Tag Archives: trees

Solstice: Before the Turning Tide

Of the snow that falls,
I will tell you,
And of crumbling walls,
I will tell you,

And when solid ground gives way,
And you’re grasping at what cannot stay,
I will tell you

About your feathers and your wings,
I will show you things
You never even knew
About the sky,

And why there is no need
To know where you are going:
You simply are,
And you are growing.

When the rains wash flowers in their crying,
I am here,
And when the wind takes up its sighing,
I am here,

And through all the pain and loneliness
And longing you’re denying,
I am here,
Holding, keeping you near.

In the soft-spun light
Of each day’s dying,
I am reminding you of why
Every season passes by,

And oh how I hope
That now you really hear
That you can safely give up fear.

Of the sun’s journey to return,
I will tell you,
And of the years it took for us to learn,
I will tell you,

And when all the underbrush of overrushed time
And hurried dreams are burned away,
I will tell you how beautifully you shine,

Wrapped like a child
In the fine threaded fabric
Of this new incipient day.

And together
We will watch this weary world
Again begin to stir,
Having slept through the clay-cracked cold of winter.

Life stretches and uncoils from itself,
Reaches up
Passed what’s certain and what’s sure.

Laughing, blinking,
Once more breaking open
Letting go of all you thought you were,

Once again you have awoken
To the song that carries you,
Remembering the words, from deep within
The truth you always knew.

As the soul of the world calls,
I will be there,
And as trees bridge the two worlds,
I will be there,

And soon it will be time,
And with the sun’s rebirth we rise,
Until everything on earth
Glows vibrant and alive.

Until the light of all that is
Is reflected in each other’s eyes,
We will weave the path that lies ahead,
Its symphony in every thread.

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The Night Watch: Caoilte’s Song for Ailbhe

Hushed the night, all in their sleeping,
Dark, with misty cloak, draws near,
I the silent vigil keeping,
O’er you, and many dreaming here.

With the wonder of a child,
Among the trees these wakeful hours,
I will watch the land born wild,
This wood and all beyond, is ours.

In the shadows I am here
Beneath the hearth fires of the sky,
Though creatures creep where nothing’s clear,
I will see they pass us by.

Alone, the night song all about me
Soft spun, woven threads of moon
Rise, as if a tide within me
Spilled over with these thoughts of you.

Soon enough the day’s bright dawning,
Soon to wake the world astir,
And we with sun’s flight take our wandering,
I’ll see you just the way you were.

Swift the days in endless passing,
Uncertainty, our path wound through,
But long since this brief moment’s lasting,
I will ne’er be far from you.

To All My Relations

August 28, 2011

On this small road winding through, it’s one step taken at a time. If my mind doesn’t remember the way, the blood in my veins pulses with knowing it, and the knowing of it courses through me fiercely, like I might burst with it, might fragment like broken pieces of wood, scattering.

I want to cry, I want to shout, I want to close my eyes, dream away the dark, dream until even my waking hours are of nothing but hope. I want to run, run and soar across this landscape howling with abandon, my voice flinging what eerie wails of sorrow and the sudden shrieks of joy only the earth beneath my feet and the sky above have cried.

I want to hold small children and comfort them, I want to stand in the middle of a field under a radiant sun, a warmth that could quell the chills that come with changes. I want to stand on a cliff so I can feel what it’s like to teeter on the edge of falling and not make a sound. I want to dive into a mountain pool, reassuring the water by my body turning cold that I am living, so my warmth can try to melt the icy past that causes me to freeze sometimes, even now, then rush to the surface, calling upon the wind to give breath to all that needs saying.

I want to know who I am and who we are, I want to hear my own songs echoed in others’ voices. I want to recognize myself in what others tell each other, I want to tell you my dreams. But most of all, I want to tear all I know apart until I come to the heart of the matter, speak softly, flail like an abandoned child, laugh until tears come to my eyes and the earth shakes with me, and hold you as if we were dying to live.

I say I am powerful, for I have made choices and will make them again, and I want to mold myself into words, spell them through my own motions, dancing them over and over, until, springing into action, I am whole and freed of standing still.

