An Ideal Fluency

April 8, 2022

 

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.

Beannacht,
Judith 

Wells Of Water & Wisdom

March 29, 2022

 

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. 

Beannacht,
Judith

A Landscape Of Resolve

March 14, 2022

 

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.


Beannacht,

Judith

When Honour Stands Strong

March 13, 2022

 

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.

Beannacht,
Judith

Irish Rhythms

March 12, 2022

 

 

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.

Beannacht,
Judith

Honoring The Ancestors

March 6, 2022

 

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.

Ancestor Prayer

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.

Ancestors, we honour you.

Beannacht,
Judith

Ancestors Standing With Us

March 4, 2022

 


anthropocentric:

considering human beings
as the most significant 
entity of the universe

 

Note: I started this blog post two weeks ago. And then the horrific invasion of Ukraine happened and it just didn’t feel right to continue. It was important to step back and acknowledge what was unfolding. The horror, yes. But also the resilience and spirit of the Ukrainian people and the solidarity of others around the globe, for within this spirit and solidarity there is hope and inspiration. I stepped away to focus my prayers with all of that. Now, the ancestors are calling me to back to the writing.

I connect with ancestors every day. The portal guardians. The ancestor who has shown me rituals and ceremonies of ancient Ireland. Periodically I connect with my dad and others in our Irish lineage. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you know I also write about ancestral connections. More a communion, really.

And there is often the question of which ancestors I’m referring to. Some are biological. Some are soul ancestors of my past lives. Some are ancestors that have lived at least one life on Earth and those I connect with are generally mystics and wisdom keepers from more ancient times who are deeply concerned about the trajectory of our human condition. 

Yet not all ancestors are human. Indeed, in many ancient cultures trees, mountains, and stones were also considered ancestors. Mother Earth herself is our most ancient ancestor. And indeed, we are all woven together in the web of life and share, are blessed with, a sacred animating life force energy. Everything in that web holds a vibratory signature. Everything in that web holds ancient wisdom…if we are willing to listen for it and join our vibration with theirs in sacred communion. If we are willing to abandon our anthropocentric cultural conditioning. If we are willing to accept that we are not the center of the universe.

As we hold a sacred intention that all life on this precious planet will thrive, that there will be peace and harmony, we need all the wisdom and power available. We need the wisdom and power of all the ancestors. They share this intention. They are standing with us.

Beannacht,
Judith

How Prayer Works

February 26, 2022

 

I want the perfect partner, that new house, a car that works. We may be on our knees, figuratively or literally, with hands clasped. But this is not prayer. This is wishful thinking.

When we encounter the sacred there is the invitation to shift our vibrational signature, there is the invitation to sacred communion. And sacred communion is the landscape of prayer. In this landscape we offer our vibration and life force energy to Divine Will which is all and always about love, peace, and harmony. We offer our energy to support that unfolding. 

In prayer we do not specify the outcome. That is not ours to determine. In prayer we join with the cosmic and divine energies for there is great power in this. So much greater than us. In this time, I join with others around the world praying for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. 

Rooted in the sacred, I pray that Divine Will shall be manifest. That there shall be peace.

This. This is how prayer works.

Beannacht,
Judith

The Counsel Of A Cauldron

February 15, 2022


I called my bank to have them put a notification on my debit card that I would be in Ireland. When she asked about international travel I mentioned that I felt safer in Ireland than here, citing that 90% of adults are fully vaccinated and that the Irish followed the protocols of wearing masks, social distancing, and even a series of lockdowns which limited travel to 2km from home. There was a pause. And she said, “Well, clearly the Irish aren’t a free people.” I was glad we were on the phone so she didn’t see my reaction.

The Irish have been a subjugated people through history, mostly by the English, but if we think beyond political freedom they have always been a free people. They have continually claimed the right and freedom to create their own narrative for living in right relationship with the sacred, the Earth, and in community. The pandemic is just another example.

The narrative of these right relationships is cultural. It’s embedded in their collective consciousness, their myths and legends and their heritage. Many examples come to mind but I will highlight two – the Brehon Laws and the mythic Cauldron of Plenty.

The Brehon Laws, Ireland’s ancient civil code, are rooted in the knowing that everyone has value. Everyone has an honor price. This extends beyond people to the natural world but for people it means that every person in the community is to be treated with respect and compassion. There were no police to enforce these laws, it wasn’t necessary. The people honored and acted on this code because it was their civil law and civic responsibility. The Irish complied with the pandemic restrictions out of concern for their families, neighbors, and community. 

The Cauldron of Plenty was one of four sacred gifts brought by the Tuatha Dé when they arrived with their spiritual wisdom tradition. The cauldron could supply an inexhaustible supply of food and those who ate from it never left unsatisfied. The people would be fed. I wrote a post early on during the pandemic about Ireland’s postal workers  successfully petitioning their union to allow them to purchase and deliver food to people on their routes. The people would be fed. 

That the people will always be honored and cared for is rooted in Irish culture, rooted in their ancient civil codes and cauldron myths and implicit in who they are and have been as a people. While it may not be explicitly talked about, it’s a knowing that guides their perspectives and actions. It’s a knowing that offers the freedom to create their personal and social narratives within a shared heritage and aligned with their shared values. 

What might the world be like if we all heeded the counsel of a cauldron?

Beannacht,
Judith

Woolgathering

February 10, 2022

 

Indulgence in aimless thought
or dreamy imagining;
absentmindedness.
Foolish or purposeless
mind wandering.


My woolgathering was not popular with my parents. They saw no legitimate purpose to it. Apparently I did much of it as a child and was always brought back sharply to reality, or what they named reality. You’re off woolgathering again, focus! Of course I was focused. Just not perhaps on the task at hand.

Woolgathering once literally referred to the act of gathering loose tufts of wool that had gotten caught on bushes and fences as sheep passed by. It was not the most profitable of enterprises as people wandered seemingly aimlessly, gaining little for their efforts. Wandering aimlessly is what stuck, much like those tenacious tufts on a fence. 

Woolgathering. Regards legitimacy, my parents were wrong. It seems our brains are hardwired for it. In fact the default mode of our brain is actually the wandering mind. This default mode is different from our central executive mode which is engaged when we are focused on a task. But after we’ve been thus focused for a while our brain gets tired and starts to daydream. To paraphrase Daniel J. Levitin from his interview in the current issue of Sun Magazine, the central executive is good for problem solving when the problem has a rational and linear solution, the default mode is better when the solution requires us to think outside the box and find connections and solutions that are neither linear or obvious. 

Much of how we encounter the world is not linear or obvious. We are multidimensional beings. We are constantly scanning our world to gather information from and through many sources and this information is often random, spontaneous, organic, and often hidden from immediate view. Our default mode is the essence of the creative process and we are creative beings. In our evolution, this default mode was also essential to our survival. Our minds function best when they are allowed to wander off to gather those wooly bits of wisdom. 

The dilemma for us today is that we are so consumed with a focus on doing that we neglect our intrinsic need for being. What would happen if we were to slow down to the speed of wisdom and allow our minds to wander off? What wooly bits of wisdom might we find? I know I will be thinking of this when I wander the sheep abundant landscapes of Ireland, landscapes filled with wooly bits clinging to fences, heather and hawthorn, landscapes just perfect for a bit of mystical woolgathering. 

Beannacht,
Judith