Part II

The Hearth is the Heart of the Home

By Bridget Geegan Blanton

All Rights Reserved.

In a typical 19th century Irish cottage, the hearth was the heart of the home. Around the peat flame, warmth was sought, food was prepared, prayers were said and when time allowed, there was music and song. At the hearth side, life was more than just sustained, it was rejuvenated. Conditions of daily life were labor intensive.

Political injustice guaranteed that life for the average person remained impoverished. It was around the hearth, that the Irish found spiritual sustenance. It was also around the hearth that they came together to organize their fight for reform. The Irish are notorious for their fierce contempt for injustice. They understand that people cannot thrive if their spirit is deprived of full expression.

Today the Irish economy is thriving due in strong part to the technological sector. Benefits from technological advances have affected every facet of modern life. We rely on modern conveniences in our home and it's hard to imagine life without them.

As labor intensive as the lives of our ancestors were, our own lives have become complex and busy. We too are in need of a place to rejuvenate our spirit. Introducing a measure of spirituality and simplicity into our home invokes the spirit of the Irish hearth. As we cross the threshold into our homes, let us enter a place that nourishes our spirit, as well as our bodies.

Spirituality isn't something that just occurs at a specific time and place each week. It's a daily choice.

All too often in our present lives, it's easy for members of a family to isolate from each other in front of the television or computer screen. Technology will only continue to advance and our challenge lies in the creation of balance in the home. The signs of imbalance abound in our culture.

Our senses have atrophied along with the fitness of our bodies. We claim that there's just no time for simple pleasures like sitting outside after dinner and watching a sunset. There's a program on TV to watch or e-mail to catch up on. We race along, keeping pace, only to sacrifice our soul in the process. The truth, is that we have more control over our lives than we'd like to believe.

The complexity of life scatters our energy as our focus constantly shifts from task to task. We usually have several irons in the fire at once. There exists a genuine need to recreate the simplicity of a hearth in our own homes. The rejuvenating nature that is symbolic of the hearth acts like a salve on our over-extended lives.

It helps us regain perspective and adjust our attitudes. We can pull away from the world and relax. Make a change in your routine that nurtures balance and peace. Wind down after a long day without occupying your senses with mindless distractions. Once in a while, put on some music instead of turning on the television. You'll appreciate the change. Away from the demands of the day, we can engage in our own lives on a far more authentic level.

In my own home, the kitchen often serves as the heart of the home. Maybe it's the food, maybe it's the impromptu conversations, most likely it's a combination. I've had many a spirited debate with my kids while seated on the kitchen counter. We may disagree but we're pretty civil about tossing the bag of chips back and forth.

The environment is right. We're relaxed, we're not in a rush to go anywhere and there's food. What more do you need? The best part is to actually lose track of time as you engage in a deep discussion with another member of the family. There have been plenty of times when one of the kids was on a comedy roll and had the rest of us laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. That's my idea of a good time.

It's simple, it's real and aside from the fridge, there's no technology involved. The point here is that the more simplicity we introduce in to our lives, the more balanced our lives become.

More than a few years back, I watched part of a program with my 'then' teen-aged daughter, in it, a panel of four people raked everyone and their mother over the coals for wardrobe choices. Two things struck me. Most notable, was the negativity that oozed from this panel of fashionistas.

Secondly, I noticed how their extreme disdain for the fashion-challenged seemed completely devoid of humanity. Someone had actually created this overtly harsh program to fill hours and plug commercials. At risk of labeling myself an antique, I will confess that I rarely missed American Bandstand. I sat on the couch and watched other people dance. I moved on, my daughter will too. (and of course, she did ...)

The difference today is the harshness and the coarseness that characterize these programs. While the lives of many adults have become demanding, complex and busy; their kids sit around for hours watching TV and playing video games. I was one of those parents who pulled the plug on the incessant video game playing and kicked the kids out of the house on summer afternoons. They always figured out something to do.

Years later, I learned that they had ended up flying down hills in wagons without brakes. I might have set boundaries had I known… Luckily, they walked away intact and today have great memories to look back on.

Just when the staggering violence of events on the world stage inspire a faith in something far greater than ourselves, the outlets for relaxation that we find are vehicles of low grade violence; namely movies, video games, books and television. You can either plug into the distractions yourself or you can take a stand. This is not the stuff of political activism this is about changing the environment in which you live.

In contemplation of this dilemma, take a look at it from the vantage point of Celtic tradition. Many of us view our homes as respites from the world. Our homes are more than mere shelter. What sort of ambiance do you encounter as you walk through the door?

What would you like to experience when you come home?

On some level, we all know what is lacking in our lives. We can sense it yet we can’t quite pinpoint the source. The Celts were never known to back down from a challenge. Challenge yourself and get to the bottom of this mysterious void in your life. Don’t allow some distraction to throw you off the path. Follow through on your intuition and grab hold of life. Too often we permit the hours to flitter away. Fill the moments instead, with a higher quality of living.

We live our lives on a singular dimension to a certain extent, never quite getting too far below the surface. This mode of living is further evidenced by our rate of accumulation. We have lots of shiny things and not enough of the truly authentic and intangible acquisitions in life. The worthwhile bits and pieces in life require time.

Make the environment in which you live more conducive to spiritually substantial experiences. Improvements needn’t be dramatic. It can be as simple as walking outside and listening to the wind rustle through the leaves on a tree. Experiences such as these allow us to lift our thoughts up and outside of ourselves. We contemplate the divine author of all life. It’s a beginning, and the grandest efforts all start with a step in the right direction.

Taking the time to create the spirit of a nourishing Celtic hearth in our homes is definitely easier said than done. We have unforgiving schedules and can cite excuses that would fill volumes. All of it is true to a certain extent. Our lives are busy and complicated and maybe that’s part of the problem.

There are changes we can make to tone down the relentless nature of things. Relax. Let go. Re-evaluate your life. There are simply not enough hours in the day. Accept it and lighten your load. The little ones stop going for wild rides down the driveway. They become grown-ups and move away.

Make time to be truly present in their lives. Dig up that sweater you started knitting a year and a half ago. Put on some music or just listen to the rain. Read a book. May I make a suggestion….............'Whispers on the Wind' :)

Go outside. Meet a friend for tea. Get creative, get active, pray. Try something you’ve only dreamed of doing. All of it will contribute to the amount of satisfaction and balance in your life. Your spirit will be uplifted and you will bring this feeling of self-improvement home.

It will enrich the environment in which you live. The point here is very simple, create circumstances in your own home that naturally bring people together and away from their techno entertainment gadgets. It may not occur daily, but it can occur regularly.

I remember with clarity rewarding conversations that took place in my home; yet I rarely recall the details of a TV show. Go forth and create the spirit of an Irish hearth in your own abode. Gather the family or at least one of its members and have a chat, a laugh, a big bowl of ice cream. Re-introduce simplicity and beauty into your day and quietly improve the quality of your life.

Bridget Geegan Blanton’s writing career as a newspaper columnist, a web-site contributor, content writer and French language translator has found new expression as a novelist. ‘Whispers on the Wind’, Bridget’s debut novel was the first installment in the Celtic Heart Historical Fiction Series that continues with ‘A Woman’s Equal Share’. The soul-awakening tenets of celtic wisdom embody the spiritual ideal upon which this inspirational series has been crafted. Learn more about the novels and enrich your day spiritually by way of articles and motivational videos at Bridget’s web-site: https://www.desertrosebooks.com

'Whispers on the Wind' - Book One of the Celtic Heart Historical Fiction Series.

By Bridget Geegan Blanton

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