The Queen of My Self

Have been reading John O’Donahue’s book, Anam Ċara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, which, translated from the Celtic means “Soul Friend”

I’m going to copy out for you part of it entitled “The Soul as Temple of Memory”

The Celtic stories suggest that time as the rhythm of soul has an eternal dimension where everything is gathered and minded. Here nothing is lost. This is a great consolation: The happenings in your life do not disappear. Nothing is ever lost or forgotten. Everything is stored within your soul in the temple of memory. Therefore, as an old person, you can happily go back and attend to your past time; you can return through the rooms of that temple, visit the days that you enjoyed and the times of difficulty where you grew and refined yourself. Old age, as the harvest of life, is a time when your times and their fragments gather. In this way, you unify yourself and achieve a new strength, poise, and belonging that was never available to you when you were distractedly rushing through your days. Old age is a time of coming home to your deeper nature, of entering fully into the temple of your memory where all your vanished days are secretly gathered and awaiting you.

In a positive sense, aging becomes a time for visiting the temple of your memory and integrating your life. Integration is a vital part of coming home to yourself. What is not integrated remains fragmented; sometimes it can come to great conflict within you. The presence and process of integration brings you more fully home to yourself. There is so much that needs to be integrated within each person. Camus said aptly that after one day in the world you could spend the rest of your life in solitary confinement and you would still have dimensions of that day’s experience left to decipher. So much happens to us of which we are unaware even within the simple circle of a day. To visit the temple of memory is not merely to journey back to the past; it is rather to awaken and integrate everything that happens to you. It is part of the process of reflection that gives depth to experience. We all have experiences, but as T.S. Eliot said, we had the experience but missed the meaning. Every human heart seeks meaning; for it is in meaning that our deepest shelter lies. Meaning is the sister of experience, and to discern the meaning of what has happened to you is one of the essential ways of finding your inner belonging and discovering the sheltering presence of your soul. There is an amazing line in the bible from the prophet Haggai: “You have sown so much but harvested so little.” Everything that happens to you is an act of sowing a seed of experiences. It is equally important to be able to harvest that experience.


Old age can be a wonderful time to develop the art of inner harvesting. What does inner harvesting mean? Inner harvesting means that you actually begin to sift the fruits of your experience. You begin to group, select, and integrate them. One of the places where inner harvesting is most vital is in the abandoned areas within your life. Areas of inner neglect and abandonment cry out to you. They are urgent for harvest. Then they can come in out of the false exile of neglect and enter into the temple of belonging, the soul.


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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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