Exile: a person who lives away from their native country.
World news delivers stories from across the planet relating to displaced people as a result of war or natural disasters. These events cause an exodus of those seeking sanctuary from the depredations visited upon them and beyond their control. The human psyche is probably embedded with images of disaster beamed from around the world and delivered through the media on a daily basis. As a race I think we do react and attempt where possible to alleviate the suffering of exiles because it is in our nature.
The theme of ‘exile’ was the focal point of a sermon delivered by the priest at the funeral of my aunt. Kathleen, a warm and sensitive person, was a native of Ireland wooed by a Scotsman, a third generation Scot of Irish descent. She lived and raised her family in Scotland and died recently at the age of 91. The priest delivered a fine eulogy with humour and sensitivity to one who along with her husband had played a major role in the life of their Catholic community.
The priest on his altar provided a command performance funeral adding his baritone voice to the hymns, while engendering drama to the rituals of a Requiem Mass. In his homily he made reference to Kathleen’s chosen exile from Ireland suggesting that in essence we are all exiles here on earth. “Our true home is in heaven”.
At this point I fear I was losing patience. I am not at best tolerant of the blind faith acceptance of the flock and this notion of some reward to come. Oh for fuck sake! So we, that is, you and me, have been hoodwinked into a cul-de-sac where we are to be tormented for no good reason and await deliverance to the heavenly promise.*
Father, I wanted to scream, I don’t know where you come from but this planet, this jewel, this creation we call earth is my home. Exile? Exile my arse!
For the sake of my dearly departed aunt and her mourning family I paid heed to the voice with the hint of an Irish brogue,
“Hold your whist, child”.
* To any of you who have spend time at the mercy of a civil servant, or equivalent, I need say no more.