I say I am an ocean, for there is so much living within me, because I am gentle and strong, both crashing waves and tide pools hosting young. I am water, for I cannot be contained, I am the fires you lit on the hills, for I burn to rekindle the dreams we have lost, to leap into what is to come. I am drifting leaves, I am the cry of ravens and the lost and the found. I am the wind, for I will not stop rustling between the trees and around the faces of our children until I have carried all our tears and all our songs around the world. And I am the landscape that calls, that calls, which is why I must answer, speak for myself.

Strength is not just the courage of facing death, or hardship, or loss. It takes courage to love, to feel your own joy and the happiness of others engulf you and sweep you away, out of your own cocooned fur lined shelter you call your head. It takes strength to walk the path of those who have gone before, to weep with those whose despair has never left them. It takes strength to lie still, giving into another’s touch, to another’s dreams, and even to acknowledge needs of my own. I only hope I have that inside, when it is my turn to grow up, take my place in this world. And first I will return,and then, and then, and then, I cannot even imagine what will happen next. What will happen next?

Perhaps nothing will happen. Perhaps I will simply sigh with relief, or find nothing at all. But that will just mean more choices, more wondering, more wandering… and for a while now it has never been an easy thing to call somewhere home. It is all I long for. It is worth searching for who, for what you love, even if you never find it, even if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Trees do that: witness, become part of, the passing of generations. Why not us, then, rooted as we are to the earth, our hands reaching, many leaves reaching across many branches for each other, silently guiding us back to our beginnings.

On Origins

ImageImageI skip stones, sleeping in gaps between landings,
Losing her to the cold, quoting her in the sea.
Our long afternoon drones and buzzes with bees–

Be or not be, be here or there,
Believe, be loved, belong, become–
But I am none of these things.

Sheltered under her precipice,
I fear ground might slip from under me.
Tar tarnishes her smock, she creeps

Out of cracks in sidewalks, checking up on us,
Noting how far from her we move away.
She forms stones that soften into sand,
Measuring time with each expanse of her mouth,

An eon when she yawns.  How can it be so?
I walked by the piers, singing the grief of trees–
I am none of these things.

I saw myself in shards of her looking glass,
Scaled her knees, curled in her lap,  still a child.
She says hush, hush, the roar of her tears cascading

Waterfalls crashing in her eyes, hollows of cliffs– comfort me.
We are broken in places where wounds recede
Back from rims of caves, her eyebrows.  We stumble
On the peaks of eggshells and crack

Under the weight of wounds that do not heal.
She erupts in the north, for it takes time to hatch,
Longer than we give it time.
And so we wither like a thousand winters,

Our names waving in the air like flags–
Human beings, we denote ourselves everywhere
To conquer who we are.

On the ground where I am weeping,
She wipes my eyes when I  turn away, and tells me
About the day I was born.  My eyes open

And the green clears, and no longer numb, I feel her
Pain.  One door locks when another opens.
I choose like that butterfly chose that flower,

And she is out there, an acorn away.
I gather her eyelashes in my arms like baby’s breath,
I say, someday we will remember the songs we sang

As fireflies, there is only so much light to shine,
But I live like a flame, waxing and waning,
Shifting in and out of the particularities of things.

And how does change come?
Through turning here– or there?
In a shell, the propper names?

But, I am none of these things.
And so she says.  I hear her whisper
A distant melody, an echoing that lingers within silences.

Enough For Me

Quietly, we sit so quietly,
Listening without a sound
To words that no one speaks aloud.

Silently, the world surrounds us silently,
The stars above us brilliantly
Shining through a tapestry

Shadows outline subtly,
Glowing fog against the green
Trees in mist, amidst the dark.

And suddenly her words become so clear to me
She says change, it comes so quietly
It happens
And only then will you realize you’re not the same.

For moments when nothing moves
Are moments when the greatest things occur
You go from thinking you know why
To not being all that sure

And if all that stumbling through the dark
Helps you remember who you are
Will you recall at all

The journey or the fall
The person who you were before?
When will it be enough?

Peacefully, I stand here waiting patiently,
The sun is rising joyfully,
And I sense night turn to day
Without the aid of sight

Gradually, the warmth comes softly back to me,
Lives are waking, motioning,
So immediate and wild.

Don’t you wish that you were like a child,
And still held wonder in your hands?
Live with earnest
Never worrying about the end.

