"Silent, oh Moyle, be the roar of thy waters
Break not ye breezes, your chains of repose
While murmuring mournfully Lir's lonely daughter
Tells to the night star her tale of woes."
The sea of Moyle is the narrowest strait of water between Ireland and Scotland. It links the Atlantic to the Celtic Sea and stretches for twelve lonely miles. A finger of each land stretching towards the other, tantalisingly close yet forever divided. It was here that the Children of Lir were cast for the middle three hundred years of their banishment. Elegant and graceful as swans, singing plaintive their story, but it lost to the wind and the waves and the night star. Who bore witness? Myth did, we read it in their tale.
I’ve been in my house for twenty years now and I know every creak of every rafter, every lift of every tile every clack of every air vent. I know where storms that rage in from the Atlantic hit the house, the spill of rain on every window. My house is safe and snug and bedded into the side of a hill and I feel content here. I’ve enough supplies, candles and a gas stove if there is a power out. I’ll be grand. So while I know all of that there is an inner part of me that wants not to be listening to the cry of the wind and the splatter of the rain. I don’t like being hemmed in, I rail against it, I need to be heard, enough already. It is nowhere near the Sea of Moyle, but we all have one.
It is grey and dreary and my windows are crying. The fire is glowing in the grate and every light in the house is on to counteract it. I have just set a play list on my surround sound speakers to offset the fury of it. John Denver’s ‘There is a storm across the valley’ being overtaken by ACDC’s ‘Thunderstruck’. (That song always makes me play air guitar.) To say nothing of the storm that is ranging in my heart to coincide with it. Two storms aligning, spinning, nature out in sympathy with me. I’ve become one of the ‘Riders of the storm.’
When and how do storms happen? There is a unique set of circumstances, essentially, it is the clash of opposing forces, simply that, but boy can they wreak havoc and destruction. Yet, nature sends them, they have a reason, ultimately they serve a purpose, in the round, in the counter balance of equilibrium, and so to my conundrum. There are some things you can only learn in a storm.
You know when you offer someone shelter from the storm and they chose to lie under the lightning strikes? What do you do then? Leave the door open and the draughts enter and the criminals and thieves and the wild animals? Do you close it, but leave it unlocked and watch in despair through your crying windowpanes? Do you blot it out in a philosophical playlist or do you get your oil skins and lay out there with them, risking life and limb and being no good to anyone? ‘And the thunder rolls.’
It kept me awake all of the live long night. And now my head aches, low, over my eyes, dull and throbbing. I can wish away the storms; I can appeal to my higher power to give me better coping strategies. I can close the blinds and turn the volume up, ultimately though, I’m compelled to bear witness. It ain’t easy; it affects my state of mind, my state of grace. What the hell is heaven’s plan anyway?
Sometimes it seems futile, like voting for a dead person on a ballot paper after getting drenched in the effort. There was nobody to hold the door open when the wind gusted it shut on me, nor shield me with an umbrella and noo big sister swan to fan her wings. I tried to hold my own, but it turned inside out. A tree that falls in a forest that somebody might hear. I suppose though there is a catharsis in bearing witness. Well, there is for the one being witnessed.
I know that in Shangri-la they have beautiful sunsets. We must trust the sun to come up, to rise again in the east, to warm and to thaw the land. ‘There will be sunshine after rain.’ Writing is a medium that sustains me, I put it out there. Someone bears witness or do they? Maya Angelou said that, 'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.'
Some hearts carry heavy and terrible burdens. I have come to know that not every heart can carry them. Bearing witness, simply that, is the greatest gift that we can give to another. It is a gift that you can give to yourself too, but it asks you to reach out, to take risks, to dare to share. Sometimes you even have to rustle up a storm, and step right into the eye of it. 'Tis a risky business, hearts can and do get shattered.
What happens when you dare to take the risk yet you remain unheard? That is a tough one. One answer is to not share it there again. Another is to chance it a second time and hope, but live with the consequences. The third option is to cop right onto yourself and be very choosey where you share it. In order to see the sunshine, you have to weather the tempest.
The same works in reverse, when you offer to bear witness, when you reach out and you get rejected. You must be kind and respectful, you must leave the latch off the door and you must be prepared to step up if called. The rest you can do sweet eff all about. Except maybe, try to bear that story inside of you. Rejection is a dark place, and bleak in the wake of a storm, but it builds character.
Eventually there will be a sliver of blue in the sky, shadows cast on the paintwork of my car and a raggedy cat looking to be fed. The storm will abate. Someone made me jam for my croissants. Sweet moments of a Sunday amidst storm clouds. My friend is on the phone offering to take ‘author’ shots of me, someone reaches and I grab the outstretched hand 'shelter from the rain.' I will not reject the offering. Not sure how they will come out in this Gawd awful weather, but I suppose they will be atmospheric. There are fair-weather friends and the ones that love you even in the storm ‘Sky, blue and black’. ‘If you ever need holding, call my name, I’ll be there…’