I’m sitting in the Shannon airport. This nation that I am preparing to leave is starting to take her claws out of me. The release has been going on over about 24 hours now, but she hasn’t let go without a fight. Like all addictions she wants to sink her claws in deeper as you try to rip away. Sometimes scars will be left. Where the scars are left healing is now possible. I’m ready to be healed.
Ready to be healed in so many ways. No wonder then that along the way on this journey of major tour sites the most memorable set of 24 hours was spent with a Celtic Shamanic healer in a village of 72 or 71 people depending on which day you do the counting. It’s seems as if the healing process has only just begun. The story about the shaman and other stories are yet to be told. I fought to try to find the time to tell all the stories as I was living in them but I found that in doing so I was only struggling to fight against the current of life so finally I let go. “But what if I fall?” were the words we read in the top window of the shop in Galway a week ago. “Oh but my darling what if I fly?” we read in the bottom window. That question has been answered and that story has been told in so many ways through the history of all time. I’m finally starting to hear the lesson behind those words made famous by a young Australian poet in only a short couple of years ago.
As we drove out of Cobh late yesterday afternoon we had made our final stop at the Old Church Cemetery. Some of my ancestors may or may not be buried in that famous cemetery that is the final resting place for many of those who died in the sinking of the Lusitania as the US entered WWI. We tried to learn more from a librarian in town and an old American named Jack who is an expert on the cemetery, but the answers we were seeking were not for us to find on this trip. Ahead of us was a two-hour drive to Ennis where we would spend our last night before departing so we grabbed a quick sandwich and a cup of tea back in the city center before we departed.
Our drive from Cobh to Ennis was an emotional drive for both of us. We knew that our holiday was ending and that knowledge left us both anxious and somber at the same time. We tried on some new, more modern Irish music to lift the mood, but it just didn’t fit like a new pair of shoes doesn’t quite fit on their maiden voyage. So we went back to the traditional Irish music we enjoyed so well on all of our other car journeys and although it didn’t necessarily lift the mood at least it was a more comfortable pair of shoes so to speak.
At a number of points on the road from Cobh to Ennis we got stuck behind slower moving vehicles. By this time I had become quite adept at left handed stick driving in the hills and had been passing slower moving vehicles with ease. For some reason on this drive though I just couldn’t find the time or the situation where that pass became possible, so we sighed and remarked for miles that we just couldn’t catch a break. Our drive that started in a light drizzle had gradually brightened along the way and as we crossed the hills in County Clare I started to realize something. Even after all the time and energy and lessons of this amazing journey I was still falling back to my default state and putting a time line for the time we were to reach Ennis. At that exact moment I noticed that the sky was entirely blue. Not one cloud touched the horizon as far as the eye could see. The slow moving vehicle that I was “stuck” behind was an Irish service truck for a company called Richard’s Heating and Cooling. If you’ve read along on this blog for a while now then you can appreciate the power of that message and if not look back here and you’ll understand.
So for the rest of the journey from Cobh to Ennis I took my foot a little bit more off of the gas pedal. I didn’t try to pass slow moving vehicles and realized once again on this trip that the road between two points is not adjunct from the experiences of the journey, but rather the road IS the experience. I shared these feelings and thoughts with Christiana in words…and then I began to weep. It was probably the tenth or twelfth time along the way this had happened and each time it was powerful. Each time it was different. Each time it was healing.
We spent our last night in Ireland more sad than happy. We tried to walk out into the field near the hotel to feel the earth one last time but the field was gated. We wanted one last bowl of stew but there was none on the menu at the pub. We wanted to hear live Irish music one more time but the hotel had an artist that played pop instead of traditional Irish. In the moment these things seemed to matter but in reality they didn’t. We sat on the bed and Christiana read to me from a web page called “How to become an Irish citizen” and we comforted each other as best as we could in what was truly a time of processing and grief.
In the morning things were marginally lighter. We drove away from our hotel and on the road leading back to the motorway we saw that same field we couldn’t get into but this time from the opposite side. As we approached the roundabout we saw a pull off so I stopped and we got out of the car and put our feet on the earth one last time. As we checked in at the airport the gentleman who processed our tickets asked us if we liked all the sites we saw on our holiday and what we liked the best? Without hesitation we both immediately replied, “The earth!”
That soil is letting go now. I can’t quite feel it as much in my body as I sit here in the airport waiting to board the flight to London, but I can definitely still feel it in my soul…