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Archive for the ‘Ireland Chronicles’ Category

Dorsey Island

We left early enough for our hike to the stone circles that even with the unexpected extension we still had plenty of daylight left. We decided that we would drive to the end of the peninsula and take the cable car to Dorsey Island.  But first, there were important things to attend to, such as feeding my starving self.  So, we stopped at the little café in town and I had a delicious rhubarb crumble dessert and a lemon fizzy drink.

The drive to the cable car station was long, but took us through some small coastal village and through more of the winding Irish countryside on very narrow roads. Everyone in Ireland seems so calm and I don’t know how they manage it.  When we got there, I had to wrench Joanna’s fingers off the dashboard because she had been gripping it so hard.

Let me tell you about the Dorsey Island cable car. It runs on cables that were strung across the turbulent Dorsey Sound sometime in the last century.  It looked like it could have been run by a hand crank in the beginning.  The car itself was an odd-shaped box with a wooden sliding door and copious amounts of ancient grease on the wheels above.  The cables went into a building with a small window where the cable operator sat and peered out across the sound.  I was beginning to think that Devil’s Ladder was the safer bet.  But we were there, and well, there were other crazies standing in line to take a ride across, so we could all jump off the cliff together.

Our turn came and we climbed in. There were two sets of wooden benches lining the sides of the car.  There were also signs posted about the maximum persons allowed and we were half a person over.  But it was too late, the door was closed and we were off with a bounce, a lurch, and a prayer.  Dorsey Sound seemed a lot wider from up there.

After a few minutes had passed and I relaxed a bit about going to a watery grave, I started to enjoy the ride. I especially enjoyed the opposite shore getting closer.  That was the best part.

We disembarked with a sense of relief and accomplishment and set out to explore what we could of the island before we had to go back. We were late enough in the day that we only had about an hour or we would get stuck there for two hours while the cable car operator had his dinner break.  Apparently there aren’t too many people who want to spend their lives running an antiquated cable car, so there was no one to take over for him.  Since the sky was threatening to dump on us again, I opted for returning sooner, rather than later.  So, I sent Joanna off to take some pictures and I went back to stand in line with all the other shivering crazies who had braved the cable car and the weather.

Joanna got some good pictures, though. And we had the status of surviving the Dorsey Island cable car.  So, there’s that.

On the way back to the B&B, we decided to stop at a local village pub because someone was hungry again. Turns out that driving in the Irish countryside and taking death-defying cable rides are good for one’s appetite.  The pub we picked was perfect.  It was truly a local pub, not a tourist pit stop.  So, we got to enjoy watching the interaction between the regulars.  Joanna was even favored by their little dog, who jumped up on her bench seat and made himself quite comfortable.

When it came time to order, I got fish and chips. Joanna ordered mussels.  They were even locally grown.  How do you grow a mussel?  Well, I learned.   At the right time of the year you put out lines with buoys and all the mussel babies attach to the line and hang out there and grow until one day someone comes along and serves them up to Joanna for dinner.  I never had mussels before, and I was just fresh off the kipper experiment.  But I decided to try anyway.  All I can say is that they were weird.  Not fishy, but not anything else I could describe either.  Joanna had a whole big bowl of them and she dug away with a good will.  I don’t think I need to eat them again, ever.

After dinner we headed to the B&B for our last night before heading back to Dublin. It felt like the morning hike had been a long time ago, but the impact of the experience was still deeply resonating.  I will always have special memories of the south of Ireland, cable cars, mussels and all!

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To The North

After a peaceful night’s sleep, entirely free of nightmares about Devil’s Ladder, I awoke to a lovely day for a hike.  That was a very good thing, since we intended to do just exactly that.  This was the day we were going to do the Cashelkeetly hike, which would take us to some of the well-known stone circles in that area.   It would also take us through some of the rolling, stony Irish hills that I so dearly love and into the domain of many a fluffy ball of sheep.

Our new B&B hostess fed us a hearty Irish breakfast and then offered to go with us to a parking spot in town and then drive us to the beginning of the trail so that we could walk back to the car.  Joanna and I were quite pleased with that arrangement, so off we went.  When we arrived at the designated parking spot we gathered up our gear and hopped in her car.  We drove along for a bit, as she chattered away.  And she kept driving.  And driving.  And driving, for what seemed like an eternity.  I was beginning to wonder if we would run out of country.  But eventually we got to the signpost for the trail, which literally went over the fence into a sheep pasture.  As we were climbing out of the car, she gave us our instructions on how to get back to where we parked, which went something like this, “turn left and go down the path a ways and turn right and then veer sideways a bit and then turn again, and walk a bit longer and then veer the other way and you’ll be there.”  I looked bewildered.  Joanna looked serene as always.

