An old Irish blessing once was, “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.” It’s a familiar quote as we regularly here it in lyric and tune, often in church settings. In fairness it was commonly used at the end of significant life events, like weddings or funerals, were it was passed as a farewell to a loved one headed into something new. With that we have a tendency to apply it to spirituality and overlook its earthy rootedness. The section I’ve quoted is one of four stanzas. The rest of the poem is much like it, and many other Irish lilts, where green grass, good earth, little flowers and sweet rain all grace the lines.
We live in a time where life lessons and earthly connections have dramatically shifted. The notion of a long hard walk for practical need is fleeting. No body needs the “road to rise up”, we have skywalks. How many know the feeling of beating into a wind and sea to be able to finely turn a point of land with the wind then shifting to our backs? It’s easy to become separated from this giant globe that spins unceasingly around the sun as we sit at our desks checking our Facebook or bank accounts. However, our little student garden never becomes separated. She wants the sun to shine on her face and the rain to fall softly on her fields.
It’s the rain that came so fierce today that cast me back to this old verse. I too, often find myself separated in my office unattached to the needs of the ground outside my window. But, today I was off touring guests around the farms in my truck when at the top of the vineyard it came the hardest. ½ mile in a long patch of ‘Niagra’ and cv. Concords, with my windows rolled tight, the vines and I shared the sweet rain. In moments like that you’re reminded why these old verses turned spiritual.
I’m greatly anticipating another season but I’m enjoying the now. Our garden is happy with the rain, for one day in not to distant a future she will be dry. Over the next few months I hope to slip out as often as possible and touch the earth. Peter Shaffer, a 20th century English playwright, said, “The trouble is if you don’t spend your life yourself, other people spend it for you.” Plan to spend some time for yourself in April, for we can now say a fond farewell to winter “Go n-eiri an bother leat”.