Tag Archives: experience

Hill of Tara Part 2 _ Ireland, 2015

“A’Ma,” the old name pierces through the humming of my bones, as if someone were insistently trying to call me back from some precipice of ancient time over which I might slip out of sight. I stand at the back of a group of at least twenty-five tourists, at the summit of the Hill of Tara. The tour guide is speaking about the Tomb of the Hostages, and how archaeologists believe Tara was probably more of a ceremonial site for the inauguration of kings than the actual dwelling place of any of the high kings themselves.

It’s probably rude, but I ignore her. Archaeological theories simply pale in comparison to my own bone-deep knowing of a very different Tara, a place on which an entire king’s fort stood, which could, when necessary, house over a hundred tens of people.

“A’Ma.” Softer now, the voice parts my thoughts, a mind of its own, diffusing some of the memories, and I take notice, finally stirred enough out of my distant reverie to respond. Moved by the old name of endearment, I look to my right, my eyes falling on the only person who ever spoke that name to me when I was alive, 1800 years ago.

“Ailbhe, sister,” I say excitedly, silently, our conversation as it so often does carrying on through thoughts, intention, images, and feelings. I send her the intention full of feeling, “I am so glad you are here to share this experience with me.” And I am very glad indeed. My immediate family simply would not understand why this place holds such meaning to me, and why I feel the way I do, being here.

“Right now you are more Mairin than Éilis,” she observes, glancing at me thoughtfully.

This makes me a bit uncomfortable. Can she see passed my thoughts which contain my words? Does she see that I have been lost in an ancient reflection? How much of that reflection am I prepared to share? For I was taken, suddenly, back into the days when my name was Mairin, when I was a bandraoi who knew the healing powers of herbs, who protected my people against the unseen and could see the light in all living ones. My memories were not so much of events as feelings, and I felt the way Mairin often felt at Tara, uncertain about her legitimacy and own merits to be present at such a kingly place, haunted by the guilt, almost successfully buried, of abandoning her birth family, and terrified of forever being lost behind the shadow of her sister. The awe and wonder at standing in the boundaries of such a sacred place was there; so was the misgivings of a girl, born a middle child, who disappointed her parents for the second time by leaving her family and a life of a land-owner’s daughter to train as a druid.

Our family was a noble one in status, but not in character. I still don’t remember why it was so dysfunctional, but I do know our brothers were highly favored, and we girls were to have children and continue our mother’s line: our response to which, jointly, was to remove ourselves as fast as possible. Ailbhe had been the first to walk away, taking what she could carry and steeling into the night, only nine years of age, to journey here to Tara and try her hand at becoming a banfhénnid, a warrior of the fianna. But at the time I was only just turned seven, and never fully understood the why of my sister’s leaving. It was a terrible loss for me to spend my days without her, and despite myself, I would wonder whether she might have stayed a bit longer, had I been a better sister.

By the time we found each other again, I was a full bandraoi and Ailbhe was the rigbanfhénnid of fian 4, she had a nine of her own. I feared all those years of separation could have been enough to distance us, but the love and loyalty we had toward one another as children did not fade with time. And so I chose to serve her community rather than that of our birth family, who had nothing for us, and those years together at Almu were the happiest in my life. … And yet, I always wondered whether my sister influenced my acceptance, and whether I would have qualified on my own. And so, at Tara, I would spend much time fighting a gnawing insecurity I felt surely druids ought not possess.

I can tell that Ailbhe has seen these thoughts and feelings. For an instant, part of me worries she will judge me for it, but I know her well enough to know better. Instead, she looks me in the eye and says, “I was always so proud to be your sister.”

I shoot her a thought that I am going to get emotional and can’t randomly start crying in the middle of a large tour group. Ailbhe breaks out with a knowing sisterly grin: “But that wouldn’t be so bad for you, come to think of it.” Her smile is full of as much mischief as compassion.

