Honestly, I should clean my desktop. Too many unused apps and files but one of these documents I keep in front of my eyes on purpose. An unused Ryanair voucher from an originally booked flight from Riga to Dublin last April. I was invited to a wedding, a real Irish wedding at a beautiful country guesthouse in County Wicklow. The invitation read “Dinner & dancing to follow” and I was looking forward to putting on nice dancing shoes. But then the whole world went into a tailspin and dinners, weddings and dancing turned into cancelled celebrations, closed borders, funerals without mourners, lockdowns, countless Zoom meetings…

I can’t tell if this travel voucher as a reminder makes me sadder or more hopeful, for the Emerald Isle is so close and yet so far. Who would have imagined that something like international travel which we took for granted will be treated again as an absolute privilege! For me, this cancelled trip to Ireland is more of a metaphor. In this liminal space and time when the old shore is gone but the new one is not in the sight yet, I romanticize it as a place where my spirit longs to go for refreshment and rejuvenation. There are plenty of explanations for this strong feeling because each visit to Ireland has been very special, including my honeymoon and fulfilling my mom’s wish to make a mother-daughter trip there before she passed away from breast cancer almost 9 years ago.

I think of the statement made by a Latvian friend of mine who is a linguist and has studied Celtic spirituality, history, and mythology and explained why the Irish and the Latvians have so much in common in our culture and songs. She concluded that the Irish are joyful Latvians… Why are they more joyful than us? Because the Irish have “heaven” and are the people of ‘thin places’ where the earth and the heaven meet, where, in the Celtic lore, the veil between this world and the otherworld is porous, where there is a mystery in the landscape. We, Latvians, have “earth” and are strongly tied to the ground, to the land. (Don’t ask me to expand on this idea, my friend could make a much stronger and better argument.)

It has been a long and difficult winter in Latvia and every ray of sun which points toward the coming of the spring is like a marker of God lifting the veil for me. Today I was walking in the park. The sun was shining and I was listening to a podcast where two friends, among topics of spirituality, faith, and politics, discussed their favorite songs by the Irish rock band U2. I wished I could jump into their conversation and after some thought, I decided that currently, my favorite U2 songs are “One”, “Yahweh” and “Beautiful Day”:

“The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out

Day, Day
Day, Day

It was a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
Beautiful day”

I listen to these songs and I am reminded of the mystery of hope to reach the next shore…

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