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Reflection to TCD School of Nursing + Midwifery
Tuesday 15th June 2021 @ 10:54 am

It was an honour to lead a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for TCD School of Nursing and Midwifery recently. Below is the reflection from the service.



We find wonderful ancient Jewish wisdom coming from the Poet in the book of Ecclesiastics in the Hebrew Bible:

The following words are based on the Message translation of the beginning of chapter 3:

It may not seem like it,

but there is opportune time for all things.

There is,

a time for everything that we experience on this earth:

There is time – a right time –

For birthing,

for planting,

for growing.

And there is time – a right time –

for loss,

for tears,

for lament.

There is a time for cheering and a time for laughing.

And yes, there is,

a time for crying.

And there is a time for healing.


You might want to simply sit back and shrug and say,

‘well, there you go, the juxtaposition of living a life!’


It is all there!

It’s true.

Those words match our human experience.

The best and the worst, held together in lived tension.

Life is not always wonderful. Life is not always terrible.

That is our real experience.

Greatness, closely accompanied by timidness.

A wonder goal, held alongside a near miss.

The inside of a safe sea harbour, witness to the signs of tumult that sit alongside it, strong turrets, robust stone defensive walls.

The joy, and the pain,

The giggles, and the tears.

All together.

All our experience as humans.

And all validated by Divine Life in the sacred text I quoted.

Divine life invites us, in all great spiritual traditions, to hold the fulness of things together.

You, in your profession, know this more than so many others.

The scientific advance in your world of medical compassionate care over the last 18months is truly remarkable. Ask the Trinity professors who know about immunology and vaccines, and they will tell you, almost with mouth wide open in amazement that something absolutely incredible has taken place.

Today, today, over 33 million people around the globe will get a vaccine needle for Covid–19 into their arm. To do that from a starting point of zero 18–19 months ago, is something to be amazed at, and incredibly thankful for.

And that’s not all … there have been advances in how we care for people, in how nurses and doctors and midwives and all hospital staff can be kept safe from infection, there have been incredible learnings in how we do our work even leading to deeper questions of ‘why we do our work!’ …

And holding it all,

In positive lived tension,

have been nurses holding a phone to the ear of a dying patient with one hand, and holding that patient’s hand with their other hand while a family who should be at a bedside in those final sacred moments are shut out. You, your colleagues, and your profession have lived the very worst, as well as seeing the very best of these months.

So we rightly remember colleagues, friends and family, dearly departed. We have named so many this morning, and there are others we know of who have gone unnamed but are cherished in our memories and our hearts.

We honour their life by lighting candles,

we hold it to be true that indeed

‘there is an opportune time for all things’

There is a time to remember, to be thankful, to be sad they are gone and maybe be glad they had time among us – even if for many, we wish that time was still present. And so there is also a time for tears.

While we continue to have breath, we recognise in the midst of life’s deepest realities, that all things will be and can be ours,

love, loss, joy, suffering, peace, turmoil,

we endeavour to live well, today.

To remember, and to give thanks,


I am transported back in my mind to being a 28 year old white boy in an African American church in Texas. It was all true, everything I had heard. The choir, the preaching, the singing, the dancing, it was alive. It was full.

It was beautiful.

And it all started by the worship leader going to the front grabbing the microphone and saying,

‘Did you wake up this morning?’ then you’ve got something to be thankful for! Do you have breath in your lungs, you’ve got something to be thankful for, were you able to walk here today, then you’ve got legs that work, did you have breakfast today – then you have food in your stomach, and you’ve got something to be thankful for.’

Yes, and again I say yes.

Today, we woke up, and we have breath in our lungs.

And we can choose to remember, and we can choose to be thankful.

I am thankful to you – for this moment.

Peace to you, and peace to the world, as we travel on, together.


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