Then I have an idea, only in part formed to change the subject. “Do you want me to aspect you?” I ask. She nods in answer. Aspecting, which is also called trance channeling or just channeling, is when you share space with a person from the spirit world. I move my ego/personality consciousness partly out of the way and Ailbhe fills in the rest of the space, so we’re both sharing the same body. I’m about 1/3 present, and she has the rest of the space. I stop trying to hide any thoughts, When you’re sharing a body with someone, neither you nor the person sharing your space can hide anything. This used to be somewhat alarming to me, but now I greatly value sharing such a profound level of honesty.

As Ailbhe goes about sending me feelings of acceptance to quell the growing emotions gripping me from the memories, she also draws our attention to the tour guide. We listen, I, fascinated, Ailbhe both quizzical and reflective, while the guide starts relaying one of the myriad legends of the fianna associated with Tara.

I convey my excitement to Ailbhe about this. “There are many who still remember you, see, there really are.” My comment is in part made in reference to continuing our conversation from the day before, over the surprising frequency with which “pagan Ireland” seems to be represented in tourist audiovisuals almost exclusively with the mention of Cúchulainn, and no one else.

“It’s one of those stories that is not accurate with events,” Ailbhe remarks in reply, “But she does a good job in the telling of it.”

Then a somber stillness steels over her, and I am flooded with an uncanny mixture of gratitude at what is remembered and grief for an era long passed, the recognition of so many inevitable changes since create an inexplicable kind of longing. “What is it Ailbhe,” I ask, concerned.

“Isn’t it strange,” Ailbhe says then, “That today among the tourists gathered at the seat of the ancient high king stand many of our fianna themselves, and of us I myself am looking out through your eyes, embodied in a way wholly unexpected; and then to hear of my own people, being discussed in passed tense. But we are still here. No one considers that we might be very much present now.”

I briefly imagine the possible look that would cross the tour guide’s face if she somehow gazed out toward the crowd and noticed that many of the ones she was speaking about were also gathered here, listening to her. I realize that in such a case she’d most likely be frightened, both by what she was seeing and by the confusion that would set in, having no culturally accepted language in which to articulate the experience so others would understand without judgment. I can tell that Ailbhe certainly knows all of this, and yet there is a part of her still wishing to be seen, not just for who she was, but for who she is. I keep her close to me. “I see you,” I tell her.

For a while we simply stand together silently. The guide has finished her story and goes on with a speech about something, but I am too out of the way to track it consistently. I am aware most of all of how the two of us are standing with the self-assured dignity and grace which Ailbhe has in abundance, and I am still learning to possess.

Then Ailbhe says quietly, “It’s hard for you not to be able to see it, isn’t it, Éilis? It’s not easy for me either, to be looking out of your eyes and not to be able to see all of Ireland expanding out from us.”

I agree, taken somewhat aback by the comment. Usually I think little about what I might be missing with my lack of eyesight, but in this place full of memories, and many visual memories now lost as I have no reference for them, I am feeling bereft. Suddenly I go from being grateful for Ailbhe’s words of comfort to feeling hugely inadequate. Here I am, trying to give Ailbhe the experience of once again being an embodied person at Tara, but I will never be able to give her the whole of the sense of the place she once had.

Ailbhe notices the shift in me immediately. “It’s all right,” she whispers, trying to console my troubled mind, “This experience is more than I ever imagined I would have again. It is more than enough, Éilis. Thank you, I am more than grateful to you.” She pauses, and puts a light around us. The light is made of unconditional acceptance, and slowly I become at peace again. Finally she says, “I should let you have a few more moments up here fully back in yourself before you and the group need to move on.”

She steps out of my space then, and with a radiant white light shining around me, I completely return to myself. I can still see Ailbhe next to me. People are now walking up to touch the Lia fáil, the stone of destiny. Our time to just stand quietly will be over shortly.

Suddenly, Ailbhe reaches out, and takes my hand. With the connection she conveys a picture. Two souls, having been sisters long ago in an ancient age, reunite once again on the hill of Tara to stand at the summit and look out at a country that was once their home but is no longer home to either of them now. No matter that the sisters now live in different worlds. No matter that one has been wandering through lifetimes in search of her origins while the other has spent her existence in the world beyond, representing an age. None of that has ever been enough to keep us apart. Once again, we stand in a place that has always held a deep significance to us, except that now the land beneath and around us has been transformed by the passage of almost two millennia, in a way barely recognizable. Hand in hand we both reclaim and lay to rest an era, safely holding what once was in memory, while restoring to who we are now what of our histories the land once claimed as its own. For one more moment we look into each other’s eyes, brown peering into blue. Then Ailbhe gently lets go of my hand and disappears.

