A Brush With Border Security

I tell people it’s so different in Ireland. Encounters with the police, if you can find them, are just generally more friendly and less confrontational. And this was just brought home to me. I still cannot imagine what the asylum seekers at our southern border are going through. But I now have a slightly better and visceral sense of it.

Seven months ago I applied for Global Entry. Like TSA PreCheck which is included, this allows me a faster and easier experience at airport security check points. Seemed like a good idea. Yes, there was the fairly intense and long Department of Homeland Security background check. But I didn’t think there would be any issues…until I went for the interview last week. 

When I arrived I was friendly, which is not abnormal for me. But they weren’t having it. They were civil. Nothing more. The interview was cool and efficient and predictable right up to the point where he scanned my fingerprints into the system. He raised his eyebrows. “Have you ever been arrested and fingerprinted before?” The blank look on my face prompted him to add, “even if it was a long time ago?”

Oh, crap. “Well, I was fingerprinted back in 1974, I think it was.” “Were you arrested?” “Yes.” “What for?” “Having two drivers licenses.” As I could tell this was not entirely plausible to him, I asked if he wanted the whole story. He did. 

Part one. At that time I was running a teen drop in center and my wallet was stolen. After I got a new drivers license, my wallet was miraculously found and returned. Without a second thought, and not knowing this was illegal, I put the old drivers license in my wallet along with my new one.

Part two. A few months later a dear friend from college was visiting with her German Shepherd. Tragically, he ran into the street and was killed. We wrapped him in a blanket, put him in the back of her station wagon, and found a wooded area to bury him. We were in the middle of this when we looked up to find ourselves surrounded by police with their guns drawn. Someone has seen and reported us carrying a body about the size of four-year-old Heidi Peterson who had been abducted and was the subject of a massive manhunt. You can imagine the adrenaline flowing through those officers. And although they discovered it was a dog, they really wanted to arrest someone. With two drivers licenses in my purse, that was me. I was booked and immediately released. Obviously my fingerprints are still on file. 

The TSA officer listened to all this and reluctantly accepted this was likely the truth. I thought the whole incident was, in retrospect, somewhat humorous. It was, after all, forty five years ago. He saw no humor in this at all and was clearly still suspicious when he told me I was approved for the Global Entry card. I walked away with the feeling that although not a proven criminal, I am defiantly a person of concern. 

Seriously? I’m a sixty-eight-year-old grey haired woman with inherent white privilege. What must it be like to be someone from a different culture seeking asylum? What must it be like to be labeled a dangerous terrorist before they even meet you? Well, we are seeing and reading stories of what it’s like. And it’s horrific. 

I grew up in a rather Norman Rockwell existence and my image of the police was much more like the Irish Gardai, there to protect and serve. But unfortunately my brush with border security tells me those days are well behind us in this country. The growing systemic attitude of shoot first and ask questions later, of racism and aggression, is palpable. Yes. There are absolutely good cops and officers in this system. I hope and pray they stay strong so that we may find our way back to a place of protecting and serving our people, not some fear driven ideology.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Because It’s One Thing I Can Do

When people have been in Ireland with me and are getting ready to fly back to the States, I always talk with them about reentry. Having been in a different energy, on so many levels, it can be jarring to step back into, as my husband names it, the default world. And now, with the energy of anger and fear that is palpable in this country, reentry has become even harder.

It’s such a dramatic shift from Ireland where people just generally hold an energy that welcomes an encounter and conversation. No fear. No judgment. And I have to admit that here in the States I’ve been carrying this place of caution and apprehension. Wondering whether those I encounter support our current administration. Wondering if there’s going to be an outburst of hatred. Wondering, and it’s hard to write this, whose side they are on. For we have become just that polarized. A polarization designed to feed fear and anger and hatred.

Spiritually, I know there is no ‘other.’ But sometimes it’s hard to remember that walking through the grocery store. So many people are so angry and unhappy. 

Within this trauma created by the horrific and unspeakable actions of this administration that are attacking pretty much everything so many of us value, we wonder what we can do. Yes, we will vote. But beyond that it seems so overwhelming. Where do we start?

I am choosing to invoke a bit of the Irish spirit. I’m choosing to go out of my way to engage. To make eye contact and smile and say ‘hello’. There is generally an immediate shift in energy. Perhaps because I’m just a fuzzy haired old woman and not very threatening. But it matters not. What matters is that in this I am declaring that I will NOT see you for you may have voted for. I will NOT be afraid of your politics. I will see you for your humanity. I will see you for that light within you.

Because it works. Because it’s one thing I can do. Everyday.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

This Mythic Battle

I realize I’ve written about them before. But they are no longer a misty specter hovering on the horizon. They are here. It’s clear that many of them have been hiding in plain sight, but now they are emboldened. And their destruction is breathtaking. It’s of legendary and mythic proportion, a story right out of Irish mythology.

