That little face in the photo is my new great-nephew Nohek at three weeks old. Nohek means Morning Star in his father’s Mayan heritage and he shines one of the brightest lights I’ve ever seen.
We are all born with this light. It’s implicit in what my spiritual teachers have named our divine inheritance of love, joy, peace, light, and enthusiastic abundant life. Nohek is clearly enthusiastic to be here and his joy is infectious. When I had the pleasure to meet him a few weeks ago I sang a song to him and he became incredibly animated. Huge smiles and laughter and arms waving in the air. This went on for several minutes and trust me, it wasn’t because I have a good singing voice.
Thank you for the love that you are, Thank you for the light that you are, Thank you for the blessing you are, You are sacred to me.
As has been true in cultures around the world, it is our job, especially as elders, to see and acknowledge that light when the little ones arrive. And it is our job to nurture that light. In this, Nohek chose the perfect parents. Yet beyond the little ones, we must nurture that light in ourselves and each other.
A while back I created a new byline for this blog, when we encounter the sacred, for sacred encounter is much what I write about. Perhaps in this time of descending darkness when the world is filled with stories of anger and fear it’s more about re-encountering the sacred in ourselves. It’s more about remembering that we hold a light that, intrinsic in our divine inheritance, no one can take away from us.
Within those who are coming to this world and those of us who are already here, this light is more essential than ever. For these lights – yours, mine, and Nohek’s – are the lights of hope.
We’ve never met each other and I doubt we ever will. But we follow each other’s blogs. I appreciate his writing but am particularly attracted to his bright spirit and bow tie.
Over the year I’ve been following Christopher’s blog, I’ve come to understand that he aligns himself with the Christian tradition. His eloquent and prolific writing is steeped in this. His reflections are profoundly thoughtful and thought provoking.
I’m not aligned with the Christian tradition. Not even remotely.
I don’t always resonate with what Christopher writes and I’m sure he doesn’t always resonate with my writings. But there is a resonance that goes beyond words. There is a resonance that flows from the depths of spiritual passion and it is there we find each other. It is there that we speak the same language. Perhaps different dialects. But the same language.
The language of soul.
Bless you, Christopher. And thank you for being in this world…and in my life. You are an inspiration.
I just heard the drum echo through the woods. They will soon be entering the lodge.
My dear friend and sacred sister, Diane, offers most sweat lodges here at MossTerra these days. It’s her passion. She was born to it. When her lodgers gather, it’s often my pleasure and honor to welcome them and provide some history and insights about this magical landscape. Today it was an exceptional honor to meet with the three men gathered.
All three have done lodges here but it’s been a few years. Christopher and his cousin Abe have been here many times. Abe’s son, Asa, was here for a winter lodge when he was eight years old but at the time was much more interested in playing in the snow than the lodge. However today is Asa’s sixteenth birthday and when his dad asked him how he wanted to celebrate, suggesting perhaps a barbecue with his friends, Asa asked for a sweat lodge. His dad and uncle were both surprised and delighted. Rather than a casual party, this will be an extraordinary opportunity for them to share wisdom with Asa. Wisdom they wish their fathers and uncles had shared with them, wisdom they have gathered over the years.
Men of spirit, they hold deep wisdom and have claimed many of the sacred traditions of their indigenous tribal culture. They walk in the world with strength and beauty and clarity. A great light shines in their eyes. It was good to see them again and I wanted to let them know about the link to the ancestor portal in Ireland and the presence of so many ancestor spirits and energies. For those who can see, apparently MossTerra is thick with them. I suspected Christopher and Abe would feel that presence immediately. As we sat together this morning and I was sharing this, Christopher laughed. Well, that explains it, he said. Both he and Abe got little sleep last night as they were kept awake by visits from ancestral energies.
I won’t be here in the Round when they return for a potluck. I never am as I feel it’s important to allow the insights and integration to be held by those who were in the lodge. But I know I will eventually hear stories. I know that today will have been a mystical and powerful rite of passage for Asa.
It’s such a profound honor to offer this container for these extraordinary experiences.
I made my way past the Bigfoot t-shirts and tote bags to a cashier. I remembered there was a legend associated with the magnificent Multnomah waterfalls and had found nothing on any visitor center signage. Surely there would be something at the gift shop. I was directed to the only place the legend appeared. On a coffee mug.
Seriously? There are an estimated two million people who visit the falls each year and the only legend they will likely discover is an elusive and dubious Sasquatch?
With more than a 500 foot drop, these falls on the Columbia River Gorge are a magnificent wonder of the natural world. The very kind of wonder that fosters human relationship and inspires stories and legends that come from those relationships. This legend of a Multnomah princess is no exception. It’s a legend of cosmic relationship, a legend of love and sacrifice. It’s a legend for this time and all time.
There was a terrible sickness that threatened lives of the Multnomah people. An old medicine man revealed that the sickness had been foretold but that it would pass if a maiden descendant of a tribal chief would throw herself from a high cliff above the big river and onto the rocks below. The chief was not willing to sacrifice any of the princesses, so he elected to allow the sickness to run its course.
