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Thursday, March 17, 2011
What's Behind the Blarney Stone?
According to Dictionary.com, the BLARNEY STONE is a stone in Blarney Castle in the southwest republic of Ireland said to endow whoever kisses it with the gift of the gab and skill in flattery.
What a great year it is for me to consider the question of what’s behind the blarney stone! I just took a trip to Ireland a few months ago to visit my daughter who is living in Galway for a sabbatical year. And I got to enjoy the delightful…no, make that DELICIOUS ways of the Irish as evidenced by my encounters with the Irish taxi drivers.
THEY certainly have the gift of gab. And they’re not just talking to hear the sound of their own voices. Their gift is their beautiful, heartfelt interest in the lives of others. They really want to know about people. How they are feeling…how they are enjoying the day…what’s really in their hearts. And, in return, they open their hearts at the first inkling of interest.
They seem to intuitively know how much information you would like to have and they are happy to provide it. No, not just happy. This heartfelt sharing is like breathing to them. This is probably why I felt so at home there. I, too, share a desire to do this heart connecting.
One taxi driver in Dublin told me about his family history, including the legacy of his father and his grandfather. Interestingly, he was not of Irish descent but he fit in so beautifully with Irish ways he could have been mistaken for Irish. (Probably he was called to live there because Ireland resonated so appealingly with him.)
Other taxi drivers discussed their children when I asked about them…giving me not only the statistical details but also commenting on their strengths and virtues and how they also drove their parents crazy.
As for the question of flattery, I’d have to take exception to the inclusion of that word in describing the Irish. Yes, they are given to dramatic descriptions (another reason I loved them so much). And, yes, they seem to love to use language to express themselves but the message of the Irish seems to be that they are sincerely, authentically connected with life…its joys and its hardships…and they have been deeply affected by both.
They do not opt to do a superficial dance with the encounters of life…they immerse themselves deeply. Sometimes they are delighted, sometimes confounded; sometimes they are sad, other times outraged but always they deeply connect with their lives. They ACKNOWLEDGE what is happening to them and around them. At times the pain, I believe, is overwhelming and the attempt is made to quell the suffering by frolic and gaiety, dance and drink. But so often the Irish find the happy note, the joy, the inspiration in the moment and celebrate this discovery. There is a strength to the Irish that buoys them up and helps them rise and meet each day.
What they really have to teach us, I think, is to be unafraid to embrace the flow, to acknowledge it, to speak our truth about how it feels, to deal.
And so, on St. Patrick’s Day, I salute this courage and fearlessness and invite them to inspire us to remember the beauty of dancing Irish eyes and engaging Irish hearts and let that awareness linger just a little longer and inspire us to deeply connect with each and every moment of our day.
When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.
lyrics by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
music by Enerst Ball