When I finally get to touch the lia fáil, it oddly seems to pail in comparison to that more private experience Ailbhe and I shared. Somewhat to my immense relief, the stone doesn’t make any piercing cries. Thank goodness, I think to myself, half jokingly, that means less responsibility for me. But even while I walk away and start down the descent of the hill, I am struck by the gnawing feeling that I am already on my way to fulfilling a destiny of my own.

Don’t Try This At Home, Kids

How often must you fail before it stops hurting? That was the question in my mind this morning. It’s not that I am exactly failing. I’m just not succeeding, at all.

I’ve heard a lot of interesting and many helpful bits of advice about becoming conscious, and the flow of this year in particular. What has stayed with me is an idea that seems to describe life, whatever your belief system.

We’ start out in life floating down a river in boats of different shapes and sizes. At some point however we lose the boat, or it breaks apart on rocks, or it gets hijacked or stolen or reappropriated. After this, we make the rest of our way submerged in the river itself, which means everything is harsher, brighter, colder, more immediate, more beautiful, more wild, more painful, more harrowing, more directly interactive. (To be fair, if this were not a metaphor, we’d probably also die from hypothermia at this point, but I digress.)

For all its simplicity, I feel this metaphor is quite apt. For instance, I know many people including myself who are going along in living, and then something happens to terrify us out of our skin and we’re flailing in the water. If you think holding onto the shore gives you safety, think twice. Without a boat, it’s your hands grasping at the rocks along the bank for dear life. Meanwhile the churning water surges past you, dragging you away, leaving your hands wounded and bloody stains on the rock where they were a moment before. Trust me, this only needs to happen once before you realize it’s a terrible strategy.

So we try letting go and floating. And this is by far the more sensible thing to do … until we hear that we’re approaching a waterfall, and begin questioning our sanity. (I’m going to do what?) It’s not as though we aren’t used to white water rapids and waterfalls. It’s just that with them, there are only two outcomes: somewhat miraculous gliding through unscathed, or disaster.

Finishing a dissertation is like hearing that roar of waterfall up ahead. I am questioning my sanity—well to be honest I’ve been questioning that for a while. I have also heard lately the saying that if we just let the water carry us over the edge and not struggle with it, in other words pay attention to the way things in life are going and adjust ourselves accordingly, this will prevent tumbling headlong into raging currents from getting disastrous. I, for one, am not convinced.

I am paying attention to what’s going on with the people in my life who have some control over when I graduate. If I took their actions as a sign and went with the flow, so to speak, I’d slow down. In the past week, three people, an auspicious number, have told me in different ways that my plan for defending this summer is unrealistic. If I believe them, I will give up before even starting. If I don’t believe them, I’ll just be bulldozing ahead in a way that frankly feels a bit obtuse. Sure, I’m good at being recalcitrant, but that hasn’t ever won me a popularity contest in social graces. So I usually refrain.

So this morning I woke up thinking about entrepreneurs who say they are successful because they failed first, more times than they can count. It baffles me. How on earth do they do this without feeling terrible about themselves, being ashamed, giving up and attempting an easier venture instead, shedding tears, grieving, or making fools of themselves? (Actually, crying is probably acceptable. Literally or figuratively falling flat on your face? Probably not.)

I think about social movements, people who lose their lives to take a cause forward and never live to see its conclusion. Have they failed retrospectively if the movement disintegrates? Or the people who have always wanted children and try, but can’t: have they failed? I mean, they did try and did not succeed, and that’s one definition of failure. Does a person fail when their body has genuine physical limits they can’t transcend? Is it just their body that has failed them?

