by Sr. Sheila Campbell MMM Ireland 26.06.2023
“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”
― John A. Shedd
This quote was used at Mass by a visiting priest recently and it struck a chord with many of the Sisters present. I think it reminded us that we are about a bigger mission than our own comfort and safety. When we were young Sisters, setting out on mission to far away places this was easy to embrace. Now we are back in Ireland. Are we “back in the harbour? Or should we still be out in the open waters of discovering the needs of a new Ireland.
Ireland nowadays is a very different place than the one we left fifty or sixty years ago. It has become more open, younger, more multi-cultural. It has become more prosperous economically. At the same time, it is in danger of losing some valuable traditions and sense of the sacred. We had this sense of the sacred in Ireland even before Saint Patrick arrived. Places like Newgrange and the various cairns and stone circles and holy wells dotted throughout the landscape attest to this.
Perhaps our missionary work in Ireland is to keep alive this sense of the sacred. It involved care of the earth, our common home, and respect for all people no matter their culture, race, or religion. It is not an easy task in today’s world. Often, religious people are scoffed at in the media as being “old hat”, “from another generation”. It takes courage to keep the rudder of the boat steady as we sail on these troubled waters. So, we call on God to be with us as we continue our missionary journey right back where we started from. Isn’t there another famous quote from T.S.Eliot?
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”