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Archive for October, 2017

After doing our thorough clean up from the stay at the seeker’s house and feeling much better for having done it, we hit the road. We had a good bit of driving to do, but I planned a stop at a place called Coole Park, which was part of a national wildlife reserve.  It was on the way to our destination on the coast and seemed like a good place to go and wander.  Joanna and I were getting quite good at that by now.

We arrived and got ourselves a map of the trails and I started out as the leader. Joanna kinda drifted along behind me, taking pictures.  I was enjoying the trees with a whole new level of appreciation, after having just been blitzed by my God encounter in Belvedere Gardens.  I was enjoying them so much that I completely missed my turnoff on the trail.  I came to a cross-road with a paved path and our trail dead-ended into a fence.  I stood there looking at the map for a while and eventually Joanna caught up to me and started taking pictures of the fence and the field behind it.  I puzzled over the map for another minute or two and then asked Joanna where on earth we were.  She told me that I missed the turn off for the trail way back behind us, but she thought I did it on purpose.  Yes.  That was it.  And how did she know, when I was the one who was following the map?!  That girl is scary.

Well, she wanted to hang out and take more pictures and I wanted to go find my misplaced trail, so we decided to part ways and meet up whenever we had finished with our wanderings. So, off I marched.

Now I was determined to stay focused and find out why I was there. My conversation with God went something like this:

“God, why am I here today?”

Silence.

“What is my objective?”

Silence.

“No, really, what am I supposed to do? Or give?  Or receive?  Or what?”

*cricket chirp*

Well, so much for that conversation.   It gradually dawned on me that I hadn’t learned my lesson well enough from the Hill of Uisneach.  God wanted me to be.  The encounter from the day before was so important to Him that He would not suffer it being overshadowed by another objective so soon.  It needed to settle in deeply.  I was like a fidgety two-year old and He was telling me to HUSH.

So, I hushed. And savored.  And pondered.  And actually managed to stay on the trail.

Joanna and I met up again at the car after a couple of hours of wandering and hit the road again to finish the second leg of our drive to the coast. We began on the east coast of Dublin and were driving the entire width of Ireland to the west coast.  We were on familiar territory for me now.  We drove through a couple of the towns I had visited on my first trip and I started getting all teary-eyed and sentimental.  But I managed to hide it behind my spy-like tough exterior and my voice only wavered if I tried to say anything.

The place we were staying at that night was as elegant and classy as the last one was weird and unbalanced. It was perched on a hill overlooking the ocean.  The garden was beautiful.  The entryway was richly decorated.  There was a special sitting room with an old fashioned telescope and soft 40’s music playing in the background.  On the table near the entryway was a menu where you could choose from several specialized breakfasts, such as fancy French toast, goat cheese and egg scramble, or kippers.  Kippers.  I would have a run in with those later on.

Our hostess greeted us warmly, and once we had lugged our suitcases to our rooms, she asked us what we had come to the coast to do. I told her that one of our primary objectives was to walk the Coastal Walk to the Cliffs of Moher.  She nodded in appreciation over our good taste in Irish landscapes and proceeded to caution us in every way possible about the weather and the dangers of going on the walk without the local tour guide.

Well, she never actually said the word “danger”, but it was quite clear that she was cautious and really did not recommend that we go alone. It had been raining quite a bit – imagine that! –  and so it was muddy and there would be places where the water might be running down from the fields, and the tour guide would know if it was safe or not.  She would know in the morning whether or not he was going to take a tour that day.

We were brave adventurers, right? Joanna sure looked the part.  She was cool and collected and shot me a smile and said, “It’ll be fine.”  Well, I couldn’t bear the thought of having to synchronize to a tour guide and follow along with everyone else, but I also wasn’t in the mood for a cliffhanger scene on the crags of Ireland’s coast.  But I consoled myself with one important fact.

At least my feet would stay dry!

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A Seeker’s House

One way or another, I managed to get us to the city where we were staying that night without too much drama. The scary part is that I don’t remember most of the drive, until we arrived in the city and did about three loops around the main roundabout before we actually got on the street we wanted.   Don’t tell Joanna, though.  We will let her be blissfully innocent about the dangers of driving with a Mercy who is lost in the ether.

This particular house was an adventure unto itself. It wasn’t on the agenda as such, but God snuck it in there as a good learning experience in the art of spiritual discernment.  The house was in a line of storefronts, and may have been some kind of shop at one time.   Whatever it was at its origin, it had turned into an eclectic collection of hallways, stairs, rooms, and some very interesting nooks and crannies.  One of those particular nooks was a secret cubby in one of the stair steps.  If only I was a five-year old!  WHAT a fun place to explore.  You could get lost, and I nearly did a couple of times.  I never could find my way back from the main guest dining room to the bedroom.  And even though I am a whole lot older than five, I must admit I couldn’t resist one particularly interesting door in the dining room.

So, this was a decidedly unusual house. It was one of those places that perches on the edge of intriguingly odd and disturbingly odd.  It all depends on what the human community does with it.

