Songs for the Slow Lane


Fr Hugh O’Donnell

This year our hanging baskets were empty. We had forgotten to replant, so it was amazing then that late in August a gorgeous yellow flower should raise itself up and peer over the edge; with every day a deeper yellow, more petticoat, more eye-catching detail.

Explanations fall short. How did it get there? Was it a dormant bulb from last year or a blow-in from a neighbour’s garden? Almost despite our lack of effort our house is suddenly graced as we feel ourselves chosen, for no obvious reason, to host this beauty.

So what about all this talk of success being 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration? Maybe away from the track and field there is a more gentle logic to be found where only 1% perspiration is required and 99% appreciation!

Many years ago I teased Anna Mary, a Franciscan sister, with the adage that ‘God helps those who help themselves’ to be immediately put in my place by her reply that ‘God helps those rather who are not able to help themselves’. I remember her correction still. To our capitalist minds, God is an entrepreneur who expects a good return on his investment; for Jesus, God is the father who goes on loving his wayward son!

A flower blooms where none was expected. So someone at our door will raise his eyes to this bright welcome and imagine a wedding where the guests wear a yellow flower and twirl a glass of champagne in their hands.

[Crinan Youth Service]

Fr Hugh O’Donnell 72 Sean MacDermott Street, Dublin 1.