When is failure not personal? When is it both a genuine falling short and yet not a loss? When does it defeat a person? When is it transformative? How many attempts at trying are needed before it’s all right to walk away? How many failures does a person have to endure before it’s okay to stop beating herself up about it? Would failure be impossible in a world where judgment does not exist, and if so, are there good reasons for us in this judgmental world to abandon the concept in favor of another one? Is it ever possible to fail, spectacularly, and still be worth something, and still be whole, and still be enough?

These are my questions, and I struggle with the answers. Right now, I have little wisdom to impart. I am only beginning to experience what will hopefully, if I don’t fail, turn out to be the sequence of things which will give me the answers to those questions. And in doing so, I am reminded of the very sensible saying which I have never heeded, “Don’t try this at home, kids.”

What I do know is that sometimes failure isn’t a result of not working hard at something. There have been times when I’ve worked so hard on my dissertation that I’ve driven myself into incoherence and exhaustion. These efforts however have no impact on how fast or slowly my committee gives me comments, if they give them at all. On top of this, life seems to be getting in the way of progress for everyone involved, so that regardless of how much I personally do, there’s a sense in which progress isn’t really made. I am reminded of Diana Gabaldon’s book title, “Dragonfly in Amber.” If I’m the dragonfly, grad school is the amber. I beat and beat my wings, but hover still. Is that failure? Or has there happened to be an eddy right before the waterfall so that I can look ahead to the treacherous journey but am forever swirled in place? I suppose if life is a river, you’re bound to get caught in its eddies sometime or other. Is that failure, or just terrible timing and bad luck?

For all sorts of good and ridiculous reasons, I am here, working on a PH.D., which maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll finish. There are people who get several PH.D.s. They have got to be masochistic. I’ve already reached the point where I am tired of such a painful experience, but the experience isn’t willing to give me up yet. I wish I had made other life choices. There are no answers, but I keep wondering when I’ll no longer feel like a failure, or like I am trying to climb Mt. Everest in flip-flops and a bathing suit. When does the light break through the clouds? When it does, I will not look back.

Love Is More Discerning Than Fear

So I haven’t posted as much as I’d like on here, in part because I’ve been ill, but mostly because I’ve been working on my dissertation and, like my everyday life in the physical world, I don’t think my dissertation would be interesting to read about. Well, at least if you’re not me.

But I’ve been in thought mode. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and love, and lighthearted topics such as why we still predominantly live under the illusion of separation rather than embrace our interdependence. So perhaps this is remotely dissertation related after all.

So earlier today I found myself feeling tired, enough that I took a short nap: and had a dream about a vampire. I’d say this never happens, but it just has, for the first time. Perhaps I should add that I hardly ever read books or watch shows about vampires, and try to avoid the subject generally speaking altogether. However, I can’t ignore it today.
***
The Dream:

My only role in the dream is that of observer and perhaps fortunately so: I am invisible to all the other dream characters who are in fact acting in a vampire movie. This allows me to watch these people’s choices and reactions unfold in realtime, without ever being effected by them myself.

In the dream, a middle aged woman is lying on a sofa, now and then glancing toward the front door. Presently, without knocking or introduction, a tall, strangely dressed man in his forties strides into the room, as if it already belongs to him. He has short brown hair and a pale narrow face, and, I notice for some reason, has unusually long and boney hands. He wears an open long fake leather jacket without buttons over a wrinkled baggy blue shirt which is hastily tucked into business casual slacks.

The woman doesn’t move, but smiles at him broadly. They’ve been dating for a while, and she’s invited him out to dinner.

“I think this is a good time to tell you that I am a vampire,” the man says, before the woman has time to speak. His unnervingly high voice breaks the silence, mealy and seductive.

You would think the woman would either run or kick him out at this point, but she doesn’t. She is convinced their love will transcend all obstacles in their way. She is still smiling at him, both enticed by danger’s potential and convinced the emergence of the relationship between them keeps her safe from harm.

The woman asks if she can see his fangs. He opens his mouth, and there are definitely large fangs in there, behind his eye teeth. It registers with her that he’s not lying, and half reflexively she sits up straight so she can look directly at him.

He says, “I’m hungry, let’s go eat.”

“Okay,” the woman says, but she’s not feeling so safe now. “But you won’t hurt me, right? We love each other. You can’t possibly want to feed off me: I’m sorry I even thought it. You wouldn’t, would you.”

