Kildare to Downpatrick

This morning we loaded the bus at 9:00 to set out on the next leg of our journey. We had morning prayer on the coach. 

We travel from Brigid’s Kildare to the North and the area of Downpatrick where St. Patrick was buried. We have stops at the Hill of Tara and Kells along the way. The next two nights we will stay in Newcastle. 

Blessings to all who journey this day. 

Brigid 

We spent the day with St. Brigid in Kildare. We rekindled the fire of hope, love, and justice at the place of Brigid’s fire. And we took our woundedness and sorrow to Brigid’s well, where we moved among others who were seeking healing.

I am under the shielding
of good Brigit each day;

I am under the shielding
of good Brigit each night.

I am under the keeping
Of the nurse of Mary,
Each early and late,
Every dark, every light.

Brigit is my comrade-woman,
Brigit is my maker of song,
Brigit is my helping-woman,
My choicest of women
my guide.
-Carmina Gadelica

It was an honor to be in these places with these places of Brigid. It was an honor to be able to lead worship in these holy places.

Clonmacnoise 

We enter the gates
Of Clonmacnoise.
Ahead of us are
Centuries of life in the Spirit.

You have a choice, the leader says,
Go in pilgrim or go in tourist mode.
Either way is fine, but make your intention.

I walk the stones
Of the pilgrim way.
I touch the high cross
That has stood there for 1000 years.

How many people
Have walked these steps?
How many hearts have been Touched, guided,
Inspired in this place?

Let me journey with their spirits.
Let me walk in faithfulness,
In kindness,
In love.
In the pilgrim way.

Saint Ciarán 

I found myself drawn back to the ruin of St. Ciarán’s Church at Glendalough. St. Ciarán was the anam cara (soul friend) of St. Kevin. 

His church is right next to Kevin’s Church in the newer monastic ruins of Glendalough. (Newer … as in the 800s.) I sat inside the ruins in silence and contemplated friendship. These words came. 

Soul Friend

You stand with me.
You know my heart.
You honor my spirit by your presence.
Our hearts, tender and wounded,
Silent and overflowing,
Join in the One Heart that holds all.

My anam cara,
Heart of my heart,
Blessing me,
Blessing the world
With love.

Glendalough Monastic Settlement 

One turned up palm is out the window, stiff as a cross beam, when a blackbird lays in it and settles down to rest.
-Seamus Heaney
A poem about St. Kevin

A lovely day of a pilgrimage through the Glendalough Monastic area. Father Pat from the Tearmann Spirituality Centre led us through the settlement, holding rituals in various places. We ended the day with a service of Eucharist in the ruins of Mary’s Chapel. We are grateful to be in this place. 

What are your stories of Glendalough?

Airport to Glendalough

We arrived at 8:30 a.m. in Dublin. We were met by Antionette, our guide, and Hugh, the bus driver. We came by coach to Glendalough, the site of an ancient monastic community where we will stay two nights. 

We prayed our morning prayer on the bus. “New every morning is your love, great God of light. And all day long you are working for good in the world.”

Peace be with you this day. May you watch for the sacred places you encounter today. 

Journey Home


I was a young adult preparing to visit Ireland when my great aunt Eileen shared this picture with me. Aunt Eileen had inherited the photo of her grandmother, Mary Tuohy Griffin, from Scarriff, County Clare, Ireland. 

Eileen had visited her grandmother Griffin in 1915 with her family (including her older brothers Tommy and Jack). The family’s strange pilgrimage took them from South Africa to England and Ireland and then, eventually, to Oklahoma in the United States. (Their unintended immigration is too long a story for this post. I tell Grandpa’s story in my book.)

I grew up hearing the stories from my Grandpa Tom about those days in Ireland.  About how he and his twin brother rode in the baskets the donkeys carried as they walked back and forth to the peat bogs. How they were each given a kid goat which they fed by letting them suckle any momma goat they could find. How they threw rocks down people’s chimneys and basically got into trouble like ten-year-old boys will do. 

When I went to Ireland those years ago (before digital photography!), I traveled to County Clare to the little town of Scarriff. I asked at the post office for people who might have known of the Griffins and their farm north of town. I discovered a cousin of my grandpa’s, the chemist in town, who drove me out to the property. I stood and rested my eyes on the land, the sky, the fields, and I knew I was home. 

Today I leave for a pilgrimage to this land of beauty, of music and poets and prayers. I travel with a group of other pilgrims from The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation. I pray that we may be fully present, eyes and ears and hearts wide open to the blessings of each moment. That we step forward in trust that we will find the paths where the Spirit leads us. Traveling mercies for all who journey this day.