To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.

Steve Prefontaine

Please join Pádraig and his friends next Sunday, 11 September, 11am to 3pm, for what promises to be a great coffee morning

85 St Mobhi Road, D9, Marie Butler McNally

I had heard about those new runners and when a good friend told me about a website where they had been significantly reduced, I went for it.

When I tried them out one morning, I ran faster than I ever did in my life. I had to change from the bumpy footpath to the road trying to avoid potholes. I nearly got dizzy at my own speed and when I had finished the 5k I could just about breathe.

If Steve had had runners like this in the 1970s, his records would still stand.

The designers and engineers at the shoe factory certainly found the magic formula. They gave their best.

The morning after my magic run, I was too afraid to put the shoes on again and picked my ‘old’ runners instead. Surprisingly, the magic still worked and I did an 8k training run in my (admittedly very modest) competition time.

Meaning: if you know in your head that you can do it, you can. Or: if your mind is set for making it happen, you’ll succeed. 

The gift is there. Discover and use it. Don’t sacrifice it. Give it your best. For yourself and for others.

I always forget something when I travel. The only question is when I will notice, how important the object I forgot is and whether it can be collected before leaving the house and the country, or whether it can be replace in whatever place I am going to.

Passport, money, ticket used to be the essentials. Now you definitely need your phone, a recharger, maybe an adaptor. And a dozen other things when travelling with Pádraig.

It’s not only about forgetting stuff at home, the security check at the airport is another blackspot. It’s easy to forget about an item if you put 20 on the belt. And if the stuff is inspected by people without much experience with hundreds of people surrounding them.

On Friday morning we took our first flight in a very long time. With Ryanair. To Lourdes.

It has been a journey full of memories.

It was the first place Pádraig travelled to after his accident. On a train over two days and a night, from the North of Germany.

Things are very different now. We went to see all the places from then and from the following years when we went to Lourdes, then in the company of so many helpful hands.

This weekend, we are with our parish in Lourdes, just for a few days. The Accueil is still closed and the large pilgrimage groups have not yet returned because of COVID.

It gave us the opportunity to get to know the town from a different perspective.

We visited Bernadette’s house, the mill she grew up in and the prison cell that served as their family home when the mill went bankrupt. We also saw the most elegant and one of the oldest hotels in town, build by Bernadette’s brother and designed by a famous architect from Paris, a far cry from the places of their youth.

Our own hotel is a typical hotel for large groups of pilgrims. I don’t think these hotels have changed much over the past decades. They have quirky little details people would no longer use – like the toilet paper holder that doubles as an ashtray.

We also went to must be one of the most beautiful places in Lourdes, a short bus ride away from the busy town: the Cité Saint-Pierre. High above, on a hill, overlooking their buildings is a small, stone-built chapel where we had one of the most uplifting and spiritual masses I had assisted in a long time.

Our day ended with the candlelight procession. The Ave Maria of Lourdes makes me cry, no chance of me joining in. I was going to say that I don’t know why, but I do know: it brings up too many memories and hopes and desperation, all at the same time, too many to handle in a candlelight procession with thousands of people.

Before we went for Lourdes, I helped Pádraig standing up, with some help, something I had not done in a long time (except when getting out of and into his chair), something I really enjoyed and promised myself to do regularly.

Pádraig is really giving his best. He certainly is not sacrificing any of his gifts. On the contrary, he uses his gifts to improve a little every day, to have some fun every day, to do something scary every day, and – to inspire so many others who with him find purpose in their lives.

Dozens of people found purpose and hope in An Saol, life and living with a brain injury. And it is him who inspired the establishment of the centre, came up with the name and the logo, represents its culture and purpose. Without him An Saol would not be. I don’t think there is anybody else in Ireland who could say that of themselves.

if you know in your head that you can do it, you can.

If your mind is set for making it happen, it’ll happen.

Because you will give nothing less but your best and never sacrifice that gift.

Please join Pádraig and his friends next Sunday, 11 September, 11am to 3pm, for what promises to be a great coffee morning!