Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"It is in the Shelter of Each Other That People Live"

"The present is passed over in the race for the future; the here is neglected in favor of the there; and the individual is dwarfed by the enormity of the mass. America, which has the most glorious present still existing in the world today, hardly stops to enjoy it, in her insatiable appetite for the future. Perhaps the historian or the sociologist or the philosopher would say that we are still propelled by our frontier energy, still conditioned by our pioneer pressures or our Puritan anxiety to 'do ye next thing.' Europe, on the other hand, which we think of as being enamored of the past, has since the last war, strangely enough, been forced into a new appreciation of the present. The good past is so far away and the near past is so horrible and the future is so perilous, that the present has a chance to expand into a gold eternity of here and now. Europeans today are enjoying the moment even if it means merely a walk in the country on Sunday or sipping a cup of black coffee at a sidewalk café." ~~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, written in 1955
One has only to visit Europe to discover that Anne Morrow Lindbergh's assessment proves true. Excitement grew as I came upon these words gleaned from her book, Gift from the Sea, which I read while in England and Ireland this summer. My husband and I discussed the differences we encountered in the attitudes of the kind, generous people we met and observed. Our conclusions match Mrs. Lindbergh's.

Irish workman answers Tom's work-related questions in Dublin
While Americans are busy forming a brand new country, those in Europe are busy resting from centuries of horrid experiences including brutal invasions and wars, famine, division, political unrest. A respite cradles them in this present time, even as problems arise which, in comparison, are small, manageable. For now. There is a sense of contentment, of calm, even in the rushings of London, the vibrant artfulness of Galway, and the joyful noise of Dublin.

Irish and English hearts remind me of contented guests who know the night is coming, and with it another morning of hard work and a long week beyond. Yet, even then, the sweet and spicy aroma of traditional foods still tantalize, and yes, there is another good story or two on the moist lips of those in the flame-lit living room, and a lilting melody begs to vibrate strings and voices. So linger the guests do, while the camaraderie does last, and the senses are enlivened. Lingering, relishing, taking in the moment, this seems to be the state of the people I met, the culture I stepped into. It felt right, real, natural.

To clearly view a further distance backward down history's time line than I ever have before, while measuring that distance with the wisdom of the ages, expands my boundaries, enriches my perspectives, and energizes my understanding while at the same time balancing my equilibrium toward future distances yet to traverse. Observing past and future from a clearer European vantage point snapped the present into sharp focus for me, the present moment with its gentility, its serenity, even its wary hope.

Ireland calls me home. London invites another visit.

Soon. Soon.

This sign hangs in the beautiful Belfast City Hall