART
12th November 2013 Night
27th April 2010 Healing God
25th November 2009 Our Poverty
1st September 2009 Which of the two tigers will win the fight?
1st June 2009 Be your own role model
25th May 2009 The Feast of the Ascension of the Lord
18th May 2009 Power of the real presence
7th May 2009 "Lessons I did not learn in School" - by Bill Gates
30th March 2009 The Long Walk to Freedom
23rd March 2009 Become a Friend
16th March 2009 Ireland in Identity Crisis?
9th March 2009 Love to Pray
2nd March 2009 Life - Giving Words
16th February 2009 Exclusion Policy
9th February 2009 Somewhere the Child
2nd February 2009 The Conversion of St Paul
12th January 2009 Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
22nd December 2008 A Christmas Parable by Louis Cassels
15th December 2008 Work – from In the heart of the Temple by Sr Joan Chittister
8th December 2008 Am I at home when the doorbell rings?
1st December 2008 Street Corner Christ
17th November 2008 How Did I Get This Busy?
10th November 2008 A Homily for The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – 9th November 2008
3rd November 2008 John O’Donohue taken from “Benedictus - A Book of Blessings”
27th October 2008 Charles Peguy 1873-1914, French poet and politician
20th October 2008 The following is an extract from a talk given by Bishop George Lungu of Chipata in Zambia in Africa, to the synod of Bishops being held in Rome this month.
13th October 2008 Excerpt from ‘A Door of Hope’ by Jean Vanier
6th October 2008 A Reflection on Matthew's Gospel 21:28-32
29th September 2008 The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII