Just returned from a 5 day trip working and playing in Dublin and Belfast. Had a great time with many people – in the work and in the play. I tend to see the fun and happiness in most moments and the last 5 days provided so many of them.
My Dublin visit focused on a seminar held on International Women’s Day that I chaired/facilitated/piloted. Over 60 people came together to discuss the needs of homeless women in Dublin. I’m not going to go into the minutae of the day (I’ll let you know when and where the report will be posted). What I do want to shine the light on is the incredible gift of energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the people there. One of the things I wanted to create was a space that allowed both heart and head energy. That allowed people to express their frustration, sorrow, anger, passion and hope – and – at the same time explore the structures, strategies, resources, tools and partnerships needed to make change happen. We did that together.
My Belfast visit was for fun and with clients who are also friends. Brian was my host and opened his home to me for the weekend – a great gift that I really appreciate. I also appreciate the gift of Brian’s friendship – his generosity of spirit; off the wall sense of humour – and – sense of fun. The whole time was a lovely blur of social contact in really beautiful places. It’s a wonderful city and on the Saturday night Brian and I had dinner and drinks with 2 other of my client/friends Kerry and Tracy (two amazing women) and her husband Stephen. I can honestly say that I haven’t laughed so much in ages – and you gotta love the northern accents. I was also introduced to a range of northern words and sayings that had me completely stumped – and – I can’t repeat here.
This is my second visit to Belfast and each time I have stayed in Brian’s home. And, on each of those Sundays we go to mass. Now, I was raised an Irish Catholic in Australia (I’d say it would be the smallest denomination in that country). I stopped going to mass when I was 14 after talking to my parents about my belief that whatever God was, he/she lived inside each of us – and part of our life purpose was to connect to our own and each others inner power. I felt that I didn’t want/need to partake of the public and group experience of mass. Being the amazing people they were/are they listened and accepted what I said. I never went to mass again.
I have gone to mass on my 2 recent Belfast visits because I honour Brian and I was curious to see what mass was like after over 30 years. Each time I have received a gift in the form of something the priest has said. On Sunday he talked about the 7 gifts and I was struck how apt they are as guides to the way we could treat ourselves and others.
I also realised that while I have taken the time to explore and enjoy other spiritualities (particularly Buddhism) I had done the ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ thing and pretty much ignored the spirituality I had been raised in. I think I may do a little more exploring and see what other gifts it can offer.
The seven gifts are – wisdom, understanding, good counsel, courage, knowledge, kindness and wonder & awe. They are all excellent values to live by.
The whole 5 day trip was a gift. A gift in using my skills and experience to be of use to others. A gift given to me of other people’s time, energy and affection. A gift in continually affirming why and how I choose to live.
And when I returned home yesterday after nearly 7 hours travel (waited 40 minutes for a taxi which was obviously a gift in allowing me to practice patience) there was a note to tell me there was a parcel waiting for me at the post office.
Now folks, I’m the kinda woman that truly lives the ‘ it is as good to give as to receive’ motto. I love giving people gifts – of my time and possessions. I also adore receiving presents. I never say ‘oh, you shouldn’t have’. I particularly love presents when I don’t expect them (and thank you heaps Tracy for the russian dolls present over the weekend).
So, I wandered up to the Post Office hoping it was a present and not a big report from a client – and my wish was answered. My brother Marc in Singapore had sent me a little present package that included 2 gorgeous tins of Jasmine tea flowers. I was delighted because I had only mentioned in an email a week ago that I love jasmine tea and Marc had heard me and gone and bought me very special jasmine flowers that open up when you add hot water. Too fab.
I’ve also just remembered that Marc’s mum and my step mum Liz just sent me 2 balls of beautiful wool because I’d mentioned how hard it was to get good wool here in Ireland. Thanks Liz. I’m really enjoying the soothing rhythm of the knitting. I get such a childish delight in receiving unexpected gifts – that people have taken the time to think of me and make the effort to send me a parcel. It touches me.
Ain’t life grand.
You see, I believe there is an exponential result from giving gifts (a gift within a gift) a kind of ripple effect – be it the gift of our time, our hearts, or solid objects. I feel fab when I give or receive gifts. I love seeing people’s delight/surprise when I freely give of myself or my possessions. And, getting all the gifts from friends and family over the last few days not only makes me deeply happy but also heartened and hopeful.
I’m heartened and hopeful that from families to nations we will give each other gifts. Gifts of understanding, kindness, wisdom, good counsel, courage, knowledge,and awe & wonder. That we can make a conscious effort in each day to feel and express those gifts within ourselves and then dancing out to share them with others. That’s my hope.
Finally, I would hope and wish that the newly elected Assembly in Northern Ireland will practice the 7 gifts over the next 2 weeks and create the real potentials and possibilities that we all want.