In life we can all too often seek out the lowest common denominator at the expense of the highest common factor, to borrow a phrase or two from the world of junior maths.
At a time in Ireland when in many ways we are on the bottom, what are the things that really can give us hope, comfort and joy?
For me, this week alone I found myself being in the enviable position of being able to help someone who was in greater need than I. It was by chance that I found out about a single mother with three children living in a house with no heat. She sat at the table next to me in a chipper telling some of her current circumstances to her friend, as her children shared a single plate of chips.
Since I happen to know a particular woman fairly well in an organisation which helps out with this kind of thing, I approached her cautiously as we were both paying, saying that I couldn't help overhearing something of her conversation and asked if I could help in any way.
She looked firstly at me, and then to check that her children had gone out, and then tears came into her eyes as she said 'Yes'. She went outside to tell her kids to wait a moment and then she came back in and we sat down for a few minutes. She cried, and told me some of her circumstance, which almost made me feel like crying myself.
Abandoned by the father of her first child, she had tried to make a start for herself and her son. Many years later she had two further children to a guy who while they were babies also upped sticks. She now found herself living in a modern council home which she just couldn't afford to keep warm. I assured her that I would like to help, we exchanged phone numbers, and the following day my friend organised for her to get oil in her tank.
That evening I got a phone call from her which included the expression, "I feel so blessed and thankful, because I would never have had the courage to ask anyone for help", thanking me.
I can only say that I felt privileged to have been in the seemingly random position of being able to help her, and I hung up the phone thanking God for the blessing of being in that position in the first place.