Elizabeth Bowen, a Dublin writer, once said, “To turn from everything to one face is to find oneself face to face with everything.”
It’s a beautiful line, meaning the same thing: when we are looking for the story to speak to the entire human condition, we must find the story that speaks to a single human person.
We may be high travelers, have wonderful jobs and titles (or not; perhaps we are learning hard lessons about what really matters in life from some trials and tribulations). But we all seemingly live up the road from Kowalski’s, eat fish and chips at O’Malley’s, hike the river trail at Afton State Park, go antiquing in Stillwater … We live in a town of nearly 70,000 people, but we might not know our neighbors and community members as well as we like to think.
For me, our world is a parish. On trips to my home country of Ireland, I am staring at the heart of humanity by the chatty curiosity of the locals in my village. If you go visit Ms. Grey and Essie’s cottage, they’ll cut a thick slice of buttered fruitcake for you, so big and generous that it could be used as a doorstop—the square tablecloth is thrown on the farm table, where we exchange stories of the parish that is the world we live in. I exhale and feel welcomed.
In Ireland, to welcome, we say, céad míle fáilte. Translated, it means a hundred thousand welcomes.
Although our lives at times feels fractured, especially during the holidays, we can offer a welcome to each other no matter the impasse or circumstances.
Like Mrs. Grey and Essie, a true and sincere welcome can open the floor for a meaningful exchange. Our hundred thousand welcomes is generous, but a single “Welcome” is just as beautiful.
Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community.