Hireath. Such a lovely word, filled with intense longing and passion for something just beyond reach. In my case, it is a longing for a land I’ve never seen, a country I call home even though the likelihood of my ever getting to visit are almost nil.
My life is a constant tug of war between Irish flights of fancy and the practicality of daily living on my Scots side. More than once I’ve described myself as a realist with optimistic overtones. I long for Scotland with a hireath that can’t be explained, but is as real as the crags and heather of that far-off land; even though I know any possibility of an ancestor of mine having once lived there is lost in the dim mists of time. Scotland is home and always will be. I was never born there, never lived, and, unless some mysterious twice-removed relation leaves me an unexpected legacy, probably will never get to visit.
Yet, I also can’t forget the Emerald Isle with its whimsical dells and enchanting personality. It, too, is part and parcel of who I am and imagination weaves and intertwines throughout my personality like the painted vines on my living room walls. Oh, I know stencilling is gone with the wind, but I like it! I hate bare walls. I detest the ordinary. You ask why and I ask why not?
And so I dream of wet heather and foggy moors, wish to walk cobbled streets and hear the lilt of Irish tongues. It surfaces every time the weather turns cold and misty, whenever I drink a cup of tea in the morning, see a bit of tartan, or hear the plaintive cry of Celtic flutes.
There is another type of hireath that permeates my being with a longing even more intense. A longing for my eternal home in the Presence of the One who created me. Some may scoff and call such idealist longing airy-fairy or claptrap. Whether you want to call the place Heaven or Paradise or some other term doesn’t matter. It is as real as Scotland or Ireland and I have a future home there.
How can I believe? How can you not? Literature is filled with references to knowledge that surpasses human understanding. The world itself is rife with circumstances and events that are unexplainable and point to something beyond our physical selves. Science can tell us what something is, but science by itself cannot explain why.
Back in the 1980s when our space probes first reached Saturn, National Geographic was filled with articles on the shepherd moons and braided rings of Saturn. Natural phenomena that defied our science for explanation, laughed at our physics and cosmology. Our scientists’ response? To sweep the “facts” under the rug and store them out of the light of day. We can’t explain it, so it must not exist.
We don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of faith – and hireath.