“Dia duit!” (or ‘God with you,’ a common Irish greeting.)
I have just returned from nearly three weeks on pilgrimage in Ireland. I’m still adjusting to the five-hour time difference. And I’m still processing all that I experienced. Even so, I wanted to send a note and a few pictures to keep you up to date on my sabbatical activities. What follows are just a couple of insights. I’m sure I’ll speak about these themes and more when I return in August.
One goal I had for taking a Celtic pilgrimage to pre-Christian and Christian holy sites and for experiencing this with a group of strangers was to strengthen my spiritual connections to the elements. By this I mean not only the Celtic connection to earth, air, fire and water elements, but to the natural elements—the weather, the land, the people – past and present, as well as the rich Celtic culture – religious and secular. I think I accomplished this goal.
As I hope some of these few pictures show, the contrasting colors of Ireland are beautiful.
Their expression, ‘forty shades of green’ certainly proves true. But they also have brilliant blues, nuanced grays, gleaming yellows, and more. My visual senses were amazed on numerous occasions.
Ireland’s sense of connection to its people and past can readily seen, too. Sometimes it was evident that the ruins dotting the landscape are taken for granted, perhaps even a nuisance. In one location, I saw a set of 4,000 year old standing stones marking an ancient burial site, yet they rested right next to a parked car in someone’s driveway. Talk about amazing! And one time when I asked for a ruin we were passing to be identified, the spiritual director of the pilgrimage responded, “I don’t know. It’s just another castle.” What seemed extraordinary to me had become ordinary to her—and I’m sure to other Irish who might actually prefer to have fewer ruins on their property.
These are just a few pictures documenting my pilgrimage. More will come later.
Be well, Rev. Alison