Thursday, May 28, 2009
I would probably never have picked this book up had it not been for the title. Then I looked at the photo and thought it looked like a book with something to say to me. I was also drawn to the green color. I always think it interesting what makes a book speak loudly enough to be picked up.
Because we're going to Ireland - a month of sleeps to go! - I wondered what Frances Greenslade could tell me about being a pilgrim in Ireland. I'm feeling that this trip is a pilgrimage for me too. I don't really expect to find relatives who will know me. Not at all. But, Greenslade comments on wondering if she would feel immediately at home when she sets foot in Ireland. I have had that hope, too.
Her pilgrimage begins in response to a need to find spiritual roots. A Canadia woman of Irish ancestry, Greenslade grew up in Ontario. But there is a BC connection for me: she attended UBC and married a man from the Sto:lo nation in the Fraser Valley. His aboriginal spirituality and connection to his ancestors prompted Greenslade to make the journey to Ireland.
Greenslade is an excellent storyteller and it was pretty easy to identify with her as she traveled around the Irish countryside, cities and towns. In fact, I will be practically following her footsteps - not to Northen Ireland, though. Her discovery of how she connects with her ancestors' faith is probably not something I will experience since my Irishness is only a single thread among many family threads.
But one parallel between her family's spirituality and her husband's was quite disturbing. She comments on how the aboriginals' spirituality had been forcibly taken from them through relocation and re-education by the Canadian government of the time. Her own family left behind all the meaningful locations of their spiritual life when they left Ireland. Subsequent generations were stripped of the past no less than the generations of aboriginal past were taken away. Both have had to refashion their spirituality from past practises in another time and place.
While I'm certain that I will find some sense of my past in Ireland, like Greenslade, I will be happy to come home.