Today was fabulous. I got up relatively early, after having watched The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer with Lydia and Lynnea last night. I love having so much girl time with them. It's ridiculously fun. I drank tea and had breakfast, and then once everyone was up, we hiked to the lighthouse, a long but marvelous trek. Very refreshing walk. We couldn't go in the lighthouse, but we sat around outside it and talked and laughed.
We came back and ate a late lunch and then left for the mainland. We went shopping in town and Lydia, Lynnea and I looked in a couple clothing shops and tried on some cute, ridiculously expensive dresses.
I whispered how much I just wanted to crawl into His arms and feel Him all around me. Patience is awfully hard. But I can wait with acceptance when I know what I'm waiting for will come true. Thankful for a Someone I can count on.
Another fabulous day. We got up and had breakfast all together and then we mostly hung out for most of the morning. I read a bunch of Psalms and wrote a lot. It felt good.
Then Josiah, Lydia and I went on a walk and climbed gracefully (not) over fences and sat on cliff edges and drew on each other's hands and took pictures. Coming back, Josiah fell down in what is now infamously named "Joe's Black Mud of Doom" and got his good clothes covered in mud. It was a fun walk. I felt pretty bad for Josiah though. :(
Then we came back and had lunch and then we played Sorry and while Josiah and UB went out in the boat we watched Inkheart and Seventeen Again and had a dance party outside. The tide got so high today - all the way to the first step.
Supper was good, and then we played a fun game of Up and Down the River, and then I took a hot shower, braided my hair, and Josiah just left our room after being ridiculous and hilarious. Waaay too much fun.
Easter morning ramblings of a lost heart:
Water rises higher, all the while flowing on in ripples of steady current, purposeful, strong and mysterious and gentle. It doesn't ever stop, does it? It will flow and wash and stream until kingdom come. We will watch it ebb and flow, at high tide it will reach us but not overcome us, and at low tide we will run across thirsty ground to reach the sea.
Today is the day He rose out of darkness into light. People around the world celebrate it and we've done it every single year and mostly I forget how important it is. That my chains of fear and fears of shadow are replaced with windows and open doorways of freedom because He whispered, "I cannot bear to live without her; let me give my life to set her free." (me?!) And that's really what sold me on Him, that's the big important reason why I said yes. But it's everything He is to me too. His hand on my shoulder, steady current of purpose, and sometimes when I'm angry I try to shake it off but He won't let me. And it's always better that way, even when I don't like to admit it. And then when life hurts and it feels like the end of the world He says, I know, and I sob, how can you, but bite my tongue when I remember everything He went through to bring me to where I am today. But He doesn't shout or blame or accuse, He just gently reminds me there are bigger things in life than a broken heart and that crying helps the hurt. But He's the best for laughter, too. Always has a joke for me, always such communicable joy in His eyes when He's happy and it's so contagious.
But I can't wait to actually hear Him laugh, actually feel His hand, actually be near Him to hear His "I love you". So hungry we are just to see Your face, just finally fall in one long embrace.
Hungry, Lord. Desperate for you.
We wait for you.
Yesterday was a good day. We went in to the mainland and found directions to a reformed church in Galway, so we drove there and worshipped with them. The service was less vibrant than I would've liked, but it was a good sermon and the people were nice and friendly.
Then we drove back towards Westport and found a castle on the way. We climbed the winding staircase and looked out of the windows and found secret tunnels and ran across the castle grounds and I felt like a princess. We took a bunch of pictures there.
We stopped at a fab gift shop on the way back-my fave so far. I found the perfect jumper, soft grey wool, super cute style, and the cheapest of any so far. I got a few other things for people back home and we had fun browsing.
I didn't sleep very well last night but feel pretty good this morning. We ate breakfast and I swept the kitchen and living room and did the dishes. We're staying on the island today. We might take a walk at some point but it's rainy at the moment. So I'm listening to Coldplay and journalling in the living room, and UB, Josiah and Lynnea are chilling in the kitchen, Zach is outside practicing on his new irish penny whistle, and Lydia is curled up asleep in the big armchair.
