Well, it’s nearly upon me. My unavoidable return to my home town of Ballybrigg that is, after having lived in the relative psycho-spiritual freedom of Lincoln, England for the last 5 years. After escaping the religion-political tribal mix that permeates my old homeland, I’m heading back to attend my wee sister’s wedding, an amazing tale in itself that I’ll share with you all some time.
I guess it’s a bit like a ex-combatant returning to the battlefield that scared him for life. The wounds are healed to a large extent but the memories still remain. At times my previous life in Northern Ireland seems like a dream, at other times it appears in nightmare form, though thankfully these nocturnal replays are now few and far between. I’ll meet up with a few safe friends and relatives, eat, drink and be merry at the wedding and observe how my body feels in the somewhat claustrophobic environs of Ballybrigg, the town where nothing seems to change as the locals happily sleep walk through life.
My wee son Ben is buried there in a municipal graveyard on the outskirts of town. I guess I will go pay him a visit and shed a tear for a life shortened by the mystery of cot-death. Standing on the wind-swept hillside of the Irish burial ground will bring back many memories. My prayer over his little white coffin as I committed him to the God of my 1984 belief system. The handful of Irish dirt that I through on his lowered coffin, reminding me of the fickleness and transience of this space-time existence.
Of course in hindsight I see that Ben’s short life and unexpected death proved to be the painful catalyst for my escape from my sect of choice. Without the tragic events of that cold, January afternoon, I wouldn’t be sitting today in this English coffee shop and writing about my impending return to my homeland; like many inhabitants of Ballybrigg, I would never have left the cultural whirlpool of evangelical religious belief and political smugness.
I’ll be visiting my old family home that has been rented out to a lovely lady called Janet. Apparently the garage is crammed full of my old furniture and stuff that men tend to accumulate over the years. The ping-pong table where my son Zac and I spent many hours, honing his skills for competitive tournament play. The tables and chairs that were the focal point of our dining room, where we regularly worked our way through the pain of religious burn out over Zan’s beautiful home-cooked meals. The memories will come flooding in but the time has come in the Divine plan, for me to return and face my old haunts.
Life is so full of circles. Perhaps, as my Eastern friends suggest, existence itself is one big circle. Anyway, most of us usually have to return to the place of previous joys and pain in order to recognise how much we’ve changed and to what extent we’ve been healed and grown closer to the Light.
So, if you are the praying type I’d deeply appreciate your prayers for a ‘successful’ trip. For those of you who’re into healing energies, please send as much as possible. My short time in Ballybrigg ought to be interesting. Hopefully, I’ll spot one like the Son Of Man walking with me in my psycho-spiritual, Irish version of the ‘Fiery Furnace’.