I once imagined myself as the Celtic Samurai. Not sure what it meant, but sounded catchy. I developed an oral storytelling that I performed and seemed on my way to connect to my Irish heritage. But life kept me only in touch with what was Japanese. I had lost touch with the Celtic Samurai, but woke the other day in the dark hours before dawn with a strange feeling and found myself reading about Celtic Wisdom.
In Anam Cara by John O'Donohue, I read that "the Celtic mind was not burdened by dualism. It did not separate what belongs together. The Celtic imagination articulates the inner friendship that embraces Nature, divinity, underworld, and human world as one. The dualism that separates the invisible, time from eternity, the human from the divine, was totally alien to them. Their sense of ontological friendship yielded a world of experience imbued with a rich texture of otherness, ambivalence, symbolism and imagination. For our sore and tormented separation, the possibility of this imaginative and unifying friendship is the Celtic gift."
This resonated deep inside me, stirring long slumbering memory, as if I was coming home. What I had long thought of as Eastern, coming to me naturally through my Japanese and Zen heritage, was now felt in a new light. Even the samurai way of viewing death was echoed in the sentiment that friendship with death enables us to celebrate the eternity of the soul, which death cannot touch.
Not knowing why, I opened a folder of documents of family records and there it was -- my paternal grandmother Mary Kelliher Murphy, had died on this day 100 years ago. My students joke that I'm timeless and I tell them that I've been around, but not that long. I never met my grandmother. Or my grandfather either. But both were born and raised in the west of Ireland where the Celtic imagination is imbued in a landscape that wasn't just matter but was actually alive in a mode of stillness, solitude, and silence.
I sensed that knowing my grandparents through Celtic wisdom could help me to connect with my forgotten or neglected inner wealth. It could help half become whole. It could enable me to come home to myself and learn to rest within.