Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Legacy III: A Civic Mind

What first drew me to Ciara Brehony's blog Milkmoon were the stunning photographs she takes of her home and family in Wicklow, Ireland.  What has kept me coming back every week for the past year and a half are her words.  A born storyteller, possessing wit and heart in equally generous doses, Ciara was one of the first people I met in the blogging world, and truth be told, she is one of the bloggers I've looked to as a model for what a really great blog provides both reader and writer: intense beauty, fantastic writing, reflection, a good laugh or a good cry (or sometimes both), and a strong sense of community.  It is a joy to have her contributing to the Legacy series.  If you haven't met Ciara yet, you are in for a treat.

(Legacy: inheritance, heritage, endowment.)

Dear Readers,

First of all, a huge thank you to the lovely Gigi for doing this wonderful series. I do hope I live up to both her expectations, and also the standard already set!

Also, today, the 6th, Milkmoon is three years old, and I am more than beyond thrilled to be celebrating it here on The Magpie's Fancy with my first ever guest post. Thank you for sharing this with me. 

I have a penchant for nostalgia. Whether my own or others! And I am blessed to have a housefull of old and worn and loved objects that have significant meaning to me, that have their own family stories to tell. Things that I have written about before, things that have pieces of who I am sewn into their seams, that have the memory of where I come from embedded in their grain.  But I have found, on this occasion, that my mind has taken off and rambled off down another leafy pathway, towards something else entirely.

In my ponderings and musing on the title 'Legacy', I took a little wander back through the pages of my own bloghistory, as though scrying for what it might mean to me, for it was a word that immediately held huge resonance for me, yet was one I couldn't seem to pin down.

Ah there! There it was, floating to the surface with little effort : the centre of my mandala was where the answer lay.

We all have our own mandala around us, that living, growing, changing circle of all that we love and need and cherish. That cocoon of people, and places and necessities that is who we are, that is the beat of our heart, the breath in our lungs, the very essence of 'I'. It is something that we never need to think about, for it is lead by our hearts, and has roots so deep we cannot fathom their beginnings.
And at the very centre of our own, unique mandala, is the thing we hold most dear, the treasure that is our anchor, our very meaning.

For me it is Family.

Where we came from, our place in it, and all those things that make us who we are. And it is something so immense that I cannot even begin to classify it. And time and again I have written posts about how I feel about the enormity of my responsibility to my children, of sending them off on the rocky, leafy pathways ahead, and wondering if I have given them all the right essentials! For what are all the right essentials?

But what I do know is that all I can do is hold true to the things that were given to me by my parents, the things that have stood the test of time. And when a friend, (who did not know me in my wayward youth..!) described me as an 'incredibly civic-minded person', it was one of those Insightful Moments of Self, when it felt as though I had been given a title I had, somewhere along the way, grown into.
For although it is something I recognise as an inherent trait, passed on by my parents, it is also something that I have made my own. A mindfulness that expands beyond our own Self, and takes care of how we influence the world around us, every day.

And though I look back and have no memory of how I got here myself, I have complete confidence that my parents hadn't a clue either, but they still somehow showed me the way, and that alone gives me the confidence to keep on going!
Because as I write this, there upon the notice board on the wall I have written: 'Just be the best person you can be. That's all.' And I understand that that is what I have been given. 

A civic mind. 

And I understand now that the Legacy I have inherited, is the Legacy I will pass on. A desire for a trustworthy world, a dependable society, and a conviction of my own effect. For we all have a voice, however small, and if our children hear our voice then isn't that good enough?

"And though it is just another moment in time, we are standing together, choosing the bright new threads to add to this weave we are part of, our tiny part of this family history that goes back into the mists of time, each thread an essential thread, strong and full of purpose, and each one equally as vital as the next.
And I take my little child by the hand, show him how it is this story is woven together with many hands and hearts.
And somewhere along the way we let them go, knowing their map overlaps with ours, knowing their threads are firmly caught. We let them go, a little at a time, in the certainty that those threads will never break. And that someday they will hold out their hand, and a child will ask to hear their story, will ask to know their place in it all."
~Milkmoon: 28th July 2010~


  1. Gigi, I love this legacy series.
    And your words are soo powerful, Ciara. What a legacy!

  2. Gigi, thank you so much for such a generous, sweet intro!! As I said to you before, I am truly deeply honoured to be included in this series. Thank you so much, again! C x

  3. It is always so difficult to write a comment worthy of such a wonderful piece of writing without sounding banal - so I am just going to say a heartfelt thank you for sharing your artistry with us.

