Ruler of the Land Under Wave

In reading about my ancestors, the ancient Celts, I recently came across the god Manannan mac lir, the Irish god of the sea. They called him, “Ruler of the Land Under Wave” (which I think is a pretty bad-ass title).

For the Celts the sea they spoke of consisted mostly of the Irish Sea and the islands between Ireland and Britain.

It was thought that the Ruler of the Land Under Wave traveled over the water in his chariot called Ocean Sweeper, led by his favorite horse Enbarr (which roughly translates to “Waterfoam”).

Manannan held one of the ancient magical pieces of the world, a great shining cloak that could change color as the sea changed, making him largely invisible for those not paying attention.

On the Isle of Man the ancients would climb a mountain with a bundle of green rushes and pay tribute to him on Midsummer Eve, as they regarded the Ruler of the Land Under Wave as their great protector.

Even now some Irish and Scottish fisherman who hold on to the old ways say a blessing to Manannan before heading out to sea:

“Manannan mac lir (Son of the Sea),
who blessed our Island,
Bless us and our boat, going out well.
Coming in better, with living and dead (fish) in our boat.”

A statue to Manannan mac lir still stands in Gortmore, Magilligan, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Spiritual Gift of Missing the Mark

“This is terrible” my eldest said has he looked at his report card.

After a pandemic year of virtual learning, we’re all getting used to the rhythm of being back at school, and only time will tell what scars (holy and traumatic) this whole experience will leave on this generation of Covid-kids. My heart is full of pushes and pulls on this topic.

We must lead with grace, Beloved. With ourselves, one another; with teachers, school boards, and administrators.

Too many are not leading with grace.

He was so upset. It ruined his night.

The reality, though, was that he only had lower than average scores in three areas, and we had been told by his teacher that all parents should prepare for lower than average scores in some areas because, well, they’re still working on skills.

Learning takes time, Beloved.

And the thing is: it was a good report card. The elementary school equivalent to A’s and B’s, and he even had an A++ in there, a superior score!

But all he could see were those things that missed the mark.

After some tears and temper tantrums, we talked it out. Missing the mark means he’s still learning. Missing the mark doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, or that he’s less-than, or that he’s a screw-up, or that he’s not smart.

It means he’s in process.

And, in our most honest moments, we’re all in process, Beloved.

There is a spiritual gift in missing the mark. It’s a reminder that perfection is not only not attainable, it’s not ultimately beneficial. Perfect people don’t have anywhere to go or anything to do.

No one’s report card is perfect. The more we embrace this, the better we’ll all become. Because a less than perfect report card leaves room for grace, for growth, for give-and-take. It is a spiritual gift to know you have a less than perfect report card. And I don’t mean that you take that with any shame, or any false humility.

It’s just damn true.

My life is a less than perfect report card, every quarter. As a spouse. As a parent. As an employee. As a child.

As a human who strives to be as good as possible.

The more I embrace that, the wiser I become.

At least, that’s what I’m banking on.