Once upon a time, people used to understand and appreciate ancestors and land and the price we all pay to keep that land ours. People are so urbanized these days that not many realize their ties to the land. They don’t realize the land feeds us, we are made from it. All too many see land as just somewhere to build a house and have some fancy landscaping until they move off to another place. People have forgotten what it’s like to have roots to one place that go deep and always reunite the family. A place that feeds and grows and sustains you. Old home places are basically just a legend now. Very few people have a Tara to run to so they can feel the earth in their souls.
I was thinking about all of this as I wrote my capstone paper for my undergrad English degree. As I was burning the candle at both ends (and in the middle) in those days, I was very tired all the time and fell asleep at my desk while researching and writing about our connection to our ancestry and the land that grew our families. My dream was probably a fever dream brought on by extreme exhaustion and mild end-of-the-semester hysteria, but I remembered it, and it was amazing, so I wrote it down…
Enya’s “Ebudae” started playing just as I fell asleep. With the first low rumble of that deep-voiced horn, my subconscious jolted into what must be another dimension. The Irish Gaelic words sounded in my ears from far away because I was no longer in my chair at my desk. I was standing on a low stone wall that divided a heather-covered moor. A thin veil of mist covered everything leaving a damp sheen on my skin. Off in the distance, all around me, snowcapped mountains rose in welcoming peaks and crags. I thought detachedly that I’d been here before and stood marveling at the beauty around me. Then I saw the people.
They came from every direction. People of all sizes and shapes, but all of them are smiling at me, so I felt no fear. Warriors tall, alert and graceful, with fierceness in their eyes I know so well from somewhere. Farmers with a steely determination set in the jawline cut so like mine and in the soft, compassionate eyes. Teachers, and ministers of various sorts, all with a strength of faith in something divine and larger than the human mind can possibly comprehend.
I watched them coming towards me, smiling with love in their eyes, and I realized who they are. They’re my people, my ancestors welcoming me into the realm of those who understand the gift of this earth that God gave us, the gift of family and of heritage. I looked down at these people, and I saw parts of myself in all of them. Sometimes it was something physical like my eyes or my mouth, and sometimes something less obvious like the stubborn set of a jaw or hand I know so well. They make up me. Their ideas were long fought for and toiled after, their physical bodies long in the process of grafting together generation after generation to make up me, their love endlessly passed down over the centuries to give me compassion and love and hope.
They reached out and touched me one by one before leaving. I watched them go feeling a little sad that they were going but intensely elated that I had met them. I stood on my wall watching them go, breathing in the misty air of this land I’d never known but loved so well. The dream ended, and I woke… wondering… marveling.
We are part of these generations that have gone before us, but we have our own responsibilities to not live in the past but to make the present and the future world a better place. We are all humans, and underneath our skin, we’re all the same color. We all have hearts that beat and long to be loved and accepted. We may not have the same ties to the land that the generations before us did. Our families may no longer live close together as a tight unit. We may be scattered and feel isolated and alone - but we don’t have to be. There are people out there who feel every bit as isolated and lonely as you perhaps do. This is the time to come out of our holes and stand together.
A friend of mine who didn’t have any family close by told me once she built a family of friends and called it her “framily.” I love this word. While I do feel that blood family is important, I know not everybody has a good family that they want to be around, and not everybody has family living or living close by. We can create our own. I am blessed with a wonderful biological family. I am also blessed with a wonderful bunch of friends and fellow church members that I am honored to call my “framily.”
Ebudae is actually an old Latin word for the Hebrides islands. While re-working this dream I had umpty years ago from a creative writing assignment to a blog post, I realized I have been subconsciously using “Ebudae” to mean “family/framily” or “a place of belonging.” There are people out there who need and love you – or will if they haven’t met you yet! Don’t give up. Go and find your Ebudae.