Monday, May 2, 2011
Land of the Young
A priest from Ireland sat on my front porch watching the children playing in the yard. He mumbled something. I asked what he had said. "Tir na n-oge," he said, "It means 'land of the young,' a place where people are forever young. It's a kind of spirit world right very close to us.
O'Donohue in his "Anam Cara" says, "The eternal is not elsewhere; it is not distant." He quotes an old Celtic saying, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." This is the land of the little people, the fairies, the souls of the dead. Movement between there and here is easy. O'Donohue says, "The eternal world and the mortal world are not parallel, rather they are fused. The beautiful Gaelic phrase 'woven into and through each other' captures this."
There are in Ireland many sacred wells. They are seen as thresholds between these two worlds. Ancient Celts reverenced them as special openings through which divinity flowed. Even now many of these wells are treated with respect.
Our tour guide in Ireland took our busload to one of these wells. There was a stone table there that looked very much like an altar. We decided to celebrate Mass. We had bread, but the guide had to take the bus and go in search of wine. He was succesful and we had a very intimate celebration with a feeling of being in close touch with our ancient ancestors.