The recent snow storm brought challenges throughout Ireland as well as in many other parts of Europe. I share in the gratitude deeply expressed to so many who care for the well-being and safety of us all. These include those in the medical professions, meteorologists, members of the National Emergency Coordination Group, Civil Defence, Gardaí, Army, ESB, Irish Water and the Media. They also include family, friends, neighbours and the strangers who generously showed immediate kindness and support. May the memories of their selflessness last longer than memories of the snow itself!
One experience from Storm Emma impacted on me the most. Directly outside my home is an open hole in the ground. It appeared a few months ago when new houses were being built opposite my house. I presume it is something to do with plumbing. I could understand the builders protecting the hole with four barriers rather than sealing it up at the end of every day if the barriers were effective. They were not. Storm Emma flattened them easily and when I went out to have look I was horrified to see that a large, open hole was completely unprotected. One of my neighbours decided to lay the barriers across the hole, rather than erect them and risk them falling down again. It was the right decision. The barriers remained in place ensuring that no-one would accidentally fall into a hole in the snow that they could not see. At the height of the storm, it was difficult to see the barriers at all, covered as they were with heavy snow. Now the snow is melting. The barriers are once again visible and the hole is barely covered.
I think we are a bit like the builders. Something happens to us in life and opens up a deep wound. We do not want to leave ourselves exposed, so we erect barriers to protect us. Often these barriers are easy to detect. We might be bristly, cold, or wary. People can get subtle, or at times not so subtle message to leave us alone. Sometimes our barriers might be so well hidden, just like the ones outside my house, buried in snow. Others have no idea they are there and unintentionally may step on our wounds, causing us acute pain. They might feel as if they have indeed fallen into a deep hole and not realise why.
So what do we do? What would it be like if we allowed ourselves to feel the pain of distress, without using protective barriers? What would it be like if we each allowed ourselves to ask for and take the support our family, friends and professionals willingly wish us to have? Could there be a day that when we begin to thaw, we are able to sort out whatever caused the hole in our heart, mend it and then move on, without the need for any more protective barriers?