She’s looking at him intently, hoping, willing, demanding to find trust and respect reflected in his eyes. I’m not sure what she sees, but it’s clearly not what she was expecting. She goes a little pale. . “You wouldn’t,, would you?” the exact same words as before, but now a question tinted with fear, rather than a vote of confidence.

The vampire continues his silence, which begins to speak for itself. Suddenly, he leans in close to her, as if about to tell her a secret. Instinctively, she flinches away. “But I told you, I’m hungry.” He breathes into her ear, and reaches out for her. Only then does the woman run panicked and screaming from the house, vampire in hot pursuit, until eventually she gets away, and barely for all that.
***

All the while this is going on, I am observing and asking myself questions: Why am I watching this? Why won’t she leave? Can’t she tell that love never had anything to do with this relationship, that it has always been about fear? Where is her discernment? Could we turn off the TV, or create a new, different movie, one where love rather than fear is the norm?

Because to my mind the vampire doesn’t just represent hostile people who feed off others’ energy to sustain themselves—narcissists come to mind. It could just as easily stand in for an entire culture based on fear, operating entirely within the illusion of separation. We live for the most part in such a culture every day.

And yet, we are interdependent beings who flourish through cooperation, belonging, and mutual vulnerability. Sometimes, the fragility of human life is the only point of equality upon which to rebuild connectedness. It is impossible to do this when you are governed more by fear than love, as this dream shows.

In fact, the dream points to several important points about fear and love, connection and disconnection, which is why I include it. Vampires are probably the most vivid symbol of separation I could dream up, no pun intended. When you live from a place of belonging, love, connectedness, energy is infinite. You are part of all that is, there is no alone, and the light you find in yourself exists everywhere.

The concept of a vampire, in my opinion, derives from a primal human fear that we might all be separate beings with separate experiences who can be dwindled to nothing before we die and perhaps even become nothing when we die. Vampires as a concept emerge out of a belief that you are alone, that the world has or could at any time abandon you, that you have little and lack what you need, so you have to take the force of life from others to survive. And a person who does this, interestingly, is always portrayed as dead or undead which isn’t an accident.

Having integrity, wholeness, is part of truly living, and if a person lives off of others, they never come to realize who they really are, and for that reason, aren’t truly living. They also don’t have to care: about the consequences of their actions, about the future of the planet, about the quality of life for their children’s children, or even about respecting and valuing the people and other living beings around them. The vice of extreme separation is apathy, and arguably a vampire with true empathy and compassion would, I think, be a contradiction in terms. (But don’t worry, I don’t have the space to argue that here.) 🙂

Now, back to the dream. The thing is, while it seems clear that the vampire isn’t living from a place of love and his purpose is to perpetuate doubt, displacement, distrust, and fear, (I mean, he even comes out and says so explicitly!), the woman isn’t living from a place of love either. Her appeal to love to keep the two of them in right relationship wouldn’t be necessary if she truly loved and trusted herself. When she is seeking the truth, it would be better for her to look within, rather than desperately seek for confirmation in another’s eyes. It is fear, not love, that serves as the reason she looks outside herself for safety and belonging and I think it is relying ultimately on fear that prevents her from having the very discernment that would keep her safe.

Conforming to what everyone else does, trying to fit in, buying things in the hopes that something outside yourself will make you happy– these are all ways to perpetuate a culture of separation. Industries and then family and friends and then the voices in your own head which tirelessly stream messages such as you’re never whole, you’re never enough, you’ll only be loved if you are perfect/do x for a living/fulfill someone’s expectations– these likewise are all symptoms of a culture based on fear. As long as we live with and buy into this fear, we won’t be able to properly discern when it’s time to leave and run after the very essence of ourselves before it’s drained away.

Belonging first and foremost to who you are, knowing you are never alone, that you’re enough, already whole, that’s the foundation of love and the end to the illusion of separateness. And if the person in my dream had this view of herself, she wouldn’t have continued allowing separateness into her house long after it announced itself. She’d see straight through the illusion, and the most loving thing to do then would be to let it go.

