My friend Clare says love is everywhere you just have to look. Out the back of this great-famine-relief house, we have a neighbour who lives by a heart of rage, traversing his farmyard for glimpses of darkness through the dawn; you could hang water pails from his rigid shoulders for the unfixable nature of him. Some days when I look out between the flaking red paint of our window frames, I see a wisp tangle at the base of his heavy-set neck, a breath of judgment in pursuit of some child within maybe, and there are moments when I’m afraid his heart might crack his bones with the weight of it swinging inside his body.
Once we came to angry words as I fought for dominance of a common patch of infertile earth and brambles, my voice rose to a streaky sneer of yellow from inside an impenetrable place and shame still hangs a hood over my eyes whenever they meet the tips of his weary shoes.
Today, as I write this in a time when there is no hiding place or blas or falseness I see him through the thick, unpolished, aluminium door of our local takeaway, my heart grows arms and surges with the exchange of comfort and the bond of neighbours pacing the same workhouse walls, waiting for a new directive. Five yards long, they stretch beyond the realms of the I, beyond the realms of our Irish shuddering at the connect of chest to chest and recent space regulations. An open palm to his temporal bones feels the weight formed by years of trouble and, as I sink my ear against his chest, I see my sadness, pink and raw. But somewhere in between are flashes of blue; a kaleidoscope of skies beyond will, beyond belief and, in that timeless second, our souls laugh, far beyond the heaviness of reason, at the stuckness of it all.
Eilís is a trained mediator, counsellor and researcher who has spent many years working as small part of Northern-Ireland peace programmes. In her work, Eilís, a practised interviewer and writer uses collaborative kaupapa Māori research methods learned as part of her Masters in Indigenous Studies with Otago University, Aotearoa-New Zealand. Eilís has been inspired by ancient healing modalities such as the Māori te whare tapa whā (the four cornerstones) and Tibetan medical practise which celebrate the spirit as being a key component of our wellness. From her childhood in the Burren, known commonly as a thin space, a UNESCO-protected geopark, home to a plethora of sacred sites and the highest density of pre-Christian holy wells in Ireland, where she now runs healing tours, to studying ancient Māori herbalism and healing methods, working in Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine in the field of peace activism, Eilís has learned the value of compassion and reciprocity; giving back to mother earth and to all of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy this precious gift. See her website.