If it comes down to letting go,
Relinquish all the pain you know,
Surrendering, you start to grow

Scrape up all the trust you left back then,
Start again.
How do you know you have enough?

Quietly, change, it comes so quietly
And suddenly, I’m no longer who I was,
But who I’ll be

Inside of me, I look for her inside of me,
For she is me,
And she is everything that changes,
And all that’s taking place.

Amazingly, the grays I saw so frequently,
Are gone, and now there are only blues and greens
Stitched across the many things I do.

Life shimmering, splashed water-colored in the rain
She’s crying for the world that’s hers by name
The truth she always knew.

So I turn
Just as spring is now returning
And we will still remain
And that’s enough, enough for me.

In Defense of Imperfection _ Part 1

Whenever you wake up into your own skin and realize you are no longer less than, small, that you deserve to take up space, it is a very strange feeling.  It’s like realizing that though you once were just a seed, you are now a tree with fruits and flowers, part of the vast network of growing things.  When you were just a seed, you thought growing was impossible. If you were small and unsure like I was, you might stare at a tall oak with it’s rooted, thoughtful self confidence, and respond with: “I’ll be that?  Yeah right!”  But when you fully arrive at being here now, once growing has begun, there is room to meet change with joy along with the ever present fear of uncertainty that winds around the perimeter of the shape of our lives.  And it seems not the case that the fear is of failure to thrive and become and the joy is for succeeding at your dreams, but that both happen in response to the possibility of success.  This is because, I think, success and achievement are often thought to be the same as perfection.  On the contrary, I hope to show that, in important ways, the need to be perfect (whether as a person or at doing something) ultimately leads to failure.

 

Human growing is probably a lot more involved and painful than plant growing.  I imagine myself with a classroom full of students, my students, and feel like the seed or perhaps like a tiny plant that could be crushed at any moment.  I think, yeah right.  But what else is it to come into our own?  What else is it to be a powerful change in the world? 

 

I look at the book I’m reading for my dissertation, Alasdir McIntyre’s “Dependent Rational Animals.”  I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information swarming my head.  Questions like: is there a human nature?  Are there virtues that can serve humans in flourishing no matter their culture?  Is it really natural for us to form communities of giving and receiving?  Can we make sense of an Aquinian vision of pity (uggghhh, I prefer sympathy or identification) or compassion, in a new context, one that does not involve God (the Christian God especially) but involves our nature as such? 

 

Are we essentially good?  Is it possible or even a good idea for us to rid ourselves of our most primitive instincts in order to act with practical rationality and wisdom, or does wisdom need instinct, can it not survive without acknowledged desire, feeling, and well-directed passion?  I for one am not sure it can.  I doubt that practical rationality, even when coupled with emotional balance, if there is no awareness of and way to express basic human instincts, will ever be wise.  Many people think that we have perfected ourselves by not following or even acknowledging our instincts.  Yet if I am right, our imperfect instincts not only make us human but allow us to develop an honest assessment of ourselves which is essential to living virtuously.

 

What shapes who we are and how much?  I think about cultures, histories, identities, values and their justifications, empirical findings about human psychology, biological truths about the relation between us and other animals, our patterns that throughout time have proved nearly unbreakable.  I stare at the tangled mess of millennia of human action and behavior and it’s theoretical, moral, and then down the road practical impact and doubt I can do much of anything at all.  There are the arguments, and then there are the actual changes to be made. As long as I am confounded by the arguments and feel that whatever actions I might take to make a difference won’t be right, acceptable, the correct solution, I might do nothing at all. It seems that doing nothing is a much greater failure than is trying to make a difference without going about it perfectly.

 

I know it is one step at a time, but feeling so useless is terrifying.  Or perhaps realizing that I could be dangerously useful is terrifying.  Or perhaps the fact that I have not had the courage to stand alone with my thoughts and start to get involved with the question, with the answer, is terrifying. 

 

When you begin, you cannot go back.  You can keep a seed out of the ground, but put it in and once it sprouts, barring extenuating circumstances, there is no stopping it from becoming the plant or tree it is.  It stands there, with a lot of other living things in an ecosystem of which it is an integral part, and yet it forever stands alone. 

