Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Irish Magic

I used to really love a song by Bonnie Raitt, and I would sing the chorus to myself when I felt like life just wasn't turning out to be what I wanted. I have a long list of these lovely emo songs that lift your soul and carry it far, far away from the traffic jam you sit in and the line at the grocery store that makes you feel dead and angry at the same time. While I slightly chuckle about my need to sing/hear these type of songs, I also know that I wouldn't make it far in life without them.

I don't know that I'll ever be gifted enough to describe what it is that music does, but if you have felt it, you can just draw from past experience. There is a type of wound, or need, that is so deeply rooted in your soul that you can't help but want to express and explain it. And those who paint, carry their feelings onto paper with acrylics and clay, wax and ink. Those who write may make poems or stories about other worlds just to get the unnamed feelings out and into the world at large. There are many ways, and music is just one of the most revered, and the most magical.

One of my favorite lines in Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing poses the question as to how the guts of a sheep can hail souls from men's bodies. Ahhh, William. How I love thee.

Anyways, it is a good question. How can music, or paint, or words, pull those needs from down in the heart, in the core of your being, and hold it to the light just long enough to give you comfort?

How can this be? I cannot know, and yet I know!

And I really am expecting you to be nodding your head at this point, remembering how you felt when you saw a beautiful sculpture or heard The Fray sing That Song That Makes The World Right And Yet Not.

Well, back to Bonnie Raitt. This song of hers has led me to that cliff (not a scary one) so many times that I no longer consciously am aware that it bubbles up in my mind and comforts me in a way I can only be thankful for. It keeps me steady for just one more day, one more minute, and sometimes that is just what I need. I have always imagined myself standing at the top of a great wall of rock, looking at the land beyond, and feeling the light misty breeze cooling my sadness, and lighting my confusion.

Well, I'm just quoting from memory, but the song says:

And all at once I hear your voice, and time just slips away
Nothing they can say can hold me here
Take me where I only feel the wind across my face
Let me know there's some place left for me...waiting just for me

I know, I know. You are used to me making fun of myself most of the time. And I realize how very emo I sound, but I wanted you to experience this...or at least to let you know that I am deeply, totally, irreversibly strange.

I was looking forward to this Ireland trip like you wouldn't even imagine. I almost ached until we landed in Shannon. And if you are odd like me, you will know that the strangest things heal the strangest things. That is, you can find rest and resolution in unexpected, unrelated places. When we went to Ireland, I was in a bit of a depressed funk from recent events, and I couldn't pull myself from the sticky depths. I stopped to take this picture because it reminded me of hobbits, and I wanted to remember the feeling that they would just come walking up, corn pipe in hand, baskets of mushrooms. And I felt really, really peaceful.

And I walked to this little stone hideaway because my daughter made me. And I looked out the window, and saw the sea. I felt all at once contained and set free, and I could see my ancestors rowing out to the little islands in the water. I thought of my great-grandmother, for whom I named Moira Naomi, and I felt really, really at peace.

I went to an old friary, and zoomed my (Jimmy and Meilyn's) camera out a chink in the rocks. I just wanted to use them like binoculars, but then I saw the grass, and the animals, and the happy little house beyond. Once again, I felt....calm. I was starting to notice that for some reason, be it coincidence, fate, or old Druid magic, I was easing some of my burdens. I started to breathe easy again for the first in many months.

And as I got used to this lovely, luxurious feeling, I reveled in it. I walked up the small ascent to the bottom of Croagh Patrick. Austin went with friends the week before, but we were just going to take the kids to see the statue and put their feet on the same earth that Saint Patrick touched. Right by a little stream, this stone bench waits for tired travelers. It isn't very far from the bottom, and I found it strange that there would even be a rest so early on in the journey. I
turned to see how far we were from the car park, and then was met...astonishingly, amazingly, and breathlessly, by this:

And of course, I heard the words in my head:

Take me where I only feel the wind across my face

Let me know there's someplace left for me.

And like so many other times before, I did feel the wind and the sun and the overwhelming sense that despite my fears, despite my past wounds and unmet needs, I could still be at peace. And I found it, looking out at the land below, smelling the sea, and singing a song.

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