When the Chief’s daughter saw that the sickness had affected her lover, she went up to the top of the cliff and threw herself to the rocks below. Upon her death, the sickness immediately began to leave the affected people.
Now, when the breeze blows through the water, a silvery stream separates from the upper falls. The misty stream fashions a form of the maiden, a token of the Great Spirit’s acceptance of her sacrifice.
I didn’t see her misty form. But I felt the energies of natural wonder and cosmic connection. I’m sure other visitors were also touched by the natural wonder. But what inspiration might have touched them had they known of the legend?
We are fluent in high-minded idealism, making it real is another story. Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times
Ireland is poised to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Some suggest as many as 200,000. At the lower number this would be the equivalent of adding a city the size of Limerick, at the higher number, this would be the size of Cork City. As O’Toole writes, there is a genuine desire to rise gracefully and with generosity to this historic challenge. And he goes on to challenge his fellow Irish citizens to closely examine the implications of that, especially the long range implications, noting that we’ve set ourselves up as an example for others to follow.
When I read Fintan’s recent column it hit a bit of a nerve. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know that I write much about Irish ideals and idealism. Do they make it real? It seems they are now facing a significant test of that. While I’m only Irish by heritage and passion, I tend to be optimistic. From this side of the pond, it’s always been my experience and perspective that they do a better job than most.
It’s a small example. But I remember back to when we first purchased the cottage in rural Ireland. The place had been sitting cold and empty for several years and the neighbors were reportedly delighted that someone had finally purchased it with plans to restore it and not knock it, as they say. However their excitement was quickly tempered by learning who had purchased the cottage. It would certainly test their hospitable ideals.
OK. So there’s an American lady involved but she doesn’t plan to live there. And there’s a man involved who lives just down the road but he doesn’t plan to live there either. There was no small amount of speculation about our relationship and reports of my having a husband were met with skepticism until they actually met Dennis. There’s a young woman living there with the curious name of Cloud. She doesn’t seem to have any relationship with the man beyond being his jewelry apprentice…still, they did wonder about that. You can imagine what happened when they discovered she had a wife living in Belgium.
It was indeed a test of their hospitable ideals. Our dear neighbor Mick kept stopping by with many unspoken questions and unprompted assurances that the folks around here are very welcoming of all manner of people. It’s a matter of your character, not whether you are one, he would say. Sure, there’s plenty of characters around here, he would say.
As the talk was fresh and flying through the neighborhood, I decided to invite Mary and Theresa to tea. They could meet me, hear my story, and pose any questions they might feel inclined to ask. I did my research and had the proper tea, white sugar (never honey), milk (never cream), and the right cakes and pastries for the occasion. Apparently it went well. The next morning as I was headed to the airport to catch my flight back to the States, I encountered Theresa on the road at the foot of her lane. She was waiting for a lift to a medical appointment in Galway. I stopped and rolled down my window and told her how delighted I was to meet her. She came over to the car. Ah, the phone lines were burning up last night. We told everyone you are grand. Just grand.
It’s a matter of character.
That following winter the snow was deep, the roads were impassable, and the electricity was out. One of our neighbors walked over a mile to the cottage to check on Cloud and invite her back to their home until the conditions cleared. So, yes. I am confident that the Irish people will rise to the occasion. I am confident they will encounter the character of the Ukrainian people and respond with fluent idealism. They will make it real. It’s in their nature. It’s in their heritage. It’s in their character.
When James and Katrin bought the land next to our cottage in Ireland, they arrived with goats and chickens and a resonant philosophy of living lightly on the land. They built their small house with a composting toilet, rain water collection system, and solar panels. We were thrilled to welcome them. However, to now supply their massive vegetable gardens and hazel trees with adequate water, they recently wanted to suss out a place for a well and contacted a dowser. She found a strong source of water and said it was connected to another source, pointing in the direction of the cottage. She was very likely pointing to our well. There was immediate concern that this new well would draw off of ours but the dowser knew the man who drilled the cottage well and his opinion was there would be no issue as our well is very deep. However there seems to be no small amount of skepticism about this man’s memory or veracity.
This also raised the question of exactly where the cottage well is located. I know, you would think we would know. But a well is not indicated on any of the official land registry document maps, nor is it indicated in the title search and survey documents we received when we bought the cottage that simply stated there was no idea where our water came from. Perhaps off the roof, the inspection concluded. Which is beyond ridiculous. However the prior owner had said the well was in the parking strip across the road and we took her at her word. And fortunately we’ve had no reason to look for the well until now.
As our dear neighbor Mick said, “Welcome to rural Ireland.” And he laughed at the idea that we would find anything on any map or report. But having lived in the neighborhood for decades, he knows exactly where the well is. And he knows it’s been paved over when upgrades were done to the road. Lovely. At least we know where our well of water is from Mick’s well of wisdom.
