Walking along the Celtic Way and admiring the magnificent statues and frescoes that look down upon the approaches to the stadium is an exhilarating experience.
They remind me of the great statues to the gods of ancient Rome and Greece and the statues in and around St Peter’s Basilica.
It’s spine-tingling and connects with something intangible at the very core of my being. The spiritual feeling is enhanced by the sight of the almost biblical single star, that hovers above the Main Stand.
The unity of purpose and meaning is amplified by the airing of anthems like ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Grace’.
The closing line of Grace borrows from Joseph Mary Plunkett’s poetry and is an insight into what Celtic offer beyond the restrictive false self.
“I love so much that I could see his blood upon the rose.”
The fact that Michael Davitt planted the original sod of Donegal turf in the centre circle. Brother Walfrid’s altruistic vision to set up the club to help alleviate the physical suffering of my Irish ancestors is the foundation of this mystical, magical fraternity.
The club is an integral part of my lineage.
What am I looking for from Celtic? And more to the point. Can I find it here?
For a while, I’ve pondered these questions in the context of the reverential environment of the Celtic Way and the match day experience. It’s becoming clear that behind my support of the club is a deep-rooted motivation to connect with something greater than myself. It’s not a rational or mortal thing. It’s much more intimate and dare I say, eternal.
It’s about my subconscious desire to connect with some kind of meaning. It might superficially express itself as football but beyond that, there is a yearning to connect with something bigger.
It’s as primal as the genius of Neolithic men and women constructing passage tombs or the majesty of the Egyptian pyramids. It’s what the Kabbalists describe as “The soul of the Adam HaRishon.”
The problem is whatever’s won, whether it’s the League or Cup. The Double or Treble. Domestic or European. It always leaves a feeling of wanting more. What’s the other mob doing? Who’s getting sold? Will the coach stay? What’s the PLC doing? Always a nagging doubt or fear. Always a need for something more.
No material thing can provide what I am looking for. It just isn’t there. Football is a pursuit that inflates the ego. The ego is insatiable and only wants to add to its collection of things, to control its surroundings and feel secure.
With our almost unprecedented level of football and financial success, the clawing for more and more has spiralled. That’s been exacerbated by the growing fear that Sevco will, by foul means, bring about a painful end to our ‘dominance.’
There’s a reason why there are so much discord and angst. To paraphrase, “One treble is too many and a hundred is never enough.”
We’ve become addicted to the short-lived buzz, conflicted and uneasy as a result. Blocked from the appreciating the Present by reliving the pains of the past and the illusory fear of the future.
Things might improve with new executives or a different owner. The problem is that conflicts and unease will always be there. Lean Principles and Six Sigma can’t deliver what we’re after.
Everyone at some stage arrives at a moment in life when things don’t work out. That’s where the love and humility that’s at Celtic’s core flourishes. When a stranger in another part of the world needs a kind word on a blog at 2 am, or when someone asks for thoughts or prayers for a loved one.
Celtic provides unity and a safe haven. A path to what we’re looking for on this journey. Meaning beyond what’s passing. Something bigger than the isolated individual and collecting possessions.
Until the proverbial penny drops our passion for and attachment to football will always result (after a brief high) in a feeling of indefinable emptiness. That emptiness has led to months of rancour in the Boardroom and among the support.
It’s my belief that whatever our publicly expressed view many of us feel a deep sense of unease that’s manifesting in personal spats. We just aren’t comfortable with something.
That emptiness is only filled when we accept Celtic’s gift and grow out of our preoccupation with the wants in life. The paradox is that it’s in our response to the suffering of others that we find Celtic and who we really are.
That’s the altruism and love that Brother Walfrid originally intended. It’s the real reason for the statues and frescoes. That’s the enduring legacy of Andrew Kerins.
The trophies are wonderful but the Celtic of Brother Walfrid is the key to a much richer prize. It’s the unconscious pursuit of that richer prize that keeps us coming back.
As Brother Walfrid demonstrated, the solution is in the progression from egocentricity to altruism. From self-interest and fear to the holy ground of unconditional love. That’s where we’ll find the paradise we’re looking for.
For Yvonne Emmet & Roisín
Above is a guest article by THE GOMBEEN MAN. Tell us your thoughts,mail them to Mahe for publication.