Comment & Analysis

Finding a place for values that last

Ed Sheeran poses for a selfie with a fan.

Fr Vincent Sherlock

Nobody was as surprised as myself. Ed Sheeran was playing his second concert in Croke Park and the reviews of the first concert were incredible. I thought about what a positive influence Ed had been in the lives of 160,000 plus people over two nights.

My being there, I thought, had some link with the wedding reception I’d been at that weekend. I sat at a table with a good priest friend (some 20 years older than myself) and he commented that the group at the table with us was “very young”. I said I’d noticed, and that I felt very old! Then the killer line: “I can’t imagine what it must feel like for you!” We both laughed but knew somewhere there was a truth in it. I think that’s what put Ed in my mind. I imagined what an effect his speaking positively about faith would have. The potential difference he could make to the lives of so many was a consoling prospect.

As I stood in line, I realised Ed was moving towards me. He was meeting fans, joining freely in ‘selfies’ and sharing the enthusiasm of all gathered.  I felt a bit out of place but figured it must be intended I’d be there just at that moment. I wondered what I’d say to him. To be honest, I don’t know his songs very well but heard him sing The West Coast of Clare and I knew he did a mean version of The Parting Glass. Maybe I’d get away with mentioning them but somewhere I thought I should use the moment better.

I decided to tell him that I’m a priest and that I’d love to think he might use his gift and his presence to so many to encourage people to seek lasting values, to enjoy life, its music and opportunities. Of course I knew I’d not have much time but maybe that would be enough. Chances are he’d just move on but maybe, just maybe, he might think sometime about what I’d said and think ‘do you know what, he’s not wrong!’ I didn’t expect him to change dramatically but hoped that he might, from time to time, give favourable mention to something so important.

Arm’s length

Ed was an arm’s length and handshake away. There was a noise somewhere that didn’t have its place in this moment but I had to see what it was…

I woke up and – no line, no Ed, no Croke Park, only darkness and a clock that said 4am!

So Ed, maybe we’ll have a chance sometime to have this conversation but in the meantime, keep singing, entertaining, encouraging and rejoicing in the fact you can be a powerful influence. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet. 

 

Leonard Cohen’s Come Healing is a wonderful song, well worth a listen. I’d see it having its place in any form of penitential service. It calls for healing of the body and of the mind: either one on its own is telling only half the story. My favourite lines speak to the lived reality of carrying chips on burdened shoulders and the pain these undoubtedly cause: “The splinters that you carry, the cross you left behind; come healing of the body, come healing of the mind.” Have a listen, I’m convinced it has a message.

 

Prayer of a photographer

Oh God, as I bring my subject into focus, let me remember that I’m creating treasures for some family. Make me sensitive to the qualities and virtues of others, that I may draw out into the light the beautiful radiant belongings of their hearts. 

Help me to be an artist, collecting the beauty of every soul, the glow of youth, the laughter or tears of each life that is precious in your sight. 

Between the lights and shadows, keep me from getting out of focus, so that my life and work may be framed with dignity and coloured with contentment. Amen (Adapted from ‘A Photographer’s Prayer’, Author Unknown).