The picture is mine, not taken in Ireland but in Scotland this very month. What you're looking at is the Scottish Highlands, snapped on my way to Glencoe. While the views were breathtaking, it was when I impetuously pulled off the tiny road and got out of my rental, hiking poles in hand, that I really felt connected to the land itself.
Unlike Ireland, which felt like home from the moment I stepped off the plane--the place where I found my joy, my love, my happiness, and my laughter--Scotland wasn't a country where I'd been born before. Albain offered safety, protection and peace. A path to learning and light. The sprawling green landscape still beckons to me. Like the grave that calls me back to New Orleans over and over and over again. The one surrounded by names and dates that belong to people I know today.
I watched the sunset over the Highlands, standing in a marshy bog I'd wandered into during my wild western foray. I was a Highlander then, too. Standing alone in the warm orange glow. There can be only one, after all. In that moment, I couldn't imagine leaving such a place. It was as if my legs had grown long roots into the Scottish soil while watching my fiery mother drop low in the sky behind the peaks and valleys surrounding my spirit.
On my way back to Ireland, I drove along the Alban coast, skirting the Irish Sea. Once again, a quick pull off the road allowed me to hike down to the beach through the tall grass and wild roses. Amongst the lichen-covered black rocks dotting the sandy beach, I found abandoned shells bleached white by the sun. The watery waves called to me, inviting me to baptise myself. I am Irish, but I am Scottish now, too. I am many things. A "real American," with lots of different cultures and ethnicities providing the programming for my DNA. But no matter the packaging in the perennial rising with each new spring of my infinite existence, my soul remains the same. I am the same. That's why I remember. I hope you can, too.
Before I left for Scotland, Irish eyes smiled at me from across the room. The familiarity of the soul shining through those eyes moved my feet. The Arch-angel, Michael, told me three years ago in the field where I have also walked with stags and wolves, that he would see me again, but this time, as a man. A beautiful man. I knew him before I knew him.
"What does this one mean?" I asked, studying the intricacy of the tattoo-art trailing down the muscles of his left arm.
"It's the Arch-angel, Michael, defeating the devil."
Indeed, I believe he has....