The most beautiful voice is not always the loudest or the voice that dominates. But when it sings, as it sings, all other voices are drowned out. When the most beautiful voice is heard those listening stop in their tracks. They pause the noise of anger, torment, conflict and frustration. They stop to listen to beauty, care, love and kindness. They realise that they can be better and are urged to be better by the most beautiful voce.
Those who have heard, who have listened and are moved will change course to find warmer, kinder, more inclusive paths just because they heard the most beautiful voice.
It is a voice so pure that it wills the listener to be a better person to live up to the very fact that such beauty could be shared unselfishly with them.
But when the voice falls silent everyone falls silent. Suddenly they realise no other sound can ever be as beautiful again. They realise immediately that the most beautiful voice has been extinguished and the pain of that loss is unspeakable and hearts truly begin the break.
Last Thursday when I read that Eamon O Faogáin’s voice had fallen silent I could hear no other sound than an echo of his most beautiful voice singing in lament at the loss of our lost lives of conflict. In my head I could hear his gentle voice speaking with tinkling humble laughter. His knowing glances telling those who cared to notice that his quiet standing took in much more than he demonstrated.
All talk of Brexit, Border Polls and the necessary engagements that will be required could wait this week. There will be another day for those important conversations. But this day is the day to remember, acknowledge and give thanks.
This week we lost a giant of gentle care, of true authenticity and of formidable grace. These are the quieter qualities of humanity rarely promoted or rewarded but for which we are deeply deeply indebted.
Eamon was a gift to his family, his friends, our community and our nation. When he sang wounds were healed, hearts strengthened and torment eased. This was truly a gift beyond measure. That it was our community that benefitted most from that gift is something to create wonder and gratitude.
As we heard at his huge funeral mass it was indeed a voice that could have had place in Carnegie Hall. It was a voice of purity resonant of McCormack or Bocelli – only purer, more unique, more touching. A voice truly made in heaven.
In our community and cultural centres, in our churches, at our weddings, funerals and moments of note Eamon sang to the rafters and we were graced.
In the midst of the heartbreak at Eamon’s home a young man who had been taught by him stood. He said simply – “he was the greatest teacher I ever had”. I have no doubt he was. Because I know none of us needed to sit in a class room to learn from him. He taught lessons by his example of humility, joy, care and love every day.
May Eamon rest in peace and may our ears always remember that we truly had a miracle in our midst and were blessed to know the most beautiful voice.