The settling of the Manor of Tara
One of my favourite stories from ancient Celtic Myth is about one of the great high kings of Ireland, Diarmid son of Cerball. Now every three years this high king would hold a feast for everyone in the land. All would gather in the great hall for a great time of merry making and no one was excluded.
One year the high king was planning changes in the apportioning of the lands of Tara for the purposes of progress. Such a change had never happened before and many worried about the wisdom of this as no one could remember why the lands had been apportioned in the way they had the first place. Perhaps there was good reason for the land being the way it was. Might such a change create division and conflict?
On the day of the great feast some of the nobles and chieftains gathered just outside of Tara but felt they could go no further. They sensed that the peace enjoyed in that land was indeed becoming disturbed by a growing sense of chaos. They muttered amongst themselves, it all seemed very muddled. The question that played on their minds was: What is the right order of things according to these lands and did anyone even know anymore?
By now the High king was impatient as the feast was ready so he sent his advisors to find the nobles who were still gathered at the edge of Tara. When they did find them, the nobles asked the advisors to convey very honestly to the king the reason why they didn't feel they could attend the feast. On hearing this the king sent a message back to the nobles saying that he agreed with them! He too had forgotten the right order of things but if they would only come to the feast he would seek the wisest in all of Ireland, the one who remembers all things and the only one who could solve the muddle.
And so the ancient one, Fintan the Wise, who carries the divine wisdom of all the ages was eventually found and brought to the feast and was able to restore for all the guests, and the high king, the deep memory of the right order of things. In this way the chaos was resolved and peace throughout the land was restored.
This is a hugely condensed version of a much longer, beautiful story called Settling of the Manor of Tara.
When I first heard this ancient Celtic tale it struck me how relevant this is to us today. It seems to me that we too have become muddled about the right order of things in our world in the name of progress. The human race has become clever and knowledgeable! We have made discoveries that not so long ago would have seemed impossible; sophisticated technology, space travel, splitting the atom, cloning creatures and so on. Is there nothing that we humans cannot do if we put our mind to it. The question we might ask though is very similar to that posed by the ancient nobles of Ireland...Is this really the right order of things? You see, human knowledge is a wonderful thing but if we have forgotten the wisdom that must underpin it then our knowledge is undoubtedly a very dangerous thing indeed. It can lead to chaos, wars, violence, destruction and ultimately self destruction.
What I love about the high king of Ireland in this story is the humility with which he admits he has forgotten the right order of things, he had such integrity in wanting to resolve this as he knew how important it was to the land and everyone who dwelt on it.
In our world it seems a huge task to challenge our rulers about restoring the right order of things and in any case rarely would we expect them to respond with the same humility that the high king of Ireland did. Thankfully this does not stop people protesting at injustice and this does bring about change but we have a long way to go before peace on our earth is restored.
But if we are really committed to seeing peace on our earth restored, along with the wellbeing of all its inhabitants then we must understand that this story takes place on another level too. For this is also the story of the human soul! Within each and every one of us divine wisdom - the ancient of days - makes its dwelling place in the soul. This is something that most have long since forgotten and so the selfish ego, that source of all the muddle and chaos in our lives takes center stage and in this way we are all culpable to some degree or another for the chaos we find in our world.
If you want to find peace then learn from the humility of the high king of Tara; have the self awareness to recognize the part we each play in contributing to the brokenness of our world and commit to turn inwards. Seek out the ancient source of wisdom within your own soul and listen with the ear of your heart to a deeper truth than that which the world offers or even understands. Let this be the source of your dealings with yourself and with others and indeed your way of life and you will discover within you the right order of things and peace will flow out into the world from that.