Whatever has happened has been good.
What is happening is good
And what will happen, will also be good. (Bhagwad Gita)
My year at Loreto House was a gift to me. I regret nothing that happened. I utilized the year to its utmost capacity, be it at the course, travelling around Ireland, visiting museums and parks and art galleries, experiencing the seasons with the migratory birds and the falling leaves and the new buds coming up with spring, catching up with friends, being aware of the movement of the spirit, and learning to love deeply.
It took me a month or so at the course to realise the baggage that I carried and the walls that I had built around me. Once I had immersed myself into the process there were a few fetters and moulds to break. Having lived a very regular and settled life in my teaching profession, I had my fixed boundaries, which made me comfortable. Just coming to Ireland brought me out of my comfort zone – out of my own country, out of my teaching profession where I was in control, processing my life with people from 17 different countries, meeting unfamiliar people at placement sites. All this made me uncomfortable, which got my insides working. Moreover the Ryan Report and the Murphy Report made me feel vulnerable as a Religious in Ireland, making me aware of the situation and the pain involved. I listened to the hurt felt by victims, their families, and the Irish people at large. I also became aware of the pain felt by Irish Religious & Priests.
The entire experience of leaving my homeland was an education in itself. The cross-cultural experience of living and sharing with so many different people was an enriching time. I found the people of Ireland friendly, hospitable, courteous, and humorous. There was a marked difference between the rural and urban areas – there seemed to be more of a charm in the countryside. The recession, the abuse, the floods, and the long snowy winters have made life difficult; but maybe these situations have been instrumental in making people kinder and in bringing them closer to one another.
Even though I come from a ‘third world’ country, in Ireland I experienced varied forms of poverty, a hunger that is insatiable, the increase of drug abuse, loss of jobs, pay cuts, people struggling with their mortgages, people who have to go on to the dole – all part of an eye-opener for me. It made me realise the false face of the Celtic Tiger.
I am grateful to all who made this experience possible for me: the Province Leadership Team, the brothers in Oatlands who helped me find a home in Ireland, the few Irish brothers who were in India years ago and who were such a support to me, the friends I made in Ireland, and all those with whom I journeyed there.
The course itself was an inward and an outward journey, which made me deeply aware of myself, my life’s journey, and my connectedness with all that is around me. I came as a not-so-neatly-packed cocoon, and the experience disturbed me and helped me break free. I have not arrived, and some chains still bind me, but I have crossed a few bridges and I continue now on this path of awareness. In conclusion I thank my Creator for bringing me to this stage and for the graces given to me.
After nine months of Loreto house all seemed like an end or conclusion of a process, but in fact as I look back it feels like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another – and the journey continues. The entire experience has left me with mixed feelings and emotions… happy at the experience, grateful at what has happened, and with a deep sense of pain at leaving Ireland and the people with whom I connected.
My Loreto course was framed by the passing away of both my mum and my dad – mum about two months before my coming to Ireland and dad about two months after my return. I find myself intrigued – with such a wonderful year and such a tremendous experience sandwiched between these two losses, what is it that God is saying to me at this stage of my life? Can I still vouch for those wise sayings of the Bhagwad Gita?
Adapted October 2010 from Christian Brothers India Newsletter August 2010