In my last post I introduced the concept of circles and intersections. Those events that work in the background of our lives to form and inform our present, who we are, and even how we behave and think. Being able to see these more clearly can then serve as a point of understanding, gratitude and, if we choose, a point of transformation.
I remember a trip we were taking from Brussels, Belgium to Paris, France in a car. I was posted as the air traffic representative to the FAA’s Europe, Africa and Middle East office in Brussels and our office interacted frequently with the regional International Civil Aviation Office in Paris. This was a periodic meeting of air traffic experts I was a part of. I usually took the TGV on my own, but they were on one of their periodic strikes so I drove. For the novice, diving in Paris is best done with at least two people, one to navigate, gesture and holler, and one to actually drive. I was the former and my husband the chauffeur. We headed out of Brussels on the auto route to Paris.
My husband knew he had Irish roots on his father’s side, but had just learned these originated from County Wexford south of Dublin. His father had discovered this as a part of his ongoing genealogy research. Traveling along the auto route, near Verdun, we passed a truck (or Lorry as they are called over there) and on the side of the truck were the words: Cullen Transport LTD, County Wexford. I could hardly believe my eyes. We waved, hollered and squealed “they are still there, they are still there!”. Unfortunately there was no opportunity to make any contact, but there was a connectedness that was very real.
At a later time, walking into a meeting at EUROCONTROL, in Brussels, I introduced myself to the other members of the group as I made my way to my assigned seat as the US Representative. The Irish representative was new so we had not met before. He stopped, looked at my name: “Cullen. Are you Irish?”, to which I replied, “My husband is Irish-American”. You would have thought He had found his long-lost sister. I was greeted as warmly and kindly as I have ever been. It was wonderful. Yet, I was inwardly taken aback at the obvious connection he valued to a heritage I knew little about.
These two incidents served to unearth within me a sense of connectedness to events, places and people with whom I had never personally interacted. Yet, I became aware that my life has been influenced by their very existence because of my husband’s Irish heritage.
Irish Intersections and Influences
What might these influences look like? Here are a few examples I have observed in my husband:
– He dances “off-beat”, or so I thought. We have been to Ireland a couple of times. David literally passed through as a child when his family was moving to and from Europe stopping on their military transport in Shannon for refueling. While I was posted in Brussels, we were able to stay over a few days and tour the Kerry Ring and Limerick. Of course, one of the evenings involved and Irish pub, Guinness and Irish dancing. This was when I discovered my husband did not dance off beat, he dances with a Celtic drum in his soul! I was the one off-beat in this world!
– The Irish sense of humor and joy. I had no idea that when I was attracted to my husband’s humor and whimsy, that is was at least in part, due to the Irish DNA he possesses. The times I have met other folks from the Emerald Isle. as well as during our visits there, I was surrounded with this attribute. It has been a blessed balance to my Anglo-German demeanor which needs this light-hearted approach to life.
– His attraction to Irish or Irish influenced poets and authors. As a Christian academic, It is no surprise that my husband (and me by association) enjoy C.S. Lewis, who was Irish-born. He was a follower of this man’s writings long before there were Narnia movies. In fact, he did his doctoral dissertation at the University of Strasbourg on C.S. Lewis. It was not until the concrete Irish connection emerged that I realized the connection goes much deeper.
So these almost hidden from view circles and intersections have had a profound influence on who I am today. This is because of who they have made my wonderful spouse. Without them, I may have missed the rich deep experiences of my travels. The opprtunity to appreciate my wonderful husband’s heritage and to be gratefull of who I am based on the spiritual and natural DNA of others
Although we have been to Ireland we have not yet made it to County Wexford. It is on our short list. Perhaps we will run into Cullens. I understand there is actually a Cullenstown. We must go there.
What is awakening within you as your reflect on the stones on which you stand? How does this inform your today?