Northern Ireland is where I was born and where I lived till I was almost six. Though I was very young, I do remember a few things, though I must attribute the strength of these memories to home-videos and visits.
I remember being at the beach, building sand castles under cloudy skies. I remember circling round-abouts with Uncle Ian till we were nearly sick. I remember feeding pigeons and swinging on swings. And perhaps my strongest memory is Irish dancing all around the house. (I still sometimes do this.)
To this day I love being by the ocean, especially when the skies are gray, and I still absolutely love to swing. I fondly regard pigeons and would circle round-abouts if there were any here.
All this to say, I have a thought that I would like to think through on paper. And so paper, please be patient with me.
“And if you should become a stranger, you know that that would make me more than sad.” This is a song about Scotland, and it has made me cry more than once before. And then it has made me think, more than twice before.
You see, I have grown up in a very Northern Irish setting, even within the United States. We sort of speak a different language at home. We love our tea, enjoy all sorts of craic (our term for good fun), and we treasure our sweets and biscuits (candy and cookies, for all you Americans). I’ve grown up blasting Irish music in the car, instead of the latest pop band. And I’ve listened to, and at times joined, when I’m brave enough, countless ‘lively conversations’ (that to the American would appear as quite the debate) about the politics of the country to the operations of the church there. I’ve always quite preferred their sense of humour and feel as though I could live on tea and chocolate bars. I invite a ‘lively conversation’ any day and wouldn’t mind getting my accent back.
At the same time though, I am very much so American, and am the first to say that I have loved living here, loved much about the people, and loved many people. I have immensely enjoyed the opportunities and outlook here, and am extremely thankful that I have had the privilege of spending most of my life here. And probably will spend most of the rest of my life here, if God deems.
But still, there is that longing in my soul, for the Emerald country. I know a bit of it, for a part of my life was there. And I know much of it from visiting and visitors, and my parents of course. But there is still so much I don’t know, that I crave to discover.
At this point, I would call Northern Ireland two things – one of my homes, and an acquaintance, and a very good one at that. And if this acquaintance was to become a stranger, you know, that would make me more than sad.
My hope rather is that perhaps one day, I can call her a true friend, after having spent precious time with her, getting to really know her and enjoying the wonderful things that I have heard about her and gotten a taste of from her dear friends.
I miss something, I think, because I have missed many things. Just to name a few- growing up in their churches and schools and learning their culture by living in the depths of it.
But then, of course, I am glad I have missed those things because I have enjoyed so very much here. And I would never change that. Never. I trust that God knew best and moved us according to His perfect clock and plan.
Still, a good song from home makes me miss her.