This reflection post is by Seán Mullan, a professor at Irish Bible Institute, and makes me wonder — and ask you today — about the connection of place to our formation. How does your location shape you?
Dublin Made Me
Dublin made me….
the Dublin of old statutes, this arrogant city
stirs proudly and secretly in my blood.
Life forms and shapes us. As CS Lewis put it, “the world is a great sculptor’s shop.” You could say the same of Dublin, or any city. A day on its streets is a day of inner change – seen or unseen.
What shapes and forms a person in the city is the interactions with people, events, work, surroundings, media, beauty and all the other stuff of life. A single day can leave you exhausted or exhilarated. A week can leave you despondent or delighted. A year of days has deeper, long term effects. We are all “becoming” but living in the city makes the forming and shaping process more intense, accelerated, pressurised – more work, less rest, more stuff, more events.
A common Christian reaction to this formation is to counteract it with periods of withdrawal –
Sunday worship, small group gatherings, quiet times, retreats or conferences all give space, perspective, renewal and refreshment. But the intense and unrelenting pressures
Of the city are hard to overcome. The conference notes soon gather dust on a shelf because life again becomes too busy and pressurised. And withdrawal becomes another guilt inducing dimension of a pressurised life – a “some day” yearning unfulfilled.
The alternative is to allow life in the city to become the primary means by which we
become the person God intends us to be. Instead of work and all the other events of life becoming
the enemy, they become the context in which we learn how to follow Jesus and the means by which we become like him.
Irish Christians of another era saw life this way:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort, (i.e., at home) Christ in the chariot seat (travelling by land)
Christ in the stern (travelling by water)
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.
Translate this view into present day Dublin and you have a Christ infected city – a place where the citizen can have their life shaped more by Jesus than by the city in which they work and play – a place in which they learn to be and become, led by the Christ who knows how to live in the city.