 

It is so firmly rooted.  What is more, it is exactly what it is and doesn’t lie.  Coming across an oak tree, you don’t stop and shake your head and wonder if you’re really looking at a redwood that was trying to pass as an oak tree, pretending to be something it wasn’t.  People would probably benefit greatly from taking a course on life from trees: how to stand, how to stay grounded, how to keep what is valuable at the center, how to bend in the wind, how to reach toward the light, how to be fully present, fully themselves, how to be honest, how to contribute what they can to a nest, how to shade others from the glaring sun, how to gain sustenance from light, how to let go of parts of themselves that are no longer useful in the fall, how to blossom. 

 

But in any case, whoever I am, there is no changing that now.  Not on grand scales anyway.  If I become an ethicist, a professor, a teacher, a creative writer, I’ll have to burst out of this shell and become something.  This means making a mark on the world.  This means of course responsibility.  Should I be held responsible for my good intentions and all their amazing and disastrous outcomes and be left standing, like the tree weathering storms? 

 

First, I suppose I have to be a little better at shouldering criticism.  Second, I need to be a little bit better at believing in myself.  But the irony of growing is that it doesn’t happen by rationally thinking it over until the right course comes along.  A plant doesn’t contemplate the pros and cons of growing one way rather than another and then act accordingly.  It is a process that it both creates and witnesses.  This is true for humans too, I think. 

 

We become confident, immune to misplaced criticism, graceful around well-deserved criticism, and able to believe in ourselves by living, by doing.  And so it is in the throwing roots down and growing which ever way we do that we grow into ourselves, that we gain the qualities and values we want.  It is not by contemplating the things we long for until we are perfectly certain that we have a fully fool-proof rational course to embark on, that we can finally walk the road of life. So perhaps if we instead try for a straight and narrow course we will in a sense fail, we will fail to grow at all because we are too afraid of making mistakes or not being good enough.  It is like the saying goes, sitting on the edge of the river afraid to jump in because you might be a terrible swimmer, or forget how to float, or get snagged on a log, or get stuck in an eddy, or never learn to let go. 

 

More imperfect arguments to come.

When Two Worlds Meet: part 1

There was once a young woman named Aoife (pronounced Ee-Fa.)  It is said that her name means radiant beauty and long ago many with her name were strong heroines.  Aoife however did not know this.  She also did not know, or in fact she positively denied that, she was beautiful or strong. 

In 2006, Aoife was accepted into a graduate school in her field.  Although the school was prestigious, it was not a place for her to prosper.  Right before attending the school, both her parents died.  Her younger sister was attending college and her younger brother was out trying to find work in an ever tighter economy.  And so, even while dealing with their own tremendous grief, the three siblings decided the best thing to do was to sell the house and use the money to further their individual futures, whatever they may be.  Though Aoife thought about deferring her graduate program a year to cope with the loss of her mother and father, she also knew there was no home for her to return to.  She would have no place to land while processing her loss and not be faced with the harsh reality of making ends meet.  She would be more secure in the grad program than trying to make it in the “real world” and so she went ahead and attended that fall, feeling more empty and displaced than she ever thought possible.

To her dismay, Aoife found that the landscape of her new surroundings at the school mirrored the raw and barren, thorny, and parched landscape of her heart.  She grew up among cliffs and ocean, and everything she knew and loved was green.  But here, here the sands oozed red like blood, canyons gaped open like mouths fiercely begging for a rain to quench an eon of thirst; here the wind gathered itself and rumbled across the earth like a living animal.  Here,  people promised themselves in strange awkward moments that a scientist somewhere was at that very instant creating a pesticide that would get rid of the vast infestation of dust that took over their houses, floated in films onto their dishware, scurried into their clothing, sifted into their ears and mouths, settled into their souls.  For like the parched clay within Aoife’s heart dried out and hardened from the intense heat of her anger at being alone, and the tumble weeds she allowed to grow over that calm quiet pool where she used to belong to herself, the outer landscape around her was a vast inhospitable desert.  There was no place inside or out to which Aoife belonged.  She was, in the most immediate and eternal sense, a girl from nowhere.  She had no home, and for this reason, through the years at that school, she wandered like a nomad, like one of a lost people yearning for a promised land without the benefit of believing that a god would grant such a place to her.  And as things go, no god would grant her such a place after all.  Still, also as things go, she did not remain deserted in a desert forever for it is always possible to remember that you’ve never ceased belonging to yourself.