Once the woman in the dream could surrender to what is, accept her situation and the truth that she was dealing with a vampire (separateness), she was able to break free of her illusions and once again begin to belong to herself. I know that, however idealistic it might end up being, I do dream of the time when more people, (starting with myself, because I’m the only person I can change), will likewise surrender to what is because in breaking the illusion of separation, we free ourselves to run through the door of belonging, and start living according to love rather than fear. And when that happens, we just might hit the eject button on the movie which has been playing much too long and watch as something wondrous and new takes its place.

Still Life

The clearing beckons and you enter,
The butterflies between the trees flitting
Over the translucent stream below.

The momentary beauty captures your attention,
Stays your breathing, and you pause–
To reflect on a course of action,

Rummage in your backpack
No time to lose, your movements quick and frenzied,
Hoping you’ll find what you are looking for.

Triumphantly, you place an artificial lens
Between you and the scene before your eyes,
And try to focus

And frame an experience
As it shifts within its own rhythm,
Ever changing and alive.

Hurrying, you zoom in
On a view you just can’t miss.
Worrying over whether you are too close,

You get farther away for a better view.
And the shutter snaps open in a flash,
And the digital photograph

Pins the butterflies in their places
While the stream, in mid ripple,
Ever eludes to change.

With the moment safely captured ,
You can finally sit tranquilly,
Observing in silence.

But now, as you take in your surroundings,
You find nothing to stay your gaze
Save for the landscape in its subtle rearranging.

The bright screen displays your memory,
The one whose occurrence you never fully attended,
So feeling at a loss,

You remain exactly where you are,
Wondering at what you never took in,
And hoping for another opportunity.

In that instant I see you there,
Bordered by the portrait of the trees.
How strange for you to find

Frozen frames of living beautiful,
Moved by depictions of the no longer moving.
And if you’d turn your eyes on the water,

You’d notice how your own reflection
Resembles the appearance of a life stilled,
Impermanence just beneath the surface.

I am only passing through,
Noticing how everything happens to unfold.
Each experience changes with remembering,

No more defined within one image as I am,
Just as fleeting as the lives that create it,
And it is only when life ends that it is still.

Senseless

I think most violence is a senseless act driven by the false belief that people can have power over other people. Achieving such power is a life mission befitting a badly done Greek tragedy. People go ahead anyway, deluding themselves that death is a form of control. They only betray their egregious ignorance, the desperation of their ill-conceived despair over their helplessness, the rejection of their own fragility. No one is so powerful as to alter the principle of the world, and the principle of the world is life.

If each could experience
The truth, who we are,
How then could we senselessly
Destroy each other?

Shards of light,
Each fragment shines,
No telling now
What’s yours, or mine.

Life breaks open
Comes undone,
Scatters all
We’ve ever known.

Wandering through darkness
I hope one day we find
Undying love:
For we’ll leave all else behind.

Caught In the Tides of Samhain

Every once and a while,
a longing …

An aching
in bone,

A sighing
Disturbing disquiet,

A howling low
Like wind,

Blowing through
Catches me sharply.

Displaced, disoriented,
The known feels so unfamiliar.

Silent emptiness, tightly contained,
Sifts through,

The outer shell,
too small.

Every once in a while,
reaching out
for you,

Isn’t enough,
Not face to face,
Speaking, no voices.

Passing by, passing through,
Each other

I am the other
Where space is crowded with your absence.

Every once and a while,
home beckons
a shining light,

And I long,
I ache for home,
For the solidness of knowing you.

For that time when we’ll be
Reunited, together,

Even though, around me
The great world unfolds, dazzling wonder,
And I love all of it.

Even though in the stillness you are
Here, I am not alone,
On this journey, still not the same.

Even though…
I long, something is missing,

Laughter and music,
Drying tears, simple gestures.

When you run to catch me flying,
I might never let you go.

The Old Woman _ Spring 2013

She took my hands between her own
Herself of the mists and shadows,
I might never have noticed her

But the earnestness in those sea eyes,
They held mine–
I could not look away.

I will see you again, barely whispered within me–
And yes, I recognized her, Old and weathered,
A tree that has seen much,
Survived great things.

