A fistful of dirt

Here’s a wonderful story recounted by John Shea in Daybreak: Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter:

There was an old Celt who loved his wife, his children, his friends, and his jar. But most of all he loved the land he trod and fought for food. So when his time came, his sons carried him from the stone cottage and laid him on the stone earth. He clenched a fistful of Ireland and was gone.

When he arrived at the gates that only swing in, God appeared in the long robes of judgment. He noticed the closed hand. “Old man, you are not allowed to bring anything in.”

But the hand with the loved land heaved beneath the judge’s nose, “Then I stay outside.”

After a while, God appeared a second time as a pub mate with cap and pipe. He threw a tavern arm over the old man’s shoulders. “Friend, dust belongs to the wind. Let go of that earth and come inside.”

“Never,” said the tightfisted one.

After a while, God came out a third time as a small boy. He ran to the ear of the old man. “Grandfather, the gates only open for those with open hands.”

The old man rose with a slow sadness and never looked down as caked and crumbled Ireland fell.

The gates opened like arms flung wide and the old man entered. Inside was all of Ireland.

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About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat Chapin-Bishop

    Aw, dammit, Carl. This one made me cry!

    This is just how I feel about the landscapes I love…

    Mahud, of Mythology Blog: Between Old and New Moons has a synchroblog on Mythical Landscapes. I hope you won’t mind: I’m going to suggest a link to this post, because I know others will love this story, too.

    Wow. I’m crying again. :)

    (For part of the reason why, you could stop over to my own contribution to the synchroblog, my post, Gone Away. It must be something in the air…