This she was able to do, but only after she put down the sickle of anger she used to cut all the new shoots of possibility growing inside her before they ever had a chance to blossom.  She did not find her way out of that desert back to the ocean and the water and the green trees before she unstopped the dam she placed cutting the water off from it’s path, and let a reservoir of tears fall onto the thirsting earth of her bones like the river it once was and needed to be.  It was only then that she came home to herself.

For six years, Aoife wandered the desert, and it was at the end of the sixth year, just before the dawning of year seven, just before her time as a selkie out of water ran out completely, that she moved back to be near her siblings near the ocean and among the trees.  It was there that she grew, and it was there that she healed.

Now before Aoife’s journey into the desert, she had had a gift that most people never have in their lifetime.  Unlike most of us, she could, as a young girl, see the fairy folk who dwell in the hills walking home before dawn as to hopefully not be seen.  She could have long conversations with the small nimble beings who dwelt in and among the branches of trees, and she could speak to guardians of the stones.  She had often walked through the woods when no one else was around and saw the creatures that glowed like fireflies twinkling in the air, or would stand quietly with a passerby from another world, each silently taking in a sunset.  As soon as she left for the desert, this strange and uncanny ability of hers vanished.  Yet it returned when she finally returned.

So it was not surprising to her that, one day just after dinner while she was drying the dishes (for surely, the most extraordinary things occur at the most ordinary times,) she sensed someone behind her patiently waiting to get her attention.  Turning around, Aoife noticed him almost immediately.  He was over six feet five inches, with long curly blond hair, large searching blue eyes that were old, such old and farseeing eyes, and his eyes looked into hers and he saw through her.  In any case, it felt to Aoife like there was nothing those eyes did not see once they searched her own.  He had, she noticed, very strong hands.  He appeared somewhere just before midlife in age, if age indeed mattered at all in the world beyond the land of the living.  He was wearing clothes that appeared handmade, and he wore a very large belt with a sheathed sword hanging from it, and carried a shield with a pattern on it that Aoife couldn’t place, though she did notice that there wasn’t a single straight line.  Between the way he looked and was dressed and the things he carried, she could tell he was of Celtic origin but beyond that she had no idea.  She wondered briefly if there had been any soldiers in the generation or so before her grandmother was born.  Her grandmother told her how her family had lived in Ireland for centuries, before times became too hard and she and her mother and brother emigrated to America.

The person who had suddenly materialized in her kitchen didn’t seem to have any issue to fight over with her, for which she was seriously grateful.  He seemed friendly and kind, if gravely contemplative, and certainly formidable.  Aoife mused for a moment that it was extremely lucky of her not to be an enemy of his.  She found it hard to actually make eye contact, but decided it would be less of her not to and so she had.  For a while they merely looked at one another, and then not sure what to do Aoife turned to finish scrubbing the pot in the sink.  Cautiously she peered around a few minutes later to see if he was still there, but she saw only the tiled counter that served to divide the kitchen from the rest of the one bedroom apartment.  .

For the next few weeks, the stranger began stopping in to talk with her or check up on her, exactly which Aoife couldn’t always tell.  Although the stranger didn’t share his name with her, she began having conversations with him.  Not surprisingly to Aoife, she learned he had been a great warrior in life.  Besides this, however, she also found out that he loved poetry and music, valued all the simple day to day things that made living interesting and meaningful, said much in few words, was very solemn and serious, loved nature and all the places that were wild and especially those undefined places where boundaries are crossed between land and water, tree roots and dirt, where fog ended and clarity began.  Sometimes they walked out in the woods together, and he would smile at children as if they were his own.  Aoife wondered if he had children.  He also would often appear wearing different outfits from the time before, and lately only wore wool clothing, carrying nothing with him. 

Finally one day while they sat together on a hill watching the sunset she asked him who he was.  She considered this otherworldly person to be her friend, however strangely they met, and indeed she had one more friend in the otherworld than in this one.  Aoife still had her siblings to talk to, but still hadn’t made too many friends.  The man smiled and agreed that that was a good question to ask, and admitted he had completely forgotten to mention it since he had been alive more than 1500 years ago and who he actually was versus what people thought he should be were not the same.  “Names are important,” he said, “But they’re more than a hindrance than a help when it turns out you’ve heard of the person before and what you heard isn’t very accurate.”  And with that, before disappearing, he instructed Aoife to wait there a moment, as there was someone else he also wanted her to meet and they could introduce themselves together. 

