Saturday 14 September 2013


I went to see Eamon Keane & special guest John Sheehan of the Dubliners at the National Concert Hall during the week. Eamon was previously an excellent presenter on Newstalk but he's an even more excellent piano player.

He sits at his piano and improvises; it's suggested that he himself doesn't quite know what he's going to play. I close my eyes to take in the music and wonder what on earth he's at - there's quite a strong feeling of turbulence, something coming from the dark roots of the earth and then something beautiful begins to suggest itself, a hint of a familiar tune, then the tune itself rising like a butterfly from the caterpillar - Norwegian Wood, Scarborough Fair and more.

These two movements of life are held together in balance, moving in and out of each other - darkness and light, turbulence and peace, discord and harmony.

It's not a religious concert but the evening is brought to a close with Amazing Grace which John Sheehan dedicates to the men he knew who took the wrong turn on the road. Eamon and John do an improvised version before bringing it around to the audience and we sing it in its gentle gracefulness, "I once was lost but now I'm found..."

The paradox of life! I have taken many wrong turns on the road of my life but without them I wouldn't know the joy of returning; I have often been lost and through those experiences know the grace of being found. If I hadn't left home I would never know the excitement of returning; if I had not sinned I would never know the wonder of God's mercy.

This is where Jesus is taking us in today's Gospel (Luke 15). He knows it's inevitable that we will wander, get lost, sin but what matters is that we understand who God is, what it is that stirs in the heart of God for each one of us and that we return to the safety of that Heart. 

The sinners know that it's safe to be with Jesus, the prodigal knows that it's safe to return home and all God wants is that we be "safe and sound" in life. And no matter how far we wander, all that God is for us to be "safe and sound". Any parent whose child gets lost even for a short while knows exactly what God feels for us, each one of us.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound....I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see.

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