Dipping into life's mysteries: reflections for a fragile faith
AS the vaccine programme continues and coronavirus restrictions ease, many of us are looking with hope towards a return to something closer to 'normal' than we have experienced since March 2020 - notwithstanding the current alarming number of new daily Covid cases.
It is clear that lockdown, social distancing and the other measures taken for public health reasons have come with other costs - among them, loss, fear, isolation and fragmentation of community.
Little wonder, then, that after the last 16 months many of us are pausing to take stock of what really matters in our life; Covid has focused, if not changed, our priorities.
In this context, Alan Hilliard's latest book, Dipping Into Life, is well timed to help us see beyond the turmoil to the goodness and simple beauty that can be found in everyday interactions.
Hilliard has previously written books of reflections on the liturgical seasons - Dipping Into Advent and Dipping Into Lent - but Dipping Into Life has a different focus. He opens up a space for us to engage with our emotional and spiritual response to what all of life throws at us.
That means laughter, grief, forgiveness, gratitude, freedom, play and - even - pints can be found in the pages of Dipping Into Life.
The texture of life is considered in the light of the wisdom of religion, of literature, poetry, music, sociology and common sense.
This book facilitates the reader as they 'dip' into life's mysteries in a gentle and thought-provoking way.
Hilliard, who is the coordinator of the Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy service at TU Dublin and a board member of the Irish Bishops' Council for Emigrants and Prisoners Overseas, has put together a practical and useful volume.
Thoughts ranging from cups of coffee, ancient navigators, cycling and the challenges of technology help us to find the deeply religious in the everyday and enable us to "cultivate reverence and recognition for what is already present".
Dipping into Life is an accessible, uplifting and inspiring book, with the written reflections accompanied by the author's own photographs.
It's 'dip in and out' style will suit the busy person seeking extra support and guidance along the bumps of life's road.
Dipping into Life: 40 Reflections for a Fragile Faith by Alan Hilliard with a foreword by Tony Bates is published by Messenger Publications, €12.95/£11.95.