Claire Hayes
Dunshaughlin, Ireland

Story Info

Hayes 2019 Bird

Story & Experience

Ireland is traditionally known as ‘the land of saints and scholars’. As I planned how I could bring joy to wounded places, I wondered if in more recent times it is becoming ‘the land of tragic deaths and murders’. I started out on my journey thinking of families and communities who were affected forever by murder.

As I walked, I thought also of a news item I had seen the previous evening on BBC News in which a child was rescued following a bombing in Sierra. He had been sleeping in his bed when the attack took place. Rubble completely covered him and he was pulled out by rescuers, directed by his siblings’ cries. He was rushed to hospital and incredibly survived. The story of his survival offered me hope in the midst of distressing and deeply sad news at home and abroad.

I walked through a forest, not knowing how I was going to mark my journey but trusting that I would.
Hayes Bird A
The contrast between the beauty of the forest and the ugliness of the violence I was acknowledging was sobering. Then I noticed dead leaves on the ground and began to collect them. They were from an oak tree but as I looked around I could not see an oak tree. I turned around, for the first time really paying attention to the types of trees I passed so often. Then, I found it.
I immediately thought of the words of Napoleon Hill which I use so often in my work: “The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.”
The dead leaves easily formed into a bird. 
Praying for the people who have been hurt and the people who hurt, I set the bird free to soar on the lake. Hayes Swan
Within minutes the bird seemed to soar in the sky, leaving the sorrow on the land far behind.
I finished my walk noticing how life continued to flow, feeling a little lighter and hoping that somehow, the people who have been directly affected by cruel violence will feel the light of comfort, support and love.

Dunshaughlin, Ireland


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