See the extraordinary from the ordinary



Father Jason Murphy writes beautifully and eloquently, as always, in his bi-monthly column “Let the busy world be smothered”

The Angelus bell rang against the blue sky at the Feast of the Guardian Angels on the hill that stands high in Killoughter. A hill from which one can see, on a clear day like this, the spire beyond Belturbet answer the call to stop and pray in the midst of this autumn day. In the fields below, his Charolais heifers raise their heads to the familiar sound of the bell that has rung from this hill for more than 180 years, quietly ruminating under the golden shade of the large chestnut tree at the crossroads which gave refuge to man and to the beast for a hundred of those years. Every day he quietly climbs the hill from his home to the crossroads to ring the bell, three times three followed by a continuous sequence of knocks to which some bless each other and others pass but he pulls the chain to strike the bell regardless, the constant in the middle of everyday life among these hills.

A woman hanging her laundry on the line for the last day of drying can be seen with a peg in her hand resting it on the line, gazing into the trees beyond Shannow Wood, praying for a little girl she knows is ‘she is not well, reminded by the sound of the bell in the middle of the ordinary to stop and think of others. He is modest and quiet in his work, which is found in the silence of the chapel as the evening light streams through the stained-glass windows of the windows that face west, polishing and cleaning the seats on which his father and his grandfather knelt once. pray.

He lives not far from the cottage in the field where he grew up as a child, in a house he and his father had built some 40 years before, the house where the women of Laurel Hill and Drumeena come to wash and dry themselves. of a Friday in his wife’s comfortable one-room living room.

He can be seen walking through the fields to feed the cattle or driving along the narrow lane where he once walked from school to pick blackberries in those October days, now looking over the same hedgerows in the air in his immaculate Massey Ferguson 35 tractor.

For his life is lived in the middle of the local, centered around this corner of the world, unbroken in its regularity, in the routine he follows day after day, except for the nights he spends with the stars and Joe Finnegan at the Kilmore Hotel. For those who pass the road in their zipped cars, Philip’s days are far from exciting, without speed or zest for life, but for those with eyes to see, it’s as clear as the arrow beyond. of Belturbet, Philip has at his fingertips the key to this life and his life.

For I once listened to an interview with John McGahern, the writer from County Leitrim as he neared the end of his life, an interview in which he thought back to all his years. He had traveled the world and lived in different cities, writing many novels before returning to his native county to live quietly with his wife among the fields and hedgerows he knew best, for all his later years. In the interview he was asked what he thinks was the most precious life he has lived in his 71 years and his answer is the one that stuck with me since the first time I saw him. heard, an answer that I try to keep in front of me because I live in the middle of everyday life.

He replied “the most precious is the life lived in the midst of the familiar and the ordinary where it seems to others that nothing is really happening”.

Sometimes it is only when the ordinary and the familiar are taken away from us, whether by sickness or death, the faces with which we share our lives, the place where we have lived, that we truly learn to how precious the gifted life we ​​have really is, how much we take the extraordinary from the ordinary for granted.

For me, Philip McEntee, the man who rings the church bell in Killoughter, every day, morning and night, who grazes his cattle and watches over his neighbour, who drives his 35 tractor up the road and bids at the market for Les génisses charolais, is the example of how to live, satisfied and at peace with his friend and his neighbor, a constant for those who pass the road, who rush and run without worrying, in harmony with God and the nature in the middle of the ordinary and the everyday where it seems to others that nothing is really happening.

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