A little less than two years ago, James stayed with the children while I taught a course on fairy tales in Ireland for two weeks. One of the things that stayed with me was the cultural appreciation for stories- for the well-turned phrase- for the love of the literature. Ireland has more Nobel authors for writing than any other country- and for a small, poor country, that is quite the feat. We read Yeats, visited the places where fairies still live, and listened to master storytellers.
That experience is, perhaps, part of the inspiration for my own writing. For it was in Ireland that I truly experienced the power of story to relate an experience, teach a lesson, stir the imagination, and make meaning of the unimaginable. How stories allow you to understand yourself in the place of things.
In Ireland, children with autism have long been known as “The Stolen Children”- stolen by the fairies and replaced with a child who has the body of the beloved but the soul of a fairy- longing to go back to fairy land, and still hearing the music. And the “real” child is wandering in fairy land, peeking back every now and then. It’s as good an explanation as any I’ve ever heard. So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day- that most Irish of holidays, I give you Yeats…
Away with us he’s going,
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.