Far and Away
- Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, 24
And when you're Irish it's multiplied a thousand times over.
I've always had an ache, a pull at the heart that comes in sweet pangs of music, rain washed skies, scents and smells, tea, mince, the feel of old polished wooden boards, the yellowed pages of books I've loved, the sound of the tin whistle, the pipes, the loon's cry. Mountains.
I think this ache is felt everywhere in the human race, but it seems to me (again, with my insider information) that the hearts of the Irish exude it. Perhaps beauty is the culprit?
Beauty is the arrow of God sent to pierce mortal hearts. It's in the very lilt of the Celtic voice, the deep green quilts of turf that spill and spread themselves over the craggy climbs and cliffs of Ireland, and beauty dances with abandon in Erin's jigs and reels. She weeps in her dirges and airs. If we let ourselves feel this longing, this ache, it can take us to holy places. And holy faces too. To Jesus and Mary and the holy men and women of our race.
"When men have a longing so great that it surpasses human nature and eagerly desire and are able to accomplish things beyond human thought, it is the Bridegroom who has smitten them with this longing. It is he who has sent a ray of his beauty into their eyes. The greatness of the wound already shows the arrow which has struck home, the longing indicates who has inflicted the wound."
- Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ, Second Book, 15, 14th century