We clambered over the fence and began our adventure.

Most of the hike was getting to the stone circles.  They were the objective, but I sure enjoyed the process of getting there.  Those hills speak to me.  I love the combination of the lush green grasses and the stones and boulders dotting the landscape.  Many times I stopped for a few minutes to absorb whatever ethereal feelings were floating by.  I could have walked into the side of one of those hills and disappeared into another world.  Usually a disgruntled cotton ball would jerk me back to reality with a bleat of protest at my presence.  Apparently the sheep thought the field was theirs.  Their little white fluffs on the distant hills did make for nice scenery.

Eventually, and thankfully without any sheep butting drama, we reached the stone circles.  There were two circles.  One was larger and higher up on the trail.  The second was quite a bit smaller.  Joanna and I wandered around them for a few minutes, just getting a feeling for what was there.  Were they defiled?  Yep.  No doubt about that.  But the question of “why there?” was still at the top of my mind.  I was more drawn to the first circle, so I stood there and pondered for a few minutes.  There was one stone that was much larger than the others and seemed to be facing a certain direction.  Well, one thing that I learned from a very wise fellow land cleanser is that the key may have nothing to do with the monument itself.  The key may be where the monument is facing, or pointing, or looking.  So, I pulled out my compass to see which direction the stone was pointing.  It was north.

Joanna was busy giving the other stone circle the what-fers about who is the one true God, so I decided to leave her to it and go north.  This meant crossing the trail perpendicularly and walking across the field towards the bay.  I didn’t immediately find another piece of land or a marker that felt significant.  So, I walked some more.  Still nothing, though I wanted to keep walking.  By this time Joanna had wandered after me.  I walked down a little valley and to a rise where I could see the water and some houses around it and the land extending beyond that.  I still wanted to keep walking.  It was then that I realized that nothing in my view was what I was walking towards.  I could have walked and walked and walked north forever.  I wasn’t looking for a marker or a portal or anything else.  I was looking for the North.

Well, I have experienced some interesting things, but that was a new one on me!  It became quite clear that this was waking up a spiritual longing, and it wasn’t about a destination in the landscape.  What came to mind was the verse in Psalms that is one of my favorite songs, “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the Great King.”

I still am not quite sure what to call the deposit there in the land that awakened a new kind of desire for the Kingdom of God in me, but that was something very special.  A kind of thin place I hadn’t expected to find.  God made it clear that I wasn’t to forget what I felt there.  I might not be on the land, but the longing will go with me everywhere and will grow.  And maybe, sometime, someday, I might even have better language for it!

Well, I stood there for a while and savored and pondered and wondered.  But eventually, we had to muster ourselves and keep walking and so we moved on.

Our hiking took us by a forest that we simply couldn’t resist.  So, we ducked inside and promptly found more muck than I thought was possible outside of the tabloids.  Joanna commented that she rather liked my verbal expressive tendencies.  She could tell by my noises where the especially soft spots were.  But the trees were beautiful and there was a little waterfall to boot.  The trail took us out to a little parking lot and we thought we had reached the end.  So, we endeavored to follow our landlady’s instructions.

We walked up the road to the left for a while.  That didn’t feel right.  Then we walked up the road to the right for a while.  That didn’t feel right either.  We actually did have a map with us so we pulled it out and looked at the trail.  Eventually we decided that we popped out too soon, and we were supposed to follow it quite a ways further.  I was beginning to have doubts about the motives of our landlady.

So, we got back on the main trail and trudged on.  I began to think about my provisions.  Did I have enough food and water to last for several days?  But wait.  Ireland is a small country, right?  How long can one really be lost?  I was beginning to rethink Devil’s Ladder.  Maybe that would have been the better choice after all.

Well, it turns out that the landlady was right and she wasn’t out to kill a couple of tourists to feed to the sheep.  Or at least one tourist.  I’d like to see them wear Joanna out.   After another mile or so of winding through the pasture, we got a glimpse of the road we wanted to be on and knew we were heading in the right direction.  And sure enough, the directions were right, though I sure am glad Joanna knew how to decipher them.

If it had been left up to me, we’d still be wandering!

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The B&B we were staying at was a bit more formal, and we all ate breakfast at the same time.  That was fun because after the first day of being there, we had some stories to share.   Joanna and I refrained from embellishing our cliff walking adventures too much, but I will admit that we were pretty happy that we went and conquered on our own.