So, somewhat baffled, Aoife stood on the hill staring out at the night sky with nothing around her but the wind and a sprinkling of trees and wild flowers, and it becoming pretty cold outside.  She almost decided to walk home, convincing herself that she was crazy to be out here about to meet more people that the majority of the entire population on the planet wouldn’t be able to see, when a large mist settled on the hill and the man she’d been getting to know walked over with someone new.  The other man was shorter than the first, but only by a few inches so he could hardly be said to be short.  His hair was more brown than blond and was also curly and long.  He had eyes that were brown in some kinds of light and hazel in others, was very thin, and had exceptionally long legs.  Unlike her friend’s somber, almost stern quiet eyes, the second man’s eyes glinted with curiosity and wonder.  Aoife surmised that he could be quite serious when needed but that he preferred to find the humor in life and that he never lost that playful awe at the sheer immensity of living and the miracle of existence that most people lose touch with when they grow older.

“Well,” her friend was saying, “I am Oisin, the son of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, and this is my cousin, Caoilte Mac Ronan.”

Despite herself Aoife began to stare at them.  She then realized that she was staring and that was probably rude, and quickly looked down at the ground so that she would stop staring.  She then thought that staring at the ground was the kind of thing a person would do if they didn’t want to meet with a situation head on so she went back to looking at them.  This all took about two seconds.  Finally she remembered what to say when you’re meeting someone.  “Hi, it’s very nice to meet you.” she said and added, “I definitely heard of you.”

The three shook hands and then Caoilte said, “Most of what’s been written about us is interesting and entertaining but it’s greatly exaggerated and sometimes quite false.”

“What he means is that you won’t be able to learn who we really are from reading accounts of who people think we are or wanted us to be.” Oisin added in explanation.

Aoife nodded, a bit overwhelmed.  She found she was trying to process what she was seeing and hearing and it was all a lot to take in.  It just never occurred to her to be prepared for meeting well known people from the past who lived in the second century.  At the same time, she realized she was also attempting to excavate a long forgotten memory that she felt was relevant, but she couldn’t quite uncover it.  Finally she had it: there the memory was.  She had been eight years old.  Her grandmother was telling her  stories that were told to her when she lived in Ireland as a child.  There was a story about the Fianna of Ireland, and how they never died but instead were sleeping under a spell in a cave waiting for the time to come back and set right all that had gone too far.  Her current self wasn’t too thrilled with the implications of the story simply because it was too much like believing in some savior who would fix other people’s problems for them.  However her past self, as she recalled it, believed every word of the story and she had spent days afterwords despairing over the fact that tons of people were stuck in a miserable dark forgotten cave and couldn’t get out of it.  She hated caves as a child and thought death was probably preferable to chilling, literally, in some dark secluded yawn of earth somewhere.   She had confronted her grandmother about this and insisted that it wasn’t right, now that they knew the story, to not go looking for the Fianna’s cave to at least try to get them out of it.  Her grandmother had laughed and smiled at her and said she shouldn’t take the story so literally, but her eight year old self had determinedly learned that the cry they used to give was the truth against the world, and there were a few nights when she looked out her window at the starry sky and shouted “The truth against the world!” three times hoping that would be slightly useful.  It wouldn’t have been one bit useful, she thought now, and smiled despite herself.

“What is it?” Asked Oisin who had been studying her expressions thoughtfully.

“Well, um, it’s just that as a child I grew up believing you were stuck in some lonely dreary cave somewhere and, quite obviously, you’re not,” she explained hoping she sounded mostly articulate.  “Once I grew up, I stopped believing the story was actually true, but for some reason I am still very glad to be completely certain that there was no truth to it at all.”

“No, we aren’t stuck in a cave,” Oisin agreed, “In the life beyond life, we assist those among the living who ask, for we would never presume to assist someone who feels it would be unwelcome.  We protect those in the manifest world who need us and act as guides to them.” After a pause he said with an amused look in his eyes, “That said, no one’s ever tried as hard as you did to get us out of a cave had we been in one.”

