First of all, I had no idea that I was walking on a bog in the beginning. We had just arrived in Ireland and I was anxious to get out on the land.
It just looked like a field any normal field in central New York State where I live. We had asked a local server at the pub why the “holy well” shown on the map seemed to be on private property and how did others access it.
His answer, “Fences are for keeping the sheep in, not people out.” So we climbed through and through and through.
What is this place, I asked?
My feet sink in and there is a silence that I’ve never heard before. A silence that is so still. Like the still point of balance. Like the worlds, under, above and between, were in perfect soundless harmony.
And the water, ohhhh, the water. I am walking on water. Aren’t I?
Then an awareness, a sudden sense occurred. It was a realization that I had slipped or, it would be better said, sunken, into the watery soul of an Irish bog.
Simultaneously, and even more profoundly, I was struck by the loss of my constant and lifelong sense of homesickness. It had been such a chronic companion that I had actually forgotten that I even had it until this moment. It was gone. I was no longer homesick. After traveling 24 hours by car and plane and car again, over the Atlantic ocean, to a place I had never been before but had only heard about and where I had been for just one day and now, having wandered into what looked like a normal pasture that was really just a green ocean like I had never experienced before full of strange flowers and smells that were owned by people that, apparently, were ok with strangers walking on their property to find hidden sacred places and my heart, soul, and sopping wet socks, knew I was home.
Where did my homesickness go?
It left when you returned.
What is that silence?
It’s the sound of the wind standing still.
I think it was what Irish poet William Butler Yeats described as “that condition of quiet”.
“Even to-day our country people speak with the dead and with some who perhaps have never died as we understand death; and even our educated people pass without great difficulty into the condition of quiet that is the condition of vision. We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life….” ~from The Celtic Twilight
Will I fall through?
You already have. Why are you here?
I’ve come for my ancestors. Where are they? I’ve come because I have been orphaned and have no homeland. I’ve come because I was born in America but my mother told me that I’m Irish and Italian and in elementary school we were assigned a class project where we all had to research where we were descended from and none of us could say America. We were all from somewhere else. Ireland, Italy, Poland, Africa… Like orphans, homeless, a motherland we only imagined and grandparents with accents that they tried to hide and stories they didn’t tell. No stories. No ancestors. No sacred burial grounds. In Ireland the signs said "burial ground" instead of cemetery. The word "cemetery", so clinical, so dead.
I’ve come because there is a gaping hole in the tapestry of who I am. A place where the threads were dropped or cut, left, unwoven.
Your people left here because they were dying.
Wouldn’t dying have been better? Dying here. Dying to this place, dying to our ancestors, our clans, our cheiftans, our kings, our holy mothers, the stones, this mist, the rain, this softness beneath my feet. What life do we have without the water to shape and tender our roots?
You have a lineage. Yes, unwoven so.
And the grass, my cousin was with me and she noticed, the grass was like our hair. Coarse, thick, unruly. We laid down in it.
I can’t stay here.
Return is not the same as going back. When you return home you awaken a place in your heart that exists now. Feed it. Tapestries aren’t made from sewing back and forth over the same stitches. Make new ones.
Make a home for exiles.
And the well. We found the holy well finally. It took all day although we had passed right by it when we first set out. It was not a grand well but a hidden pool where the water rushed out and along the surface. As did we.
“You did not come into this world, you came out of it.
You are not a stranger here.”