Dùthchas

"A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous." Proverbs 13.22


"Dùthchas" - that enigmatic word: so difficult to translate, yet encapsulating what lies at the heart of Gaelic identity. I've just been re-reading Ryan Dziadowiec's article in a recent WHFP (220304) in which the Grimsay-based PhD student who is originally from Poland, quotes 4 definitions from Dwelly's dictionary: place of birth; hereditary temper, spirit, blood; visage or countenance; hereditary right. None of these quite does justice to the concept, so Dziadowiec takes recourse to the rich store of indigenous proverbs, many of which are to be found in Sherrif Alexander Nicolson's collection and are further elucidated in the Tobar an Dualchais online archive.


Dziadowiec observes that "... (in) a changing world, it is inspiring to see people across the Gàidhealtachd connecting with the cultural 'mycelium' of their place and rooting themselves in it, whether it is their ancestral homeland or adoptive home." And then he concludes: "History shows that if it is cultivated and nourished, dùthchas can be a well-spring of transformative energy for place-based revitalisation."


Proverbs also occupy a cherished position in the Bible. Like poetry, they can often express and get to the heart of a concept more pithily than prose. Yet, between them, the prose, poetry and proverbs of the Bible orient us towards a new identity as adopted sons and daughters of our Creator God. This new identity does not obliterate our origins. Rather it transcends and fulfils them, whoever we are and wherever we have come from, reconciling us and granting us a new and shared future.

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