She was not a child, barely five feet tall.
Yes, I knew her—
Before I was born here again, I knew her.

The predawn finds me
Within the restless wakefulness of a night watcher
startled to have entered a vigil
I am unaware of ever keeping.

I compel myself to silence,
An endless stream of faces, lines etched in skin–
Because of how many losses do I exist?

The question’s afraid to be asked.
Awe and terror of it leaves me instinctively shrinking,
And I curl up under the covers, sobbing like a child against
The truth of things, it shatters into broken glass,

Shards of myself piercing through the hard outer shell
Piece by piece, I am wounded for it:
For gathering what lies broken and undone,
Deserves to come back whole.

This grief for what I never knew I lost:
How many memories will pull me out of sleep,
Drag me into themselves
As if I have become a prisoner of mirrors?

I took her hands in mine,
She is my great grandmother, my daughter,
And so I am haunted by what is.

Gone, all of them gone now,
But not from the marrow of my dreams
That ebb and flow, of places I’ve never seen,
Tides I’ve never known.

I’ll see you again, she said,
I uncoil my fragile body, exhausted with trembling,
Peal the blanket away from my eyes
And I am not alone.

Who are you?
Lingering where questions lie unanswered,
Breathing in silence, together.

In My Own Voice _ When Two Worlds Meet: Part 5

 To all who have been following this thread, I think it is time that I speak in my own voice.  I fictionalized my experiences because I believed I would reach a wider group of people, and because I felt I needed extra protection against the few people out there who could make my life difficult if they found out who I really am.  I have thought long on it and decided that making these experiences my own, which they are, is an essential way to live by my own values.  Being true to myself is much more important than saving myself from trouble that most likely will not happen.  Also quite practically, the experiences I wish to tell of that follow don’t make as much sense if I had them happen to a sighted character.  If people really like my character I can certainly write some interesting stories about her that did not actually happen, and because I’d be making it all up, I could make her life much more interesting.

Sláinte Mhór,

Eilish Niamh

 

November 21, 2013

 

The wind is howling tonight.  I can hear the leaves scraping in frenzy several stories down beneath my bedroom window.  The wind tosses an aluminum can around the courtyard.  It’s dull clunk against the pavement resounds hollow, a drone against which the mournful, swirling air eerily harmonizes.  The wind is an entity to be reckoned with:  a feral cat stalking the sky, a fierce wolf yelping for her children, a creature all of itself born of the freedom fog which crouches, which watches, which waits.  I hear it’s keening, and I silently keep vigil with That Which Watches.  It is a vigil I do not remember entering into, but I am fully present with it now.

 

The wind mirrors the wild turbulent waves—of air or water it would be hard to guess—that spill over, overflow, break relentlessly on the threshold of body and soul, my body, my soul.  I do not live in a still and placid time.  And yet—and yet the tide, it has turned.  It has already turned and returned and is charting a new course in turn.  And though the wind gusts and forces trees to bend with it, plasters my hair against my face when I go out to relieve the dog, speaks of ghosts and the secrets of landscapes and hums with the expectant chatter of the seekers of possibility, it seems important to pause and reflect that, when the tide turned, there was not a sound. 

 

Silence is the greatest teacher.  At the heart of every person is a profound, poignant, persistent, passionate, peaceful, and present silence.  It is the place to which we first and foremost belong.  I have come home to that silence.  But as with all things, every place of solitude and stillness contains the door through which we step to belong to everyone and everything else that is.

 

Yesterday I met over a hundred, you the first fianna of Éire.  I looked into each of your eyes, I put my hand in your hands.  You looked into my eyes and there were no uncharted spaces.  From the depths of my soul, or perhaps just of soul, beyond my ken here and now, I called you.  I dedicated my life to actualizing, no longer running from, the wild heart that beats so assuredly within myself. 

 

I answered your call,  I leapt to standing, to stand, and I sobbed, I sobbed in grief for what is forgotten.  I sobbed in joy because much is not forgotten.  I called those I know by name and all the many whose names I know not.  Separation is a myth, an illusion.  What is, is.  I am, I am, and we are. 