Whoever lived there, or at least whoever decorated the place, was what I shall call a seeker. A big spirited person who was looking for anything and everything spiritual or out there or just plain weird.  This was not your standard issue “taste of country living”.  It didn’t take much spiritual discernment to notice the masks or the Buddha’s or the Egyptian pictures or any of the other spiritual icons strewed hither and yon.  There was no real rhyme or reason to any of the decorations.  Just a whole lot of spiritual stuff mixed in with totally random things like a stuffed fox and a stone plaque of a Mediterranean sailboat.

Now, I like curious places. They can spark your imagination.  I recently went to a curio shop in Utah and was captivated by a lot of the stuff they sold.  But there is a line that is easily crossed and the curious becomes dark and warped.  Looking at a house like the one we stayed in, I would not expect it to attract someone who expressed themselves conventionally.  It might be someone like me who could use it for righteous imaginative expression, but more likely someone whose inner world and journey matched the oddity of the house.

So, Joanna and I sat in the dining room that evening, nibbling on some dinner and taking in the environment around us. Or, rather, trying not to take in too much of it.  I don’t remember who brought up the topic first, but someone started us on what we felt in the house.  Joanna commented immediately on the air being heavy with incense and what that does to the spiritual atmosphere.  I commented that I was having trouble walking.  I would stagger like I was on a ship at sea.  We talked about that for a while until I could articulate that the energy and orientation of the place was really off, and that was why I was having trouble walking straight.  Wasn’t something I had experienced before, but now I have a bookmark for it, thanks to God’s careful planning!

That night we practiced the art of setting boundaries. We made it very clear that we had a legal right to be there, and our room was going to be a bastion of the light of God, thank you very much.  Then we both took a picture of the closet (literally) that was our bathroom and went to bed.  Well, I wrote some more in my journal and then went to bed.  Even a wonky house with wonky spiritual dynamics couldn’t dampen my high from the day.

We both slept pretty decently that night, which is saying something! But as we were getting ready to leave that morning, I noticed something was a bit off for Joanna.  She is far too much a road warrior for it to have been the micro-bathroom, so I knew it wasn’t that.  We had our breakfast and got packed up and headed out the door.  Once we were in the car, I ventured to ask how she was doing.  Sure enough, she wasn’t feeling her normal self and she wasn’t sure why.  Nothing had happened that she knew of.

Well … nothing had happened other than spending the night in a not-so-spiritually-nice place. So, we took care of it then and there.  We prayed and asked the Lord to disconnect and unplug us from the land, the house, the people and everything related to it.  Then we asked Him to clean us up, from head to toe, a good scrubbing to get all the slimy stuff off, and then closed out the prayer with blessings of HIS light on the owners and the guests and the land.  Boy, I would love to see that owner find God.  If he or she pursued Him with half the energy they were pursuing the other stuff, they would be one formidable force!

For Joanna, the difference was like night and day. She immediately felt the darkness lift and her mood improved considerably.  God gave us both a good lesson in discernment.  One of the most important things to remember is that the environment affects us and there are a whole lot of things we own as our own issue that may not be us at all.

I’d love to find a house like that someday and do it up right.

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I experienced something crucial about Irish life while on the Hill of Tara. It is wet in Ireland.  Everywhere.  I waterproofed my tennis shoes before I left California, but that was a joke.  I needed a serious upgrade or I was destined to have soggy feet the whole trip.  Neither my feet nor I were excited about that idea.

So, our first goal the next morning was to find a store where I could get some REAL waterproof shoes or galoshes or waders, or a rubber suit. Whatever worked.  We found a bona fide sports store, and lo and behold, they had some uber sporty, Gortex infused, “keep your feet dry in a deluge”, hiking shoes.  They even had them in my size.  The shoes were accompanied by an uber sporty, health nut, sickeningly fit salesman who promptly wandered off with Joanna to talk about all the crazed outdoor things one could do in Ireland.  They pulled out some maps and started whispering and looking over at me every so often.  I heard something about “Devil’s Ladder” and “this one is a challenge”, which is the serious hiker’s code language for “this one will kill the tourist”.  I decided it was high time to buy my shoes and get out of there.  I managed to disentangle Joanna and we made it safely back to the car and on the road again.

We were bound for the Hill of Uisneach.  It is supposedly the spiritual and mythological center of Ireland.  One website even described it as the place where all the ley lines in Ireland intersect.  This was one loaded hill!  I won’t say loaded with what … but remember we were treasure hunters and we knew Who was there first.

We got there without incident – and no detours to Devil’s Ladder – but we couldn’t get in. Come to find out, you had to have a special tour or come at certain times of the week when the field was open.  Turns out that someone actually farmed the field.  Who knew.  Well, so much for the plan.  Which only goes to prove that you never know when God is going to plan circles around you.