  4. Goodness, I feel like I've been given a marvellous "twofer!" I came to meet Gigi, and I've been introduced to Ciara as well.

    Ciara: What a beautiful blog post. Your photographs have an elegiac quality -- but in the celebratory, not mournful, sense.
    Have you always lived in the same community?
    I've moved, often, throughout my adult life and I've struggled with the idea of how one can be a good citizen -- and a peripatetic one.

  5. Thank you for sharing the Milkmoon blessing with us, Gigi... And thank you Ciara for you stories and photo magic. :o) ((HUGS))

  6. Ciara, I keep thinking about your words: "Just be the best person you can be. That's all." This seems to cut through so much of the bluster and noise of everyday life to what is essential, what matters. Your post has got me thinking . . . and thinking . . . and thinking, and dreaming up posts of my own about community. What a gift you share. Thank you.

    I'm also thinking about what Bee said about moving a lot as an adult and how to be a good citizen AND a wanderer. Having just moved again for the umpteenth time, I've been wondering about the very same thing. Each move means building a new sense of community, and finding new ways to contribute, which can be challenging. On the other hand, we carry friendships from former homes with us, and since I've started blogging, there's that whole community, too, which makes for one heck of a large village, but a wonderful one.

  7. i agree - being authentically "you" is the very best way to be.

    bloggers, like friends, are family we choose for ourselves.

  8. What a beautiful post, Ciara. Thank you, Gigi for introducing us to her - her story had me with chills all over! "Just be the best person you can be, that is all" that in itself speaks volumes! I love that last quote at the end - so inspiring! Have a beautiful week! xxoo

  9. Thank you for this post Gigi...and Ciara...everything is so beautifully put in words and images.

  10. Happy 3rd, Ciara! You're quite the Grande Dame of blogging in your sweet and unassuming way, and we all fall under the spell of your words and images that evoke with such grace the common detail of family life amid a natural world, an antidote to our consumerist times.

    I've thought for ages that you and Gigi could be sisters - you're both thinkers and dreamers with your well-phrased hearts on your sleeves and a gift for drawing others into your worlds. It's great to see you here.

  11. Congrats on the big 3! This the perfect post to end the day on. Beautiful words and beautiful pictures.Gigi and Ciara....a double whammy.

  12. Gigi, what a generous, sweet bunch your readers are! :-)

    Bee, I've lived here the longest I've lived anywhere other then my childhood home, 14 years. It's where myself and my husband settled when our first child was just a few months old and we were done with the nomadic life. I cannot tell you how it heartens me to see the bonds my children have with other families they have known their entire lives. I have such a sense of living in one enormous extended family. I cannot imagine ever leaving this!

    Gigi, the way I think about it, in essence it can come down to the simplest of everyday actions, for example like the exchange between you and the person behind the counter in the post office or supermarket. Making one persons day just that bit more pleasant is worth something wonderful!

    Mise, I have thought the same thing too!

  13. Oh this is so wonderful...Gigi, your posts are always a treat, but to meet other bloggers who stir your heart..what a gift to us all!
    A beautiful piece of writing.

  14. i am just sitting here very still now, ciara ...

    breathing slowly and letting all your words settle about me ...

    fully feeling the wholeness of the truth of your words ...

    and feeling very blessed indeed to have a glimpse into your very mindful, wonderful and caring life and legacy ...

    i told gigi that i wouldn't be able to read the previous legacy postings for fear of not allowing myself to mine my own legacy ... and now that i have shared my legacy, i am reading yours and the others and am quietly blown away by the camaraderie and the parallels ...
    such a strength in legacy that runs very deep.

    a pure delight to meet you, ciara ...
    thank you for your kind comment ... *hug* ...
    and i love mise's comment about you and gigi ... : )



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