When I was pregnant with you we had quite a menagerie of animals in our yard. We had five sheep, two goats and our dog Rex. The largest was a cross bred ram. Whenever I waddled through our front gate he would trot towards me and follow me to the front door. His curiosity and beautiful eyes won my heart. Your Father had been working on farms for the best part of ten years. He told me “When dealing with livestock you never, ever give them names. It personalises the animal and forms attachments”.
Much to your Fathers chagrin I named him Henry.
As it got closer to your due date and I struggled with my mobility, your Dad was nervous that Henry would bowl me over one day so along with the little mob, Henry got moved to an empty paddock across the road.
Each evening when the heat of the day was subsiding, I took the vegetable scraps bucket to feed them. I would lean against the fence and watch them enjoy their snacks. They were all different in personality. One always stood back looking nervous. Another would charge the other sheep, including Henry, to get access to the best picks. Then there was the sheep that would only eat scraps of bread or toast and nothing else. A fussy eater! I saw such diversity in their personalities.
From as long back as I can recall, I was always drawn to what was different. If there was a contrast to my own life and experiences, I was immediately inquisitive. At high school I enjoyed visiting with a certain group of girls. They were from various backgrounds, mostly European but with a smattering of South American countries represented too. As I approached them I could smell the coconut oil which they had rubbed on their legs to tan. On the seats I could see containers of food that somebody’s Mum had made for them to share. They would smile and invite me to sit down. I always felt so welcomed.
When I was twenty-five my Nana offered to buy me a ticket to London and a UK working holiday visa. When she was in her sixties she began to spend six months of each year in Somerset, Southern England. She had travelled extensively during her life to many different countries and wanted to extend an offer to her three grandchildren to have an experience overseas. I arrived in London in the summer of 1999. I was lucky enough to get a job almost immediately and spent almost a year living and working in a hotel in Westminster, just one block away from Westminster Abbey.
After a visit to the famous Edinburgh Festival and a tour taking in William Wallace’s stomping ground and the Isle of Skye, I decided to move to Scotland. It was colder than London but much less gloomy. I recall many a sunny blue sky as I walked along snow covered streets. I shared a toasty Edinburgh flat with two strapping Scotsman. They initially had to repeat almost everything they said because I found it so hard to understand them. As far as they were concerned I was the one with the strange enunciation! So they started speaking a little slower, and I began picking up the nuances and inflections of the Scottish accent. Our diversities met somewhere in the middle.
When I backpacked through Europe I would cross the border from one country to another and immediately there was a new language, currency and culture. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to speak the basics of a language foreign to me. I learned through trial and error the cultural norms and loved sampling the local cuisine. Just as I began to get the hang of things, I would be off to the next country.
In the two years I spent living and travelling through Great Britain, Europe, Ireland and China I met many friends that I still keep in touch with to this day.
Diversity is an incredible gift of this world we live in. It can exist on various scales. Diversity can be as sweeping and enveloping as immersing yourself in a different culture in another country. Or you can see it in a small mob of sheep. Diversity can be delicately subtle or eye-openingly obvious. It is everywhere that you look.
Diversity is to be celebrated Seamus as it offers us so much. If we are here to have a physical experience for the expansion of our souls then keep your eyes and ears open to all that is different.
Diversity is just another point of view, another expression of the divine. A life energy wanting its own expression. However the most important thing to remember is that behind those variations and beyond the distinctions, we are one. Enjoy learning about the assortment that is on offer with detached curiosity and appreciation.
Be aware of this when you are experiencing others purely on the level of differences. See beneath the culture, the religion and the race and behold the human.
Look into the eyes of another and note not their colour or shape, but have the perspicacity to see the life force. At our very core we are the same and we are love.
”You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop”. Rumi