I'm usually pretty terrible about remembering to bring my camera to events. This weekend, however, I did remember to bring it along to the Colorado Irish Festival and Feis. So here's the group from this weekend, moving from left to right:
- Sally Houston
- Laura O'Sullivan
- Anne Hall
- Eddie Murphy
- Ryan Duns
- Shawn Bollig
The weekend was really a lot of fun. It's so refreshing to be with people with whom you share a common love and passion.
I didn't get a clear picture of it, but I would like to mention a little bit about the physical setting of this year's feis.
The festival is held in Littleton, Colorado. Indeed, it is held very near to Columbine High School. The memorial commemorating the lives lost that fateful day is also on the grounds.
From where I sat facing the stage, I looked past the Irish dancers and onto the memorial. It served as a sobering reminder of the preciousness of human life and the terrible violence we are capable of inflicting on one another. It seemed a strange juxtaposition: young people dancing and celebrating life in the presence of a memorial for those whose lives were cut short by anger and rage. I don't know that many of the dancers realized where they were, but it touched me deeply. I prayed often over the course of the two days for peace for the victims, the perpetrators, and their families.
Our world is filled with memorials. Some are things to be visited, others are passed along in stories and song. Irish dancing, understood rightly, is a memorial: it embodies the giving-over of oneself to the music of a country, it recalls in the life and body of the dancer the joy and power of a people, it connects the dancing masters of Ireland to today's competitors. We go astray when we forget this, when we focus only on the "now" and forget that we have inherited great riches from those who have come before us.
The dark grace of the Columbine memorial is that it, too, reminds us of our inheritance. We have inherited a history of bloodshed and violence, as well as reconciliation and healing. As Irish dancing suffers when it is divorced from its history, likewise do we trivialize the lives and losses commemorated when we treat memorials as "things to see" rather than sites where profound happenings have taken place. It would make me sad to think of people who "strolled through" the Columbine memorial as though it were a garden. It is a place, a destination, calling for us to stand in awe and silence, a place that penetrates deep into the human heart with the awareness of what humankind is capable of doing. One ought to leave such a site not with a "wow, that was cool" but, rather, with a pierced heart and an emboldened determination that this never happen again.