Today ended up being an adventurous day. Not because we were particularly adventurous but adventure happened upon us.
After we played some games and had lunch we went out for a walk. We played Lord of the Rings and pretended to be the Fellowship minus the hobbits (UB wasn't with us). Talk about nostalgia. We happened upon Patrick and his son who were mending a fence. They said we should go home with them for tea once they were finished, so Lydia, Lynnea and I wandered a little ways away and Josiah and Zach went home to get UB. The sky was bright blue, the wind was gentle and the sun was shining enough to lend quite a bit of warmth. One of the nicest days so far, once the rain from earlier had left. Without a moment's notice, the storm clouds replaced the blue sky, the wind changed to a fiercely cold one and the sun disappeared as freezing rain and hail blew on us. We were quickly drenched and sought shelter against the cliffs. When we had been out there huddled together for quite some time (quite a bonding experience) Padraig (Patrick's son) came and told us we should climb inside their tractor to get warm. We squeezed in upon his suggestion and stayed there till they were finished and Padraig drove us home while we all squished in with him. He said, "I bet you didn't expect to come to Ireland and do this." Nope. Not really. Good times.
We went to their house and met the cows and then met Patrick's wife Dorothy and went inside for tea. They got out all sorts of food for us and we talked and laughed for about 3 hours till our clothes had mostly dried and then we got a tour of all their animals. Finally we were ready to go and they took us home in their big beauty of a boat. What a fabulous afternoon.
Lydia, Lynnea and I have become the most fab trio ever. Everyone was in marvelous moods tonight. It was happy and delightful. Right after supper, UB, Lydia, Zach and I ran out behind the house to see the sunset. Barefoot in the freezing wet grass and I gasp and shiver and God takes my breath away. It was beautiful.
I want to tell you the way it feels to stand in the doorway and watch the waves splash and move about and they laugh and play and they're not actually whispering my sorrow back to me this time. Bubbling fountains of just joy unadulterated, and it's nice to have whole spaces of happiness unaccompanied by sorrow or ache or any of that. It is glorious to be happy.
I have given up all doubts about the beauty of God.
Yesterday we went into town early. Lydia and I got matching shamrock green scarves and matching peacock rings. I got Jeremiah an Ireland puzzle (can't wait to see his face when he sees it :) and Matti a book I've been admiring in our favourite grocery store, called I Love You, Mummy.
It took a little while to get back because we'd forgotten the phone so we couldn't call Patrick. We borrowed a local woman's phonebook. She was super nice.
Once we got home, we ate a delish lunch, then played Uno, and inbetween rounds I wrote a ginormously long letter to mum. Then I took a shower and dressed in my blue stockings, my blue skirt, my grey jumper and new scarf and put my hair up. Slipping on my boots I left for the cliffs and the water. Thus commenced the most beautiful walk of my life. I dreamed dreams I never let myself dream anymore and jumped fences in my skirt and stockings and only fell once. Then I reached the rocky beach where the waves never stop breaking the stones and I knew I'd found the space and time where I belonged. I sat on a rock and let the water splash all around me and gave my heart a home. The sky was blue and bright and the sun was shining and reflected in the wind blown waves. God kept whispering how beautiful I am and how much He loves me. I couldn't believe it. Just kept wondering why.
Back at home, everyone was in superb moods, and supper was, again, amazing, and then we ran out, hopped in the boat and went to see the sunset. We rode crazy waves and climbed cliffs to see the last of the sunset we'll never ever see again. We chased a bunch of sheep and lambs and ran wildly down the hill screaming. When we got back in the boat, Lynnea and I shared the back and screamed to our heart's content and sang Josh Garrels.
Back home, I drank hot tea from my beautiful irish blessing mug and we gave each other back massages. Finally, once we were all thoroughly tired, we stayed up to watch The Prestige. Good. film. It was a glorious day. I will never forget that walk. Ever.
Peace like a river.
