Claggan Island is a 150 acre island in the north-eastern corner of Blacksod Bay, a body of water found in the northeast of County Mayo in the west of Ireland. Claggan Island is remote, in that its only link with the mainland is a narrow, sandy causeway. With a population of 8 people, it is also quiet. For a reasonable amount of money, there is a place I could stay on Claggan Island.
For many years now I have spent an hour or so in the early morning reading The New York Times and The Economist magazine in my attempt to stay current on what is going on in the world. However, since the American voters’ decision to send Donald Trump to the White House, this habit has changed. I try, I really do, to read what is going on, but I become disheartened, and find myself clicking over to my Ipad map to stare at Claggan Island.
My son has been with us for about a week On a visit from New York City, where he lives. There are noticeable long silences, due to not one of us wanting to talk about it. I am grateful that there is no disagreement within my family on this situation, as I have heard of other families falling apart at the dinner table over differing opinions on this ominous turn our country has taken. But even in agreement, talking about it would be too hard, too sad, too……
Sometimes when I am in my car I see a Trump bumper sticker on a car. If at a red light, I can sometimes take a look at the driver. I am still dumbfounded to lay eyes on someone who would send that man to the White House. I stare at them trying to understand, but I am left in complete disbelief as the light turns green.
The day after the election I felt as if I were in mourning, as if someone or something had died. In a week or so that lifted; however, I now feel as if I am a turtle. I put my head out every once in a while and take a look around at what I thought I knew, at what I thought I understood, at what I thought I was a part of, at what I thought was where I belonged, and then I pull my head back in.
And I think about that place on Claggan Island.
I once retreated from going to church for about six months due to my incensed rage at the church for allowing the sexual abuse of children at the hands of pedophile-priests. Through a deliberate process of reading and writing about this issue, I came to understand that my church is not their church. It is a church of the people, and so I must stay in the pew and my voice must be heard. They would not deny me my faith and my community. I am hoping that in time I will somehow reach a similar conclusion regarding this current situation I find myself in.
But for now, I am thinking of a retreat to Claggan Island.