Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude In All Things where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.
I was probed by an ‘aggressive man’ while on holiday in the Irish countryside. I didn’t expect it coming during a time of peace and consolation. Like a trained interrogator, he asked question after question on the subject of my personal life. He laid into me about not doing enough paid work in my career. I gave him the benefit of the doubt – thinking it would be good to give him a half hour of my time. But I shouldn’t have given him a minute!
As I take a step back, I realise that I put him on a pedestal due to his job title and the respect that people seemed to have for him. I assumed he was correct when focusing on my perceived weaknesses. I felt judged and my heart constricted as he continued to probe: “Why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be doing that.” There was no room for expansiveness of thought or depth of feeling.
Later, I got distracted by an unhealthy activity which plunged me deeper and deeper into sadness and despair. Life felt like hell for a few days. I struggled through work and social interactions, and I had no sense of being ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14). I felt as though I had nothing to offer. I actually did some good work but I couldn’t see beyond the darkness.
Unexpected joy came from a wonderful and talented friend named Joan. She invited me to accompany her as she performed at a small gig in Bar Eile, Dublin City. I felt deep down that this opportunity was just what I was looking for. Joan has inspired me for many months now as she has gone public with her musical talent – singing and playing the guitar on the streets of Kildare and Dublin, recording three songs, performing on the radio, and more.
She played two songs at the gig that prompted my depressed state to dissolve, especially when she sang her second song You and I. This moving piece was for her brother and spoke of their strong bond that continues to inspire her. She initially sang the song for her family, then for those on the streets and at the gig, and now for those around the world. Click on the link below to watch Joan sing You and I ».
Watching the video again makes me perceive Joan’s whole body as full of light. I sense the light of her sweet yet powerful voice as she emits her sound into the universe. I see the light through her smile while she makes eye contact with people around the room. I sense the light in her lyrics as she exclaims, “All I want is enough air in my lungs to sing”. It is as if a beautiful lamp is giving us light with its rays (Luke 11:36).
I left the gig feeling the better for it. Joan’s song worked its magic on me as I returned to my everyday life. Her tune reverberated in my psyche and nudged me to accept and share my own talents. Right now, I notice a warmth and expansiveness in my chest when I consider how good people were to me after been hit by that truck of aggressivity in the Irish countryside.
A spiritual mentor showed me the lack of truth in the challenging man’s words – affirming my decision to work on this website without pay due to a deep sense of mission and purpose. Another friend invited me and others to her home where she cooked the most extraordinary Spanish dishes and filled us with her loving presence. Thanks to those ‘angels of light’ and to many more!
Receiving this gift of gratitude and sharing it with you in this blogpost reminds me of the words: “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you” (Mark 4:24). We enter into the mystery of gratitude when we share our talents with each other.
It is such a pity when we let our gifts remain hidden or secret. Ingratitude is an abuse that affects us all – it destroys the soul and is a waste of life. Much better to disclose what we have to those we trust and share it with more people day by day. Then, we can confidently let our lives shine as individuals.
Can you imagine the power of connecting all our lights to each other? Would we cease to be lonely and not only fall in love but stay in love? It may be a dream for all of us to shine. But we begin to change the world with You and I.
Video on going deeper
I was able to further process my experience with the aggressive man at a recent Zen retreat with Roshi Robert Kennedy SJ in Dublin. I discuss it in the video as part of three Zen lessons for living. The other lessons include looking at our inner experience from a three-dimensional (3D) perspective and tuning into the primary elements of fire, air, water and earth.
Click on the link below to watch the video ».