Those images of eggs cracking, the world being born, brokenness made whole conjured by the legend of Luonnatar, Mother of Water, Air-Daughter, that inspired my birthday poem resonate deeply with me. How many of us have had our world shattered in some way? Even just a crack in the edifice of our lives can open the way for raging chaos. We are tumbled, tossed and turned. We feel lost, lost among all the people, places and things that had been so familiar to us. Everything we knew, it seems, is gone. It doesn’t matter so much how it happened – someone betrayed us or we betrayed ourselves; we took a wrong turn, or someone else did, and we crashed – it just matters that, stunned and mired in pain and heartache, doubt and fear, we hear that tiny voice urging, “Keep going. Pick yourself up and keep going.” When our world falls apart and each step aches with that pain and heartache it is a blessing to discover a guide, an inspiration. Sometimes the guide is a “real” person, sometimes the inspiration is fictional. If you were to ask me someone I consider most inspiring I would say without hesitation: Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser. That’s right. For more than two decades I’ve called to mind the heroine of Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series of novels. Claire is whole. The depth and breadth of her spirit, her courage, her knowledge, her wisdom and compassion are steadying no matter the situation. Above all, she is there; wherever she is and whomever she is with, she is present. Practitioners of Eastern philosophical traditions would say, “She is mindful.” She stills the demons inside herself, pays attention to the moment, and sees things for what they are. Wholeness begins when we become present to ourselves and mindful in our situation. In the midst of chaos, confusion, uncertainty she is a presence of order, a presence of clarity. Ms. Gabaldon has often noted in interviews that “Claire” spoke her “good mind” early in the writing process and, because that mind was decidedly of the 20th century not the 18th century and singularly determined to be who she was, the author let her be. I, for one, am thankful.
Barbara Butler McCoy, c. 2014
[[Photo: My original copy of “Outlander” atop my kilt. If you look closely you can see the tape holding the book together and some of the ‘stickies’ marking favorite pages.]]