As you read this we should, and I emphasize “Should,” be home in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “You have a ton of junk mail waiting for you.”) and dealing with the stresses and strains of jet-lag and culture shock. Hopefully our luggage has arrived with us, but I always feel a bit cynical about that.
All in all, our seven week odyssey in Ireland has been a spiritual, temporal and personal reawakening for both of us. It was a time when you could look at yourself and your life in a very unique way – almost as if you are on the outside looking in. You can see yourself more objectively from a distance.
I know that it is going to take me quite a while to analyze, appreciate, and understand the impact of everything, but that is a good thing. Snap judgments are rarely accurate – at least for me.
Your mileage may vary.
I do know that I have seen things on this voyage that I have never seen before. Seeing, from the inside, the passions of the 1916 Rising and how those passions are still white hot today; learning more about the impact of the famines on both Ireland and The United States.
On a Sunday morning going to church alongside a congregation that has been meeting there for 800 years makes you think about your own faith. Driving along a road where the sheep have the right-of-way reminds you that they were here first – and will be here long after you are gone. The sheep and the tiny lambs that lounge by the side of the road watch you without flinching. They are not impressed.
The houses we stayed in varied from the 1885 Stationmaster’s Home that is part of an operating museum, to a modern aerie clinging like an eagle’s nest to the side of a cliff by the ocean. We spent two weeks in a condo in a river town where Pleasure Boating and Art Festivals seemed to be the main preoccupations. We had a week in the country where all of our neighbors were sheep.
While modern Ireland is a high-tech haven with an economy that is coming back from the last recession quicker than most countries, it is also a country that has had a history that dragged it through some horrific times. Wisely, the Irish do not, and will not, forget those times. They are very pragmatic about life at the same time that they can rhapsodize about the romance and the tears. The Past was just yesterday and everyone remembers that large parts of the country didn’t get electricity and pure water until the mid 1950s. And now everyone has their mobile phone in hand.
Coming here for this extended time may turn out to be a pivotal point in our lives. It is, without a doubt, going to be uniquely important. For me it has been a challenge to look at a different world and absorb it into my shallow pool of creative thought. If I can see my world from the far horizon of this other world I might see things differently and in a new reflection of light off the water in between. It has also been a time to be with my wife, my great love – to hold hands and talk about – about everything. That is a difficult thing to do when we are both running through our days at home.
For Dawn this was a Sabbatical, a time to restore and stoke the fires in her heart. It was a time to Reconnect, Heal, and take a good close look into Faith, Love, Duty, and The Future.
I’m sure that once my body readjusts to my new – old schedule and my brain re-Hoosiers itself – that I will find thoughts, memories and awarenesses, bobbing up to my surface. I’m looking forward to those moments when, all of a sudden, I will be saying to myself, “Ahhh, I see.”