The night before I had chosen the goat cheese scramble for my breakfast, but I didn’t know what Joanna had chosen.  By the way, this particular hostess was an angel.  I asked her the first morning we were there if I could have a glass of ice for my Coke.  She looked at me a bit squinty-eyed, but I have gotten a whole lot worse, especially in mainland Europe.  And then if they DO actually agree to bring me ice, it is two cubes sitting forlornly at the bottom of the glass.  She brought me a FULL glass of ice.  She racked up a lot of points for that one.  Well, when I walked into the breakfast room the second morning, the full glass of ice was already sitting at my spot.  Wondrous woman!

So, she starts serving the different guests, including me, and then comes out with a plate with two whole fish on it.  Whole as in head and fins and everything still attached.  She sets the plate in front of Joanna with a “Bon Appétit!” and I am thinking, “Actually, I just lost mine.”  I knew kippers existed, in theory.  I had never met one in person, let alone for breakfast.  I looked at Joanna with a whole new level of respect.

She munched away for a few minutes and then asked me if I wanted to try a bite.  In my head I am thinking, “I would rather fall off the Cliffs of Moher”, but what came out of my mouth was, “sure, why not!”  I took the smallest piece that qualified as a bite and in it went.  Everyone else was watching me.  I have to tell you something about my face.  It has a mind of its own.  I would lose everything in the first poker game I ever tried to play.  Well, I chewed down that bite of kipper and said, “It tastes like FISH.”  Apparently my face did something quite amusing when I said that because it just tickled everyone to death.  I like fish when it tastes like tartar sauce.  Kippers are about as fishy a fish as you can possibly imagine.  I left the rest to Joanna and reveled in my goat cheese scramble.

That day was going to be our big driving day.  We were on the west coast of Ireland, just a bit south of where we began in Dublin.  We needed to drive all the way down to the Dingle Peninsula, where we would stay that night.  So, we basically planned for a long day in the car.  But as everyone was getting up from breakfast and talking about their plans, we overheard a comment about a sheep farm nearby that gave sheep herding demonstrations.  Well, that sounded quite interesting, especially to Joanna.  So, we decided to take a detour and enjoy the show.

And it was well worth it!  We even got the full Irish effect.  It rained.  Hard.  They had thoughtfully provided a covered area for us to stay under while we watched.  It didn’t seem to bother the dogs one iota.  They lived and breathed this job.  It was such a joy to watch their boundless energy and eagerness to do the job.  In fact, the sheep herder had to get after them a few times because two would respond to the same command!  It was well worth the detour.  And I also walked out of their gift shop with a beautiful knee-length knit wool jacket that I will wear in Southern California, even if I die of heat stroke.

The trip down south was long, but beautiful.  We drove through a national wildlife preserve that just begged you to get out every half mile and go for a hike in the forests and hills.  I could have easily spent a few days just in that area.  Someday I hope to go back and do some of that hiking because I just KNOW there are some thin places waiting to be discovered.  But on we drove.

Let me tell you something about a GPS.  They like to take you the shortest route.  In the city or on the freeway, that strategy works quite well.  But when you are in rural Ireland, the shortest route could be cutting across a sheep pasture, and that’s about what we did.   We drove on so many side roads and byways and nowhere ways that I started to wonder if my GPS was messing with us and laughing its silly silicone head off.  But eventually we bumped our way out of a two-track forest trail and saw the light – in the B&B window.  I had to apologize to the GPS.

So, we made it in one piece to our lovely mountain view home for the next two nights.  After we got our luggage inside and were settling in, Joanna made an off-hand comment.   She said that she decided it wouldn’t be the right time to try Devil’s Ladder on this trip.

I played it cool and said, “Ok!” in the most nonchalant manner I could muster.  But, boy, did I sleep well that night!

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The Cliffs of Moher

I saw them in a picture. I don’t even remember why my friend sent me the picture, but I know I had never seen the Cliffs of Moher before then.  Only I had.  I knew the minute the picture popped up on my screen that I had seen it many times before.  Not in a picture, not in a movie, or anywhere else my soul could pull from memory.  I had seen them in my mind’s eye and my spirit piped up and said, “THOSE are the cliffs you always see!”  They weren’t just any cliffs.  They were somehow very special to my spirit.  I knew from that moment I had to go there.

And that’s why Joanna and I were on the west coast of Ireland, discussing (or debating) with our hostess whether or not it would be safe to walk the Coastal Trail. It was the question on our minds at breakfast the next morning.  There were three other couples at the B&B with us, and the older couple was also planning to hike the trail.  We had all been served our custom breakfasts – I opted for the fancy French toast – and were chatting about who was who and where we came from.  Not surprisingly, the topic of driving came up once or twice, mostly in connection with the monstrous lorries that threatened the life and limb of every tourist who dared get behind the wheel of a microcar.  I think they like doing that.