It has been a wonderful day. We left for Croagh Patrick bright and early and started up the mountain fresh and energetic. It didn't take very long for me to regret how dreadfully not in shape I am for mountain climbing. Lydia and I were far behind the others most of the time, and we took a long time getting up, but it was beautiful and a grand experience. I got super lightheaded towards the top, but reaching the tippy top was glorious and worth it. We ate a fab picnic lunch up there. Crackers and crisps and cheese and oranges and chocolate. It's how we roll.
Coming down was obviously loads easier, though I got about four blisters. Lydia lost the sole to her boot so she came down half barefoot. When we reached the bottom we got ice cream and hung out for a little while. Then we went back to Westport where we got internet at a pub in town and I sent my letter to mum. We met a really sweet and fun lady who had a tent set up in the middle of town selling her handmade jewellery. I got some earrings for people back home and talked to her for a little while. She was probably the sweetest lady I've met here so far, which is saying a lot. People in general are really nice here. We went to an awesome pottery shop and the potter there was fab! We loved talking to him and I got two mugs for Jed and Elijah and UB got a mug as well and he gave us a discount on them all.
We finally headed back home and had a glorious boat ride back. I took a nice hot shower, and then we ate some soup and bread and cheese and then Zach, Lydia, UB and I went for a walk to the rocky beach near the cliffs where I went yesterday. The sun had mostly sunk but the clouds were perfect and breathtaking and the waves crashed against the rocks and Lydia and UB and I sang It Is Well With My Soul and More Love To Thee and I knew things will all be all right. I walked home alone and lonely apart from the others and thought about how happy sometimes feels like it should be what we want but sometimes happy just means coming out ok in the end and inbetween here and the end is a walk in the dark, climbing over fences and sprawling headfirst in the grass and hearing the breakers crash beneath you and it feels lonely, but not for long because I'm not alone.
Back home we ate some more supper and I am exhausted and we're playing the Dictionary game in the living room with a dictionary we got a second hand shop today.
Oh Lord, You're beautiful (heart song set to Keith Green's music, of course). And then He whispers He loves me. [floored]
Second to last day on the island.
God woke me up before the sun today. I chased a wandering something outside but the rain kept falling so I turned back and came inside. Then the rain stopped and I ran up the hill behind the house and watched the sun rise.
I came back inside and bled poetry through my ink pen. Contemplating goodbyes. And heart holes.
Not ready to go home yet.
But today's been a grand and glorious farewell. After everyone woke up we had breakfast and then hung out near the island all day. We snacked, played lots of card games, Lydia and UB went out walking and we cleaned and packed. My favourite part was telephone pictionary and laughing till our sides ached. We watched A Good Year which was odd, but mildly enjoyable. Supper was leftovers, and afterwards, we hopped in the boat and had a wild ride. Our final sunset was perhaps the most terrific one yet and the boat ride was pitch perfect. I night I will not soon forget.
When we came back, we played telephone pictionary and Catch Phrase and laughed and laughed and then we had a long stupid argument which almost ended the night very badly but I took a shower and when I had finished we all played Uno and Up and Down the River and ended our last night happily.
Sitting in the hostel we have for the next two days, munching a granola bar, with Lynnea and Lydia on the computers under my bunk, with Phil Collins doing nothing to keep the surge of emotions under control. At this point, now that we're off the island, I'm very ready to go home. I feel I've been gone an eternity, and at the same time, it's passed in a blink of an eye. I feel so filled to bursting with pure, ecstatic beauty, and feel so changed and grown somehow, continually sadder and wiser but pressing on with deeper joy, and, well, everything's horribly overwhelming right now. I'm not ready for leaving, I'm not ready to say goodbye to Josiah, not ready for everything that will happen so soon after I return, not ready to realize that once I get back I have so little time before I have to grow up and move on.
My stomach twists in knots because I can't stop listening to a Voice that tells me He is my strength and so I need to learn to love a life inhabited by Him. And the no-spaces between the breaking, that is where the questions haunt me. Is it worth it? Is it enough? Is He enough? And especially, Is He worth it?
