Coming from Northern Ireland, national identity is the cause of many arguments, fights and killings. The conflict has everything to do with land, territory and how belonging to either 6 counties or 32 counties marks who we are, what we believe and references our personal history along with the very cultural DNA we pass on to future generations.
There are a couple of things about being Irish (national or northern) that mission agencies acknowledge and even the 28 year old Doctor from Hong Kong that sat beside me on the plane is aware of. The frst is we dont assimilate easily. We are always looking over our shoulders to the greatest little country on earth. (I think it would be even better if it had a roof, but i digress.) It is a very sentimental place. But it is more than sentiment. It does have to do with national (not political) history and DNA. There is a little bit of Ireland in my blood. It has in it, song, laughter and response to misery. Many ethnos have been enslaved and marginalized more than the Irish but somehow, we have retained our historic DNA. March 17 may try to reduce this to drunkenness and leprechauns, but one thing all of those born on the Emerald Isle know (apologies to the Irish Americans) is that being Irish is something to shout about and I think is based on the Goodness of God come what may and the FACT that all things will work out for the good.
The second thing is that like many mammals, when we know we are about to die, we like to go home to do it. Even those who have lived abroad for decades find themselves on the pilgrimage to the shores or hills of Ireland just to be one with the soil again.
So, we don't assimilate well and always look forward to retuning home. This last week, I have been painfully aware that I made a decision to assimilate well and not go home. It is, for me, based on a covenant to another nation, the USA. A decision born of a call to be present in this wonderful country. But it isn't in my blood or more accurately, Ireland is still there.
As my mom passed, I will see her again. I find myself sad for the loss of not only her but my history in a land that will probably never know my future. My sons are the last Carrolls in the next generation. In this I stand on the promises of God for more, not less. For the hundred times more and the Kingdom.
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29