Awakening to the gifts in living as the mountains of certainty crumble around us.
On a bright November morning, as my uncle and I looked across Galway Bay to the Clare mountains, Joe said: “One day you will wake up, look out your window to find these mountains will have disappeared into the sea.”
I pondered this incredible thought and recalled Mary Oliver’s lines from her poem ‘The Poet Dreams of the Mountain’ and I reassured myself that the Burren mountains were safe for at least 10,000 years.
As I walk on the shore this Easter Saturday morn, I feel grateful to see the Clare mountains still standing strong.
They aim towards heaven, though I note they look blue in colour – reflecting the ache in the hearts of humanity around the globe. As I walk on the shore, I reflect that almost every ‘Mountain of Certainty and Security’ I had built in my own life has crumbled before my eyes in a short few weeks.
How humbling it is for this granny to behold, so much of what I thought I had gathered as wisdom over my lifetime, now lies in rubble at my feet.
I marvel at the beauty of the stones I walk on. For the first time in my life I understand how my father could spend hours here, seemingly lost in wonderment of the stories he read in these large and small stones, reflected by their shapes, size and colour.
I now begin to see glimpses of the people and stories he saw. On returning home, with his pockets full, he would place them lovingly on the wall near his back door where he loved to sit and get to know them more deeply. This wall was adorned with stones and shells and, as I reflect back now, I see how this deeply spiritual man nourished his soul at this altar every day. I pick up a stone shaped like the map of Australia for my grandchildren, knowing the love they carry for the country they were born in.
How did I miss the magic world at my back door all the other times I’ve walked here? This time I feel very present to where I am. I’m feasting now on the joy of being free from doing and this has opened up glimpses of old memories of playing as a child on the rocks. As a seven year old, I taught my first class here where my imaginary students sat on a cluster of rocks that formed a little circle. Years of the Atlantic Ocean pounding my childhood classroom means it too has been brought to a flattened rubble.
To my great delight I see some sea flowers standing in the centre of what was once my childhood classroom.
My mind wanders with great joy in my heart to the many years I would later spend in the real classroom in Salerno. I note the wonderful energy and passion of my teaching career that still pulses within. A reminder to me that as the old people who were so close to nature would say: “Tagann aithridhe…” Changes do come in our lives, but if we can stay awhile with them, open our eyes and heart to their new murmurings, we too can see new shoots of awakenings within.
By steadying our ship, our way of being in the world, we can behold riches we were blind to before now. When we are again told to ‘Sail Ship’ we will be amazed at the new cargo we have on board to help sustain us until we can again come safely ashore to our own internal landing pier.
These last few weeks of retreat from my busyness of doing, have allowed me so much time. I have awakened to the gifts in living, to feel the wonder of the sound of the sea; the joy as the birds perform their symphonies; the love within me on hearing voices of loved ones on the phone.
Memories, oh so precious, that were buried deep within over the years now come alive now in this quiet to nourish and sustain me in these astonishing times. I’m discovering wells of healing and of hope around me in nature and springing from within me now that I’m in a quieter world free from so many distractions.
My awareness of the changes sprouting from the rubble is echoed by the voice of my granddaughter on her mum’s phone: “Granny, are you ok?” Or a text from Amy: “Mrs Con, can I get you anything? You were there for me in school, I’m here for you now.”
My mother’s words flash back to me on the darkest day of her life as she stopped her crying, briefly, to say: “Look at the butterfly…there’s God’s angel.” Walking and reflecting at this time of fear and changes in our lives, I’m so thankful to see that precious angels are still present.
Before I part the shore, I bless myself with sea water. I pray to my ancestors, who walked and fished these shores before me, to continue to bless us and to wave their love and energy over us from the sea.
I return home feeling calm and reassured that love continues to bless us in abundance.
"Unknown to us, there are moments,
When crevices we cannot see open,
For time to come alive with beginning.”
John O’Donohue"Unknown to us, there are moments,When crevices we cannot see open,For time to come alive with beginning.”John O’Donohue
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Awakening to the gifts in living as the mountains of certainty crumble around us.Awakening to the gifts in living as the mountains of certainty crumble around us.