Anytime I go to the West of Ireland I am always struck by the vastness of the horizons and the wildness of the ocean. This photo comes from Valentia Island, a beautiful, enchanted, place off the South West coast, with peaceful walks and windy beaches, seals, puffins and seabirds. But it is from the movement of the ocean that we can learn most, how to remain spacious and keep the heart soft, open and fluid.
May there come across the waters A path of yellow moonlight To bring you safely home. May the nourishment of the earth be yours, May the clarity of light be yours, May the fluency of the ocean be yours, May the protection of the ancestors be yours. And so may a slow Wind work these words Of love around you, An invisible cloak To mind your life.
John O’Donoghue, Beannacht
(If you are ever tempted to visit this beautiful place, I would highly recommend this airbnb, run by Tom, a deeply thoughtful man and the perfect host. He runs a lovely house with well-stocked bookshelves, ideal for a reflective break.)
[Even some] lovely people feel that their real identity is working on themselves, and some work on themselves with such harshness. Like a demented gardener who won’t let the soil settle for anything to grow, they keep raking, tearing away the nurturing clay from their own heart, then they’re surprised that they feel so empty and vacant. Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do.
The Celtic stories suggest that time as the rhythm of soul has an eternal dimension where everything is gathered and minded. Here nothing is lost. This is a great consolation. The Happenings in your life do not disappear. Nothing is ever lost or forgotten. Everything is stored within your soul in the temple of memory. Integration is a vital part of coming home to yourself. Camus said aptly that after one day in the world you could spend the rest of your life in solitary confinement and you would still have dimensions of that day’s experience left to decipher. Every human heart seeks meaning; for it is in meaning that our deepest shelter lies. Meaning is the sister of experience, and to discern the meaning of what has happened to you is one of the essential ways of finding your inner belonging and discovering the sheltering presence of your soul.