I took this photo at the Burton’s Garden Centre in Kanturk, Co. Cork (Irl). The early heather flowers are always so eye catching at this time of year.

On This Day

On February 15th 1965 Canada officially adopted the Maple Leaf Flag following a royal proclamation.

On February 15th 2005 YouTube, on which videos may be shared and viewed by others, is launched in the United States

Birthday’s Today

Sharon Ni Bheolain (RTE Presenter) is 52

Ali Campbell (Singer with UB40) is 64

Megan Stallion (Rapper) is 28

Saint For Today:

Saint for Today is Saint Claude De La Colombiere

Significance Of Today

Today is World Hippo Day. Experts believe that the modern-day hippo evolved in Africa around 8 million years ago. While they bear a resemblance to horses and pigs, these semi-aquatic mammals are in fact most closely related to whales, dolphins and porpoises – no wonder they’re so good at holding their breath underwater! In Africa,  hippo numbers are sadly declining.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed them as a vulnerable species, after establishing that the hippo population had declined by as much as 20% within the previous two decades. Drought has led to habitat loss, and the hunting and poaching of hippos, both for their meat and ivory teeth, is also a major threat.World Hippo Day reminds us to celebrate and value these mud-loving mammals, in the hope that they’ll be around for many more years to come.

Interesting Quote for Today

“Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.” ~Gustave Flaubert

Did You Know

Did you know Australia is wider than the moon – 600km wider, to be exact.

Thought For The Week

“Disasters should cause all of us to reflect deeply on what matters most in life. They remind us that we are not in control in this world.” ~Donal O’Mathuna

The earthquakes last week in Turkey and Syria have been so upsetting, with over 40,000 now confirmed dead, with many more thousands injured and without a home. It is an awful situation to see such a devastating loss of life so suddenly and without warning.

During the week the earthquake has been described by some as an ‘act of God’. What an awful and easy way to put the blame on someone. An act of God is generally considered to be an event that is outside of human control and is unpredictable and unpreventable. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, floods and storms are examples of such events. Even insurance companies have opt out clauses because it is an act of God.

The impression given with such a label, is that God is the controller. God can hit a switch and decide to have an earthquake in Turkey this week and somewhere else next week. If this were true, what a horrible, senseless and dark God this would be. It is beyond comprehension.

If the God we believe in is the source of love, kindness and the source of all our blessings, then it follows that God is not a cruel monster who sends disasters onto people to test them or to show who is boss. So this label of ‘act of God’ is most unhelpful and unfair.

Even on the cross Jesus struggled to comprehend God’s absence when God’s presence was needed the most: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” There are no easy answers or explanations. But to be forsaken is one of the loneliest places to be in the whole world. There is nothing worse. For so many people caught up in the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, their only experience today is forsaken.

Today is not the time for deep theological discussions. But it is ok to say that God is not the cause of suffering or pain and that the God of love that we believe in, holds us all in love during the awful tragedy unfolding in Turkey and Syria.

It has been so touching watching the response to the tragedy, unfold at local level here in Cork. Already communities are actively organising collections of warm clothes and essential items. Yes we may be a long distance from Turkey and Syria, but our contributions will make a difference. These will gain even more momentum in the coming days. We will all do our best to support and give what we can.

The Thought For The Week is updated each Monday