Once there was a way to get back homeward, sings Paul McCartney about the mother Mary he lost when he was just fourteen. For all of us who lost a parent before we had the chance to take our own leave, his song is an anthem to that ever-receding horizon. Gaelic has a word for this feeling: Cianalas. Literally, it means far-looking. Pining, I suppose.
Today May 19th was my father's birthday. He was a complicated man: once violinist, eternal lover of music. Once electrician, body builder, boxer, and then orator before hundreds; once a disciple of John Wesley, in later years a student of liberal theologian Paul Tillich. He it was who loved the word Charisma, and had it in spades. A man in motion, married too young, too often moving in silent desperation, in his own far-looking sadness. Cianalas
And then he was gone, wizened by chemo-therapy, a tattered coat, a stick. Such a young man to be stretched out on a hospital bed and adminstered his last rights. For the rest of us, the door back home was shut forever. Off he went into his secret garden.
And then the year after he died, Naomi my first-born came, on this day, May 19th, her grandfather's birthday. Death ran the cycle and came round again into light. Naomi herself a forward-thinker and orator before thousands.
And yet, and yet, as in all things creative, there's another edge to this sword. Waiting at doors is fertile ground, the kind of place perhaps art needs in order to move itself forward. Perhaps this is the twilight zone writers rely upon: Cianalas. Rage, rage against the dark, and then, perhaps if life is kind, it will allow us to unearth the key to the garden and look in.