Love One Another

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St. Ann’s Square, Manchester  (Photo credit: Warren Smith)

I stood in St. Ann’s Square, Manchester, just a few days after the tragic events of May 22nd, gazing across the sea of flowers, vibrant in the morning sunshine. The crowd quietly looked on as balloons bobbed and candles flickered. Moving messages of sorrow and solidarity had been chalked on the paving stones, and satellite vans were dotted along the street, waiting to send the latest ‘moving’ pictures around the world.

What can one say after the tragic bombing at the Manchester Arena already over a week ago? Ariana Grande was right when she tweeted, “I don’t have words.” Nothing can bring back the loss suffered by those who have been injured and bereaved. Our hearts go out to each one; for them life will never be the same again.

1705.i-love-mcr-1024x768.CroppedWhen I was six my father would occasionally take me to work with him on a Saturday morning. Before going home we would stop at the sweetshop next door to his offices. That sweetshop was about 35 yards from where the sea of flowers lies today. Neither I, nor my father, could have comprehended the tragic event that would carpet the square with flowers so many years later.

Despite her initial tweet, later that week Ariana Grande found the words to express her sorrow and her thoughts for the future:

“My heart, prayers and deepest condolences are with the victims of the Manchester Attack and their loved ones.

There is nothing I or anyone can do to take away the pain you are feeling or to make this better. However, I extend my hand and heart and everything I can possibly give to you and yours, should you want or need my help in any way.

The only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out. …

Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before. …

We will continue in honor of the ones we lost, their loved ones, my fans and all affected by this tragedy.

They will be on my mind and in my heart everyday and I will think of them with everything I do for the rest of my life.” @ArianaGrande May 26

As Ariana tweeted, “the only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out.” In response to the bombing, the people of Manchester have taken the Oasis song, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” as their theme song. Yes, we should be deeply moved by such a tragic event, but the people are right, anger will accomplish nothing. As wise King Solomon once wrote:

“A gentle answer turns anger away. …”

Proverbs 15:1 (NIRV)


It’s at times like this we can look to our Creator for inspiration; when we take on the gentle but strong spirit of Jesus, who said to His followers:

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.”

John 13:34-35 (NCV)

I wonder how different Monday 22nd would have been if one more person in this world had understood the truth of those words?

Gone Today, Here Tomorrow

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The new beach at Dooagh.   (Photo: Sean Molloy)

The village of Dooagh on Achill Island has a new beach. The story of the reappearing Irish beach recently hit the headlines, when the waves deposited hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand over a ten day period on what was a very rocky shoreline, recreating the village’s beautiful, 300m long, sandy beach. The beach had been missing since 1984, when a powerful storm washed it away. Tourist numbers declined as a result and three of the area’s four hotels closed, but this month the village has experienced gridlock from cars and campervans and people coming from all over Ireland and the UK to see the new beach.

This is not the first time that the beach has come and gone, or should that be gone and come? It was washed away before in the 1890s, but had returned by the 1920’s when currachs were launched from the sands. How long it will stay this time is unknown. The locals can only watch and hope.

Some feel that same uncertainty when it comes to prayer. They pray, but hold out little hope for an answer. Others pray, and feel cheated when the answer fails to appear. “How long, O Lord?” is a frequent lament from the ancients, recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. So what’s the point of prayer, and indeed what’s the point of this website, if that’s the case?

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The shore at Dooagh before the beach returned.  (Photo: Achill Tourism)

First of all, prayer brings us close to our Creator. It makes us aware that some of our needs can only be met from outside of ourselves. I once knew a nurse, who worked in a cancer hospital. She used to challenge me saying, “How can there be a God when I see such suffering around me every day?” Then she herself needed hospital treatment at a different hospital. What a difference when she came home! She told me that now she knew there was a God, because He had been with her to comfort and support her during her stay. Secondly as we pray, we do begin to see some answers to our prayers. Someone once said that the more they pray, the more coincidences happen. Try it for yourself and see.

However, answers to prayer don’t always come; at least not in the form we are expecting. How, or if, our prayers are answered can be summed up in three words: Yes, No and Wait. We have a loving Creator, who, despite the difficulties of this world, always wants the best for us. Sometimes His reply to our prayer is “Yes”, and we see our prayer answered relatively quickly. At other times He knows that what we requested won’t do us any good. So He helps us by not giving us what we asked for. On other occasions the answer is “Wait”; probably the same answer you would give to your 8 year old son or daughter, who wanted to learn to ride a motorbike or rent an apartment of their own.

Even so, we are encouraged to pray according to God’s will and not give up, believing that our prayer has been heard.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)