So, we sat there in the little driveway to figure out what to do next. I asked what would be right for the day.  Joanna pulled out the tour books and maps and started looking at the surrounding area.  I kept asking what was right for the day.  She told me to relax and let God be God and we’ll find something.  So, I relaxed and sent Serina a picture of my new shoes.   Which only goes to prove that God doesn’t need us to be sharp as tack to get us where He wants us to go.

Then Joanna said that a place called Belvedere Gardens looked interesting. I was a little skeptical at first.  It was too touristy.  God wouldn’t show up there, would He?  Then Joanna mentioned Narnia.  For real.  NARNIA.  It was in their description in the tour book!  Well, for goodness sakes.  I was sold.  Which only goes to prove that God can show up anywhere He dang well pleases.

To the garden we went.

There were several different paths you could take through the gardens and forested areas, so we decided to go our separate ways. Joanna was going to drift and take pictures, and I was going to drift and try NOT to think about what was right for the day and just let God take me there.  And boy, did He.

I will never forget that spot in the forest where He validated His design of me and anchored it at a depth that will never be shaken. The phrase He gave me was about Narnia!  Only God.  Only God could know me that well and could arrange something so powerful in spite of me.  After I cried for a while in the forest, I wandered out into the field and cried some more.  And then it started to rain.  Did I mention that it rains a lot in Ireland?  It was a beautiful rain, like the sky was feeling the same joy I was.  I remember standing with my arms out and my face upturned to the raindrops, absorbing the splendor of the moment when the thought intruded into my mind, “Hey! My feet are staying dry!”  Which only goes to prove that God takes care of the little things too.

Eventually I gathered what was left of myself and wandered back into the forest and followed the trails as they meandered back to the café and visitor’s center. I met up with Joanna and we sat down in the café.  I had something to eat and then asked if Joanna would mind if I wrote a few things down.  I meant to write a highlight or two, but it turned into a few pages.  Joanna wandered off.  Eventually the flow stopped and I went to find her, since I had a vague feeling that we should head in the direction of our next B&B.  I was so blitzed.

Which only goes to prove that you should never let the Mercy drive.

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This was the day we were going to begin our road trip. Two nights in Dublin had served to make me more tired than I had been in a long time, so I knew this was the perfect time to start driving.  With relatively little drama we had breakfast, packed up our bags and hit the road in our microcar.

The first stop on our route was a place called the Hill of Tara. It is one of the “official” spots to visit, which always makes me a bit contrary.  I don’t want to go where everyone else does.  But this place had been calling to me for a while, so we purposed to ignore the tourists and find out what God had for us.

The history of the site is governmental. It is an ancient site that was used for sacred kingship rituals.  There is a stone monument called the Stone of Destiny that would “roar” its approval whenever a worthy high king was inaugurated.  Now, all of that sounds pretty sketchy, and it is.  Definitely not a stream I wanted to tap into.  But the very first question that comes to my mind is, “why?”  Why choose that spot?  Why build the monument there?  Why go to all the effort to create the mounds and the passage tomb?  What did God put there that got warped?

It never ceases to amaze me how God can effortlessly filter His light through the haze. I wasn’t on the site for more than two minutes when my heart started soaring with praise for King Jesus.  And for an imaginative person such as myself, if I could have procured medieval attire it would have been all the better.  I was in the moment, but I was drawn to do what the land was made to draw me to do, which is to worship the one true King.  The people who picked that spot for their rituals had good taste.  I have to hand it to them.  They knew that land was made for dominion and kinship.  They just went off the rails on which king and whose power.

Joanna and I wandered around on our own for a while, each tasting our own flavors of experiencing the land. She gave that monument a talking to about who exactly is the rightful king.  I think the spiritual realm and the land heard her.  I wonder what the experience will be like for the next unsuspecting tourist who happens by!  I love setting booby traps for pre-Christians.

The icing on the cake is that it didn’t rain a drop the whole time we were out in the fields. For anyone who has been to Ireland, having two hours straight in September without rain is neigh unto a miracle.  By the time we were done in the shops and ready to walk back to the car, it had begun raining.

Let me tell you something about rainy cold days in Ireland. The wet coldness wiggles and wheedles its way into every cell in your body.  It gets into the very marrow of your bones.  And I’ll admit it.  I am a wimp when it comes to cold.  Southern California has trumped my Michigan upbringing.  So, it was a shivering skinny chick that drove in the driveway of our first B&B on the road.  Joanna was fine.  She is slender too, but she’s hardy and could endure a gale without a grimace.

Our landlady greeted us in a sleeveless shirt. Good gracious!

But she also knew what was coming her way. She had placed in both of our rooms one of the greatest inventions known to mankind.  An act of sheer genius.

The hot water bottle.

I had never used one before, but I am a confirmed addict now. A little hot water from the tea kettle and I was in heaven. Maybe I will blast the air conditioner in my apartment just so I can use one.  Joanna and I settled down on the beds, each with a hot water bottle and a cup of tea and what a blissful afternoon it was.

 

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