Well, are You worth it?
I asked Him the same question two Sundays ago and He told me
"watch me fulfill my dreams for you,
bigger than any you could ever imagine.
watch me wipe away tears.
let me show you the ocean.
watch me love you."
And I did. And He showed me again and again. So just because emptiness floods like a river and hurt bleeds in all the worry lines in my heart, that doesn't mean it's time to forget. You never, ever, ever have time to forget. Life is too short. Yes, the memories will haunt me still. Yes, goodbyes and leaving and being left will haunt me the rest of this short life. But dear God, this is my prayer: may you haunt me so deeply that I cannot shake you from my skin. Haunt me until it is you I am searching for when I am dry and empty. When I am lost and don't know where to find me may it be you I decide is more worth finding. Haunt me with your soul-lonely melody till the notes I sing match the rhythm of your heart. Haunt me. Haunt me. Dear Jesus, haunt me.
We bade Josiah farewell early this morning. Hugs and waving from our third story window as his bag of books splits open. So we throw down a spare backpack and then we yell all our inside jokes to him as he disappears down the street and turns the corner.
We walked the streets of Dublin all day today. My feet are sore and tight because of bad walking shoes, but the blisters are mostly rubbed off/healed. It was glorious to do so much walking. I think I could walk forever. We toured a marvelous art gallery where I purchased a nice print of a new favourite piece - The Cottage Girl by Thomas Gainsborough. I also got some Pride and Prejudice notecards which are so fun. Their book/gift shop was super! They had so many great journals and sketching supplies, and really cool books. We spent a long time in there. Then we went to a museum of natural history which was pretty fun. We walked in a pretty garden and went to St. Patrick's cathedral where I bought a necklace for Geneva and a teacup and saucer with the Irish blessing on it for mum. We got cappuccinos and coffees and we put flowers in our hair - us girls and UB. :) We found a crazy-weird very-cool dark-alleyway market with loads of little shops selling jewellery and clothes and other odds and ends and I got a beautiful journal. Probably my favourite find on the whole trip.
We walked and walked some more and found a very nice restaurant which had delicious food and we ate supper there. Then we went grocery shopping and came back to the hostel and played Up and Down the River and had a good time. Fabulous day.
I was so grateful to UB for making even the last days fun and interesting. Leaving the island was sad and it would've been easy to just have a depressing last two days, but we had such a fun time wandering around Dublin today.
Our very last day. *sigh* I am ready to be home now, but it is sad and nostalgic still.
We walked to church this morning - a beautiful old church. We sang some great songs, including Before the Throne of God Above and In Christ Alone accompanied by an enormous, glorious organ. The service was a commemoration service in honor of the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and thus was interesting, but not a very good worship service or sermon. So we are listening to a sermon by Pastor Bill from Lydia's church right now, in the hostel.
After church, we came back and ate bread and cheese for lunch and then walked a ways to the Dublin Zoo. It was a nice fairly relaxed walk through the zoo. Besides the animals, there were loads of adorable little kids. I wanted to squeeze them they were so cute. I confess, I miss my little sibs and my Sunday school kids more than I can say.
We walked back from the zoo and when we got close to the hostel, we picked up some fish and chips to go which were greasy, hot and satisfying.
Now it just feels good to be comfortable on our bunks with a good solid sermon playing. God is good.
Our flight home was uneventful and fun. They showed Sherlock Holmes on the plane from Dublin, along with three other highly inferior films. They also had semi-okay music playing and Zach and I rocked out with Lydia and Lynnea who were across the aisle. They served a million drinks and had pretty good food. Zach and I shared a lot of laughs.
Saying goodbye to Lynnea in the Atlanta airport broke my heart in two. Our last leg of the trip was short and when we got home we talked a lot and Lydia and I went to bed fairly early. We were pretty exhausted.
Nostalgia floods and pictures and pouring over journals and laughing at inside jokes we just remember and feeling dreadfully homesick.
It was one of the most glorious adventures of my life so far. Someday, I will go back. Someday.