In August 2010, just past the waxing quarter moon, I attended a retreat on Celtic spirituality and peacemaking in Northern Ireland. The hosts of the retreat asked us to respect the safe and sacred space created by the community, and refrain from attributing direct quotes to any of the attendants or speakers. With that in mind, the following are excerpts from the journal I kept.
Day Eight — The Last Day
It's a little after 4 PM, and we've just returned from our last trip into Belfast. I feel... full. Emotionally, mentally — this past week has been intense, meeting with so many people, processing so many perspectives, and then having so many wonderful conversations in the meantime.
It's funny to think that I may not remember all of them years down the road — I can't imagine it, they've come to feel like family in some ways. Part of me wants to try to write down everything I can remember about each of them so that part of this week is preserved somewhere. Yet at the same time — and I think J. would agree — there is also a point when you have to allow memory to be memory, and integrate it into yourself as part of the landscape of who you are, not necessarily with a map and detailed analysis of recollection overlaid on that inner place.
This trip has been so much about the people, for me, and watching myself as I work through my own ways of relating to them. Though we all share a great deal in common in our interest in "progressive" spiritual work and "progressive" politics and peacemaking, in other ways we are so deeply different. I had to laugh when, as we left Healing Through Remembering, walking back to the car one of the speakers there asked what we all had in common — and after a few startled seconds of me, S. and J. all looking at each other in an attempt to grasp it all and sum it all up, A. chimed in, "The internet!"
Now I think that something else we can say we all have in common is — each other.
I'm making myself cry a little bit. Get the emotional bit out of the way right now, that's good. So sappy.
Anyway — I think perhaps this is the greatest lesson for me this week — how different we are, and yet how much we have in common. I'm not articulating it well... but thinking about peace as wholeness and relationship — what we have in common is each other. We cannot be whole without each other, we cannot create peace without each other. These differences, the differences of others, are as much a part of me because of the distance and difference — they are the missing parts of myself that balance and complete me as part of the community of being human. I simply cannot be everything to everybody. Yet there is no need, in the end — "I do this."
I cannot be human without you.
You cannot be human without me.