Myth is much more important and true than history.
History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.
Joseph Campbell

The Fomorians. Let me introduce them in the words of author John Moriarty who’s book, Invoking Ireland, is a brilliant read.

Ireland was in a sorry state at the time. A terrible, spectral people called the Fomorians had come ashore and there was now no river or valley or mountain or plain that wasn’t the worse for their coming. They were spectral not because they didn’t originally have bodies. Spirit gone bad in them had sucked and aggrandized their bodies into its hectic hunger for supremacy over all things. … and in all of this their leader and exemplar was Balor, he of the evil eye.


Spoiler alert. For those not familiar with this legend, the Fomorians are vanquished. They are defeated by the Tuatha Dé, the Divine Tribe, who are known to this day as the People of Peace, People of Light, The Shining Ones, and The Good people. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are currently engaged in just such a mythic battle of good and evil. A battle of epic and increasingly global proportions. I am hopeful that this presence of evil will be vanquished. Perhaps the Tuatha Dé will emerge once again, as promised, to help us out. Perhaps not. But with or without their mythic assistance, we must step up. We must embolden the Light we hold within us for there is great power in it. Standing in that place of power, together we can shine a blinding Light and vanquish this evil darkness. We can win this mythic battle.

Indeed, we must.

An Tuatha Dé Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

You Would Like Her

”You would like her,” they said. Neighbors had encouraged me to stop in and visit her for some time. Apparently she had great stories to share. But I never quite got around to it. And this week she died.

Annie lived just down the road from the cottage here in Ireland. A modest trailer home she shared with her dog and cat. Two days ago we noticed the cars. And then the hearse. And we knew.

I wasn’t sure about going to the funeral for a woman I had never met. But here if you live on the same road, if you are a neighbor, you go. And so I did. There was no church service because although she was a very spiritual woman she had no love of organized religion. The service was around her grave. As we gathered, the skies let loose and we were soon drenched. Perhaps a blessing from Annie.

As people spoke and placed flowers, especially single yellow roses, over her casket I got a sense of the woman. When people visited her she made them feel like they were the only people in the world that mattered. She kept both stories and confidences. She loved music and dancing, often the first on the dance floor. She saw death as intrinsically woven with life and in the end she was ready to go. Excited even. Ready for the next adventure.

”I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good.” “I get by with a little help from my friends.” As those lyrics were played I had a deeper sense of this woman.

And yes. I would have liked her.

Of course I had no anticipation of crying. I had never met Annie. But as we drove home past her tiny house her dog was sitting on the front porch waiting for her. Looking so lost and forlorn. It broke my heart. And the tears flowed.

Annie, you will be missed.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Bit Of Furniture Fun

I was looking for a piece of furniture for the cottage kitchen. A neighbor told me about this place hidden away on a back road in Gort. There was absolutely no signage but I eventually found the place and stepped through the open steel double doors and into a massive warehouse with items that span from second hand to salvage. A bit overwhelming. But I found exactly what I was after. 

The problem was I was dealing with Francis. Nice man. But he made it clear his brother, James, was in charge and the only one who could give me a price. Of course James was not there. As we were standing at the large steel entry doors, Francis said, “It’s best that you ring him. Here. Let me give you the number.”




And with that he reached around and closed one of the doors.





Cracked me up. I did ring James. And the deal is done. Delivery of the piece is scheduled for when I get back from the upcoming tour/journey. Here’s a photo.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Sacred Honoring

Of course we don’t know the true meaning of them. So there is room for interpretation. But a few stories I’ve heard from the official guides at Newgrange and Knowth about the meaning of the intricate carvings on the ancient stones are pretty incredible. In the truest sense of the word.

One guide suggested that the carvings are the result of parents giving their bored children something to do. Another suggested they are just decorative doodles and went on to tell the gathered tourists, “Your guess is as good as any.” Seriously. During the latter pronouncement I was standing at the back of the crowd with Jack Roberts and Anthony Murphy. We shook our heads and just walked away.

No. We don’t know the true meaning of them. But many, including Jack and Anthony, have offered insights that bring us closer to understanding. Celestial alignments and patterns. Reflections of the universe and universal energies that were woven with such harmony in the Iives of these ancient people. Honoring sacred cosmology and their relationship with it.

I recently visited the ruins of a church in Glendalough where I saw this carving. Not uncommon as so many churches still carry intricate stone representations of the natural world. Reflections of the Earth energies that were woven in their lives. Honoring the sacred nature of the Earth and their relationship with it.

Celestial patterns. Natural world energies. Honoring the sacred. Reminding us today of our place in the great web of universal harmonies. And perhaps that remembering is enough.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com