(Today we are finishing up my memories of Ireland from the summer of 2014…..memories to last me a lifetime…re-written and saved now on the Chapel of Hope Stories Pt 2…..taken from January 10, 2015-Enjoy again!)
What is it about traveling to a new environment that keeps us in a state of anticipation and excitement? The whole time I was in Ireland I felt like a child on Christmas morning.
I couldn’t sleep late because every morning when I woke up I thought about our itinerary for the day and could hardly get out the door fast enough!
Later…I started thinking that I wish I could retain that same excitement in my everyday life at home….after all ….just waking up to a new day anywhere with all the possibilities it holds…defines it as a “day of wonder“….a day of gratitude.
And speaking of…The title photo (with the famous “Stones of Gratitude“)- were located in a Catholic church cemetery right in the same village where we were renting a cottage in western Ireland (after leaving Dingle)….Ballyvaughan!
We stopped by there on our way back from a breath-taking adventure at the Cliffs of Moher.
The sun was just starting to set….it had been a visually stimulating “tourist” day and to end it with the discovery of “stones of gratitude” had Anne and I just plain “giddy” in gratitude, ourselves, for simply… the joy of life!
I thought it is only fitting that I use some words from John O’Donohue (Anne’s and my favorite Irish poet, author, philosopher, Catholic priest, and Celtic spiritualist) for this blog entry. Sadly, John died a few days after his 52nd birthday in 2008…so young. He was on vacation in France with friends… he went to sleep one night and never woke up.
I love this excerpt from a writing O’Donohue did for Amit Awakin‘ several years ago about the wonder and possibility of each new day. He might have died young…but he certainly lived each day to the fullest.
… No day is ever the same, and no day stands still; each one moves through a different territory, awakening new beginnings. A day moves forward in moments, and once a moment has flickered into life, it vanishes and is replaced by the next. It is fascinating that this is where we live, within an emerging lacework that continually unravels.
Often a fleeting moment can hold a whole sequence of the future in distilled form: that unprepared second when you looked in a parent’s eye and saw death already beginning to loom. Or the second you noticed a softening in someone’s voice and you knew that a friendship was beginning. Or catching your partner’s gaze upon you and knowing the love that surrounded you. Each day is seeded with recognitions.
It was his last paragraph that spoke volumes for me when he created a mental metaphor for new days with endless possibilities, alongside, daily creative writings.
Lately, it has been my blog writings each morning, that have really defined my days for me.
With the extreme cold weather settled into our lowcountry … keeping me inside- nice and warm…the anticipation each morning of creating another blog fills me with such happiness.
I don’t have to leave home in order for my mind to travel anywhere it wants to go….there are no boundaries in creativity…just new lands to explore. And to be able to do it with all of you readers and your encouragement sends me flying…no airplane needed.
… The writing life is a wonderful metaphor for this (each new day.) The writer goes to his desk to meet the empty white page. As he settles himself, he is preparing himself, for visitation and voyage. Each memory, longing, and craft set the frame for what might emerge.
He has no idea what will come. Yet despite its limitations, his creative work will find its own direction to form. Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.
–John O’Donohue, from “To Bless the Space Between Us”
Now that the framework is set for our thoughts on this glorious Saturday…let’s pick up on the pictures of the remainder of our Irish vacation. (I believe we left off with me strumming on an old guitar with new Irish friends….and beautiful Irish voices.
The trip from Dingle to Ballyvaughan certainly contained its share of excitement….
1) The Mountainous Terrain: We had come in on the peninsula (right) side of Dingle which was fairly level, drive-able, and unbelievably beautiful…On the way out we climbed mountains….I half expected to see Julie Andrews emerge at any moment singing “The Hills Are Alive” because I felt that to be true, not only were the mountain alive, but we were about to get eaten by them.”
The sharp curves upward and downward were a driver’s (and rider’s ) worst roller coaster nightmare….I had to literally peel my fingers off the upholstery when we finally stopped…in order to climb out of the car on shaking legs….
2) Cows.… Awhile later…around a bend we were met by a herd of ‘escaped cattle’ with Holstein Hilda leading the pack…All we could do was pull over and sit back in the car, hang on as it shook from the trample of the passing herd, and laugh hysterically.
