Tuesday, July 06, 2010

A Terrible Beauty

Certainly part of the "comma" of Ireland is how she lives on in my every day like a lover abruptly cleaved from my breast, or a dear departed whose spirit's stayed on. I continue to be surprised by the frequency of these...what I call flashes. I can be in the middle of a Reiki treatment, completely focused on the client before me when flash I am walking the Grand Canal in the company of coots and swans, or crossing the street at Merrion Square with the Bank of Ireland just beyond, or raising a glass (or chopstick) at Yamamori, or turning the nondescript corner onto Pearse from Barrow. It's odd to me that this one corner, with its abandoned mill complete with broken windows, always with a bit of trash floating in the water by the Docklands, returns to me most. It's just as if I've left myself there. A self that is walking about, still making these turns and gestures, not having missed a beat.

It's more than a year since I left Dublin. I cannot explain this phenomenon. I thought it would cease after a time, but it has not. Lately, it is stronger than ever.

But then how could I know what it would do anyway? I've never experienced this before. I climb again the rise to the bridge to Ringsend. I see the steely gray sky with the steeple of St. Patrick's in relief against it. I notice the fresh blue paint on Mrs. Quin's Charity Shop. Tesco, the library: again and again, I find myself flashing on these places. Howth, the Animal Clinic, the Pharmacy, the Liffey, the Winding Stair. It's truly as if I'm still living there, still carrying on my life as before. Still pulsing with the everpresent sweetness that infused those days.

To be clear: I don't go there in thought. I don't start reminiscing the way one does when looking at photos of a place once visited, perhaps loved. These aren't memories coming over me. They are the happening moments themselves, living again--or still: alive. When my mind is completely elsewhere.

They showed up often when I would give Reiki to Cleo, and I started to think that aspects of those returning moments were somehow being completed or healed through her, with her. But the same thing is happening, if less frequently, with clients--even those I am treating for the first time. They certainly weren't there with us. How could they be connected to my Dublin life?

Then I think maybe it's a consequence of opening the heart. To channel Reiki is to channel pure Love. This engages at the very least my heart (ideally all my heart) and hands. When I open my heart, I find Ireland there: I'm thinking that could explain the flashes. But it doesn't, because there's plenty else in my heart that doesn't spontaneously spring forth like this. It's a puzzlement--a comma, to say the least. Which should forewarn you that this little entry has no ta-dah! conclusion in the end.

It's no secret that I have missed Ireland, my Irish life. It must have been talk of that that had my neighbor-friend mention Ireland: A Terrible Beauty to me. He had fond memories of its
striking, atmospheric images from having seen the book a couple of decades ago. Intrigued, I requested it from the library.

What has struck me most about the book are these words--sentiments, really--of its creators, Jill and Leon Uris:

You might call [this book] a love song. For those among them who have it to give, and they are the vast majority, nowhere are friendship and kindness lavished more freely on the stranger. The thought of these people will warm us for all our years. Even the memory of "that soft Irish weather."

In the words of Smokey Robinson, I second that emotion. I recognize the love that permeates these lines; I feel it as well. In no uncertain terms, that land and its people have gotten deeply under my skin. So have the abandoned mill building at Pearse and Barrow, the water scum at the Docklands, the ordinary walk into Ringsend, evidently. And yes: even the "soft Irish weather."

Maybe these flashes are phrases, measures of my love song,


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