The Heart of it All
Dylan breaks into my train of thought saying, “Well, Timothy, all that goings on, just to hear that, indeed, my men have landed. I best be going to get a table. But first, tell me about this here Celtic Spirit trip. Is it one of those Yank last hurrahs? Or is it off to pubs and poet hideaways? I hope not gardens and castles!”
“So far, the only takers I have met are Yanks about me own age, but, nay, not a ‘Last Hurrah,’ by intention, at least. The full title of the tour as written on the brochure is Celtic Spirit: A Journey to Sacred Sites of Ancient Ireland. A bit long-winded and too long for the window sign.”
“Abbeys and the graves of the saints, then? Or is it church relics you’ll be after visiting?”
“Actually, the lass who leads the tour is deep into spirituality and wants people to see the likes of Newgrange and ancient stone circles, as well as the early Church sites. So Glendalough and Clonmaicnoise are mixed in with Brede’s Well and dolmens. She had me investigate the site of the Turoe Stone, some ancient thing I never even heard of meself. And she has included Yeats and a good deal of just soaking in the beauty and spirit of our Emerald Isle. She says ’tis every bit sacred and all meant to be transformational.”
“Ach, to many of the thin places, then. Quite ambitious and intriguing, but . . .”
“Certainly of more interest than dropping a coach full of tourists off at Bunratty Castle or some fishing lodge. To tell the truth, I’m looking forward to it. The lass really seems to want to journey to the very heart of it all.”
The stories of the visitors weave together as they experience the transformational power of these thin places and interact with one another-
As Timothy muses:
I got a wee sense of all me passengers back at the airport hotel when we were starting out. There are stories inside them all, that ’tis certain. Indeed, it goes without saying that everyone has a story. And sure, there is no better place to be telling your story then here in Ireland, where people always have time for a yarn and the most pressing business is the present company we are with, and the best leisure activity a good craic.
And if your story is a sad one, we Irish will cry along with you. If it is a boring one, we will spice it up a wee bit as you tell it, weaving in tales of others in the same situation and the predicaments they got themselves in and out of. After a bit of time, even the dullest person begins to feel a part of something bigger and grander and livelier then ever before.
’Tis the real secret of Ireland and why people of all colors and backgrounds feel at home here. We may be an isolated country ’til of late, and most people in the West of Erin have never been beyond the neighboring village, but we Irish mean it when we say to visitors cead mile failte—one hundred thousand welcomes.
The story of Jackson, a teenager traveling with his dad and struggling over the recent death of his mother, is but one example: Last night, people left me alone, even Dad. Today’s a different story.
Dorrie got me after breakfast. It started with a gentle lob, “I see you are taken with Joyce.”
“Yeah, I am Stephen Dedalus.”
“And you, too, would like to fly away?”
“Does getting high do it?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Jackson, I am not that ancient, I am not that dumb.”
I said nothing. She went on, anyway. “You may think you are living a story you can control, but just remember that each choice you make can have life consequences. You can choose where it goes. I think it is time you asked yourself if this is the story you want to live.”
I still said nothing.
“I didn’t know your mom, Jackson. But I am so sorry that she died and that you and your dad had to experience the loss of someone you love so much.”
She was silent a long time. Then she continued, “I’m not a mother myself, but I know as truly as I know we are standing here, that your mom‘s most fervent prayer would be that you and your father be well, especially you, Jackson, the light and love of her life. Keep her memory and legacy alive by living the life you were meant to live. Do not let her death change what she most loved.”
Shit. That about did me in. I wanted to react in sarcasm, my standard shield against all this kind of talk, but I couldn’t. She had zeroed in, and I knew she was speaking the truth. The tears came, but I said nothing.
“Sometimes we can use a little help developing the story we truly want to live, Jackson. Call on me if you want to talk. You are going to be okay; just remember that you are loved, you are watched over, by your mother and the Divine, and you have much to give.”
With that, she gave me a hug and was off. It was a long hug, and it felt like she had pushed warm energy into my heart, a cold and hurting place.