Sundays are Spirituality day here at Taking it to the Streets
“What are we, really?” That was the thought in my head tonight as I left a wonderful Jim Malcolm House Concert at the home of my new friend Amy Dixon-Kolar. The crisp spring air, tinged with woodsmoke in Amy’s bucolic neighborhood was more evocative of autumn than a herald of spring on the way. The wooded landscape, cool funky houses, smoke and darkening sky rooted me here in the Midwest that is so much my home.
But the previous three hours had taken me to a different home of the soul – the Celtic Isles. I’d not heard of Jim or his music, just knew my new friend, an accomplished musician in her own right, had told me I’d love him and that he was Scottish.
Turns out, I am too. Though I didn’t know that til a day in October, 1997 when I was pushing 50 years old. Our mom, Jerrie GLASGOW Scholten, had always told us quite proudly that she was “100% Irish”. When we brought up that her maiden name was the same as the capital city of SCOTLAND she just blithely brushed that aside with some very convincing blarney about her people emigrating during the Potato Famine and having heard that the Irish were discriminated against decided to pass themselves off as Scotsmen. Nope, 100% Irish, she would most defiantly add.
So the weekend of her funeral Dad gave me Mom’s watch, gave our youngest sister her scrapbook from when she & Dad were first married, and gave our sister Jean Mom’s genealogy papers.
And there, in her own handwriting, was information about our Scottish heritage.
It was a bit of a surprise.
I was thinking of that tonight, as I enjoyed Jim’s great music, much of it traditional Scottish folksongs. But what was interesting to me was when he played a song “Flowers of Edinburgh” that was based on an Irish tune. As he began to play, I could just about hear imaginary fiddles flying.
My very visceral response was like an embodied “that’s ROOTS music” salute.
So perhaps too, my Mama with her “100% Irish” – maybe she was simply “telling the truth without being so boringly literal” as she used to say to me.
All of which made me think about consciousness and identity. Who ARE we? We think we know – but I wonder. Why do some parts of our ancestral lineage speak so strongly and clearly to us, and others seemingly not at all. Why do some places just always feel like home. And why do some places really NOT feel like home, even if they are? (my mother hated her hometown of Chadron, Nebraska calling it “a Godforsaken, treeless plain”).
When I first had quantum physics explained to me (and trust me, these explanations have to be at about a third grade level) I said to my best friend Sue “Wait? So I’m just a mass of swirling atoms? I’m not solid or ‘real’? – with some great alarm.
Now the swirling atoms seem pretty substantial.
So I’ll leave us to ponder another guy from the British Isles. One I come back to often, who here speaks through his character Prospero:
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.” – William Shakespeare