The Claddagh. An Irish symbol of Love, Loyalty and Friendship. Associated with the Joyce Clan and County Galway, this symbol is indicative of the pride of Irish heritage . I bought this beauty (it's painted on slate) at a gift shop in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I also have a silver ring that was given me by a girl who worked for me as a bartender. Her father brought it back from Ireland to give his daughter, Maggie. She was showing signs of drinking problems and in a huff, threw it at me and said--"...here. I don't want another one of these damned things."
Love is a lot of things. It's that overwhelming emotion that consumes you when you look at your newborn baby the first time. Full of promise and hope for a better life. Overflowing with grace, as you count all the fingers and toes, and look him over to make sure all the right parts are in the right places, and marvel at the miracle of it all. Feeling that tiny heart beating against your breast, hearing the suckling sounds and feeling the grasping of tiny fingers. as you feed him for the first time.
Love is that comfortable, all's right with the world feeling you get from sitting with an aging parent and talking about family. And looking into those eyes that have looked into yours for all your life. Tracing the lines on a face that is as familiar to you as your own. Being able to finish a sentence for them and hold their frail hands. To see the continuity of family. The foreverness of DNA and history.
Love is that insane rush of adrenaline that overtakes your senses and makes your heart pound. It makes your pupils dilate and your face flush. Your body temperature rises and your respirations increase. That feeling that nothing can ever be as good as this moment and no one has ever loved like this before, ever, in the history of the world. When you can't live without that face, that touch, those eyes. It makes you giddy. It robs you of decorum, of common sense. And you couldn't care less.
Love is that place in your heart that makes you reach out to the people in Haiti or in New Orleans. It is a commonality that opens us to immense compassion and caring. It makes us want to make a difference. It makes us feel so good when we do, that it opens yet another horizon for us and makes us want to do more. It helps us to know that we are all one, all brothers and sisters in this world, on this planet. To know that what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. It lets us put things on the backburner for a while and look past the pettiness of our daily lives, and take actions, however small, that enable us to feel like we can make a difference. Somewhere, somehow.
I have seen Love. I have seen it in airports and parks and Red Cross Blood Drives. I have seen it on television and at concerts and in the most unsuspecting places. I have seen it in nursing homes and in backyards and on the ocean beaches. It wears a lot of different costumes, this thing called love. But I have seen it, and I have come to recognize it everywhere I go. It is the Divine Mystery, it is God, it is Buddha and it is Gaia. It is the angel bending over a blade of grass, whispering "Grow....grow." It is the uplifting dance of swifts in flight, a red maple in all it's glory, the smell of lilacs across an open field. It is a little brother holding a little sisters hand as they cross a street.
Today, look for love. You'll find it everywhere you go, and when you know this,all the hopelessness and despair will fly away from your heart. And your heart will grow, bigger and bigger until finally it cracks wide open...and then more love will rush in to fill it up again.
And then...then you will know God. You will know peace. And your life will never be the same....