There was a moment in all this when I thought we might have to seek divine intervention. But we have Mick and there is something divine in that. Some might refer to Mick and Mary as the pillars of this rural community, but I would offer they are much more the deep roots. Mary remembers being present for births that happened in the stone cottage that was, decades ago, replaced with the current cottage. She has wonderful stories of her visits to the old and new cottages, including knowing who slept in each room and how the furniture was arranged. She and Mick have watched life unfold in this community their whole lives. They are both deep wells of history and wisdom.
This is the wisdom of people in community who grow up and grow old together. This is the wisdom of compassion and caring that flows through generations. And this is a deep well of wisdom I drink from when I am in Ireland.
Today I paid $8 a gallon for diesel. One month ago almost to the day I paid $450 for 500 litres of heating oil for the cottage. Today I paid $940. And that price was a special offer. We are now limited to how much oil we can purchase and we are being told prices will continue to increase and limits will decrease. Yet as friends and neighbors are deeply concerned about how they will be able to heat their homes, they continue to collect and donate supplies for the Ukrainian people. They continue to explore how they can create more places to house refugees. They continue to open their hearts.
This is the landscape of their resolve. It is beyond inspirational.
I accept all people as my own
and open my heart to share with them.
Being in Ireland, being in Europe without an ocean between us, the energy of the horror that is unfolding in Ukraine is both immediate and palpable. So is the energy of the response to it. Across this nation people are gathering supplies for shipment to the Ukrainian people and Éire has thrown open her doors to the refugees. All are welcome. No need for visas, no need for paperwork. Once they arrive, and they are currently streaming in through the Dublin Airport, they are treated like Irish citizens. They are able to get shelter, medical aid, and economic support. No questions asked.
This welcoming flows directly from Ireland’s heritage where hospitality was the law and every person was considered to have honour and value. I’ve written much about the ancient civil codes, the Brehon Laws, that are the foundation for for this welcoming.
There is an almost fierce warrior spirit in this. Standing strong in an ancient tradition of how to treat each other, how to be in right relationship in community.
I know. I write much about the Irish people. I believe we have so much to learn from them. And…here we are again. I reflect on the refugee situation in the US and long for a time when we see those people as our brothers and sisters, a time when honouring and honour stands strong.
It was a gentle landing after twenty-four hours in transit. Our first night at the cottage with a fire in the stove, candles lit, and Rory, the amazing musician who is renting the cottage, playing music. The perfect entry into the rhythms here in Ireland.
Of course I brought a long list of things to do and a rather fierce determination to get through that list in the two weeks here. Scheduling time to connect with friends and colleagues. Sorting out the new water pump. Getting some artwork framed. Organising a plan for cottage landscaping. Meeting with my car hire contact at Shannon Airport to book the vehicles I need for the upcoming journeys. And more.
I’ve accomplished much on that list. I’ve also had the opportunity to be reminded that fierce determination is perhaps a rhythm best left behind when I come here. And a reminder that slowing down and taking life as it comes is exactly why I come here.
In the five months since I was last here I’ve been periodically reminding my tradesman, Tom, that I hoped to also do some painting while here, painting that requires him to prep the walls. Two days after I arrived he stopped by to say hello and let me know he was off to Spain for a holiday and that the painting would be, as they say here, put on the long finger. I had also asked our plumber Declan for a list of preventative maintenance projects. Crickets.
Yet these men are two of the best in the area. And, now that covid restrictions are lifted, they are absolutely overwhelmed with work. While they haven’t tended to the cosmetic and preventative projects (Tom’s comment – if it’s not broken why fix it?), they have been absolutely responsive to emergencies like the water pump failing. Declan came over on the Saturday before I flew over, ordered the necessary part on Sunday and had the new pump installed before I arrived on Tuesday. Tom has been here twice in recent months to fix a septic system crisis. They have my back when it comes to urgent issues. The other things on the list will get done. Sometime. Things just take longer here.
I am reminded of this as, on the drive to the cottage, I pass several houses that have been under construction for years. Things just take longer here. So breathe. It will happen.
And so I’m relaxing into the Irish rhythms and sensibilities and no longer running around with my hair on fire. I chuckle at myself that it took three days. I’m also relaxing into the rhythm of deep gratitude for this humble cottage, these men and neighbors who have my back, and this land that reminds me to breathe.
Tomorrow I return to the land of my ancestors, holding this knowing in my heart and soul as I walk Ireland’s mystic landscapes and seascapes.
When you were born, The earth became your body, The stone became your bone, The sea became your blood, The sun became your eye, The moon became your mind, The wind became your breath. When you passed to the Otherworld, Your breath became the wind, Your mind became the moon, Your eye became the sun, Your blood became the sea, Your bone became the stone, Your body became the earth. When we were born, you did the same for us: You called forth the earth and rocks; The sea arose and the sun descended; The moon shone down and the winds sang. For those who come after, we shall do as you did for us When we are gone, we shall do as you did before.