This pandemic has given me time to reflect on my mother’s 12 years of childhood Lockdown/incarceration in Cork. Can you imagine being incarcerated at 2? Why? The issue of child slavery within Ireland has been kicked under the carpet. Churches don’t mention it. But it’s a faith and justice issue. So, I was encouraged to discover the work and person of Gerard Mannix Flynn.
In his new film Mannix examines the legacy of Institutional abuse by the Irish Church and State over the last century. The story follows him, together with generations of his family, who for the first time, speak openly together about their childhood traumatic experience of being removed from the family home and being incarcerated in children’s homes and industrial institutions run by religious catholic orders. The children worked the land from dawn until dusk, ill-clothed, half-starved day in day out. The regime was merciless.
“Our story has always been stolen, sold and told by somebody else. We have been pitied rather than given justice. This film is told by those who witnessed, experienced and suffered the institutions first hand, my family. For over forty years I have tried to come to terms with what had happened to me, personally, in those institutions. I searched in the wilderness for answers, for reasons, for justice. Nothing came of it. The more I searched for answers the more there was none. My history simply wasn’t recorded. I want this film to redress that absence and silence and correct the historical record. This is an opportunity to ensure Ireland’s history and our history is included and written by those who experienced the unthinkable and who live to this day with the unfixable. For the generations to come questions will be asked about this chapter in Irish history. The grandchildren of those who were incarcerated will want to know, will have a right to know, what kind of history shaped their lives.”
Here’s a link to his website and the official trailer;
Walking through a redwood forest along the coast of northern California or Oregon is an unforgettable experience. A great grace finds me. The same reverential awe stirs within whenever I step into a great medieval Cathedral in England or northern France. Spiritual values and history lessons are obtainable from both environments.
Before I took the nature trail in Humboldt Redwoods Park, Facebook shared memories from that day-four years ago. I was leading a Vacation Bible School in “South Fork”, Colorado. Today I stand in the place called home from time immemorial for the Sinkyone people. Sink-yo-kok is the Indian word for the “South Fork” of the Eel River. Father God was letting me know that these people and this place matter to him.
I like how my mind slows down in a redwood grove. The majestic giants command respect and attention. I enjoy the silence and solitude all around. I breathe more deeply too. I can hear myself think. I sense my small stature when I’m surrounded by trees that are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth.
A great stillness and peace surround me. There’s a real power and grace in standing still for thousands of years. “Be still, and know that I am God” comes to mind. (Psalm 46:10). Tables and chairs are sculpted from fallen trees. This gets me thinking about learning how to sit still, at a desk and in a chair, at primary school. It was a learned skill for me. In a transient world where everything is more disposable, stillness allows us to be present for others. The forest is a good teacher of simple things.
My foot-steps become amplified, walking on the forest carpet through Gould Grove. Other sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amidst ferns and mossy rocks. I lift my eyes to the tops of the trees. They ‘re twice the height of the Statute of Liberty. It’s no wonder scientists took so long to discover the hanging gardens at the top of the redwoods. Climbing to the top is dangerous work.
On the river trail leading to my car I greet a giant fallen redwood from 912 A.D. Other date tags, on the innards of the tree provide a free history lesson :
1000 Vikings discover N America
1096 University of Oxford founded
1218 Genghis Khan conquers Persia
1620 Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1773 Boston Tea Party
Walking through a redwood forest is a wonderful way to increase spiritual awareness. Thank you for journeying with me. Here’s a Jewish man singing about Jesus and the spirit in the sky on rare footage from French TV !