I am just home from being at home. By that, I mean that I have just returned to Chicago from Ireland.
This was the first time I spent any real time in an Irish Jesuit community in many, many years and, time and again, I encountered people I hadn’t seen in 30 or 40 years. It was, in many ways, a consoling but deeply odd, experience. Some of the people looked ancient and were not slow to tell me that I had put on weight and lost hair, but it was still them – their essence as individuals very much intact.
Ireland is as beautiful as it ever was. My sister and I visited Donegal in the northwest and through the rain remembered it in the bright and sunny days of our youth. (Actually, they were mostly rainy and windy days!)
A welcome change for me is how diverse, at least in the south, the population has become. There are plenty of hejabs to be seen on the streets of Dublin and I delight in hearing kids of African origin shouting at one another in broad Irish accents.
Apart from my Jesuit brothers, I have no immediate family left in Ireland so I keep asking myself if it is still “home.” In some ways it is, in other ways it is only a memory of home. Such is life.