This will be a much simpler newsletter than previous ones. Due to the constraints of life on the road I will not be able to post this on my web site. I am in an internet cavern in Dublin with about 100 people from all over the planet. We are every colour of the rainbow click-clicking our keyboards, each of us sending words though the ethers to people we care about. In a sense we are magicians, conjuring up images and feelings, participating in a 21st century rite that could connect the world with love if we so choose. Here then, is my news from the road.
The Path of the Bard
Cold winds are gusting through the streets of Dublin - bits of candy bar wrappers and dead leaves swirl at my feet. With frozen fingers, I pack up my harp and the afternoon's earnings, crawling into the warmth of the library at the Royal Irish Academy. The air smells of wood smoke and dusty books. At last, far from the shoppers, I can breathe...
I am in search of Oona, the wife of Fionn MacCumhal and the Tain Bo Cuailnge, the oldest book of stories said to have passed from the Druids to paper. For a moment I think I hear the clatter of horse hooves on cobbled streets - alas, it is only the clicking of fingers on a computer keyboard...
According to Fionn MacCumhal, the three things that make a poet are:
1) Fire of Song
2) Light of Knowledge
3) The Art of Extempore Recitation
Midst the turmoil of the recent terrorist attacks on America, I draw comfort from these ancient texts. Their depth and solidity contrasts sharply with the shallow sickness I see in the city around me. Contained within these stories are centuries of hope. Surely we have the wisdom to rise above hatred and misunderstanding. Surely it is time to recognize the love that we are.
Over the past 10 weeks, Maeve, Queen of the Fairies aka Oona has busked in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin and many villages in between, red velvet cloak flying in the wind. We (the Royal we) have played and sung and told stories at festivals and cafes, feeling as if we are on assignment, undercover. My mission: bring magic to the world, help people heal and remember who you are. So, I stumble somewhat blindly, heavy harp and heavier pack on my back, encountering kindness wherever I go. Truly, the fool is embraced. The traveller is welcomed and sheltered and blessed. My strength lies in my vulnerability, my healing in the sense of safety and kinship I feel wherever I go. I learn that home is here, inside my heart. As I grieve for what we as humans are capable of doing to each other and the Earth, I see that our collective strength lies in our vulnerability. We are all children, wise and innocent, hungering for love and brimming with potential.
The library is closing. Computers and lights are being shut down, manuscripts locked in glass cabinets. Scholars with ruffled hair and squeaky shoes head for the street. Only the books remain, speaking through their covers of our age old quest for truth and meaning in a world of transience and change.
I believe that if all the acts of goodness and beauty we perform each day - every picture painted, song sung, baby fed, garden tended - were put in a pile they would weigh much more than the darkness and destruction we now mourn. It has been a good summer. May it be a peaceful fall.
To close, here are my lessons from the road:
1) People are kind.
2) Magic exists.
3) Children are aware of wonders that most adults cannot see.
4) The Earth is full of secrets. Stones, trees and rivers are hungering for us to commune with them.
5) Joy is our birthright.
6) There is no end to love.
An Irish Blessing
the road rise to meet you
You will do foolish things but do them with enthusiasm.