I think you can readily deduct from this picture that when we got stuck behind a truck carrying bales of hay…there was no room to pass. (Unfortunately it was hay-baling season…patience is a virtue.)
4) In order to save several hours of travel…we needed to make the ferry so we (and our rental car) could save many miles…the cows and trucks of hay had definitely thrown us off our time schedule…but God was good. We slid onto the ferry ….the side bars immediately went up behind us and before we could even get out of the car the ferry was crossing the river. We just made it!
It would all be worth the hardships when we finally reached Ballyvaughan….this was our home for the next few weeks…located right on the Bay of Galway.
Here are some random photos taken from the Ballyvaughan area….the marina was just a block down from us and there were lovely gift shops, a small grocery, and the yummiest tea room…all within walking distance.
Each day we would mark off a new itinerary….but, as is always the case, it was the surprises along the way that added such excitement to the trip.
For example…we discovered that we had gone by John O’Donohue’s final resting place at least twice before we knew to stop and turn in. We had even commented on this pub having his family name…located in close proximity to the cemetery-Creggagh.
It was there that Anne discovered some of her ancestral family (the Driscolls) were buried there also…and met a part-time caretaker and inn owner who became an immediate friend. They ended up sharing several emails back and forth.
We never know who we will meet on any given day who will change our lives…do we? (A photo of Anne standing by O’Donohue’s grave)
To finish off our time in Ireland…I just selected a few photos from the sites we visited including the Cliffs of Moher, a creepy cave, the Burren, the Perfumery, the mountains of Connemara and Kylemore Abbey.
It was on way to Galway from this beautiful castle (Kylemore Abbey and Gardens) that a “miracle” occurred. My brother Ben had filed for Veterans benefits after suffering from PTSD (Vietnam) for years and his requests had gone unnoticed and forgotten for years.
But with all the recent shake-up of the Veterans Administration he was finally getting his “day in the sun.” He had an appointment to tell his story at 10 a.m. the day we went to this abbey…which in Irish time would be 3:00.
Anne and I had already planned to pull over and say a prayer for Ben and his long struggle with PTSD and the Veterans Administration. Suddenly Anne called out “It’s 3:00!” and just as she did we were coming up to a small church and a large sign that read:
And that I did….I literally jumped out of the car and took off for the sanctuary….falling down on my knees in front of the altar…Anne continued praying in the car.
And as for Miss Eva Cate and her castles…little did I realize that there are more castles in Ireland per square mile than any other country. But my favorite was Dunguaire…not far from Ballyvaughan.
It was bittersweet leaving Anne and Ballyvaughan to return home (she had her sister and brother-in-law coming in next.) But I was also excited about re-living the adventures through lots of stories.
As I landed in Philly…one of the airport administrators took this picture of me, the cut-outs, and the Liberty Bell …asking if he had my permission to use it as an advertisement in the future. I gladly said “Of course” not knowing that another photo of the Liberty Bell would later come back to haunt me. Isn’t life interesting…never a dull moment?
So until tomorrow….Remind us Father to wake up each morning with “wonder” for the day….Your day filled with surprises for all.
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
* I remember when I got home…I immediately ran to the garden to see if it had survived the hot drought conditions prevailing in Summerville while I was gone. Tim and my amazing neighbor (Vicki) had really come through with the watering….my magic moon gate welcomed me back… with open moon flower blooms! And I still had my holding cross!
* Another “miracle” of sorts yesterday….I waited for the temperature to reach its highest point and about mid-afternoon I headed over to the Knightsville Piggly Wiggly.
On the way back I almost ran into the car in front of me from gawking at the gasoline sign. How many years has it been since I saw it this low? God is good!
I hate to have to report that just when we thought we had Betsy in a better place following her cardiac tests results…another set of symptoms… sending her diagnosis in a different direction has popped up.. unfortunately also.sending her back to the ER.
She is physically and emotionally exhausted at this point. …and just wants it to stop. Besides prayer I think we need to all sit on the top of the lid of Pandora’s Box to keep any more heart problems from popping out. The Clarkson and Crick families appreciate your prayers during this trying time…and believe me…it is trying!
******Isn’t it nice to know that this statement on Betsy’s health took place in January of 2015……happy to report that Betsy’s diagnosis was finally discovered and she has resumed a fairly normal life and is so appreciative of it.