This Ireland Adventure began as just dream—far off, hazed by the mists of all that seemed unattainable. I’m not sure where or when this dream began—the origin of its intensity eludes me. I don’t even see it on the far off peripheries of my mind. It just seems that one day the longing birthed in me, expanding and contracting the small places of me.Periodically, following some internal compass or map, I searched for photographs of the places I longed to be, spaces in which I yearned to stand. I memorized details and the isolated pieces of the history of the country—of an island flung farther west that any other on the European continent. I read books, devoured and savored novels written by Windsor, Roberts, and Llewelyn. I read through Cahill and Miller and O'Donohue. Perhaps, hoping by osmosis, the ancient atmosphere would be absorbed into the pores of me. For years I tucked this desire away, not hidden, but only wishful.
I remember being on a house date with my husband, my then neighbor friend. We sat in my living room at my massive desk and surfed the waves of the internet on a barge of a computer. I pulled up images that represented my wishes and gushed exuberantly and too enthusiastically to Steve. I remember he listened and looked—acted interested whether he was or not (I found out his thoughts later. He was thinking, “Let’s get married; let’s go!). I made a No Particular Order list (aka Bucket List), and Ireland always made the list, but the reality of going there and experiencing all I had researched and studied just seemed beyond the navigable reality to me.
In 2015 my top Bucket List desire manifested. My first book Growing Room, For Life in Tight Places was published. The vulnerable word-soaked, tear-baptized parts of me printed for the world to read if they had the mind to do so. And some did. I revisited my bucket list. Humbled and elated, I realized I could cross off several things. Unexpected items—ones I hadn't expected to become real or attained. But Ireland remained. And behind this one proper noun, a whole myriad of hopeful wishes skipped and leaped.
In April of this year, I turned fifty. Fifty years old. In the beginning, back in the cold and snow and darkness of January and February, Steve asked me what I wanted for this Jubilee celebration. We discussed cruises and Ireland—and the flutter of the wishes in my heart beat its wings, and the butterfly effect rippled the breezes and the band of the atmosphere around me. The wistful dreams began to solidify—the edges becoming sharp and keen, outlined in a thick black line. We waffled, joggled, juggled, switched, and shifted finances, budgets, and schedules. I reneged once (twice) and suggested the idea that we just go on a cruise. A seven-day cruise seemed much easier, planned for us and contained. Safe. He looked at me—searched my face, moved with agility through this labyrinth mind of mine and understood. He understood my fears and the concerns. He called me out, interrogated with a frustrating accuracy my hesitations and reluctance. And he made a decision.
“No, this trip is for your 50th birthday. You’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. We're going to Ireland.”
Plans commenced. Travel agents engaged. Plane tickets purchased. My research took on a whole new dimension—no longer did I look at The Cliffs of Moher or Newgrange or Clonmacnoise because they were beautiful or represented something greater to me, but because my feet, our feet, might trod across the soil and stone of the place.I speak of this trip as if it were the greatest longing of my life, but it wasn’t and isn’t. The deepest longing of my life is to be in the Presence of God. To love him with utter abandon, and that the fruit and abundance of abiding in his Presence would spill over into others. But there is something about Ireland—the longevity of its existence, the length of seasons of prayer lifted from its tumultuous terrain that drew me. I wanted to stand, sit, kneel or whatever else in the thin places and silences of its spiritual history.
Little did I know. How little did I know? About Ireland. Or about myself.
God’s timing is flawless—without seam or catch of a thread.
This trip came to fruition during a season of drought. This sojourn came during a time of sparsity and sorrow. I’m processing the journey now—in the moment there didn’t seem to be enough space, but now in the sweetness of my little patch of earth, I have been pondering, mulling, and considering.
As always this Chambered Nautilus place throws open its doors to you. If you are inclined, grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me in the next few posts.
As the Irish say, “Cead Mila Failte.”