Then our hostess came in with the News. She said that the local tour guide was going to take a tour that morning and would decide as he went along if he would keep going or not.  Well, that was all we needed to hear.  I think our hostess knew it, too.  She specifically asked us if we were still planning to go alone.  Joanna smiled sweetly and said “yes”.  She is really great at that.

So, we bundled up some gear and some grub, said our prayers, and headed towards the beach. I had chosen this particular B&B because it was within a half mile of the Coastal Trail.  We found the trail without any difficulty at all.  You’d have to be blind to miss it.  It started out as a dirt road that wound along the shoreline, but quite a ways from the edge.   I must admit that we shared a grin or two about the concerns for our safety.

Not to completely discredit our hostess. The path did wind itself considerably closer to the edge and the cliffs continued to rise higher and higher.  At one point we did some stream hopping, but we didn’t have to ford any great torrents of water rushing through from the fields.  I think that God cleaned it up just for us that day.  Not that there was a shortage of mud, however.  Plenty of that to build a whole new island.

I am grateful to the Irish for not following the popular American habit of putting up fences and barriers everywhere that detract from the view or the experience. They had signs saying that the cliff edges might be unstable, so don’t be a fool.  But they allowed you to be just that if you wished.  Not that either of us would ever do anything risky, at least not until later in the day.

The hike and the views were spectacular. You could be walking around a curve in the shoreline and suddenly there was a sheer wall of rock rising from the water across the inlet.  It just took your breath away.  The sea birds flying around the cliffs and landing on the ledges added a sense of timelessness, as if those cliffs and those birds had existed forever.  Many times throughout the hike I felt as if I had crossed the threshold into some ancient realm.  There is something so moving to me when nature takes me beyond the awareness of the time I live in.

We hiked along for probably a couple of hours, more or less alone. There were other brave souls on the trail, so that was encouraging.  Eventually, the tour caught up with us.  We saw the older couple from the B&B and they seemed quite happy to see that we were still alive.  The tour catching up with us turned out to be a huge gift from God.  There was a certain spot where the “official” trail cut up to the highest part of the cliffs and took you directly to the visitor’s center.  Since we were now with the tour group, we got to take the VIP route, which continued along the coast for a while longer and then cut up to the ridge.  So, we walked along with them for a while.

Then I saw the rock ledge.

This was the gift. I saw it first from below.  We were just coming to the part of the trail with the most vertical climb to the ridge.  And I could see this portion of the cliff edge above us that jutted out over the water.  That was IT.  That was the spot.  I can still see that image in my mind – me looking up at the trail and seeing the ledge and knowing that’s where I had to go.

Joanna was still meandering behind me taking pictures, so I let her know that I was hiking up and I’d see her at the top. And I was off.

It is amusing to think of how little we know about what is going on inside of someone, or how vastly different our motivations can be. When I got to the top of the ridge, there were a fair number of people up there, enjoying the view, taking pictures, posing with their families and doing the normal tourist thing.  Yet, here I was, coming to this place for an intense spiritual experience.  Did everyone think I was just another tourist?  Or was there someone else in the crowd I labeled as “pesky tourists” who was having a deep encounter of some kind?  Or was someone up there to try to thrash out their problems and needed some perspective?  Or were they bored and wanted to go home?

What I did know at that moment is that there was a ruckus going on between my spirit and soul. This is the dialog that went on in my head.

“You have to stand there.”

“WHAT!?? Are you nuts?”

“No. You have to stand there.”

“On the ledge. 700 feet above the water.”

“Yes. On the ledge.  700 feet above the water.”

The funny thing is that I think my soul secretly wanted to, even though it was more immediately concerned with how high it would register on the stupidity scale to get anywhere near the edge.  But I was there.  And I knew my spirit knew something so I had to go.

This was the picture I had seen so many times. Me standing on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the water.  I could feel the wind and see the water below me.  I didn’t know exactly why I was there, but I knew I was supposed to receive.  So I asked the Lord to download everything He wished to give me, to unpack the treasures of my spirit, to do what He had brought me there to do.  I felt such an intensity of freedom and dominion that is hard to put language to.

My spirit loved that spot. Apparently, it is not afraid of heights, or sudden gusts of wind, for that matter.  My soul, however, was not quite so carefree about the whole thing and did manage to interject some common sense.  I stayed back a ways from the very edge.

Joanna made her way up a short while after and we wandered off towards the visitor’s center to finish up the hike. But I was lost in my own world and wasn’t likely to emerge any time soon.  Joanna and I decided to part ways.  I was ready to find a shuttle to take what was left of me back to the B&B.  She wanted to hike some more, bless her soul!

On the way back, she had a deep encounter with God.  It was a good day.

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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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