Grassroots Minister: Presence of/with/to God
Maura Walsh rsm (The Congregation)
Image used under licence

In the Beginning

Growing up in Ireland in an environment of Celtic Spirituality, in which God was not removed from the world and the lives of human beings, was hallowed. God was all around – in the landscape of sea and mountain, bog and forest, in the rising and setting sun, in the comings and goings of the seasons. Everything was sacred. Celtic Spirituality, alive with a felt sense of God in all of life, was part of the very air I breathed as a child, when I was born into this milieu on a rural farm in Co Mayo.

One of the first memories I have, is of my father ploughing the end field of our farm. He was preparing the soil for sowing the seed, while I was preparing to take my first steps. He did such work, very much aware of the presence of God in all of nature. This was true of all of my family. As children, we spent summer holidays working on the farm weeding the drills of potatoes, turning the mown grass that we would later fork into stacks of hay; going to the bog where we would help with saving the turf needed for the fire, to cook and heat the house for the year ahead. We also helped with harvesting the barley and oats crops before we returned to school in September. My mother prepared the meals and often took them out to the fields to feed the hungry workers. She was the faithful companion in forming the family unit and grounding us in our faith...

One memorable summer’s day I had the honour of minding my then three-year-old, fair-haired nephew Darragh who lived in Dublin City. As we meandered along a country lane, I slowly became aware of the wonder and awe that were present within him, in this country place. He had a fascination for ladybirds and lost himself in admiration of them. Children call us to be aware of all we miss in nature when we do not pay attention. Sadly, ladybirds are exceedingly rare now—and I ask myself what has happened to that endearing species? A ten-year research project in England shows that the population of ladybirds has declined from 99.8% in 2006 to 30.7% in 2016 (Wiley on-line Library). The decline has been blamed on changes to habitats, global warming, insecticide use, and the invasion of one species of insect by another. The worrying truth is that the population of all insects is declining globally. There will be a total ecosystem collapse if we lose our insects. What kind of world is emerging for Darragh’s children?

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Spanish translation using DeepL Translator. Traducción al español con DeepL Translator

I am a Sister of Mercy of the Western Province in Ireland. I was a Post Primary school teacher and taught in Co-educational schools for twenty five years. I enjoyed my teaching years, especially helping weaker students achieve their potential. I then took a career break and trained in Spiritual Guidance in Chicago. Since then I have been involved in various aspects of Spirituality and in leadership in our Province. Now I am taking life at a slower pace and living in a more contemplative space. I enjoy walking and crochet in my spare time. 

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