19 Love Unfolds
19 LOVE UNFOLDS
Less than two months later Shaun knelt together with you on the altar of the small church in Gnojnik where your parents grew up.
Bright sunlight filtered through the stained glass windows as the guests took their places in the church. Shaun struggled to stop shivering as the chill of the cold marble steps penetrated his body. You looked absolutely stunning as you smiled across at him.
“Let me deserve her,” Shaun spoke with his soul.
“She is the best thing that has happened in my life.”
He adjusted his bowtie and straightened his shoulders.
“How did I pull it off and how am I going to keep it up? Please let me find within me everything that she expects and more. I never want to see cold empty eyes when I look into them.”
A bell rang and your uncle walked from the sacristy and took his place on the altar.
The prayers and readings were beyond Shaun’s basic Polish, but finally our hands were placed side by side and the rings were placed on our fingers as we made promises to one another.
Shaun struggled through the difficult words, nonetheless knowing he was promising to be there for her until the end.
Magda looked even more beautiful than he had ever seen her. Her long white dress had a magical glow in the autumn sunlight and her eyes were more alive than ever. She took his hand in hers and led him outside the church.
“I haven’t let her down,” Shaun thought. “Not yet at least.”
What the kingdom of the father resembles is a merchant who owned some merchandise, and then learned about the existence of a certain pearl. That merchant was shrewd, sold the merchandise, and bought the single pearl. You, too, seek the ceaseless and enduring treasure.
A while after that new loves came into my life and I realised that love brought you great joy, a joy tinged with sadness, because you know how terrible it would be to lose it.
“Daddy, I love you,” you said in those cute voices.
“It isn’t even possible,” you added leaving out the –“to love you more.”
We held your tiny bodies in our arms and your sloppy wet kisses were the proof yet again that a heart had depths we are so blessed to experience.
The unexpected opportunity to move to Munich in my early forties was one which I just couldn’t pass up. The increasing dissatisfaction with my work situation made the move necessary to avoid further bouts of depression. It wasn’t easy for you to agree, but you saw the desperation in my eyes and sacrificed yourself yet again.
“What sort of a principal do you work for?” The department official asked when I rang to accept the appointment.
“What do you mean?” I asked confused.
“I’ve been working here for a good few years, but until yesterday I have never experienced a principal asking bluntly how he could block an appointment.”
“I wish you the very best,” that same principal congratulated, shaking my hand heartily the following day.
“I’m sure you do,” I answered looking him straight in the eye, unable to detect the slightest hint of a conscience.
“Thank you, it has made my decision so much easier.”
A new start was good for us as a family even if the first year in Munich was very stressful. We were able to look at our lives again from a different perspective and see what had been missing. The new life broadened our horizons and brought us together again as a family.
It is refreshing to live in a country where historical events have forced people to take a long hard look at their national character and make changes.
Germany taught us about setting high personal standards. The general honesty and respect for the rights of others was a very positive experience. Munich was a paradise where the fear of crime and the setting of alarms became just a bad memory from another life.
Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and new situations come to challenge us. The forced return to Ireland, after ten happy years, put me severely to the test. I returned alone, with a heavy heart, to the school I had been so anxious to leave ten years previously.
When I came home to you at Christmas I felt totally defeated. I had tried my best, but it had been even worse than I had imagined.
At school, little or nothing has changed in the approach. However, the new diversity, thanks to the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa, had made the many deficiencies of the system even more apparent.
The surface neighbourliness left me cold and empty, but the challenge of fitting back in to the same old school did my head in.
Little had changed, including the shabby appearance of the whole school environment. Those of my own vintage had already taken early-retirement or moved on to be replaced by another generation with whom I had little in common.
The decision to buy a bicycle instead of a car only added to my isolation. The weather deteriorated from mid-September onwards. I arrived each morning cold and depressed and returned home each evening to face a cold, cheerless, empty house.
Still, in all this I managed to find meaning: I found it incredibly difficult to give up on my last class. I took them to my heart in a way I wouldn’t have felt possible. They gave me the courage to throw out the curriculum I had slaved to implement in the past.
As far as teaching Irish was concerned, I would sooner have abandoned it completely, but at least I determined to replace the boring texts with games and computers as well as a wealth of easily attainable oral targets.
When I compared my first class at twenty with my last class in my fifties there was one essential change in my approach: When Shaun walked in on that first day, he was sure that teaching was all about filling empty vessels and was surprised when the class struggled against him. Returning from Germany, I knew that there was something precious and vulnerable about each child and I was determined to respect that.
It was a great challenge to remove the many doubts which had already taken root in them and to persuade them of their strengths. So many complexes had developed that they found failure less challenging than effort. The email I received from them a few months after my return confirmed, in a very special way, that my work had not been in vain:
Dear Mr. Mosely,
The whole class is gutted that you’re not here. Each person wrote something on a piece of paper and gave them all to me and told me to e-mail them to you:
Hannah- Please come back, we miss you so much.
Joseph-We all miss you, we want you back.
Matthew- Don’t leave us.
Mick-How many months till you are back?
Hemkesh - Hey,hey,hey There goes my favourite teacher.
And here’s our very special rap for you!
Everybody’s on a hype.
Daniel is searching for you on Skype.
We’ve your jacket.
It’s hanging on the racket.
We also found your shoes.
We learned so much each day.
We hope you come back this WAY!
Nonetheless, I was in a dark place when I returned after four months. I had to admit that my past together with the school reality had conspired against me and broken me almost beyond repair.
This has been my attempt to face it all, admittedly a little late, but better late than never. So many years spent looking for an identity, so many years hiding from myself.
O’Bradaigh still lurks with his ultra-nationalist God. The Ireland he represents has spawned the worst we can be.
I had fitted in well before, but this time was different, something purer inside me refused to bend. In my own very humble way, I am finally at one with an honest Jewish preacher and a lone Chinese student with nothing left to lose.
The Gospel of Thomas could have shortened the journey if the Church hadn’t banned it and murdered anybody they found with a copy:
An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear.
Shaun had always lacked the courage and the confidence to be true to his heart until he cast Ireland from his thoughts
Today for the first time in my life I am completely free. Shaun Mosely the teacher is dead.
As for you, be on guard against the world. Prepare yourselves with great strength, so the robbers can’t find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come. Be as sly as snakes and as simple as doves.
The blue flashing lights from the police car lit up the hallway. The police officer stood with a book in his hand. The cover was wet and mud-stained. Magda recognised it immediately.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Mosely,” the policeman began, as she took the book from his hand.
She went to the page with the coloured sticker and read:
“Be sure the safest rule is that we should not dare to live in any scene in which we dare not die. But, once realise what the true object is in life — that it is not pleasure, not knowledge, but the development of character, the rising to a higher, nobler, purer standard, the building-up of the perfect Man — and then, so long as we feel that this is going on, and will go on for evermore, death has for us no terror; it is not a shadow, but a light; not an end, but a beginning!”
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