 

You walked past me in twos, and placed your hands under my own.  I could feel your shadows pass me by.  I knew the ones who stood arm and arm with me, and lingered longest.  My hands radiated with the energy of the collisions of worlds.  We heard each other, we understood each other, and the stillness, the silence, it spoke for itself.  Words were unnecessary and cluttered and did not happen, and even now I struggle to find words to express how, though I am more myself than ever before, I will never, ever be the same.

 

I am convinced I recognized you, that I feel I know you, like my own brothers and sisters, like I will know my own children.  I recognized within myself that same wise and wild, empathic and enfolding, passionate and peaceful, ferocity of being, that willingness to face and accept the dangers of growing, that we all share, if only we would dare acknowledge it is there.  I shouted Is Mise Eilish Niamh, and I shouted the truth against the world, and in this world and the next I keep the principles you hold dear, for they have always been mine also. 

 

And now I have looked up from writing, from wading through these mere mirages of meaning, words, that do not do justice to experience.  Caoilte is standing here, he who so often walks between worlds.

 

“You already know this, but we wanted to remind you not to imitate any of us,” he says.  “You must be fully who you are, yourself.  This is what will serve you well, and be well with us.” (I know I really need such reminding as it is taking me a while to fully believe the truth of it, that I am enough.)  Caoilte continues, “There is still hope for our future.  Not as many listen now, but the song that you can share to leap it’s way into the world will be better heard in these times when the hills sing to no one.  You are welcome with us.” 

He says this not in audible words, but in gesture, as if he embodied the words.  As if words were motions that could be danced gracefully, full of the depth that gets lost in their telling.

 

And I say, though it is perhaps inadequate, “Thank you.”  Actually I do more than say.  I make the gestures, the signs of gratitude, in the language of the other world.  Motion that is almost dancing.  I have watched how those of the other world turn the raw threads of a universe in which nothing is at rest into beautiful patterns imbued with meaning.  I learned at least how to dance “thank you.”  And so, a bit less gracefully, I embody the gratitude I wish to convey and it is more powerful than mere words could ever be.

 

Then I reflect for a moment and add, “You are welcome here, too, always welcome here Caoilte, son of Ronan so long ago, different and the same.  You and the others are welcome to come through here on your way to wherever you are going.  I know what it is like to not have a home of your own, to be a wanderer.  Though you belong now to another world, your people are welcome here with you, so that you know there is a place in the manifest world which you can call home despite the when or where of it.” 

 

I truly empathize with that displaced feeling that must come with having no permanent place to call your own.  In the desert, I was like a nomad as well, and thanked the gods everyday that I finally found a place that was mine, that I landed somewhere.  I am simply so excited to get on with the rest of all that will happen, to throw myself into a beginning, learn and be all I can, grow even if it’s difficult, that offering my hospitality seems like the least I can do to give back in kind… and I’d do it anyway, I know.

 

Caoilte shrugs.  “It is yours to give and that we gratefully accept.”  (Now I am unsure whether he looked amused, or took me completely at my word.  I was definitely clueless about what I had just signed up for.)

 

Then I am alone again.  Then I sit staring at the wall, listening to the wind shake the night into a restless awareness of itself, but I am somewhere else.  The wind continues it’s tearing apart, but now at dusk, the new day is in it’s infancy, and I am peering out at a world that is impossible to see as torn apart.  It’s a world within which I eternally and intricately belong.  A world to which I know now, I have always belonged. 

 

I think, I used to not know a thing about being grateful, not until everything that has happened these last few months.  When I look within, no divisions remain.  I am not just grateful, I am at peace.  I am not just in unfathomable awe and wonder at how I live, literally, with, for, by, because of others.  But I stand in amazement by the side of my own hearth fire, knowing it is my own self worth and acceptance that made any of this possible. Being myself, fully, utterly, unapologetically and so much much more than what I ever could be, beyond myself, more, because separation is a lie, everything is part of the pattern, the endless knot woven whole out of all that is, this is the truth against the world.  The world discovers dualities, dichotomies, schisms and distinctions, categories and opposites.  I not only believe or think, but know, have seen, witnessed, been present with and aware of all otherwise.  It is.