Aoife’s face turned red. “Oh no,” she said dismayed, “You actually payed attention to my childish howling away?  I was just a really silly impressionable eight year old.”

“You were a very empathic and kind eight year old who tried to help people you never thought you’d ever meet whose lives you had no reason to care about for longer than it takes to hear a good story.” Caoilte corrected.

Aoife frowned.  This was all turning into a very memorable and strange night, for sure, but something was nagging at her.  Some question she needed to ask.  Some part of all this she did not understand, and the not knowing of whatever it was made her uneasy.  Finally she voiced the question that was vexing her, that would not let her go.  “Why?  I mean, why are you here talking to me?” I’m this random misplaced grad student who doesn’t write the greatest songs, is only decent at poetry, and can’t run to save my life, she added to herself.  “You can talk to anyone you want, why me?”

“Why not?” asked Caoilte.

Aoife shook her head, but she could think of no rejoinder to that response.

Oisin then looked at her with complete seriousness, almost earnestness.   For the first time that night they looked into each others’ eyes.  “The world is starving for meaning,” he began, “We need you to bring meaning to those who find  that, while  all they could ever imagine or want surrounds them, still they are left malnourished for they lack any sense of purpose to their lives and lose sight of all that is most important to them.  We need you to be one of many who show all you meet compassion and acceptance and demonstrate in all you do that we are all interdependent and need each other to live well.   The world yearns after love.  You have more than enough romantic love in all it’s various dramatic guises, but I mean the love families have for their children, seeds have for sunlight, rivers have for motion, nature has for itself.  The kind of love that knows no limitations or boundaries, that knows only what is true.  The kind of love that allows people to be strong yet kind, independent yet vulnerable, able to meet everyone where they are for who they are.  People are afraid of themselves and their own voices.  People have forgotten the power that lies buried inside them.  The cave your grandmother spoke of is the harsh and lonely place most human beings consign the very measure of their names, and exile the majestic and mysterious, radiant light that might have guided them in this manifest world.  They leave themselves to languish there ineffectively casting eerie shadows at the barren walls that over time they and others have built, mistakenly believing that these walls keep them safe and hold them exempt from age, pain, or despair.  They couldn’t be farther from the truth.  They choose fear and run from who they are.  We need you to embody that wild and earnest spirit you always have been, to shine in this world and remember who you are, and be one of the voices in the world who helps others remember all they’ve ever been.  In the past you learned how to make yourself small.  Yet that is one of the problems in this fragmented weary world:  choosing to be small, believing it is your greatness and strength and whole authentic vast self that others won’t ever be able to accept or approve of.  It is the smallness in this world that lets it die, a little at a time.  Stand tall, for if you did not deserve to be here now you would have never been.  Being fully alive is our right.  Dream of the dawning of a world without fear.  Dream of a world where everyone can give voice to all that lies within them, so that your children will live the wisdom of their beginnings, so that they learn never to let others steel their originality, so that they come to greet each other as free persons and live by the wonder shining out through their eyes even once they’re old.  Even now, that tiny spark, that quiet voice hidden inside, could burst at any moment, and from the heart of every silence, rend from it the truth it yearns to cry.  Be that voice.  You have the power to decide exactly how you want to be in the world, so don’t ever be afraid to speak your truth.”

“We will protect you and guide you.  We ask only that you remember us.” said Caoilte.

“The truth against the world.” Aoife replied in a voice that was almost a whisper (somehow speaking loudly didn’t seem appropriate just then.)  It was all she could do.  It was all she could say.  The three looked at each other for several more moments, and then Aoife was alone on the hill.  It would take her weeks to process what had happened.  It would take her months to begin to tangibly live out any of the Fianna’s words in the actual world.  What she did do without difficulty is vow to remember them and share her experience in whatever way it would best be heard.

Yet this is not the end of this story, for it was not the last time Aoife spoke with Caoilte or Oisin, and there were more to meet besides.

Visit the following link to download “The Call of the Fianna,” by Fionn Tulach, formerly known as Fiona Davidson. This is the story of the Fianna’s cave told by one of the finest modern bards living today.
https://app.box.com/s/joj0hjcwetrl81f5wk65