Once upon a time in February or March 1997, I rented a copy of Riverdance at the video store (remember video stores?) on a whim. Always a fan of Irish/Celtic music, I thought it would be something the three of us, then husband, daughter and I, could enjoy together on a Sunday morning. Little did I know that such a coincidental choice would change the entire course of my life.
When you came flying out onto the stage in the first number, something shifted inside me. It was like the tectonic plates that had held up my entire universe until then suddenly dropped away. I was cut loose from everything familiar, but at the same time some deep well of ancient memory and connection opened up and I was aware of a great power that was mine, inside of me, but joined to a greater whole at the same time. It was all I could do to keep from falling on my knees in front of the television and weeping.
Several weeks later, I went on a business trip out of town for a week. While I was gone, our local PBS station aired your new show, “Lord of the Dance”. I called home and begged my husband to record it, which he did. During the time I was away, I caught some kind of “bug” and by the time I got home, I was sicker than I had been in a long time.
I missed 4 days of work after getting back to Pueblo. That was the longest stretch I’d ever been out of work since giving birth. I was in the grip of a respiratory infection, laid low on the couch. All I could do was sip soup and watch TV. I popped in the recorded video of Lord of the Dance and watched it over and over for 4 days. It was the only thing that made me feel better, the only thing that allowed me to breathe, as if my lungs were released from the grip of infection by the sheer beauty and energy of your creation and the execution by the amazing dancers under your lead. Every so often, my daughter popped her head into the living room to inquire, “You’re watching that AGAIN?”
Four days later, I went back to work in better spirits than I’d been in a long time. Since that time, March or April 1997, I haven’t been sick again. I admit to becoming a bit obsessed with you for quite a while. When you brought your show to Denver, no one else wanted to go, so I asked for the best single ticket in the house and found myself stage right, 3 rows away from you and your flying feet. When I got home, I realized that you actually came out after shows and met your fans who waited for you. Marshaling my resources, I got show and air tickets and took my daughter to see your show and meet you late in the wee hours one night in Kansas City. I was lucky enough to take the photo above myself and I’ve cherished it since then.
I watched your interviews and heard you talk about energy, focus, hard work, desire and following your dreams. I made my first trip outside the US to go watch you dance in Dublin, Ireland, traveling alone, but never lonely, bolstered by those dreams and the friendships that I had forged with others who shared the same vision.
I stood on the ancient hill of Tara and felt the spirit of the land enter me. I left a ring on the branch of a hawthorne tree in exchange for all the gifts I received on that trip. I felt words flow through me and end up on paper, and reading them, I had no recollection of how they got there.
I know people snickered at me because I seemed so carried away. Even now when all the intensity is but a vague memory, it’s hard to explain. It wasn’t a physical attraction, really. I am glad I got to meet you for a moment that night in Kansas, but for me it was always about the energy you brought. In your brightest moments, you were truly a channel for the Divine and I think that is what I and so many others recognized. Because of you I was able to tap into my own creative power and realize that I, too, can connect with the Divine if I only allow myself.
You brought strength, beauty, music and poetry into my life when I thought it was gone forever. You reminded me that there is magic in every person we meet and in every stone under our feet. When I have felt bleak and lost, I only have to listen to you play the flute or watch that old video and suddenly the world is just right again.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.