Its a new year and at long last the snow is gone and life is getting back to normal. There is the promise of spring in the sight of green shoots and swelling buds in the garden. I can feel my blood start to flow through my veins again, my senses come awake and I rejoice in the life giving force of the sun’s rays on my skin.
I’ve been trying to live a more green existence, a more environmental friendly life and last year, I set out on the first steps towards doing that from small things like recycling more, buying a compost bin to bigger things like buying a greenhouse and creating an organic fruit&veg garden. This year I plan to continue working on my garden, in the greenhouse and to find new ways of reusing and recycling household goods. I also plan to look into how I can reduce my carbon footprint more by buying local, making and growing my own foodstuffs and for the ladies out there, making our own natural beauty products!
One of the things I like most about winter is that it gives us time to reflect on the year gone by, our hopes and dreams and how we can make them into reality. The darkness of winter like the darkness of night can be a time of despair but it is from the dark frozen soil, that the most beautiful things germinate and grow.
I have been thinking on how the changes I have made in my physical life to benefit the planet have actually benefited me in so many ways. The last few years have been difficult, traumatic and painful to say the least and I have been not unaffected by these years but they are over at last, thanks be. Through making some tough decisions and moving home to the country, my life has opened up in so many ways. I have rediscovered my connection to the earth through creating my garden. Simple things like digging in the ground, planting seeds, seeing plants grow that I nurtured, tasting the fruits of my labour…all these reconnected me to the land. Gathering sloe berries, blackberries, haws, crab apples and other fruits of the hedge groves and turning them into jams, jellies, syrups, liqueurs and tonic wines has been a fascinating experience and made the turning of the seasons real and of vital importance in my life. Living in the city I had lost touch with the phases of the moon and the dizzying dance of the constellations of stars painted across the night sky but now no red haze of light pollution blocks my view. Its astonishing how much better I feel now that I have space to breathe, to just be. Wandering the lanes and woods of the countryside or walking for miles along the lake shore with my faithful hound, I have found myself again.
The name ‘January’ comes from the god Janus, a two faced god who looks back at the year gone but also looks to the year ahead. This winter has been the harshest Ireland has experienced in living memory, over a month of snow and ice and freezing fog, frozen pipes, massive heating bills and of course for many, this winter has meant isolation for weeks on end with it being dangerous to even venture outside the front door. This winter has come after almost two years of the recession and has been often unbearable but it also had its moments of dazzling beauty. I have seen how at the height of the snow and ice, people have rediscovered their humanity and helped out elderly neighbours, fed the starving birds and animals and in general made an effort to help those in need. I know where I live, there is a renewed sense of community, of belonging, of caring.
We have given too much of our power to others who have abused our trust and now it is time to take back that power. We are not just individuals, we are not just brothers or sisters or nameless faces in a crowd, we are society, we are Ireland. Ireland isn’t just a physical place of green fields and blue seas but a place within the heart and the mind. We are blessed with a rich heritage of music and art and storytelling, of myths and legends and greatness and we should never, ever be ashamed to be Irish. Stand up and be proud to call yourself Irish for when the chips are down and adversity is your only friend, now is the time to reclaim the best of our traditions and to forge a new life, a new society, a new life. We can make Ireland great again.
The Celtic Tiger may be well and truly gone, the tiger cubs have grown up and are now emigrating in their droves to New Zealand and Canada, our government is in chaos, our economy in shambles, our confidence destroyed along with the job market and times are unthinkably hard for many but I honestly believe the worst is over. The cycle of corruption, greed, of brown paper bags, of looking the other way and overseas accounts is broken. It is up to us to save Eire. If you love your country, if you love your family and friends and care about such things as honour and loyalty and truth, now is your chance to make a difference. Live life as you know to be right and true, don’t listen to the politicians or to the priests but instead listen to your heart. Ireland is a country like any other with our own inherent difficulties, we are not alone in our current situation but in my opinion, we are uniquely equipped to deal with these times, we have known what is to struggle for freedom, for survival. Our enemy this time is not tyranny or oppression but greed and lack of humanity. If we try to be kind to our family, to our friends, to neighbours, to total strangers, to animals, to the environment, and to ourselves, we can be a force of change.
The greatest power in the universe is love and nothing, not even nuclear weapons, hatred, mass destruction, torture and discrimination can overcome love. It may sound too simple to be true but if you try to live with love in your heart, to act from a place of love, not only will you find your life changed beyond recognition but these changes will ripple into the community and into the world. How you act and live affects everyone and everything; so now is the time, now is the place; find your voice and set the love in your heart free. You will never have cause to regret it.
Its a new year, its a new world, begin anew.