How is Pádraig doing?

Life goes on. He is trying to keep a work-life balance. ‘Work’ being a good rehabilitation programme, ‘Life’ being a good time with family, neighbours and friends.

Pádraig went to a therapy centre in Lindlar/Germany specialising in Speech and Language therapy for some weeks a bit more than a year ago. His rehab programme has continued at home and, since January, in An Saol’s Day Rehabilitation Centre, in the company of other families, supported by a team of enthusiastic therapists, new and familiar ones. He has continued to travel and went to several places around Europe. His friends are visiting and he goes out to meet them. He has been at parties, walks, and some truly amazing fundraisers.

Life has been full of surprises. Some good, some pretty challenging. Most of incredible intensity. I try to learn from all of them.

One day, many years ago, Pádraig asked me to promise him not to never ever tell any of my jokes again, at least not in front of other people, especially not his friends.

I am on my own here, nobody is listening. And, strictly speaking, it’s not even my joke.

It’s an old Jewish joke about Man making plans and God laughing. Like any good jokes, it’s short.

It connects well with a psychological condition described for the first time in the 1970s by Ellen Langer, a researcher at the University of California. Where else and no better time than the 70s.

We all make plans. And not just that. We believe that they will work out as long as we just try hard enough. When our plans by chance then work out it reinforces the illusion that we are in control. It’s what we believe makes up a “happy, fulfilled life”.

Sister Stan and Fr Peter McVerry said last week in separate interviews on Radio One that the current situation demonstrated how fragile our world is. That we now have a chance to re-adjust our views on ‘return on investment’, on growth. On the destruction of our environment, our social fabric and our relationships. That it is wonderful to see how people rally and care for each other. That we are learning how to handle situations today which yesterday we thought we couldn’t even face.

“Social Distancing” is going to be the 2020 Phrase of the Year.

“We are all in this together” is going to be the Lesson of 2020.

When this is over, we’ll all be living in a different world.