Three Wise Men ‘Like’ the Birth of a Child in Bethlehem.

Three Wise Men ‘Like’ the Birth of a Child in Bethlehem.

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Think of it in today’s terms. A child is born, to save themselves the bother of visiting, to overcome the discomfort of sitting on camels for a few weeks, the three wise me ‘Like’ the birth of a Child in Bethlehem. How un-newsworthy and more importantly how insignificant for the wise men. Even for those of you who may not believe in God or who do not in any way subscribe to Christianity you cannot deny the layers of humanistic truth that exist in these wonderful ‘stories’.

No amount of ‘likes’ or ‘loikes’ can capture the engagement of arriving, seeing, smelling, gazing, thinking, reflecting, kneeling, worshipping, giving and receiving. It is a simple story but it has so much truth for our age.

Ireland was renowned for years for ‘visits’. It was not uncommon to arrive home from school to find a neighbour in the house having the chat and dinner would be served around them. God knows why they needed to be there but most likely the ‘chat’ was about some issue that wasn’t going away but the tea and company helped bid it adieu. This is type of thing that a person might seek medication for today or even sign up for counselling for. These visits were simple Epiphanies; moments of revelation that made a difference and brought about a necessary change. Tommy Tiernan has a funny sketch when he talks about the last World War when Europe was being blown apart; Ireland, he reminds us was undergoing ‘an emergency’. What was that emergency he observes… ‘we had no tea’.

Our culture is shifting and changing so much that it is time to name what is being lost. ‘Liking’ is not the same as ‘Living’. 2016 is a new year and maybe it’s a year for less ‘liking’ and more ‘living’ or even continued ‘liking’ but not at the expense of ‘living’. Neither is texting a substitute for talking. I’m a great fan of social media and I see its value but I don’t think it is meant to substitute for finer things.

For many years I looked after Irish people abroad. I set up programmes for elderly Irish in London who were isolated due to difficulties and the complex isolation that emigration brought about. It’s funny but I see the same isolation here in Ireland among elderly people. For people who aren’t on FB or Twitter and who don’t in any way tack into cyber connectedness they have fallen off the face of the earth. For many today by the need for connectedness and their social obligations are met with a ‘like’. This is not enough for a society to flourish.

Maybe I’m old fashioned and maybe I am part of an institution that goes back long before the middle ages but even last night I heard word of someone whose father passed away suddenly; I always try to drop in to extend my sympathies before I send a text. Sometimes due to geographical distance I have to depend on cyber space but not when I pass by the door of the house a few times a day or even a couple of times a month. What is going on that is so important that we don’t have those few minutes any more. Years of experience have shown me that dropping in oneself or even dropping in a note is so appreciated.

I think back to what I remember in 2015. Times when for various reasons I was ‘grounded’ and couldn’t get around as much as I liked. It’s not the  ‘likes’ I remember so much as the visits. Thank you. When it comes to elderly people today arriving, seeing, smelling, gazing, thinking, reflecting, kneeling, worshipping, giving and receiving can have its challenges but sitting with people brings about Epiphanies. Some times its telling us things we don’t want to hear – there are always a few Herods lurking around in us and in others and sometimes we can be graced by wisdom and insight. The emergency in World War ll was no tea; the emergency today is little time for tea…the kettle is on.

 

 

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