Begin Again

We have just turned the new year of 2016. Speaking, personally this year has always been an anticipated milestone in my life. As a school boy I remember my Fourth Class in Templemore Christian Brothers’ Primary School with some of the upper classes proceeding in a long two-by-two crocodile to the local cinema to watch the now famous George Morrison documentary film, Mise Éire, one of the first films about the Irish Easter Rising of 1916. Some years later, in 1966, as a young Christian Brother novice I remember watching some of the commemorative TV broadcasts for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. I often wondered whether I would live long enough for the Centenary Year of the Easter Rising. Now I know. So as the years turns I am conscious of its personal and national significance for me and others.

But for most of us a new year is a like a blank page. It’s like taking a book down from a shelf and beginning to read it. Maybe it will interest us and we continue, or, perhaps, we decide it is of little interest and we put it aside. Beginning a new year can be like that.

Or, maybe, as the image above suggests it’s like coming across empty chairs where no one is sitting. Perhaps, like the book, there is nothing much of interest happening for me to sit in one of those chairs. But the options are open. You might be like me for whom an empty chair is often an invitation, if only to rest a while. But something may happen. It’s always that kind of open invitation.

For anyone discerning where life might be taking us, a new year, is just like the empty chair, an invitation. Often, it takes the form of an invitation to begin again.

But beginning again can be challenging. Perhaps, we bear within us the scars of too many beginnings, beginnings which either fail to interest us or turn out to be the pathway into a blind alley. More often, the beginning is like the book that fails to interest us; it just brings us along the same tired old path with which we are familiar.

Yet, a new year can be an exciting moment in our lives. It may involve a new relationship. It could be a job promotion. Or it might be the growing awareness that it is time to make some serious life decision, time to reflect on where the tide of is taking us.

You may find yourself in this space, wondering about how to make this one life of your really count. A serious question. But, as always, what is important is to stay with the question. The answer will disclose itself. The Force will be with you (even if you don’t think of yourself as a Jedi!).

The important thing is to just begin!

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

From Begin by Brendan Kennelly



  • Martin O'Flaherty says:

    Donal, I had forgotten until I read your reflection above. I too have a special memory connected with 1966. Being a native of Ennis, Co. Clare I had only once previously been to Dublin prior to coming to Carriglea Park Juniorate in 1965. As a treat during the Easter holidays in 1966 we were bussed in to Colaiste Mhuire, Parnell Square Dublin 1 to see a pagent on 1916. On the way home, the Brother in charge pointed Nelson’s pillar out to us. It was my first viewing. The next morning, the very next morning, the first news item on Irish TV was the blowing up of the pillar by the IRA. So new years can mark both new beginnings and endings. One of the boys on that bus with me that night was Jack O’Flynn who was to go on mission to South America in the early 80’s an die there in a bus accident before he had a chance to start his missionary work as a Christian Brother.

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