Blazing Heat. A fiery sun in a clear sky. Only the kindly presence of great leafy trees catching, sharing a breeze, offered reprieve. It was not yet nine am on that first Sunday Morning of August, People were beginning to gather for a day celebrating Irish Heritage. By mid-afternoon the temperature, with humidity factored in, would reach 43 degrees Celsius.
Staff at the Pioneer Village in London Ontario assisted as I lifted from the car’s trunk boxes of my newly published books, Singing the Dawn. The books were set out on a trestle table in Doctor Jones’s barn. We placed a large banner on a wooden stand so that Jo Jayson’s wonderful painting of Brigid smiled over the display of books.
On one side of the barn were tables where the London Archival Society displayed photos and documents of nineteenth century Irish settlement in London. On the opposite side were tables where an Irish speaker would tutor those who wished to learn a few phrases in their ancestral language, and a genealogist who would trace family roots back to Ireland.
It seemed the perfect location, the perfect event where I might meet kindred spirits who shared my fascination with Ireland’s earth -honouring, woman- respecting, life- enhancing Spiritual Herstory. Soon they would be coming in through that open barn door, eager to learn more of Brigid and her fiery community in 5th Century Kildare. People aware as I have been of our need for just such a fire to ignite a new spirituality for our time on this planet… People thirsty as I was for nourishing waters of the spirit. People like the characters in my novel who were drawn to the Communion of Star of the Sea on an island off the West Coast of Ireland…
The day moved on. The heat intensified . Crowds gathered at the venue on the other side of Pioneer Village to watch the talented young Irish dancers in their brilliant velvet costumes.
A few people found their way to the Barn where I waited. They gazed at the image of Brigid, glanced at the books, moved on.. Some asked questions about the book and of these three or four bought a book.
By midday the heat was becoming intolerable. I looked towards the open door of the barn. A red-haired woman in a long white dress was walking across the grass. Brigid perhaps? But no, This woman was from our time, She was carrying a bag from who open top I glimpsed an electric fan. I recognized my younger sister Margaret. Though the heat , the labyrinthine paths she’s found her way to the Barn.
In a few moments a blessed breeze transformed the setting. Margaret purchased books for the family which I signed. We sat together to talk. Soon our sister Kathy came by. I signed her book while she traced our McLaughlin Lineage from the North of Ireland to Mayo with the Genealogist.
When my sisters left it was probably high time for me to give up, pack up and leave….but something held me there.
A young woman approached. “I’ve been looking for teachings on Spirituality,” she said, picking up the promo sheet from the table, reading…
What if a seed survived from Brigid’s Community in 5th c. Kildare? “Singing the Dawn” is a novel set on islands off the west coast of Ireland “beyond the ninth wave” where the old tales promise the Otherworld is present. The seven women who form the “Communion of Star of the Sea” in the twenty-first century are the inheritors of a way of life founded in the ninth century by Maire, a woman living in the Kildare Monastery, four centuries after Brigid. The destruction of Kildare in a Viking Raid forces Maire to flee to the west. On the shores of Lough Corrib, she encounters a woman who gives her the task of beginning a Community whose role will be to prepare for a future time when once more the Feminine Sacred will be honoured on the earth. The members of the Communion live as hermits on the islands, gathering to celebrate the eight earth festivals of the Celtic Calendar. The story begins in 2012 with the arrival of a new woman, Ohn’ya, mysteriously drawn to the islands by a message found in a roofless chapel on Achill Island.
“What I find on line is so shallow,” the young woman said. “This is what I need,” I signed her book. For a while we spoke of our need for a spirituality that answers the longings of our hearts while embracing the wonders we are discovering about the Universe and the fragile aching beauty of life on our planet.
That one conversation would have been enough. Yet there was a second. A woman close to my age came in , sat down in the welcome wind emanating from the fan… She spoke of the house she’s building on her ancestral land in a forest, of her longing to find companions who share her love of the earth, her yearning for a spirituality needed for our times. I spoke with her about the women in my novel who share these same longings.
“When you gather women in your home to speak of these things, invite me to come to talk with them. I gave her my card, signed her book.
” I don’t often come into London,” she said. “I think I came here today to meet you.”
Kindred Spirits. They exist . In books and in those who long to read of them, and sometimes we find them in person: in sisters, in strangers.