Sunday, March 22, 2009

You never know

All life is a risk and sometimes little surprises pull us up short. Thursday I crossed the road caught my foot in a pothole and fell heavily against the kerb. The fall was hard enough to break the top of my left femur. Within seconds women came across to check I was alright. When they realised I wasn't they held me, called for an ambulance and patiently waited for it to arrive. Goddess knows there are always caring people who will put themselves out to do the right thing.

The next morning I was in the operating theatre having a plate and screws inserted under a spinal block. Science is wonderful to provide a pain free operation whilst wide awake! Goddess thinks very highly of science and skilled anaesthetists and surgeons. She also delights in health care systems that provide first class care absolutely free at the point of demand :) This is Goddess thinking at its very best - no one asking for a credit card before surgery!

And it does not stop there. Since the op everyone has shown such care. Nurses, caterers, the cleaners, and the lovely physios who patiently showed me how to use crutches and manage stairs. Practically all these wonderful people are women. Probably none of them have heard of the Goddess Movement but all are truly following her ways.

I am writing this on my iPhone sat on the orthopaedic ward. Another wonderful reason for science! It weaves webs of communication worthy of the webs woven at the close of Goddess Conference. And thinking of webs thanks to all those special people who have woven a tangible web of healing and prayer. Such is the fabric of the mantle of recovery.

So it is 6 weeks on crutches and another 6 weeks light load bearing. Its a good thing most of my work can be done sitting at the Mac at home. Goddess hinting I should slow a bit and attend to the beautiful bits of the precious gift of life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dancing at Lughnasa

Donegal, Eire

It seems a long time since I last contributed to this blog. Winter has given way to the delights of Spring and today the sun shines joyously upon newly blooming daisies. Truth is I have had a lot of work come in which in a recession has to be a joy in itself. I do enjoy my work. To be doing something creative that I love is itself a great blessing. In the midst of all the work I did manage to take time out to travel to London to see Brian Friel's play, Dancing at Lughnasa at The Old Vic.

The Old Vic is a little gem, almost two hundred years old, small enough to be intimate and now set up for theatre in the round. The stage play of Dancing at Lughnasa entirely takes place in the Kitchen and garden of a croft outside the village of Ballybeg (little town) in County Donegal. It is 1936 and the five Mundy sisters  barely make ends meet. Kate, a teacher at the local school, is the only wage earner. Agnes and Rose knit gloves at home to make a little money. Chris and Maggie have no income of their own. Catholic propriety is the order of the day in a closed world. Yet beyond the kitchen is another world that even now is breaking in. 

The play opens with the revelation that the sisters got their first wireless set that summer. "Maggie - she was the joker of the family - she suggested we give it a name. She wanted to call it Lugh after the old Celtic God of the Harvest ... But Aunt Kate - she was a national schoolteacher  and a very proper woman - she said it would be sinful to christen an inanimate object with any kind of name, not to talk of a pagan god." But this 'inanimate object' is the dwelling of the spirit of dance. It brings music into a home, into womens' lives. The music makes them dance and, as their feet leave the kitchen floor, unquenchable passions are released. 

The five sisters have a brother, Jack, a missionary priest who has spent all his adult life in Africa. In 1930's Donegal poor unmarried sisters have little status in the community. To have a brother who is a priest, a living saint who has devoted his life to lepers gives them a place in society. It is the festival of Lughnasa, harvest time, a time to dance, find a partner, gather in.

Jack returns home from the missions but all is not as it seems. Fintan O'Toole writes, "Friel spent two years between the ages of 16 and 19 at Maynooth training for the priesthood, and he later called it 'an awful experience' that 'nearly drove me cracked.'"

Jack has been sent home in disgrace and Kate is soon to lose her position as a teacher for Jack has discovered something beautiful in Africa. As the time of the pagan festival of Lughnasa plays out in Donegal Jack says, "Or maybe to offer sacrifice to Obi, our Great Goddess of the Earth, so that the crops will flourish ... we have two very wonderful ceremonies: the Festival of the New Yam and the Festival of the Sweet Casava; and they are both dedicated to our Great Goddess, Obi ... We light fires ... and then we dance - and dance - and dance - children, men, women ... dancing, believe it or not, for days on end! It is the most wonderful sight you have ever seen! ... Oh, yes the Ryangans are a remarkable people: there is no distinction between the religious and the secular in their culture. And of course their capacity for fun, for laughing, for practical jokes - they've such open hearts."

At Lughnasa the Mundy family harvest their passions and then all is scattered to the winds. Jack's 'disgrace' means Kate loses her teaching job. A new factory opens and home knitting becomes a thing of the past. With the family income gone Agnes and Rose leave to find work in England. Jack longs for pagan Africa and dies within the year. Yet dance has brought with it true humanity, blessed freedom of spirit, the release of passion, the blessing of the Great Goddess of the Earth. The play ends with these words, " When I remember it, I think of it as dancing. Dancing with eyes half closed because to open them would break the spell. Dancing as if language had surrendered to movement - as if this ritual, this wordless ceremony, was now the way to speak, to whisper private and sacred things, to be in touch with some otherness. Dancing as if the very heart of life and all its hopes might be found in those assuaging notes and those hushed rhythms and in those silent and hypnotic movements. Dancing as if language no longer existed because words were no longer necessary."

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